USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)


Heather Lee

First Advisor

Dr. Ajay Verghese


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Date Available


Publication Date


Date Issued



This thesis seeks to discover the conditions legitimizing political violence by exploring the Sri Lankan Civil War and then pairing the derived principle with theoretical justifications of violence, including just war theory. While many attest that the radically violent means employed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam throughout the war were immoral and inexcusable acts of terrorism, this claim too quickly discredits their motives without due consideration, thus unfairly detractingfrom the legitimacy of their cause. I hope to show the fault in this tendency, both in the context of the Sri Lanka and in more general terms. Political violence is a dramatic course of action, but that does not mean it is never necessary or legitimate. An analysis of political conditions for both Tamils and Sinhalese in the five years since the end of the civil war demonstrates the regime's continued disregard for human rights. By reducing the LITE to a terrorist organization, the Rajapaska regime has been able to avoid addressing the legitimate grievances presented by Tamils. While this has not yet caused substantial violence to resurface, the increasingly authoritarian regime is on thin ice, both with Tamils and Sinhalese as well as the international community.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program, University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.