Sri Lanka (LTTE)


Conflict Summary

The Tamil Tigers’ armed fight for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil minority came to an end in May 2009, when the government decisively defeated the rebels after 26 years of civil war. However, no real political conciliation has since begun between the island’s Sinhalese and Tamil populations. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) – as the rebels were formally called – began lobbying in the 1970s for an independent state in the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. After the group’s first deadly attack in 1983, the conflict is estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people. Fighting was intense throughout the 1980s and 1990s, despite frequent talks and conciliatory gestures on both sides. A 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire was effective only briefly; serious fighting resumed in 2006 and escalated over the next few years. The government formally pulled out of the ceasefire in 2008, and as the army advanced during the first months of 2009, the Tigers rapidly lost control of their last remnants of territory in the northern ‘Wanni’ region. Almost all their leaders were killed. With thousands of civilians trapped in the warzone, both the LTTE and army were accused of human-rights abuses.