The struggle for survival of a sovereign, unitary and independent nation
Posted on August 18th, 2010

By Lt Col (Retd) Anil Amarasekera

At one point of time the country now identified as Sri Lanka was known as Heladiva or Sivhela as there were four clans living in this country. They were the Devas, the Yakkas, the Rakshas and the Nagas. Prince Vijaya and his Sinha clan that migrated to this country from north India integrated with the above mentioned four indigenous Hela clans and were together identified henceforth as Sinhalese and their country was known as Sinhale. It was later subdivided to Ruhunu, Pehiti and Maya, which together were referred to as Thunsinhale.  The integration practiced by western nations when they migrated and settled in America and Australia and integrated with the Red Indians and the Aborigines respectively to form the American nation and the Australian nation was practiced in the nation of Sinhale over 2500 years ago. 

As an island situated in a very strategic location with regard to maritime trade, the nation of Sinhale had a long and difficult struggle to survive as a sovereign, unitary and independent nation. In early history threats to its sovereignty was from the Indian subcontinent. The first invasion recorded in history was when the kingdom of Anuradhapura ruled by Suratissa (187 to 177 B.C.), was invaded and foreign rule was introduced to one part of Thunsinhale, namely Pehiti Rata by Sena and Guttika for twenty two years (177 to 155B.C). King Acela (155 to 145 B.C) who defeated the invaders to reestablish a sovereign, unitary and independent nation was able to rule for only ten years before another south Indian invasion of Pehiti Rata deposed him to establish a Tamil kingdom in Anuradhapura under Elara for forty four years (145 to 101 B.C). A young prince Dutthagamani from the Ruhunu Rata defeated the usurper Elara in battle and reestablished a sovereign Sinhale nation once more with his kingdom in Anuradhapura and ruled the nation for twenty four years (101 to 77 B.C). The sovereign, unitary and independent status of the nation survived for the next fifty eight years, until another invasion from south India deposed King Vettagamani (Walagambahu) to establish foreign rule in Pehiti Rata once more for fourteen years. King Walagambahu however vanquished the invaders to regain the nation’s sovereignty.  After his demise other Sinhalese kings ruled in Sinhale from the kingdom of Anuradhapura for approximately five hundred years, until a new kingdom was established in Polonnaruwa subsequently.

 The kingdom of Polonnaruwa or Pulatthinagara was also subjected to invasions from south India. The Cola invasion of Kalinga Magha in which the Sinhalese Monarch Parakkamapandu (1051 to 1053 A.D.) was captured and his eyes pulled out when he was tortured and how the invaders plundered all his treasures, pearls, jewels and so forth is recorded in history. The Cola invaders ruled from Polonnaruwa in the Pehiti Rata for approximately six years before they were vanquished and driven out of the country by Kitti, another prince from Ruhunu Rata, later to be crowned as king Vijayabahu 1, who ruled the nation from Polonnaruwa for fifty five years (1059 to 1114 A.D). This Monarch as well as others to follow such as Parakkamabahu 1 (1153 to 1186 A.D) better known as Maha Parakkamabahu was responsible for making the kingdom of Polonnaruwa famous. However constant intrusions by invading forces from south India resulted in the Sinhalese kingdom being shifted to the interior of the country for security reasons.

 With the development of shipping routes Sinhale as a nation had to struggle for survival not so much with possible threats from India but against three powerful European nations. First to appear in the scene were the Portuguese, who came to the kingdom of Kotte in 1505 and established a fortified trading settlement twelve years later in Colombo. The construction of the first fort in Colombo by the Portuguese aroused popular hostility. Though they engaged in trading activities initially, they were soon to commence their effort to spread the Roman Catholic religion, with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other. The destruction they caused to Buddhist temples and the innocent Buddhist that they tortured and killed in an effort to establish their religion is well documented in history and no effort by the present Catholic Bishops in the guise of religious harmony can erase these acts of barbaric cruelty from the history books.

 Hieronymus Gomez a Portuguese writing on the 29th of December 1609 gives the following account of one of the expeditions sent by Azavedo to Sinhalese held territory. “Two hundred men, women and children were taken. Gathering them all into a field, Simon Corea, a Sinhalese Captain (a Catholic convert) gave orders to beat them to death. The poor people all kept together like sheep, without a sigh or a groan. A Portuguese Captain noticed that there were among them some innocent children in the arms of their mothers, and since he could do nothing to save their temporal lives, he wished to give them spiritual life, and hence he baptized them all. They were afterwards beheaded to give them a more lenient death.” (Ceylon Antiquary 11, 22 from Paul E. Pieris, Ceylon and the Portuguese Page 173.)

The rule of the Maritime Provinces by the Portuguese came to an end with their expulsion by the Dutch in 1658. The Dutch then claimed that the Maritime Provinces were being held by them as collateral security till the Sinhalese king repaid the costs incurred in the expulsion of the Portuguese from the island, under the terms of a treaty the Dutch had signed with the Kandyan king in 1638. When the Dutch commenced persecuting the Roman Catholics, it was a Sinhale Buddhist king who provided the Roman Catholics with protection. While the Dutch even supplied ships to the Sinhale king Vimaladhammasuriya II in 1697 to bring bhikkhus from Burma for an Upasampada (higher ordination) ceremony at Getamba in Kandy, the Dutch Reform Church nevertheless worked relentlessly in the Maritime Provinces to proselytize Sinhala Buddhists, by granting government jobs to those who were willing to become followers of their faith. The efforts of the Dutch Reform Church to proselytize the Sinhala Buddhist continued for nearly one hundred and forty years until 1796.

    Though the Dutch possessions in Ceylon were handed over to the British in February 1796, these territories were formally ceded to the British only at the Peace of Amiens in 1802. The British, who were convincingly defeated at Kandy in 1803 by the Sinhalese, were later able to capture the King of Sinhale with little or no bloodshed, receiving support from some of the Sinhala chieftains. The country was conditionally ceded to the British Crown by these chieftains on 2nd March 1815, through an international treaty known as the Kandyan Convention and for the very first time in its history the whole country came under foreign rule and lost its independence. The English and the Sinhala texts were written parallel to each other and throughout the text of the Treaty the ceded territory is called Sinhale. There is no reference to a country called Ceylon or Sri Lanka in the text, but the country is referred to in English too as Sinhale, the name by which the island was known through the centuries. The Englishmen found it difficult to pronounce the word Sinhale and with the passage of time the ceded territory came to be known as Ceylon.

The letter and spirit of the Kandyan Convention was never observed by the British colonial administration. This resulted in two rebellions. One was in 1818 and the other was in1848. British were able to crush both these rebellions in the most ruthless manner. What conspired is best explained in the words of an English Doctor serving in the British Army, Dr. John Davy in his writings, “ƒ”¹…”An Account of the Interior of Ceylon 1883,’ reprint pp 245-247. “When a district rose in rebellion, one or more military posts were established in it; martial law was proclaimed; the dwellings of resisting inhabitants were burnt; their fruit trees were often cut down, and the country was scoured in all directions by small detachments, who were authorized to put to death all who made opposition ,or were found with arms in their hands”¦.When one considers this rebellion and its consequences, one almost regrets that we ever entered the Kandyan country”    

The British granted independence to Ceylon on 4th of February 1948 and not to Sinhale that was ceded to them by the Sinhalese Chieftains on 2nd March 1815. The political leaders at the time of independence were either negligent or not wise enough to correct the wrong identity of the country. They were followed by others who made matters worse by changing the name of the country from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. The evolution of the culture and the civilization of a country are determined more often than not by its very name. Thus for example the Chinese, Japanese, German, French and Russian people were responsible for the evolution of the culture and civilization in China, Japan, Germany, France and Russia respectively.  Therefore had the British granted independence on 4th of February 1948 not to Ceylon but to Sinhale that was ceded to them in 1815, as mentioned in the Kandyan Convention, this would have established the fact that the Sinhalese were responsible for the evolution of the culture and civilization in Sinhale. This would have prevented the subsequent struggle for the establishment of a separate state of Eelam in this island.

Leaving aside the mistakes made by our own political leaders, had our island nation been left alone to develop as a sovereign, unitary and independent nation since 4th February 1948, there would never have been a need to write this article. However this was sadly never made possible due to interference by vested interests. India then under the influence of one super power, namely United Socialist Soviet Russia (USSR) was worried about political developments in Sri Lanka, where its political leadership had close association with the other super power, namely the United States of America (USA). India also had its own problem of a separatist movement by Tamils in Tamil Nadu in the sixties that they needed to eradicate. Therefore encouraging the formation of a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka was a shortsighted policy followed by the then Indian government that brought subsequent Indian governments a Frankenstein problem. The Tamil Tigers better known as the LTTE that was trained to destabilize and divide Sri Lanka by India not only turned against the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) subsequently to kill many Indian soldiers, but were also responsible for the assassination of a former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, who was the founder of Indo Sri Lanka Peace Accord. 

When trouble began to brew between separatist movements and the government of Sri Lanka there were other vested interests waiting to fish in troubled waters, such as the Roman Catholic and other Christian Churches that had a foot hold in the island. Their interests centered on destroying a Buddhist nation that was instrumental in propagating Theravada Buddhism to the world at large. The direct involvement of some Catholic Bishops and clergymen with the LTTE movement in northern areas that were once under LTTE rule and the indirect involvement of a Bishop in Colombo of another Christian denomination, when he tried to whitewash a ruthless killer such as Prabhakaran, the leader of the LTTE, as a very humane person, bear evidence to this fact. 

Some western nations such as Norway and the United States of America were interested in Sri Lanka for different reasons. Their interests could be attributed to not only the strategic positioning of the island nation in the international shipping route, but also  the availability of a good fishing area, off shore oil deposits or maybe even the availability of rich rare earth deposits in the exclusive economic zone, which surrounded the island nation. In this day and age direct invasion is not possible like in the past to divide or subjugate a nation. One surreptitious method to do so is by working towards such an end utilizing International Non Governmental Organizations (INGOS) and national Non Governmental Organizations (NGOS) based within a country. Abundance of evidence was found by the Security Forces in Sri Lanka on such activity by INGOS and NGOS, both during hostilities and more so after the defeat of the LTTE.    

The hidden hand of direct involvement of western powers with the LTTE to destabilize and divide Sri Lanka was exposed when the American Ambassador in Sri Lanka Mr. Robert O’Blake, together with the Foreign Secretaries Mr. David Milliband and Mr. Bernard Kouchner of Britain and France respectively, who had specially flown to Sri Lanka, tried desperately to negotiate a cease fire for the purpose of preventing an eminent LTTE defeat. However all their efforts and the pressure they exerted on the political leadership of Sri Lanka were of little avail. The LTTE suffered a total defeat with the annihilation of its leadership due to a well coordinated effort by the Security Forces of Sri Lanka.

When their aims and objectives in this country were thus defeated, the western nations together with INGOS that they control and the Tamil Diaspora are now agitating to use the United Nations to investigate alleged human rights violations and war crimes by Sri Lanka during the latter stages of the military action taken against the internationally designated terrorist group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), without the prior sanction of either the United Nations General Assembly or its Security Council and in contravention of the decision taken by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in June 2009. The Secretary General of United Nations has already appointed a Three Member Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka. Before he proceeds any further, he should study the Country Report on Terrorism 2009, released on 5th August 2010 by the U.S State Department, which indirectly brings to light the other side of the story.

This report mentions that the LTTE is still operating internationally, though they were defeated in Sri Lanka on 18th May 2009. Their international network of financial support states this report, has survived largely intact and continues to collect contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe and Australia. Some of these contributions are coerced from locally based LTTE sympathizers and others collected by Tamil Charitable organizations that are used as fronts for fund raising. Raising funds in this manner in North America, Europe and Australia for a banned terrorist organization such as the LTTE is against UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

If North America, Europe and Australia are allowing the LTTE to continue fund raising activities on their soil, as stated in the U.S. State Department report, it is a serious indictment against these countries, as they are violating both their own law and international obligations. These countries are also either directly or indirectly financing terrorism. Therefore they have no right to accuse Sri Lanka of violating human rights, because these countries are responsible for funding the LTTE terrorist movement, which was the prime cause of all human rights violations in Sri Lanka. North America, Europe and Australia are therefore not only  responsible for destabilizing Sri Lanka, but could also be held liable to pay compensation for the destruction the LTTE caused  in Sri Lanka during  the past thirty years with the funds the LTTE had raised with impunity in these countries.

The LTTE collected $200 — $300 million annually from their bases in western countries according to Jane’s Weekly. These collections financed the purchase of arms mostly manufactured in the west for the LTTE, through underground western arms dealers. The LTTE used these arms purchased with funds raised in these western countries and waged a war against a democratically elected government in Sri Lanka. Therefore the impartiality of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and his panel of advisors will be proven not by persecuting Sri Lanka on human rights and war crimes violations, but by investigating and prosecuting the western nations that directly or indirectly funded terrorist activities to destabilize Sri Lanka that caused so much death and destruction. If the UN is to implement the charter for which it was established, it needs also to take necessary action to prevent funds from being raised in western nations with impunity to destabilize and divide Sri Lanka, which is a sovereign, unitary and independent nation. 

7 Responses to “The struggle for survival of a sovereign, unitary and independent nation”

  1. sharpeshooter Says:

    History of Sri Lanka has been distorted by many and by time itself and one significant episode was the Kandyan Chieftans siding with British. In fact these Chieftans aim was to end the era of Telegu Kings (all the Rajasinhas) who sat on the throne in Sri Lanka, with blessings of Buddhist clergy, for almost 400 years and capture power back to Sinhala people with the aid of British, which back fired. Popular belief is those Chieftans were traitors. Kandyan Convention was one of the most hypocritical agreements, as on paper it said it will protect the state religion, Buddhism, but went on to destroy it outright. Read Revolt in the Temple, especially the chapter on Under the British Yoke, which gives a graphic account of mass murder, direct and indirect, by British. Thanks to people like Col.Olcott, Ven. Sumangala, Dharmapala and many others Buddhism and Buddhists survived. If not for these people we would be a Protestant country. Paranthaka, Magha and Veera Pandya were the Dravidian kings who inflicted the greatest damage to Sri Lanka. Our King Vijaya, from Gujarat, was also a traitor (to Kuveni)as well as a product of incest, we must admit. Prabhakaran, a nemesis of Sinhalese might have been a reincarnation of Paranthaka. Above all we have our greatest enemy the Anglo Saxon, the most hyperactive and hypocritical race on earth, who is hell bent to destroy Sri Lanka as we incline more towards China and Russia. Ambers are still smouldering although the fire is out and any moment it will ignite again and 3rd World War might break out at Hambantota. Let us sincerely hope it will not materialise. Sunil Vijayapala

  2. sharpeshooter Says:

    embers not ambers – this bloody stupid English language! Sunil Vijayapala

  3. Raju Says:

    Another excellent piece by Lt Col (Retd) Anil Amarasekera.
    A true patriot of the land. We all greatly appreciate you work, time and dedication.
    You have provided other brilliant enlightening pieces before and so please do continue. The nation needs knowledgeable and articulate individuals like you.

  4. S de Silva Says:

    Thank you Anil and others for repeatedly shining the light on these issues. With the weight of evidence now available, it is vital for the GoSL to explore the legal means of demanding compensation from UK, Norway, Canada etc for supporting terrorism against SL. We need to stop talking and begin vigorous action on these lines before it is too late. Paying compensation surely will be the only language the West will understand. So, it is time to stop talking – It is the time for action by the GoSL. Also, in these colums I have repeatedly raised the need for an ‘Official Version of relevant Sri Lankan history’, the denial of which should be an offense within Sri Lanka, similar to the ‘holocaust denial’ in Germany. Finally, as Raju Says “knowledgeable and articulate individuals like Anil are fine” but that simply is not enough. We need to progress on this. We need action through the GoSL on this subject, NOW.– S de Silva – London

  5. anura seneviratna Says:

    Thanks Anil, for your defence of our Sovereignty. GoSL must take direct legal action as suggested by SdeSilva – we also have to primarily uphold our INALIENABLE NATIONAL HELA/SINHELA SOVEREIGNTY throughout HELADIVA (island of Helas) i.e. to uphold our UNITARY NATIONAL OWNERSHIP to the island in no uncertain terms. The Tamil section in Heladiva is INCLUSIVE of the HELA NATION and not a separate entity. The separate entity of “Tamil” is valid and legal as a nation ONLY in Tamil Nadu (Tamil Country) and nowhere else. Until we, categorically uphold and declare our National Ownership to the whole island – attempts of Tamil invasive efforts will continue.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Many thanks to Col. Anil Amarasekera for this brief but accurate History & Near History of Lanka. May I add that Lankans must at this point in time be truly be aware of Tamil Nadu’s Dalit (Untouchables) situation, some 5 to 10 Million of them, the numbers having padded up of late by Dalits from perhaps Andrapradesh coming into Tamil Nad. The thrust to get out of caste bound Tamil Nadu is coming from these people. Illegal migrants will attempt to come to Lanka via mainly the Mannar route, perhaps aiming for conversions, and then to get out of Lanka as boat people etc. into other countries, generally giving Lanka and Buddhism a bad name as a place devoid of human rights etc.

    Two more points to consider and act on to safeguard Lanka :

    (1) We read in the news that Tamil Nadu’s so-called Refugee Camp people from Lanka (some 200,000 plus people), will be brought back to Lanka. How will GoSL know that these are genuinely people from Lanka ?

    (2) Also, how many Tamil people from the Lankan IDP camps are illegal migrants from Tamil Nadu ?

    Lanka cannot afford to go on adding more & more illegal migrants from Tamil Nadu. Some may come in as so-called tourists – who knows ! Some months ago, about 125 people who had entered as ‘tourists’ from “India” were found working in Lanka.

    I do sympathize with poverty and the Tamil Dalit problems of Tamil Nadu, but these problems must be solved in Tamil Nadu, not in Lanka, where Lanka receives a bad name for even good work done for illegal migrants.

  7. nilwala Says:

    Sri Lanka is so strategically situated that there will always be tussles between the world powers to get control of it, through military power and through the Christian Church. One of the most recent tactics to achieve this has been the so-called “Tamils struggle”…with its totally manufactured theory of a “homeland” in Sri Lanka, that has caught the imagination of Tamil leaders ambitious for political power, and unwilling to accept that greater democratization would gradually diminish the privileged position they enjoyed during British colonial times. There would have been a just settlement of all this if the end of the Eelam wars would have been allowed to proceed without external interference. But the SINHALA STRUGGLE CONTINUES, and these interfering externals should realize that the nation will hold together more firmly and with greater and greater strength if this external interference continues unabated.
    Col. Anil Amerasekera is to congratulated for his writings and all his other efforts to sustain and consolidate the struggle for the survival of Sri Lanka’s inherent character as a Sinhala Buddhist nation.
    It is high time that the world recognized Tamil Nadu as the homeland of the Tamil people of Planet Earth!!

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