Peace Building Among the Sri Lankan Refugees Tamil Nadu, India: A Critical Study of Educational Engagements of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)

Alexis Premkumar Antonysamy, Fordham University


Peace building is rebuilding nations torn by wars or conflicts. Conflicts in Sri Lanka need to be understood in the context of democracy, geopolitics and disunity among the Tamils. Sri Lanka achieved independence in 1948 and the Tamil minority started to feel the domination of Sinhala majority rule in the Island. The denial of citizenship to more than one million Indian origin Tamils in 1949, the ‘Sinhala Only’ Act in 1956, government sponsored colonization of the majority Sinhalese into the traditional Tamil homeland in 1950s, the ‘Policy of Standardization of education in Sri Lanka’ in 1970, a new constitution without participation of the Tamils in 1972 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act to suppress the Tamil youth in 1972 forced the minority Tamils to fight for separate Tamil Nation within Sri Lanka. Through the 1977 Election, Tamils ratified the call for independence by 82 per cent popular vote. It was alleged that due to geopolitical reasons that India made use of the restlessness among the Tamil youth and started giving military training to various Tamil groups. The various factions of the Tamil militants not only had their violent attacks on Sri Lankan army but also among themselves. Finally the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) became the predominant militant group which was recognized internationally for peace negotiation among the Tamils and the Sri Lankan government. There were attempts to bring peace through agreements although there were violations of these agreements by both the parties. Finally the LTTE was defeated in 2009 and in the process thousands of civilians were killed, wounded, abducted and displaced both as internally displaced persons and as refugees. It is perceived that time is ripe for peace building in SL given the circumstances. The UN document ‘An Agenda of peace’ confirms that “economic despair, social injustice and political oppression” are the root causes of major conflicts in the world. Peace building in Sri Lanka needs to address these causes. The research study is about the ‘Educational Engagement of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) on Peace building among the Sri Lankan refugees in India’. This Field study among the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India indicates that their conflicts can be broadly studied under two major categories namely the conflicts they have faced as Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka and as Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India. The Sri Lankan refugees in Indian camps suffer mainly due to the ill-treatment of the government and the host community. Their prolonged stay makes them suffer in all the spheres of life namely economics, politics and culture. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is a Catholic International Non-Governmental Organization serving refugees, IDPs and returnees in nearly in 50 countries in the world. JRS Tamil Nadu serves mostly in the area of formal education, technical education, social service and advocacy. Under each area there are many programs. This study reviews only four educational programs namely Complementary Education, Students’ unions, Residential Life Skill Training and Students’ Magazine.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Peace Studies|South Asian Studies

Recommended Citation

Antonysamy, Alexis Premkumar, "Peace Building Among the Sri Lankan Refugees Tamil Nadu, India: A Critical Study of Educational Engagements of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10275188.