More than 20 years after the flare up of violence between the Tamils and Sinhalas, there is no sign of a lasting peace. There was a glimmer of hope after last year's tsunami when the different factions in the island worked together in relief efforts. The peace agreement brokered by Norwegians in 2002 was always fragile and is in danger of breaking down. The good news is that the Norwegians
have agreed to continue their efforts after announcing that they were going to withdraw. The newly elected president, Mahinda Rajapakse
, asked Norway on December 7th to resume its peace mediating role with the Tamil Tigers.
The website of University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, contains the best summary that I have found about the history of the strife. Under the title "History of the Ethnic Divide
", the report covers the issue from the early days of the island to the current sad state of affairs. Extremists among the Tamils and Sinhalas are responsible for continuation of violent acts.
Once known as Taprobane
, then Ceylon, the island was renamed Sri Lanka after it became free of British rule in 1948.
I have fond memories of the island and the people I came to know during a visit in 1984. I wrote about it in November 2004, A Man named Gunasekhara and a troubled island