Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 16:06 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Sri Lanka

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 4 March 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Sri Lanka, 4 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48a97131c.html [accessed 22 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

While in several of the states in this region there is simmering discontent and elements of ethnic tension, in Sri Lanka this has taken the shape of a full-scale civil war that has divided the island. The state's largest ethnic groups, the Sinhala (74 per cent) dominate state institutions and the army. Meanwhile the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, drawn from the minority Tamil community – 13 per cent) have resorted to guerrilla warfare and have clashed with the Sri Lankan security forces in a decades-long armed confrontation. The hope of the peace process yielding dividends was shattered in 2006 when the island was plunged back into a war reminiscent of the 1990s. Peace talks in Geneva in October 2006 were a failure, despite both sides claiming to adhere to the 2002 ceasefire. Nearly 3,000 people have been reported killed in the fighting in 2006, with 216,000 displaced.

In the context of this conflict, the 2 million-strong minority Muslim population is often ignored. In September 2006, civilians in Muttur in eastern Sri Lanka, a town with a large Muslim population, were caught in the crossfire as air force planes bombed LTTE targets, forcing residents to flee and seek shelter in overcrowded camps with poor sanitation.

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