Sri Lanka suffered through a thirty-year civil war, beginning in 1983, between its Tamil and Sinhalese populations. The Tamils were an oppressed minority and shortly after Sri Lankan independence were rebuffed in their attempt to gain greater rights. A catalytic event occurred when the Sri Lankan government, to mark its independence from the British Colonial government, banned English as a language of instruction in schools and established Sinhalese as the official state language, effectively isolating and marginalizing the Tamils.
The Tamil Tigers were formed as a separatist militant organization seeking an independent state in the north and East of Sri Lanka. The Tigers, proscribed as a terrorist organization by 32 different countries, pioneered the use of suicide bombings, which greatly boosted the death toll during this conflict.
Sinhalese military victory ended this civil war, but only after three decades of bloodshed and four failed attempts at peace negotiations. There are ongoing efforts to reverse deep-seated prejudices and inequalities.
For more images on Flickr, click here.