Minorities, Territoriality and Politics for Autonomy: An Analysis of Competing Ethnic Politics in Eastern Sri Lanka

Mohammad Agus Yusoff, Athambawa Sarjoon, Zawiyah Mohd Zain


Regional politics play a decisive role in national politics when region poses ethnic groups in competing manner. Sri Lanka’s Eastern province has been a contested region in terms of ethnic and territorial integration as well as the integration of majority and minorities from the independence of the country, during civil war, and in the post-civil war era. This study explores the ethnic groups’ competition for political control and autonomy, as well as its impact in Eastern Sri Lanka. This study has employed both qualitative and quantitative data, collected mainly through secondary sources such as literary books, book chapters, journal articles, newspaper cuttings, and government documents, which are analyzed and presented through interpretive and descriptive manners. The study has found that the Eastern province has been a contested choice for the ethnic majority to extend their ethnic domination, and to implement ethno-centric development-cum settlement policies and programs, all of which are ultimately induced to change the ethnic composition of the region and pushed ethnic minorities to mobilize and demand for more decentralized power and autonomy in the region. The thirty-year prolonged civil war made the region not only a war-torn, but also let to undermining regional democratic principles, including minorities’ rights for autonomy. The study also reveals that the new emerging post-war political context at the provincial and national levels continues to undermine the minorities’ hopes for autonomy in the region. Nevertheless, the region has emerged as ‘role-model’ for ethnic cohesive politics.

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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