Groups may have one or more motivations for separation, including:
emotional resentment of rival communities.
protection from ethnic cleansing and genocide.
justified resistance by victims of oppression, including denigration of their language, culture or religion.
propaganda by those who hope to gain politically from intergroup conflict and hatred.
the economic and political dominance of one group that does not share power and privilege in an egalitarian fashion.
economic motivations: seeking to end economic exploitation by more powerful group or, conversely, to escape economic redistribution from a richer to a poorer group.
preservation of threatened religious, language or other cultural tradition.
destabilization from one separatist movement giving rise to others.
geopolitical power vacuum from breakup of larger states or empires.
continuing fragmentation as more and more states break up.
feeling that the perceived nation was added to the larger state by illegitimate means.
the perception that the state can no longer support one's own group or has betrayed their interests.
opposition to political decisions
wish to have a more practical political structure and not rely on people who are located far away to govern them or otherwise impractical solutions
How far separatist demands will go toward full independence, and whether groups pursue constitutional and nonviolent or armed violence, depend on a variety of economic, political, social and cultural factors, including movement leadership and the government's response. Governments may respond in a number of ways, some of which are mutually exclusive. Some include:
accede to separatist demands
improve the circumstances of disadvantaged minorities, be they religious, linguistic, territorial, economic or political
adopt "asymmetric federalism" where different states have different relations to the central government depending on separatist demands or considerations
allow minorities to win in political disputes about which they feel strongly, through parliamentary voting, referendum, etc.
Some governments suppress any separatist movement in their own country, but support separatism in other countries.
Types of separatist groups
Separatist groups practice a form of identity politics - "political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups." Such groups believe attempts at integration with dominant groups compromise their identity and ability to pursue greater self-determination. However, economic and political factors usually are critical in creating strong separatist movements as opposed to less ambitious identity movements.
Sikhs in India sought an independent nation of Khalistan during the 1970s and 1980s. The Khalistan movement inside India that even involved the assassination of the then Prime Minister of IndiaIndira Gandhi as a retaliation of an Indian military operation Operation Blue Star directed against Sikh militants in the Sikhs' holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, in which many innocent Sikh civilians too lost their lives. The murder of Mrs. Indira Gandhi evoked a backlash in the form of mass murders of Sikhs in 1984, which only further strengthened the Khalistan Movement, but it largely subsided owing to the efforts of the police in Punjab, led by a Sikh police officer KPS Gill. However, some in the Sikh diaspora in the West and elsewhere, and even Sikhs in India, still support the idea of Khalistan, and there have been sporadic instances of violence for this cause, or attempts at the same, which have been foiled by India's intelligence agencies and security personnel.
Map of active separatist movements in the European Union. Red names indicate regions with movements that only claim greater autonomy within the actual state. Black names indicate regions with important secessionist movements, although both categories include moderate movements. The nations highlighted in colours are the territories claimed by the local nationalist groups, including areas out of the state's borders and cases of annexation to other states (click to enlarge).
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page.(August 2011)
Some groups seek to separate from others along racialist lines. They oppose inter-marriage with other races and seek separate schools, businesses, churches and other institutions or even separate societies, territories and governments.
White separatism in the United States and Western Europe seeks separation and survival of the white race and limits to immigration by non-whites. According to two sociologists writing in the year 2000, most separatists now reject any ideology of white supremacy, though advocacy groups continue to demonize such separatist groups.
^Link to: Chima, Jugdep. "Effects of Political Leadership on Ethnic Separatist Movements in India" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, April 12, 2007 (PDF); Chima, Jugdep. "How Does Political Leadership Affect the Trajectories of Ethnic Separatist Insurgencies?: Comparative Evidence from Movements in India" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C., September 01, 2005 (PDF).
^ abSee D.L. Horowitz's "Patterns of Ethnic Separatism", originally published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1981, vol 23, 165-95. Republished in John A. Hall, The State: Critical Concepts, Routledge, 1994.
^Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb. 2012. Spain. Steven L. Denver (ed.), Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures, and Contemporary Issues, Vol. 3. Armonk, NY: M .E. Sharpe, pp. 674-675.