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‘Ethnocracy’?

Out of the 55 Secretaries, the senior-most civil servants of Sri Lanka’s ministries, appointed this week, one was a Tamil, another a Muslim; the rest were Sinhalese.

Recruitment of young Tamils or Muslims into the civil service has been negligible over the past several years; this year there were none.

This is what Tamils mean by 'the Sinhala state'.

The full list of newly appointed Secretaries - and what qualified the lone Tamil for the job - is available here.

On a related note, it’s worth recalling how – and when – Sri Lanka’s armed forces became mono-ethnic.

Prof. Brian Blodgett, Director of the History and Military Studies Programs for the American Public University, published a study of Sri Lanka’s military in 2004. In it he notes how,

“in 1962, a policy of recruiting only from the Sinhalese Buddhist community was instituted. This was the beginning of an ethnically pure army.”

Prof. Stanley Tambiah of Harvard University published a book length comment, ‘Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy’, just two years after Sri Lanka’s conflict began. In it he noted,

“[Today, in 1986] the armed forces are filled with Sinhalese and the Tamils are excluded from serving in them. … There has been virtually no recruitment of Tamils into the armed forces, and very little into the police force, for nearly thirty years.”

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