Since 1983, the 'Tamil problem' in Sri Lanka has captured the headlines of the intemational press and the attention of the world public. The origins of the Tamil movement can, however, be traced back to the communal organizations of the Tamils from before Independence. When it became clear in the early 70s that the Tamils' efforts to gain a measure of security and special rights as a minority would be of no avail, a younger generation took to violent means to achieve their objectives. There are mainly two guerilla groups who command the situation in Jaffna at the moment: the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Ealam (PLOT). The LTTE has, for the purpose of the peace talks in Thimpu, allied itself with three smaller groups in the ENLF (Ealam National Liberation Front), while the PLOT inclines to the TULF (Tamil United Liberation Front). All groups, however, profess to pursue Marxist-Leninist goals in their fight for liberation, but there exist decisive differences over strategy and tactics. At the same time, all groups have a strong ethnic-nationalist bias and stress the significance of Tamil culture, language and tradition. The guerilla groups will remain a decisive factor in the attempts to reach a peaceful solution to the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka for some time to come.