Muslim Demand for Territorial Autonomy in the Eastern Sri Lanka: An Analysis of Its Origin, Accommodation and the Present Stance

  •  Mohammad Agus Yusoff    
  •  Nordin Hussin    
  •  Athambawa Sarjoon    


Since Sri Lankan ethnic conflict was considered as a confrontation between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, the impact of conflict and civil war on other [minority] ethnic groups has always been sidetracked by major parties involved in resolving conflict. One of the communities severely impacted but always forgotten in the discourse of resolution process is the Muslims who ever resorted to violent agitations and arm rebellion to resolve their problem and achieve their political objectives. However, the constant impact of ethnic conflict and civil war on the lives and livelihoods of the community caused them to search for political and institutional mechanism to protect them. Muslim autonomy demand has emerged on this backdrop in the middle of 1980s and has been advocated by Muslim parties and public in the discourse of ethnic politics in Sri Lanka. There has been changing dynamics, phases of acceleration and sidetracks on the advocacy of the demand. This paper aims to examine the changing dynamics of the Muslim demand for territorial autonomy in the eastern part of Sri Lanka. The study was conducted using both primary and secondary data collected from desk analysis and field survey conducted in three years. Analysis of the study is interpretive and descriptive in nature. Findings reveal that the fragmentation of Muslims politics, demerge of north-eastern province, and the new political context in eastern Sri Lanka not only caused to sidetrack the demand but also made the demand politically contested and irrelevant.

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