[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Disenfranchisement of Tamils
Tamils, who at independence were 33 per cent of the population, were now reduced to less than 20 per cent.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2009 14:58 GMT

Plantation Tamils became the first targets of Sinhala nationalists in 1949 [GALLO/GETTY]

The descendents of the Tamil labourers brought from India by the British plantation owners had considerably altered the demographics of Sri Lanka's Central Province.

Poor and illiterate, they became the first targets of the Sinhalese nationalists in 1949. The government of D.S. Senanayake legislated to strip them of their Sri Lankan citizenship.

As India had always deemed them to be Sri Lankan citizens, they effectively became stateless. By this one act the Tamils suddenly lost all their clout in politics.

Tamils who at independence were 33 per cent of the population, were now reduced to less than 20 per cent. The Sinhalese now could, and did, manage to procure more than a two-third majority in parliament. This ensured that the Tamils were now no longer in a position to effectively oppose any policies that affected them. 
 

Next, successive Sri Lankan governments tried to remove the estate Tamils from the country entirely. According to agreements signed between India and Sri Lanka, India agreed to accept 600,000 of the Estate Tamils. The remaining Tamils were to have their Sri Lankan citizenship restored. However, even this was not done till 2003.

Tamils felt disenfranchised even with the new name, Sri Lanka, which the country known until then as Ceylon adopted in 1970. Its Sinhalese origin further angered and alienated many Tamils.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
join our mailing list