Colonial crimes in British occupied Ceylon during the freedom struggles (1796 – 1948)
Posted on November 26th, 2018

Senaka Weeraratna

Abstract

In the 1520s Machiavelli wrote: “When it is absolutely a question of the safety of one’s country, there must be no consideration of just or unjust, of merciful or cruel, of praiseworthy or disgraceful; instead, setting aside every scruple, one must follow to the utmost any plan that will save her life and keep her liberty.”

Under British colonial rule, the governed in various parts of the world were subjected to a wide range of deprivations and extreme hardships, which in today’s context would tantamount to gross violation of Human Rights such as crimes against humanity, genocide, mass murder, mass famines, torture, rape and abuse of women, forcible religious conversion, transatlantic slave trade, confinement in concentration camps for long periods and brutal suppression of freedom struggles. Sri Lanka was no exception.

Evidence reveals even the use of germ warfare as part of colonial combat operations. When colonial rulers found themselves in desperate situations confronted with freedom struggles of the colonized, the usual “civilized” rules of warfare often were thrown out of the window. The British Colonial Governments had resorted to deliberately spreading smallpox among unsuspecting populations e.g. offering blankets infected with small pox to the Indians besieging Fort Pitt in Ohio, USA (1763), spreading small pox among Australian Aborgines in Sydney (1789), and poisoning Indians having invited them to a party in Virginia (1623).

In 1930, the American historian and philosopher Will Durant wrote that Britain’s ‘conscious and deliberate bleeding of India… [was the] greatest crime in all history’. He was not the only one to denounce the rapacity and cruelty of British rule, and his assessment was not exaggerated. Almost thirty-five million Indians died because of acts of commission and omission by the British-in famines, epidemics, communal riots and wholesale slaughter like the reprisal killings after the 1857 War of Independence and the Amritsar massacre of 1919. Besides the deaths of Indians, British rule impoverished India in a manner that beggars belief. When the East India Company took control of the country, in the chaos that ensued after the collapse of the Mughal empire, India’s share of world GDP was 23 percent. When the British left it was just above 3 per cent.

Shashi Tharoor says in ‘The Era of Darkness – the British Empire in India’ (2016) ‘The reality is that we were one of the richest countries in the world when the British came in but when they left us, we were one of the poorest.”

Given the thinking of the western colonial mind in administering colonies worldwide and employing the stratagem of ‘Hit first, hit hard, and hit everywhere’ during that point in time, in retrospect therefore the strategies of wholesale destruction used to quell popular uprisings in British occupied Ceylon  is not all that surprising.

There is a huge void in the information flow today among the current generation in respect to colonial crimes in British occupied Ceylon (1796 – 1948). This paper attempts to fill at least a part of that void.

It will examine the deployment of genocidal warfare including a scorched earth policy and mass murder of innocent civilians during the freedom struggles of 1818 and 1848. It will adduce evidence recorded in official inquiries of use of Lidice type operations’ in crushing the Matale rebellion (1848). These were the first two major wars for independence from British colonial domination. In addition this paper will examine whether the colonial rulers were engaged in a deliberate policy of retardation of development of the Kandyan Provinces especially in Uva, where there was great loss of life following the total destruction of irrigation works and the decimation of cattle that combined to impoverish the people and depopulate the area.

British injustice was felt mostly in the enactment of waste land laws. Kandyan peasants were made landless. They were reduced to a landless state by the takeover of their lands for the plantation industry (initially coffee, then tea) under a series of waste land laws commencing with the Crown Lands (Encroachments) Ordinance, No. 12 of 1840.

Kandyan chena which traditionally had no documentary proof of ownership was taken over for plantation agriculture. This is demonstrated by the names of estates with older names ending with hena or chena crop names. This affected the food security of the people. Evidence of starvation sometimes resulting in death is revealed in the writings of authors such as Le Merseur. The British systematically transferred the wealth of the Kandyan region into their own coffers.

An accountability process for these colonial crimes is warranted through an apology, catharsis and adequate reparations. An Apology must be particularly directed to the descendants of the Sinhala Buddhist Kandyans who were singled out victims of colonial brutalities. These are the descendants of a highly oppressed group of people who were also deprived of their inheritance by the colonial rulers planting thousands of indentured Indian labour in their lands without their consent. 19th century British official documents reveal how the freedom struggles against British colonial rule were suppressed in a most brutal, genocidal manner in one of the darkest pages of European colonial history.

Introduction

“Colonialism is not a thinking machine nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state. It will only yield when confronted with greater violence”

(Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth (1961) p 48

Footnote:  In this ground breaking book Fanon provides a psychiatric and psychologic analysis of the dehumanizing effects of colonization upon the individual and the nation, and examines the broader social, cultural, and political implications of creating a social movement for the decolonization of both the individual and the people).

There were two major wars for independence from British colonial domination. The first uprising took place in 1818 in Uva – Wellassa and the second uprising took place in Matale (1848). Both insurrections were brutally crushed. Millewa Adikarange Durand Appuhamy ( Rebels, Outlaws and Enemies to the British (Colombo: Gunasena, 1990), comments as follows in respect to the crushing of the Kandyan Sinhala uprising in 1818 :

This brute force was employed in Kandy to reduce the inhabitants to savages and to dehumanize them. Everything was done to wipe out their traditions, customs, culture and religion. Mind you, the Kandyans were promised that this would not happen, and that their customs and traditions would be maintained (cl. 4, 8 of the Convention). However, Kandyan villages and farms were burnt down. Their paddy-fields were scorched. Their cattle slaughtered and their fruit bearing trees were simply chopped down. Starved and ill, they were finished off with the gun as if they were stray dogs in a stranger’s land. British civilians then flocked in to take over their lands, clear the virgin forests, and convert them to cash crops for the benefit solely of the settlers and their financiers in Britain. To the Kandyans, the most concrete and the foremost in value was land. This land not only gave them their daily bread but also their dignity. It was to preserve this land that they fought off successfully three western imperial nations, Britain included. Now having ceded their country to trickery, they remained helpless against the planters who insolently trampled over their lands and their rights to their lands”.

The crushing of the uprising in Matale in 1848 is described in a nutshell in a remarkable critical article ‘English in Ceylon’ published in USA in 1851 (The United States Magazine and Democratic Review. Print: Vol. XXVIII, No. CLV, – 1851 May). It is as follows:

The history of Lord Torrington’s administration in Ceylon affords an epitome of English rule, wherever throughout the world, by force, or fraud, or violence, she has succeeded in planting her guilty flag. The horrors perpetrated during 1848 in the island-gem of the East, are the counterpart of those of which, from time to time, during a period of seven centuries, the green isle of the West has been the victim”.

This Conference is a timely reminder of these colonial misdeeds on the occasion of the 200th death anniversary of one of Sri Lanka’s greatest patriots Veera Keppetipola, who was unlawfully executed on November 26, 1818 by the colonial rulers for leading one of the last stands of the Kandyan Sinhalese against foreign occupation of this land. The dead cannot be brought to life. But their legacy can be remembered and honoured. This Conference provides a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude to those who have laid down their lives for the cause of freedom from the tyranny of colonial rule, and also call for accountability for colonial crimes committed during the freedom struggles of our forbears.

British Colonial Policies

British rule over the entirety of the country began in 1815 when the Kingdom of Kandy fell into their hands through a process of diabolical planning and character assassination that led to the overthrow of the last ruler of the Kandyan Kingdom, King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. The deposing of the King ended over 2300 years of Sinhalese monarchy rule on the island. The British occupation of the island lasted until 1948 when the country achieved National Independence.

It cannot be excluded from postulating that British rule in Ceylon was also influenced by developments in neighbouring India. The British Raj employed two military strategies in India to increase its hold on the country, namely, Policy of Ring Fence (1765-1813) and Policy of Subsidiary Alliance.

The policy of Ring Fence was a form of defense of neighbouring frontiers with a view to safeguarding one’s own territory at the expense of the neighbouring state. It was reflected in Governor Warren Hastings’ wars against the Marathas and Mysore, and it was aimed at creating buffer zones to defend the British East India Company’s frontiers. The main danger was from the Marathas and Afghans  (the Company undertook to organise Avvadh’s defence to safeguard Bengal’s security).

British Governor – General Wellesley’s policy of Subsidiary Alliance was an extension of Ring Fence—which sought to reduce Indian Princely states to a position of dependence on British Government in India. Major powers such as Hyderabad, Awadh and the Marathas accepted subsidiary alliance. Thus, British supremacy was established.

Fredrick North, the first British Governor of Ceylon (1798 – 1805), tried to emulate Governor – General Wellesley’s policy of Subsidiary Alliance in India, and asked Adigar Pilimatalavve to urge King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha to agree to have a British Regiment to be placed in Kandy on the basis of a Treaty where the Kandyan Kingdom would become subordinate to the British colonial administration. King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha rejected that proposal. He was in no mood to be dependent on the British as he saw no advantage for himself in such a relationship.

All three western colonial powers namely the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British that governed Sri Lanka in varying degrees during the period 1505 – 1948, had as the cornerstone of their imperial policy the conversion of the Sinhala Buddhists and the Tamil Hindus into Christianity. This enterprise had the blessings of the highest strata of people of the imperial countries including the Crown, the State and the Church. The avowed political objective in converting the colonized was to transfer their allegiance from the local sovereign to the foreign sovereign, and alienate the converted from identification with their traditional religion, culture, language and sense of self-determination. This diabolical plan invariably required the use of manipulative methods of conversion e.g. force, fraud and allurement, and the repression of indigenous religions i.e. Buddhism and Hinduism, by both overt and covert means.

In fact, Governor Robert Browning in a letter dated Nov. 5, 1816 to Earl Bathurst (Secretary of State) says that it was his intention to establish a Seminary in Kandy, and adds that as a first step towards spreading Christianity in Kandy I have reason to believe that this Nilame (Ekniliagodde Nilame) would have no objection to have his son and nephew brought up in the Christian religion, but I dare not in this early stage of our Government, venture the éclat which such an event would infallibly produce”.

An English Writer Gary Brecher, author of the book War Nerd” has written a long article on British crimes in Sri Lanka to a web site called  Exiled on Line” under the title When Pigs Fly-and Scold: Brits Lecturing Sri Lanka”.

He accuses the British establishment of destroying the Sinhalese people completely. Completely and deliberately, sadistically. Stole their land, humiliated and massacred their government, made it Imperial policy to erase every shred of self-respect the Sinhalese had left.  He says You can talk about the Nazis all day long, but nothing they did was as gross as what you find out when you actually look into the history of British-Sinhalese relations. If you can even call them relations”; I guess a murder-rape is a relation, sort of ” .

Making a comparison between Nazi and British atrocities he says that the British were great masters at grabbing some paradise island in the tropics, then using the British Royal Navy to wall it off separating the island from the rest of the world, and crushing the local tribe without any qualms of conscience. If the locals put up a resistance, the Brits would take measures to starve them to death, shoot them down, infect them with smallpox or get them addicted to opium (as in China) –whatever they had to do to gang-rape the locals so bad that they the victims would thereby lose the will to resist.

Brecher points out that the Nazis governed for only one decade but the Brits were able to quietly carry out their extermination programs for three hundred years, and to this day they have no remorse nor have any guilty feeling about it.

He further says that by all accounts, the Sinhala / Kandyans were harmless people, who didn’t need or want much from the outside world. All they asked was for people to leave them alone up on their big rocky highlands to indulge in their Buddhist way of life. Unfortunately that wasn’t British policy. It irked the red coats that Kandy still had a king, an army, all this impudent baggage that went with independence. The British decided to break the Sinhalese completely and crush the whole society” .

By this time, i.e. the early 1800s, the Brits had perfected their techniques in little experiments all over the world. Those Clockwork Orange shrinks were amateurs compared to the Imperial Civil Service. The British Empire knew dozens of ways of undermining and suppressing native kingdoms.

Brecher writing further says that destroying Buddhism was a big part of Brit policy. The Buddhist routine, the temples, begging monks, long boring prayers–it was the glue that kept Kandy together. So the Brits decided to destroy it. They even said so, in private memos to each other. They weren’t shy in those days. Here’s the Brit governor in 1807: Reliance on Buddhism must be destroyed. Make sure all [village] chiefs are Christian.”

The British developed ingenious ways of grabbing other people’s lands under various pretexts. For example, the British began invading Australia in 1788, on the footing that it was terra nullis: a land with no owners.

European powers like Spain and Portugal depended on bloody conquest and massacres in colonial expansion, especially in South America. Britain was not far behind, given what the British did to Australian Aborgines in Tasmania and mainland Australia. The British were the masters of the game of ‘ Divide and Rule’. The ethnic and religious tensions in Sri Lanka are very much a legacy of colonial rule. If the target country had many ethnic groups or tribes like in India, North America, Fiji, Malaysia, or Sri Lanka, the British first looked for any potential allies that have distinctive differences from other groups, particularly the majority. Then the British undermine the authority of the majority by promoting unfairly selected members of a minority community with a view to creating tension and conflict between various groups. The appointment of Haji Marikar (Muslim) as the Muhandiram to be in charge of roadways in Wellassa is a case in point. This appointment was resented by the Sinhalese as it undermined the authority of Dissawa Mellewa. This was the spark that led to the 1818 uprising.

British intrigue in Kandy under the directions of successive Governors, namely, North, Maitland and Brownrigg was also intended to achieve British supremacy in Ceylon as in India, by subduing the Kingdom of Kandy through a vicious campaign of propaganda and character assassination directed against the ruler of the Kandyan Kingdom, King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. He was demonized. He was accused of being a tyrant. Killer of women and children (of persons who had committed treason). A common punishment for treason in most countries including imperial Britain.  A drunkard. And as he was of Indian origin the British discredited his Malabar ancestry as a ploy to alienate him from his Adigars, his chiefs and rejected his right to the throne.

In fairness it must be said that as a young King, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was popular among the people of his Kingdom. He took charge of the administration which was fair and efficient. He displayed aesthetic sensibility regularly listening to music and commissioned the Royal Architect and Master Craftsman, Devendra Mulachari to design and build the Paththripuwa (1802) and the Kandy Lake (1807), among other novel creations. The King supervised the artists who enlarged and decorated the Kandy City.

Infringements of the Kandyan Convention

The failure to honour the solemn promises and undertakings by the British as enshrined in the Kandyan Convention (1815) led to increasing dissatisfaction among the Kandyan Chiefs. The Kandyan Kingdom was ceded (not conquered) to the British without any conditions or undertakings on the part of the Kandyan Chiefs. However as time passed by the Kandyan Sinhalese saw a planned effort being set in motion to dismantle the Kandyan Kingdom, and deceive a trusting people.

One of the most important Articles of the Kandyan Convention was Article 5. The British gave an unconditional warranty that Buddhism would remain inviolable (Article 5). Governor Brownrigg had later admitted that he gave this assurance purely to gain the support of the Buddhist monks without whose backing the Convention would have fallen through. But the British evangelists who had by this time entered the country sponsored by various Churches in England were strongly opposed to this provision. They had no right to interfere being not a party to the Treaty. Nevertheless they denigrated Buddhism as idolatry and dismissed its rituals and practices as tantamount to heathenism. They lobbied the British Govt. to remove this Article or dishonor it in violation of the Convention, and they seemingly relied on the advice proffered by Sade to the imperialist in De Juliette “take their god from the people that you wish to subjugate, then demoralize it; so long as they worship no other god than you, and has no other morals than your morals, you will always be their master” (Juliette is a novel written by the Marquis de Sade and published in 1797 – 1801) p324.

Governor  Brownrigg failed to honour the promise that he had made to Ehelepola Maha Nilame that he would facilitate an arrangement to make Ehelepola succeed to the vacant throne of the Kandyan Kingdom after the overthrow of the last King, Sri Wikrama Rajasinha. The Governor also began to violate the terms of the Kandyan Convention particularly in regard to protection of Buddhism, at the instance of the Christian Church and foreign missionaries.

The British presence in Kandy was day by day becoming unpopular and troublesome to the Sinhala people. A favourite saying among the people directed at the British occupation was ‘ You have now deposed the King and nothing more is required – please leave to enable us to manage our lives according to our values and culture ’. They were desperately seeking to restore their way of life which had the royal patronage in their cultural and religious activities, and they found themselves alienated in a system of governance where the Ruler was a King living thousands of miles away in England and had no direct contact with either the people or their local Chiefs.

Uprising in Uva – Wellassa (1817 – 1818)

The British started to antagonize the Kandyan Chiefs who had signed the Convention, in a number of ways including displaying lack of respect and breach of promises in terms of recognition of traditional privileges they had been enjoying under the Kandyan Kings.

The tension in the Kandyan Provinces had reached such a high level in 1817 that all it needed was a spark to get a fire going.

There were two major factors that led to an uprising.

In June 1816 Madugalle Uda Gabada Nilame clandestinely suggested to the incumbent monk of the Dalada Maligawa to have the sacred tooth relic removed from Kandy. He followed this move when he (in Sept. 1816) publicly sent offerings and prayers to the Devas at Bintenne and Kataragama, seeking the downfall of the colonial rulers and the revival of the Kandyan Kingdom.  These actions were viewed with great disapproval and considered tantamount to high treason. Madugalle was arrested and dismissed from office. He was forcibly taken to Colombo without being given an opportunity to bid farewell to his family. His residence or Walauwa was set on fire and destroyed in front of the public and his personal belongings were confiscated and sold, and the proceeds of the sale were utilized to create a pension fund for the benefit of British officers serving in Kandy.  In an instant Madugalle’s wife and children were rendered homeless by Governor Brownrigg acting in the name of the British Raj.

It was the Chiefs of Bintenna and Wellassa who mostly disliked British rule. They were conscious of their powers and duties, and jealously guarded them. When the British under their divide and rule policy appointed a Moor loyal to the British named Haji Marikkar (originally from Matara) as Travala Madige ( Transport) Muhandiram of Wellassa, despite stiff opposition from the majority Sinhalese in the Wellassa region and thereby undermining the authority of the Millewa Dissawa, the stage was set for a clash. This office of Chief of Madige ( Transport) Department, was a position traditionally held by the families of Bootawe, Kohukumbura, Nanaporuwa Raterala, and several other Sinhala families.

And when a claimant to the throne called Vilbave, former monk asserting relationship to the deposed King, emerged in September 1817, the Millewa Dissawa and his people decided to support him. The other Kandyan chiefs too then began to join the Sinhala resistance under Vilbave. It must be stated here that the story that first began to circulate of a Malabar named Doresamy (alleged brother in law of the King Rajaji Rajasinha – King immediately before King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha) was claiming title to the Throne, was subsequently disapproved when Doresamy was found peaceably living in Madurai by the British, with hardly any involvement in developments then taking place in the Kandyan Provinces. This is mentioned in the correspondence of Governor Robert Brownrigg addressed to Colonial Secretary The Earl Bathhurst dated February 19, 1818  – C.O. 54 / 70 No. 267 – reproduced in Tennakoon Vimalananda book ‘ The Great Rebellion of Kandy’ Gunasena: 1970) p. 141

In September 1817 Silvester Douglas Wilson who was the Assistant Resident in Badulla despatched a detachment under Haji Marikkar, and commanded by Hadji’s brother, to investigate reports that a Malabar (prohibited from entering the Kandyan Provinces without prior permission) had turned up in Uva – Wellassa with a large following claiming the throne of Kandy. The people of Wellassa were so provoked by the arrival of this group led by Haji whom they (Sinhalese) considered as low or inferior and unfit for high posts, that they under the command of Bootawe Rate Rala caught Haji and produced him before Vilbave who after a fair trial under the circumstances sentenced him to be executed by beheading. Wilson on hearing of this incident then proceeded to Uva with an armed escort of twenty – four Malay and Javanese soldiers under the command of Lieut- Newman,  When they had almost reached the present town of Bibile, Major Wilson was killed when an arrow aimed at him by an expert marksman of the Sinhala Resistance group struck his chest. Wilson died on September 16, 1817.

British unpopularity at this time was so high that the uprising spread rapidly to the other parts of the Kandyan Kingdom such as Matale, Dumbara, Denuwara, WalapaneHewaheta and other areas. This forced the British to summon troops from Batticaloa and Kandy. The British replaced Dissawa of Wellassa, the elderly Millewa, with Keppetipola who was appointed as Dissawa of Wellassa.

The British sent Monarawila Keppetipola who remained in Kandy until 17 October 1817, to Uva to bring the situation under control. When Keppetipola arrived in Wellassa he met the  Sinhalese fighters who invited him to join the movement under Vilbave. Without any hesitation, Keppetipola then realizing the plight of his people returned all his arms and ammunitions to the British Agent and joined the Sinhala Resistance to lead the battle. Upon hearing of this turn of events, other Sinhalese leaders including Pilamatalawe Disawa of Sathkorale, Madugalla, Uda Gabada Nilame, Ellepola (the leader of Viyaluwa), Ehelepola (a brother of Maha Adikaram Ihagama), Godagedara Adikaram, Badalkumbure Rala also joined the Resistance.

The British Army in Ceylon comprised of Europeans, Javanese, Malay and African troops, There were also Lascoreens and Sepoys recruited locally from the South i.e. low country and the Malabar region of India. The British were then forced to bring troops from India to crush the Resistance. At one point the situation prevailing in Uva and Wellassa was so alarming that the English resorted to setting fire to villages, houses, livestock, and whatever they could burn in total desperation.

In retaliation the British military embarked on a mission of reprisal killing and destruction never seen after the Portuguese were expelled from the country. This was something similar to the Nazis atrocities in occupied Europe in the Second World War. Some of the chief British culprits were Major MacDonald assisted by Lieut – MacCornell and Lieut – Taylor. They set fire to houses in the surrounding villages, burnt their grain, and cut down their coconut, jak, and breadfruit trees. The cattle were seized to have them slaughtered to feed their troops. The stricken villagers were dumbfounded at this sight. They simply watched in silence from a distance at the flames that were consuming their dwellings. The British genocidal operations comprising mass murder and destruction of property under orders from the Colonial Government, were totally alien to the Sinhala code of conduct in combat against an armed enemy.

Wellassa which literally means ‘ Wel Laksha’ or ‘ lakh of paddy fields’ was a fertile region and granary of the Kandyan Kingdom. It was laid to waste by British troops and was never able to recover the former strength.

After a little over a year of severe confrontation, with the British gaining overwhelming superiority in both arms and men, the British were able to suppress the opposition and apprehend most of the leaders. The properties of 18 Sinhala leaders were confiscated. Pilimatalawe Junior, who was gravely ill at the time of arrest, was exiled to the islands of Mauritius. The British were also able to recover the Tooth Relic of the Buddha which had been hidden by Monks. This was the crippling blow. The Sinhalese laid down their arms saying Now the English are indeed masters of the country; for whoever possess the Sacred Tooth Relic has a right to govern the  kingdom”.

Keppetipola was captured on October 28, 1818 by Lieutenant O’Neil after a Muslim trader visiting the village he was hiding in for barter, sneaked the information of his whereabouts to the British. A few days later Madugalle was captured. On 13th November Keppetipola was brought before a ‘Court Martial’ by name, but in fact it was basically a ‘Kangaroo Court’, and sentenced to death. The Court Martial of Madugalle was held a few days later and he too was sentenced to death. Though the execution was ordered to be carried out on November 26, 1818, according to Marshall, both Keppetipola and Madugalle were executed via beheading on Wednesday November 25, 1818 at around 8.00 a.m. in front of the Bogambara Tank.  Governor Robert Browning who had spent about 15 months in Kandy overseeing the quelling of the uprising left Kandy at about 12.00 noon on November 25, after the execution for Colombo, and arrived in Colombo on Saturday Nov. 28 to receive a grand welcome at the Kayman’s Gate.   .

British War Crimes during the freedom struggle in 1817 -1818

 ….. cut down every yielding tree, pull down every dwelling house, destroy all fields, canals and irrigation reservoirs, kill every man, woman and every male child above 16 years,  and slaughter all cattle leaving those which are needed for the use of the army.” 

Governor Robert Brownrigg

The British Soldiers followed the orders of the Governor to the letter, and killed large numbers estimated between 40,000 to 100,000 innocent men, women and children, enforcing the promulgation. The Sinhala Resistance leader Keppetipola was beheaded. These were the orders of Governor Robert Brownrigg (3rd British Governor of Ceylon from 1812 – 1820) to Maj. Gen. Hay MacDowell in 1818 that resulted in the people of the agriculturally rich grain growing region of Uva-Wellassa of then Ceylon reduced to a state of famine and starvation. Uva Wellassa region was the granary of the Kingdom of Kandy.

The British adopted a scorched earth policy like the Russians did in 1812 when Napolean’s Grand Armee marched into Russia, including mass murder and genocide of innocent Sinhala civilians to crush this uprising. scorched earth policy is a military strategy which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. It is a military strategy where all of the assets that are used or can be used by the enemy are targeted, such as food sources, transportation, communications, industrial resources, and even the people in the area.

In the entire Uva region members of the male population above the age of 16 were killed as reprisal killing for resisting British soldiers and defying British occupation. Such was the enormous loss of man power in the Uva region that it was not possible to engage in paddy or chena cultivation for another 10 years.  According to Davy while on an inspection of the Uva region with Governor Brownrigg they had not been able to sight a single person or an intact house for 7 days.

The entry of Herbert White, a British Government Agent in the (Compendium of Uva) Journal reads as follows there is no record of the population of Uva after the rebellion. No record is left about Uva before the rebellion. If thousands died in the battle field they were all brave fighters. If 80 % of the remaining population after the rebellion is considered as children and the old, the damage done is unlimited’.

The irrigation systems of the duchies of Uva and Wellassa the rice-bowl of Sri Lanka were systematically destroyed. Wellassa which means ‘Wel Lakshsa” Lakh of paddy fields, was brought to ruins by the British onslaught.  It must be stated here that the British army in Ceylon consisted of Europeans, Javanese, Malay, African troops, Indian sepoys and Sinhalese Lascorins. The British inducted Indian Tamils (Sepoys) from the Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu).

Governor Brownrigg branded 17 Sinhala resistance fighters who were in forefront of the uprising as ‘traitors’ in a Gazette Notification issued on 1 January 1818, and confiscated their properties by Government declaration. They were declared ‘Rebels, Outlaws and Enemies of the British’.  ( R.L. Brohier – The Golden Age of Military Adventure in Ceylon 1817 – 1818)

They were:

  1. Keppetipola, former Dissawe of Oova (Uva)
  2. Godagedara, former Adikaram of Ouva
  3. Ketakala Mohattala of Ouva
  4. Maha Betmerala of Kataragama in Ouva
  5. Kuda Betmerala of Kataragama in Ouva
  6. Palagolla Mohattala of Ouva
  7. Passerewatte Vidane of Ouva
  8. Kiwulegedera Mohottala of Walapane
  9. Yalagomme Mohotalla of Walapane
  10. Udamadure Mohottala of Walapane
  11. Kohukumbure Rate Rala of Wellassa
  12. Kohukumbura Walauwe Mohottala of Wellassa
  13. Bootawe Rate Rala of Wellassa
  14. Kohukumubura Gahawela Rate Rala of Wellassa
  15. Maha Badulle gammene Rate Rala of Wellassa
  16. Bulupitiye Mohottala of Wellassa
  17. Palle Malheyae Gametirale of Wallassa.

The Colonial rulers took disproportionate punitive measures and exhibited shocking brutality in the knowledge perhaps that they will not be held accountable for these atrocities.

Massacre details

  The Kandyans did perceive their ineluctable drift to serfdom and servitude. They sought their freedom and their self-respect. It was quite clear that the British interloper had acted fraudulently. He had to be ejected from the lands of their fathers. As Justice Hardinge Gifford suggested at that time, the British should have abandoned Kandy to the Kandyans. This was too galling for the colonial governor Brownrigg. He was determined to maintain his reputation and that of the Crown “unsullied and unimpaired”. He decided on using brute force to subjugate the Kandyans. Thus began the first Kandyan bloody struggle for freedom. The intruding British it as a rebellion against the Crown.

There were some colonial functionaries who suggested the extirpation of the whole Kandyan race, which Hardinge Gifford condemned as “too revolting to humanity to be entertained even for a moment”. Nevertheless, Brownrigg was determined to rely solely on the exercise of force and the effects of terror to subjugate the Kandyans. He threatened with extermination the refractory and the disaffected.

The colonial army officers carried out governor’s determination with ruthless efficiency. A few examples will suffice to prove my point. Maj MacDonald was the first to resort to arson in the Badulla district. In revenge for Govt. Agent Wilson’s death, he burnt down to the ground all the peaceful villages near Hausanvella. It was their fault that those villages happened to be located near the place where Wilson died. He plundered and destroyed their cattle, grain and other property. He then informed his Governor ” this act of severity, I trust, will not be disapproved of” (CO 54/56 7th Nov. 1817). It was, in fact, approved and praised by the governor and was held out as an example for others to imitate. This scorching of the earth soon became the main method of oppression.

Lt. J. Maclaine of the 73rd Regiment was a notorious sadist. Before the House of Commons Committee on Ceylon 1849/50, Col. Braybrooke reported that Maclaine hung the Kandyan prisoners without any trial, and particularly relished having them hung up outside his quarters, while he had his breakfast.

Capt. Fraser, Brownrigg’s aide-de-camp, one night killed nineteen and took ten prisoners. Seven of the latter were executed without any trial, and the other three were forced into service as his guides. His men hung up the bodies in the roadside ambalama (a wayfarers’ rest) at Godamunne. The blood from the corpses polluted the nearby river and made it unusable by them the next morning.

Col. Hook was another monster. In May 1818, he burnt down all the villages between Kadulova, where his garrison was posted, and Yatavatta Pass in the Matale district. In his frenzy he also executed Mavatagama Nileme (a Kandyan Chief), the brother of the High priest at Asgiriya Temple in Kandy. In this instance, the Governor apologized for the outrage, and made restitution to the family.

This terror and wanton manslaughter visited every nook and corner of the Kandyan kingdom with monotonous regularity. Wherever any sign of hostility was reported, troops were let loose on measures of repression; houses were burnt, stores looted, women and children seized, any men captured were executed. “There was seldom a day passed but we had parties out scouting the country for distance around burning all they came across and shooting they could not take prisoners” wrote sergeant Calladine. Small detachments were authorized to put to death anyone who opposed the British, reported by Dr. Davy. The pillage, plunder and cold-blooded murder were so common that Dr. Davy was moved to write ” such system of warfare as this, of which I have partially sketched in outline, had better not be given in detail”. Even London Times on the 7 of Oct. 1818 declared Brownrigg’s brutal “method of conflagration” (a term used by his Gazette) as “dreadful measures”.

The barbarous brutality committed by the colonial British on the Kandyans, can, of necessity, be only brief here. Anyone just perusing through the Colonial Papers of this period will find plenty of additional material on this matter to fill many volumes.” ( Durand Appuhamy)

Madulla Massacre

On the 9th of Dec. 1817, a few Kandyans armed with bows and arrows waylaid a convoy of provisions escorted by Malay soldiers in the forest near Tibbottugoda. In the ensuing melee the British lost both their provisions and their soldiers. Andavala Mohotalla who lived nearby, was the chief suspect for this raid. His property was destroyed, other buildings in the neighbourhood were all burnt, fruit trees were cut down, all stores were also plundered. Madulla was the next village. The people there feared the worst when five men were executed, and the houses of six headmen were also burnt down. Driven by fear, the villagers scaled the nearby rock and hid themselves in the cave there. What then happened was described by governor Brownrigg himself (General Report issued on 6th Jan. 1818); “having got information of the hiding place of the villagers, it was decided to surprise and seize them the same night. The rebels, as is supposed, to the number of fifty men were in the cave—which being silently approached by our detachment, small divisions, under Lt. L. and sergeant Murray, of 73 regiment were posted in the pathways at each end of the cave, while Capt.C. proceeded with the remainder of his brave soldiers, for the front. The alarm being given within, the inhabitants set up a hideous yell and rushed from the cavern. Twenty of them were killed by our troops and the remainder precipitated themselves down the deep declivity of the mountain, by which they must have severely suffered. In the darkness that prevailed, one woman and child were also killed”. The original intention was to seize the villagers. Instead, the trigger-happy soldiers simply shot them on sight as they came out of the cave. It was for a similar shoot-to-kill policy that Prime Minister Blair tendered his apology to the Irish not long ago. The villagers did not attack the soldiers, and the British did not sustain any injury or casualty. To salvage their conscience, a bogus excuse was then issued, to the effect, that, because the army acted with due care to protect the women and children in the cave, many of the rebels were able to escape. No credibility can be attached to this statement, as they had already massacred twenty Kandyans in cold blood. Further it was this same army that had earlier seized and raped many women all over the Kandyan province.” (Durand Appuhamy)

This dreadful incident is comparable to an event that took place in Okinawa, Japan, in the closing stages of the Second World War in 1945, when innocent Japanese civilians men, women and children, hiding in a cave were forced to jump into a deep ravine and kill themselves rather than surrender to American soldiers fearing that they will be maltreated.

J.B. Muller says

Sri Lanka is a very old country with a long history of civilization and a matured polity unlike some ‘Johnny-come-lately’ countries with hardly 500 years of history. The latter period of its history was marred by 443 years of European exploitation, each European power building on its predecessors to refine its instruments of exploitation. The British were the worst and the bloodiest when it came to merciless brutality as is evidenced by the manner in which it quelled the uprising of the Kandyans between 1818 and 1822. It committed genocide before that word was coined by slaughtering every man, woman, and child (including babes suckling at the breast!) in the Uva Province . That province comprised of the present Badulla and Moneragala Districts is yet to recover and is just now being developed by government. The Colonial Office 54 series of documents available at the Public Records Office in London holds all the General Orders issued by Lt. Gen. Sir Robert Brownrigg, governor and c-in-c, to Maj. General Hay McDowall and the correspondence with the Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Bathurst. (The Great Rebellion of 1818 by Prof. Tennekoon Vimalananda, Five Volumes, Gunasena Historical Series, Colombo, 1970)

In 1823 the British began selling Crown Land at two shillings an acre to British entrepreneurs—first, to cultivate cinchona [from which quinine is obtained], then coffee, then tea and rubber—from which they made huge profits for 149 years—and Mincing Lane and the members of the London Stock Exchange prospered beyond the dreams of avarice. (Land Reform Commission Report by Colvin R. de Silva, tabled in Parliament)

They created a huge ethnic and social problem by transporting indentured labour from the Ramnad district of Madras Presidency (present day Tamil Nadu). These helpless people were auctioned off at Matale like the African slaves at Charleston, SC, and families were cruelly torn apart. They reached Matale walking over 100 miles from Talaimannar along a route that came to be known as the ‘Skeleton Road’ because of the numbers that had perished by the wayside from hunger, thirst, snakebite, attack by wild beasts, cholera, dysentery, and what-have-you. Their tragedy has been carefully documented by Donovan Moldrich in his ‘Bitter Berry Bondage’—the story of the 19th century coffee workers in Sri Lanka . Another Burgher author, Lorna Ruth Wright, OAM, wrote Just another shade of Brown” which graphically details the sexual exploitation of the women plantation workers and the creation of the Eurasian Community (disowned by their very prim and proper British fathers!) Many authors domestic and foreign have written about what colonialism did to Sri Lanka (Ceylon up to 1972) and it is a wonder that the people of this country tolerated what was done to them for so long, so patiently. (‘Bitter Berry Bondage’ by Donovan R. Moldrich and ‘Just another shade of brown’ by Lorna R. Wright)

Father Paul Caspersz, SJ, head of Satyodaya, Kandy, has been labouring amongst the Tamil plantation workers of Indian origin for decades and has written extensively about how these human beings have been mercilessly exploited. They have lived in sub-human conditions for over one hundred years and their emancipation has been a long and hard struggle to restore to them their intrinsic dignity as human beings. (Satyodaya Centre, Kandy, Sri Lanka)”

See

How the British exploited Sri Lanka’

by J.B. Muller

https://thelionandsword.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/how-the-british-exploited-sri-lanka/

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Select Committee of the British Parliament

This was presided over by Mr. Hume. It sat at Westminster from 1848 – 1850 to inquire into the grievances of the people and maladministration of officials of the British Government of Ceylon. It released a 10, 000 page Report. 

Viscount Torrington who was the Governor of Ceylon from 1847 – 1850, is known for his brutal suppression of the 1848 civil uprising.  He appeared before the Select Committee and in the course of his evidence,  he referred to the 1818 national uprising and said as  follows:

The difficulties of that year were brought about by treating the rebellion too lightly at the outset. Remembering, then, the character of the rebellion in 1818, and having taken the advice of all who were competent to give it, and with the reports now before me, I can say confidently now, as I felt then, and as it was the opinion of everybody in Ceylon at the time, that the rebellion which broke out in 1848 was a most serious and most dangerous one, and one which, but for the prompt and efficient steps taken to suppress it, would have spread ruin and calamity and destruction throughout the colony, and that European capital, to the extent of two or three millions, would have been sacrificed.

Before, however, I state the circumstances attending the rebellion of 1848, I think it will be convenient to the House if I take a retrospective view of our position in the Kandyan country, to afford a clearer insight into the circumstances which brought about that rebellion. Your Lordships are aware that, in 1795, we took possession from the Dutch of the maritime provinces of the island only, and that several kingdoms were still ruled by their own chiefs under a native king. Afterwards, in 1815, by treaty between the chiefs of the Kandyan country and Sir Robert Brownrigg, the government of the whole country was ceded to us. By this treaty, we undertook all the duties of the King of Kandy. Lord Bathurst, in his despatch containing the approval of the Prince Regent, adverts to the difficulties which might arise in carrying into effect this part of the treaty. I think that Sir R. Brownrigg acted too hastily in making that treaty, and that had he waited some time longer, we might have had the country on different and more advantageous terms. The treaty was understood in different senses by the two parties. The chiefs thought they would still continue to govern the country, to oppress the people, and to gather the revenues of Kandy as before, and that we were simply to have the regality of the territory. We, on the other hand, when we undertook all the duties appertaining to the King of the Kandyans, never intended that the chiefs should govern the country at all; hut on the contrary, we considered it essential to appoint our own administrators. I believe that this misunderstanding was the original cause of the rebellion in 1818, as well as of all the disturbances which have broken out since. It took two years and the sacrifice of 10,000 men to suppress the rebellion of 1818, and martial law was in operation for more than a year. There was another rebellion in 1823, and serious difficulties arose at that time; there were conspiracies in 1834 and 1843.

Among the duties of the King of Kandy was that of appointing priests to the Buddhist temples. The Colonial Office, long before my noble Friend became Secretary of State for the Colonies, had directed the Government not to make these appointments. It was part of my duty to continue this policy. The Government had therefore, for many years, refused to appoint priests to the temples, or to give any warrant for the collection of the dues to be paid to the temples, and as the only way of getting in these dues was by the warrant of the Governor, and as no warrant was given, the tenants withheld their dues, the temples fell into disrepair and ruin, and this led to great dissatisfaction among the priests and chiefs; when, in fine, we handed over to them the charge of Buddhu’s Tooth—a relic which was deemed by them to be of great value, and concerning which they believed that whoever possessed it would hold and govern the country—they were enabled to work upon the superstition of the people, and to induce them to believe that the time had come for throwing off the British rule. I; make these statements on the authority of the papers which I now move shall be laid before your Lordships.

The Kandyans have ever, in fact, been dissatisfied with our rule. They have seen their power, their position, their religion declining. They have ever looked for an opportunity of freeing themselves.

It is moreover to be noticed that the improvements which have been going on in the country, have not been without an injurious effect upon their native habits. They had been accustomed to live isolated and retired from Europeans; but their haunts were now constantly being encroached on. The jungles through which buffaloes were accustomed to roam unmolested, are now brought under cultivation; a great number of coolies have been introduced to cultivate the lands which the natives once considered as their own, and great jealousy has consequently arisen among them. These and other causes of jealousy had caused a great deal of discontent and dissatisfaction; and I can assure your Lordships, that during the disturbances which occurred in Europe at the beginning of the year 1848, means were taken by certain parties to sow among the natives the seeds of discontent and dissatisfaction. I am not prepared to say that these parties intended to proceed the whole length of rebellion; but political agitation was introduced into the island, which the people were not accustomed to, and reports were circulated among the natives, that if they went down to the coast they would see a large French force assembled there. The effect of these reports upon the people was very prejudicial. The soothsayers, also, were busy among them, prophesying that on a certain place and day they would be free, and have the independence of their country secured to them”.

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The Execution of Kappitapola

Dr Henry Marshall

Early in the morning on the 25th November, Kappitapola and Madugalle were, in compliance with their own request, taken to the Dalada Malegawa, or temple of the sacred relic. At the request of Kappitapola, and by permission of his Excellency Sir Robert Brownrigg, Mr. Sawers met him at the temple. Kneeling before the priest, upon the threshold of the sanctuary, the repository of the sacred relic, the chief detailed the principal meritorious actions of his life,—such as the benefits he had conferred on priests, together with the gifts he had bestowed on temples, and other acts of piety. He then pronounced the Proptannawah, or last wish; namely, that, at his next birth, he might be born on the mountains of Himmalaya, and finally obtain Neerwannah, a state of partial annihilation. Having concluded his devotions, he was addressed by the priest, who, in an impressive tone and manner, acknowledged that his merits were great, and concluded his address by pronouncing a benediction, the last words of which were as follows:—”As sure as a stone thrown up into the air returns to the earth, so certain you will, in consideration of your religious merits, be present at the next incarnation of Boodhoo, and receive your reward.” The scene between the chief, and the priest was most solemn and impressive. The chief, who had continued kneeling, rose, and turning round to Mr. Sawers, addressed him in the following words:—”I give you a share of the merit of my last religious offering,”—and, forthwith unwinding, his upper cloth from his waist he presented it to the temple, jocularly observing, that although it was both foul, and ragged, “the merit of the offering would not on those accounts be diminished, it being all he had to give.” He then requested Mr. Sawers to accompany him to the place of execution, which was kindly and respectfully declined.

Madugalle’s devotions were conducted in a similar manner, but although he had evinced great bravery in the field, he lost self-possession on this occasion. When the priest had given him his benediction, he sprang forward, and rushed into the sanctuary, where he loudly craved mercy for the sake of the relic. He was instantly dragged from behind the dagobah by Lieutenant Mackenzie, the fort adjutant, with the assistance of some of the guard. Kappitapola, who conducted himself with great firmness and self-possession, and who was greatly surprised at the pusillanimity of his fellow-prisoner, in the most impassionate manner observed, that Madugalle acted like a fool. He then, in a firm and collected manner shook hands with Mr. Sawers, and bade him farewell.

The prisoners were then taken to the place of execution, which was near to the Bogarnbarawa tank, about a mile distant from the temple. Here they requested to be provided with water for the purpose of ablution, which was brought to them. Kappitapola then begged to be allowed a short time to perform the ceremonies of his religion. This request being granted, both the prisoners washed their hands and face. Kappitapola then tied up his hair in a knot on the top of his head, and sat down on the ground, beside a small bush, grasping it at the same time with his toes. From the folds of the cloth which encircled his loins, he took a small Bana potta, (prayer-book) and, after reciting some prayers or vases, he gave the book to a native official who was present, requesting him to deliver it to Mr. Sawers as a token of the gratitude he felt for his friendship and kindness, while they were officially connected at Badulla,—Mr. Sawers as Agent of government, and Kappitapola as Dissawa of Uwa.

The chief continued to repeat some Pali verses; and, while he was so employed the executioner struck him on the back of his neck with a sharp sword. At that moment he breathed out the word Arahaan, one of the names of Boodhoo. A second stroke deprived him of life, and he fell to the ground a corpse. His head being separated from his body, it was, according to Kandyan custom, placed on his breast.

Madugalle continued to evince great want of firmness; and being unable to tie up his hair, that operation was performed by the Hearigha Kangaan, the chief public executioner. The perturbed state of his mind was evinced by the convulsive action of the muscle of his face. He earnestly begged to be dispatched by means of one blow, and then finally pronounced the word Arahaan. In consequence of his not having sufficient resolution to bend his head forwards, it was held by one of the executioners. After the first blow of the sword he fell backwards; but he was not deprived of life until he received the second stroke.

Kappitapola’s cranium was presented by the writer to the museum of the Phrenological Society of Edinburgh. ”

Source:
Dr Henry Marshall. Ceylon: A General Description of the Island and of its Inhabitants.
London 1846. (Reprint 1982) pp 198-199.

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Sir Archibald Campbell Lawrie

Sir Archibald Lawrie, an eminent British Judge and an author of number of Treaties on the Laws of Ceylon and historical works such as the ‘A Gazetteer of the Central Province of Ceylon’ (1896),

in recalling the dreadful events of the initial British Period says as follows:

The story of English rule in the Kandyan country during 1817 and 1818 cannot be related without shame. In 1819 hardly a member of the leading families, the heads of the people remained alive; those whom the sword and gun had spared, cholera and small pox and privations, had slain by hundreds. The subsequent efforts of Government to rule and assist its Kandyan subjects were, for many years, only attempts begun and abandoned. Irrigation and education did not receive due attention. The descendants of the higher classes of the Kandyan times rapidly died out, the lower classes became ignorant and apathetic. If Eheylepola had reigned, much that must now be regretted might have been avoided, but fate decided otherwise, and Eheylepola died in exile in Mauritius”. (Quoted in ‘The Great Rebellion of 1818’ by Tennakoon Vimalananda) p lxix

British injustice in the enactment of waste land laws

Kandyan Sinhalese peasants were reduced to a landless state by the takeover of their lands for the plantation industry (initially coffee, then tea) by the British colonial government under a series of waste land laws commencing with the Crown Lands (Encroachments) Ordinance, No. 12 of 1840 which stipulated that ‘ all forest, waste, unoccupied or uncultivated land was to be presumed to be the property of the Crown until the contrary is proved’. During that period of time an average peasant farmer did not keep documents to prove his ownership, particularly of chena lands. By this one stroke of legislation, bread” was taken out of the poor cultivator’s mouth and enormous hardship imposed on the Kandyan peasantry.

Lack of educational facilities in the Kandyan areas also contributed to the creation of a large functionally illiterate adult population. The Report of the Kandyan Peasantry Commission (1951) highlighted a peasant’s response to this issue as follows No land, no money; no money, no education; no education, no jobs; no jobs, no money for education or for the purchase of cultivable land”

Retardation of development of Kandyan Province especially Uva

With the advent of British rule in the Kandyan areas in 1815 there arose a set of new ideas of political organisation, of land utilization and of commerce.

At the same time there arose growing opposition from the Kandyan chiefs, the monks and the people to further continuation of British rule in the Kanda Uda Rata as they felt that the British were steadily moving away from honouring the commitments given to the Kandyan signatories under the Kandyan Convention of 1815.

The harsh methods adopted by the British contributed in no small measure to the retarding of development of the Kandyan Province, particularly that of Uva. There was great loss of life where the total destruction of irrigation works and the decimation of cattle combined to impoverish the people and depopulate the area.

Coffee Plantations

Kandyan Sinhalese peasantry were the pioneer coffee growers in Sri Lanka. They were engaged in coffee cultivation decades before British owned plantations were established. Between 1800 and 1804 during the rule of the last King of Kandy the average peasant coffee exports were 1, 116 cwts. While between 1822 and 1825 coffee exports had grown to 10, 246 cwts. The scale of production grew heavily in the 1830s and reached a peak of 148, 000 to 218, 000 cwts. in the period 1865 – 1869 ( Asoka Bandarage – Colonialism)

It was the early success of the Kandyan Sinhalese coffee growers and the discovery after 1815 that the wet zone areas of the Kandyan Province were ideally suited for the cultivation of coffee that pushed the British colonial administration to embark on large scale coffee production on estates.

Unfortunately Kandyan peasant small holders lacked the funds and the influence required to compete with British planters in purchasing crown land.

The colonial Government. itself took to the planting of coffee. But there were very many difficulties particularly in getting adequate labour. The Government utilized the rajakariya system in working its plantations. But the private planters found it difficult to find paid labour.  Kandyan Sinhala village organisation was based on service and agricultural labour on the basis of pay was something unheard of, strange and even considered degrading.

Governor Edward Barnes (Acting Governor of Ceylon from 1820 to 1821 and appointed Governor from 1824 to 1831) took many steps to encourage the plantation of coffee and other cash crops.

Early British coffee planters received large land grants from the colonial state free of payment in freehold (sinnakara). Major George Bird and Governor Barnes received large tracts of land close to Kandy for coffee growing. After 1833 crown land was sold at a nominal rate free of land tax. Road were opened connecting the coffee plantations with Colombo.

Land grants known as ‘British Grants’ were also made to Native chiefs who were loyal to the British during the Kandyan rebellion of 1818. But they were not given specific land grants in the interior for purpose of commercial agriculture per se. Some of the leading political families that figure in contemporary Lankan history were indeed beneficiaries of this colonial largesse (pay back) for betrayal of what in common parlance is sloganized today as ‘ Rata, Jathiya, Agama’.

The Government abolished the rajakariya system in 1833 pursuant to the recommendations of the Colebrooke Cameron Commission Report to solve the labour problem. But it did not bring in the desired results. Later in 1851 realizing the folly they tried to rectify it by bringing paddy land legislation but it was unsuccessful. British planters then made use of Indian Tamil labour which was brought down from India in great hordes.

British crown treated itself as successor to the Kandyan Kingdom and claimed the ownership of considerable extents of lands in the Kandyan Province. It then commenced on the basis of ‘ownership’ of the Kandyan land to make grants to coffee planters not only of remote forests but also of what are called communal village forests.

British entrepreneurs rushed to the Kandyan hills, resulting in forests and even chenas being sold without reference to the communal rights and the communal needs of the villages adjacent to them.

Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance of 1840 and its Adverse Effecs

The British Govt. next took a hard – hearted step in enacting the ‘Crown Lands (Encroachments) Ordinance ‘ No.  12 of 1840. It is also called the Crown Lands Ordinance or Waste Lands Ordinance. Its Chief Architect was George Turnour (1799–1843) a British civil servant, scholar and a historian. He was member of the Ceylon Civil Service. He is known for his translation of the Mahavamsa, which was published in 1837. Along with James Prinsep and Captain Edward Smith, he began to decipher the inscriptions on the first discovered Pillar of Ashoka. The Turnour Prize at Royal College, Colombo is named after him. However as events have turned out later we see Turnour, as an uncaring individual lacking in empathy for the fallen. After the repression of the Kandyan Sinhalese in the 1818 freedom struggle under the watch of Governor Robert Browning, the next body blow to the Kandyans came from the enforcement of the Crown Lands (Encroachments) Ordinance of 1840, the brain child of George Turnour. In time to come Royal College may well consider whether its most prestigious Prize should continue to be named after Turnour.

Under this law it was declared (in Section 6 ) that :

  1. a) all forest, waste, unoccupied or uncultivated land was to be presumed to be the property of the Crown until the contrary is proved,
  2. b)  in the Kandyan Provinces  ( wherein no Thombu registers have hereto been established ) land which can only be cultivated after an interval of several years, shall be deemed to belong to the Crown and not to be the property of any private person claiming same against the Crown, except upon proof of a sannas, or grant or of such customary taxes, dues, or services having been rendered within twenty years for same, as having been rendered within such period for similar lands being the property of private proprietors in the same districts,
  3. c)  in the low  – country chenas and other lands which can only be cultivated after intervals of several years, shall be deemed to be forest or waste lands i.e. shall be presumed to be property of the Crown until the contrary be proved.

In demanding proof of ownership to a category of land which has been customarily treated as communal village land the Crown Lands Ordinance effectively abolished the user’s rights to high lands. In the pre-colonial Kandyan Kingdom a peasant had the right to engage in chena cultivation, which was a private right not founded on sannas or royal grant. It was a right to cultivate and not a right to the soil cultivated. Most peasants who had only users’ rights were not able to produce title deeds to prove ownership to ‘their’ lands. The British abolished this peasant’s private right to cultivate on Crown land. This was a huge blow to their subsistence and well-being.

The British policy makers were conscious of this adverse economic effect on the peasantry who were largely dependent on chena cultivation for their livelihood. But since the colonial aim was to make profit through cash crops planted on crown land given away to private investors they were quite ready to dispense with the protests of the badly affected peasantry. This led to starvation of the Kandyan peasantry and in some instances death.

Temple Lands Ordinance No. 10 of 1856

More accretions of land to the Crown resulted from the operation of the Registration of Temple Lands Ordinance, No. 10 of 1856.

This Ordinance required all land claimed by Temples to be surveyed for the preparation of a Register of Temple Lands, partly of the expense of the Temple and partly of the Government. A number of Temples that owned large extents of land were forced to omit making claims to large tracts of their temporalities so as to avoid paying the heavy survey charges. These unclaimed Temple lands which were underdeveloped forest and waste lands were subsequently vested in the Crown.

Waste Lands Ordinance, No. 1 of 1897

This Ordinance gave the facility to the Crown to declare vast tracts of land in the country as Crown land. Whenever it so appeared to the Govt. Agent of the Province or AGA of the District that any land situate within his Province or District is or are forest or chena waste or unoccupied ”, he was empowered by issue of a notice to compel any claimant to appear before and prove his title, in default of which the land would be declared the property of the Crown. Section 24 of this Ordinance re-echoed Section 6 of the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1846 in stating that ‘all chenas and other lands which can only be cultivated after intervals of years shall be presumed to be the property of the Crown until the contrary be proved’.

Comments of the Kandyan Peasantry Commission were far reaching. These laws failed to take cognizance  or make provision for the communal rights of user in forests which the neighbouring villages enjoyed” its greatest evil was that in practice it degenerated into an instrument for grabbing village forest and chena to be disposed of to the planters”.

Enclosure’ policies in England

There is some resemblance of the waste land laws in Sri Lanka to legislation enacted by the British in their own country in the 18th and early part of the 19th century which deprived the English peasantry of millions of acres of ‘common’ land which was utilized for purposes of large scale sheep rearing and farming. It was called the process of ‘enclosure’ which created a large mass of landless agricultural labourers who drifted gradually to the new industrial districts and in turn providing an abundant supply of cheap labour to the rapidly developing factories, mines and shipyards”.

In contrast in Sri Lanka the British Planters used cheap Indian Malabar (Tamil) labour in their tea and coffee plantations. This resulted in the Kandyan peasantry becoming virtually imprisoned in their own villages that had been shorn of their forests and chenas.   

Grain Tax Ordinance of 1878

This is another piece of draconian colonial legislation which contributed towards the passing of village land into the hands of outsiders. It imposed a tax on owners of paddy land which required them to pay to the Government a tax which was assessed on the basis of the income of the fields that were owned by the respective individuals. Many Sinhalese paddy land owners found it difficult to pay this tax because the rate was too high and the assessment not in proportion to the return from the fields. The unpopularity of this legislation led to its repeal in 1890 but not before much damage had been done to paddy land owners who had to dispose of large tracts of their paddy lands to outsiders, to pay the tax or whose paddy lands were sold for non – payment of the tax.

In this regard, The Kandyan Peasantry Commission made the following observation: The operation of this law directly affected the nucleus on which the village was built and deprived the peasant of the paddy field which was the main source of his food”.

Let me quote the words of the Kandyan Peasantry Commission:

Most of the land legislation during the British times tended to impoverish the village and to strengthen the hands of the speculators in land. The old Kandyan law which gave the seller of any land and his descendants the right to re-purchase the land at any time was abolished by proclamation in 1821. These new land laws made village lands alienable; the partitioning of land was made easy; the abolition of rajakariya loosened the bonds which held together the village unit. All these combined to impoverish the villager and destroy the economy of villages and the co –operative social life of its inhabitants”.

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The Matale Uprising (1848)

We have reproduced this Ceylon  tragedy, because it contains a moral
upon which it behooves the Democracy of America, at the present
moment, seriously to reflect. The flag which sanctioned the massacres
of the Cingalese, and has witnessed the devastation of Celtic Ireland;
the flag which, usurping every advantageous commercial and political
position throughout the globe, has been the harbinger everywhere of
desolation and death this flag, which in two wars, our fathers
levelled in the dust, now flaunts us in the face on the southern
portion of this our continent ; out-spreads its crimson folds over
republican soil, insulting our manhood, blighting our commercial
prospects, and dimming the lustre of the stars and stripes. Shall
Central America share the fate of  Ceylon ? Shall our sister Republics
on this continent, whose independence, by every principle of honor, of
interest, and of duty, we are bound to protect, be consigned to the
tender mercies of a Torrington ? Shall the island of Ruatan become the
Ceylon of the Western Hemisphere, and the Isthmus of Central America
be made, on a smaller scale, a second Hindostan ? We submit these
questions, in all earnestness, to the consideration of the Democracy
of America, confident that they will be answered in a manner worthy of
those, whose pride it is, that they inherit the principles of a
Jefferson, a Madison, a Monroe, a Jackson and a Polk.”

(An Editorial entitled The English in Ceylon” published in the Journal The United States Magazine and Democratic Review”
Print: Vol. XXVIII, No. CLV, – 1851 May, p. 409 p. 410 p. 411 p. 412
Publisher: J.& H.G. Langley, New York).

The above Editorial published in a prominent American Journal in 1851 sums up the revulsion felt internationally when the massacre of the Sinhalese in what was to become known as the ‘ Matale Rebellion of 1848’ ( Matale Karella) or the Second War for Independence in British occupied Ceylon,  became a subject of public inquiry of a Select Committee of the British House of Commons ( 1848 – 1849) resulting in the release of a 10, 000 word Report containing its findings.

The Matale Rebellion, also known as the ‘Rebellion of 1848′ took place in British occupied Ceylon in protest against the tyrannical administration of British Governor Lord Torrington ( later known as 7th Viscount Torrington) in the year 1848.

The British administration was making life increasingly intolerable for the Kandyan Sinhalese  since 1815. The first group to be struck down was the Kandyan Chiefs, They were basically destroyed with the quelling of the 1818 uprising. Then the British claiming succession to the vast land holdings of the Kandyan Kingdom proceeded to expropriate the land of the common people on the pretext that these were waste lands and therefore appropriate for cash crop cultivation e,g. Coffee, a crop which grows in high altitudes. The principal motivation to grow Coffee in Ceylon was the decline in Coffee production in the West Indies following the abolition of slavery there.

Under the Wasteland Ordinance the British Crown claimed title to vacant lands and excluded the peasantry from access to these lands which they had in the past used for chena cultivation. Instead the British used these lands for cash crop cultivation and brought down hordes of Indian Malabar (Tamil) coolies as indentured labour (modern form of slavery). The British also excluded the Kandyan peasantry from employment in these plantations and thereby driving them to penury. The ‘trail of tears’ in the cruel transportation of hundreds of thousands of Tamil indentured labour from South India to Sri Lanka to work in coffee estates is a poignant story. These Tamil labourers died in their tens of thousands on their journey either in India or Sri Lanka as well on the plantations.

An economic depression in the United Kingdom threatened the local coffee and cinnamon industry. Planters and merchants demanded a reduction of export duties. The Colonial Secretary in Colombo, Sir James Emerson Tennent proposed to Earl Grey, Secretary of State for Colonies in London, that taxation be shifted from indirect taxation to direct taxation. This proposal was accepted. A new Governor was appointed in 1846 to carry out these reforms. He was Lord Torrington (35 years), a cousin of Prime Minister Lord Russell. He arrived in May 1847 in Colombo

On 1 July 1848, Torrington imposed license fees on guns, dogs, carts, shops and labour was made compulsory on plantation roads, unless a special tax was paid. These taxes weighed  heavily on the poor people who could not pay these taxes. The taxes also affected the traditions of the Kandyan peasantry. A mass movement against the oppressive taxes then began to develop. In the absence of their King (deposed in 1815) and their Chiefs (killed in the 1818 uprising or serving the British) several individuals drawn from  the common masses began to assert themselves as leaders of a peasant revolt.

 

The peasant revolt for the liberation of the island from colonial rule was led by Gongalegoda Banda, Puran Appu, Dines and Dingi Rala. They received support from the people and the village headmen of Matale. Gongalegoda Banda led a protest march against unjustifiable taxes near the Kandy Kachcheri on July 6,  1848. He was seen at the Dalada Maligawa  immediately before the Rebellion broke out.

On 26 July 1848, the leaders and the supporters entered the Dambulla Vihara.  Gongalegoda Banda was consecrated by the head monk of Dambulla. Gongalegoda Banda was called “Sri Wickrama Siddapi”. He asked the people, whether they were on the side of the Buddhists or the British. On the same day Dines, his brother was declared the sub-king and Dingirala as the uncrowned king of the Sat Korale (Seven Counties). Veera Puran Appu was appointed as the prime minister or the sword bearer to Gongalegoda Banda and attended his consecration ceremony with 400 others.

After the proclamation of the King, he with his army left Dambulla via Matale to capture Kandy from the British. They attacked government buildings including the Matale Kachcheri and destroyed some of the tax records. Almost at the same time Dingirirala launched attacks in Kurunegala where eight people were shot dead by the British soldiers. Governor Torrington declared Martial Law on 29 July 1848 in Kandy and on 31 July in Kurunegala.

Puran Appu was taken prisoner by the British troops and was executed on 8 August. Gongalegoda Banda and his elder brother Dines escaped and went into hiding. Gongalegoda Banda lived in a cave at Elkaduwa, 13 kilometres (8 miles) from Matale. Torrington issued a warrant for his arrest with a reward of £150 for information on his whereabouts. On 21 September, he was arrested by Malay soldiers – although he offered resistance before his arrest – and was brought from Matale to Kandy where he was kept a prisoner.

The trial of Gongalegoda Banda commenced on 27 November at the Supreme Court sessions in Kandy. He was charged with high treason for claiming to be King of Kandy and waging war against the British. He declared that he was guilty of all the charges. The Supreme Court condemned him to be hanged on 1 January 1849. Subsequently, a proclamation was issued to amend the death sentence to flogging 100 times and banishment to Malacca (Malaysia). By deporting Gongalegoda Banda, Governor instilled in the inhabitants a permanent fear of rebellion against the British rule, since deportation was deemed worse than hanging.

The article The English in Ceylon” published in the Journal The United States Magazine and Democratic Review” comments as follows:
(Print: Vol. XXVIII, No. CLV, – 1851 May, p. 409 p. 410 p. 411 p. 412
Publisher: J.& H.G. Langley, New York)

In 1846. Lord Torrington was appointed by Earl Grey, Whig Colonial
Secretary,to the lucrative office of Governor of Ceylon. Arrived at
the seat of government, his lordship is surprised to find the
financial affairs of the colony in an embarrassed condition; and,
accordingly, in virtue of the wide discretionary powers vested in him,
proceeds to meet the difficulty off-hand by the imposition of severe
new taxes of his own invention. These taxes, though decidedly original
in their way, were yet of that character, that any one at all
acquainted with the colony might have foreseen that they could never
by any possibility be collected. The most obnoxious of them were, a
road-tax, a shop-tax, a gun-tax, and a dog-tax. The first ordained,
that every male resident in the island, between the ages of fifteen
and fifty-five, should either labor for six days in each year on the
public roads, or pay three shillings sterling, in lieu of such
personal service. The second enacted, that every occupant of a shop,
the rental of which amounted to £ 5, should take out a yearly license
on a £ 1 stamp. The third directed, that on a certain day in each
year, the Cingalese should repair to the chief towns, armed, and apply
for licenses for their fire-arms, at a cost of 2s. 6d. for each gun.
The fourth, imposed a tax of ir. on every dog kept in the island, and
sentenced to death all puppies above three months old whose
proprietors could not produce the protecting shilling. Now, it is
necessary to understand, that in Ceylon, as in all countries subject
to the British flag, the bulk of the population are extremely poor;
hence, the payment of these taxes was to them an impossibility. Those,
moreover, upon dogs and guns, were imposed upon what were to them
absolute necessaries of life. Besides, the road-tax was a direct
outrage upon that religion which, as we have shown above, the English
had bound themselves by treaty to protect, since the native priests
are restricted by it, both from labor and from touching money. The
promulgation of the decree announcing these new taxes naturally
created great excitement throughout the island. Petitions, memorials,
remonstrances, from all classes of the inhabitants, were laid before
the Governor. They were disregarded. By any means, Lord Torrington was
resolved to carry out his object. The assembling of the people in
large masses was encouraged by the government agents, in the hopes
that a collision between them and the British troops would occur. It
did occur. A British soldier is slightly wounded, whether by any of
the native inhabitants or not, does not appear from the evidence taken
before the Parliamentary Committee, which is the only authority which
we shall quote. But the collision, so anxiously sought for by Lord
Torrington, had taken place; and martial law is at once proclaimed.
Proclamations are issued, confiscating the lands and properties of all
those who, terrified at the atrocities they had before seen committed
under martial law, had fled into the jungles. Courts martial, composed
of subaltern officers, ignorant of the language of the country, tried,
convicted, sentenced, and put to instant death, hundreds of the
innocent inhabitants; and this, not only in violation of all law,
human and divine, but in utter contempt of the 7th article of the
treaty, to which we have already referred, which stipulates that No
sentence of death can be carried into execution against any
inhabitant, except by the written warrant of the British Governor or
Lieutenant Governor for the time being. But what cares Lord Torrington
for treaties, or for the laws of humanity ? Must he not govern ? And
what means government in the vocabulary of a British aristocrat, but
confiscation and murder ?

Much has been said of the magnanimity of the British soldier. Let the
following letters, addressed by the commandant of Kandy, to the
presiding officer of one of the courts martial, hounding him on in his
bloody career, serve as a specimen

My dear Watson:
You are getting on swimmingly. Impress on the court that there is no
necessity for taking down the evidence in detail; so they are
satisfied with the guilt or innocence of the individual, that is
sufficient for them to find and sentence. This is the law and the
mode.
Yours,  T. A. DROUGHT,
August 16, 1848.  Col. Commanding.

Well were these magnanimous instructions obeyed. For a period of nigh
three months, confiscations, burnings, massacres, were the order of
the day in Ceylon: and this, be it remembered, notwithstanding that
subsequent to the imposition of martial law, not a single offense was
pretended ever to have been committed by the inhabitants. Amongst
those who suffered during this period, was one whose execution is thus
mentioned by Lord Torrington in a dispatch to Earl Gray___” An
influential priest who was convicted of administering treasonable
oaths, was shot at Kandy in full robes. This priests trial took place
at Kandy, and he was arraigned–

First, For having directly or indirectly held correspondence with
rebels, and Cur not giving all the infomation in his power which might
lead to the apprehension of a proclaimed rebel, Kaddapolla Unanse,
professing to know his place of concealment on or about 17th August,
1848. Second, For administering, or conniving at the administration
(!) of a treasonable oath to one Kerr Bande, on or about the 17th
August, 1848.

On these absurd and unintelligible charges the poor Buddhist priest
was dragged before a military tribunal; tried by military judges, not
one of whom understood the language in which the evidence against him
was given; convicted and shot! Several attorneys who were present at
the trial; and who did understand the language, felt satisfied that
the witnesses for the prosecution had perjured themselves for the
purpose of currying favor with the Governor, and that the priest was
innocent. Under this impression they besought the Governor to postpone
the execution. In vain Lord Torringtons answer was By G, sir, if all
the lawyers in Ceylon said that the priest was innocent, he should be
shot tomorrow morning. And shot he was. More, Earl Grey, in answer to
Lord Torringtons dispatch announcing the execution, pronounced the
death of the Buddhist priest to be highly satisfactory! Again, in a
subsequent dispatch, Earl Grey, in the name of the Queen, complimented
Lord Torrington, and declared his complete approval of his decision,
promptitude, and judgment. Thus sustained by the Home Government, and
having triumphed over the refractory inhabitants of Ceylon, surely
Lord Torrington must feel proud and happy! But no: after all the
massacres, pillages, burnings and confiscations after he had made”

Conclusions

National patriots such as Keppetipola, Madugalle, Ven. Kudapola Unnanse and several others who were convicted on the footing of a Victor’s (White Man’s) Justice by colonial Judges presiding in what was in reality nothing more than Kangaroo Courts, for their leading role in popular uprisings in 1818 and 1848 deserve to be exonerated through public re –trials. The colonial Governors such as Robert Brownrigg and Lord Torrington and other officials such as George Turnour must be tried posthumously, in a Nuremberg like Trial, for their reprisal killings and drafting harsh laws that were later imitated on a bigger scale by the Third Reich in the massacre of the people of Lidice in Nazi – occupied  Czechoslovakia in June 1942. Trial in absentia is a criminal proceeding in a court of law in which the person who is subject to it is not physically present at those proceedings. ‘In absentia’ is Latin for “in the absence”.

Today, the West preaches human rights, demands accountability and upholding of universally accepted standards on human rights. British human rights campaigners point accusing fingers at Sri Lanka. Yet, a detailed scrutiny of colonial rule in British occupied Ceylon (1796 – 1948) reveals a sad saga of human rights violation of a gross kind such as tyranny, plunder, divide and rule, and a vicious policy of violence and discrimination directed mainly against Kandyan Sinhala Buddhists and confiscation of their precious inherited lands.

21st century international legal doctrines need to be availed of to present a case for compensation from the current British Government for genocide and mass murder of people of Uva – Wellassa.  The rectification of Historical Injustices is a prime duty of any self – respecting nation. Independence is never complete without meting out Justice to those who were wronged by an unjust colonial system.

An underlying theme of this paper is cognizance of the irony that some of the Western countries that champion human rights in the modern era, are the very same countries that had in the past systematically violated the human rights of the subject people in European colonies in Asia and Africa, and are now shamelessly evasive when it comes to accountability for the crimes committed by colonial rulers in European colonies.

Colonialism under three European countries was a dark chapter in the history of Sri Lanka. Much of the problems in the country today particularly ethnic and religious tension have their origin in divisive policies fashioned by the colonial rulers. This Chapter cannot be closed merely because the former colonial countries wish to evade accountability.  Reconciliation between the colonizer and colonized can be effective only on the basis of apology, catharsis and reparations for colonial crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

Senaka Weeraratna

October 26, 2018

Bibliography (List of References)

  1. The Great Rebellion of 1818 – Tennakoon Vimalananda ( Colombo: M.D. Gunasena, 1970)
  2. Buddhism in Ceylon under the Christian Powers – Tennakoon Vimalananda ( Colombo: M.D. Gunasena, 1963)
  3. The Execution of Keppetipola: Ceylon by Henry Marshall ( Wiliam H. Allen & Co : London, 1846)
  4. Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
  5. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (1532)
  6. Colonial Germ Warfare – Harold B. Gill Jr. (http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring04/warfare.cfm)
  7. ‘ The English in Ceylon ’ Journal: The United States Magazine and Democratic Review. Print: Vol. XXVIII, No. CLV, – 1851May, p. 409 http://lakdiva.org/moa/cornell/1851_english_in_ceylon.html
  8. When Pigs Fly – and Scold: Brits Lecturing Sri Lanka” by Gary Brecher  (2009)

(http://exiledonline.com/when-pigs-fly-and-scold-brits-lecturing-sri-lanka/)

  1. Tea and Empire ( James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon) by McCarthy & Devine ( Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2017)
  2. Colonialism in Sri Lanka: The Political Economy of the Kandyan Highlands, 1833-1886 by Asoka Bandarage (Berlin: Mouton, 1983) 
  3. ‘Crimes against humanity : The British Empire’ by Paul Gregoire (Sydney Criminal Lawyers2 July 2017)
  4. The Rebels, Outlaws & Enemies to the British by M.A. Durand Appuhamy (M.D. Gunasena & Co. Ltd, 1990)
  5. An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor ( 2016 )

(https://www.amazon.in/Era-Darkness-British-Empire-India/dp/938306465X)

  1. Ceylon: A General Description of the Island and of its Inhabitants by.
    Henry Marshall ( London: 1846 – Reprint 1982)
  2. British Atrocities in Sri Lanka exposed ( 2013) (http://archive2.english.news.lk/features/political/7675-british-atrocities-in-sri-lanka-exposed
  3. How the British exploited Sri Lanka by J.B. Muller (https://thelionandsword.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/how-the-british-exploited-sri-lanka/
  4. Holocaust of Elephants by the British Raj by Senaka Weeraratna (2016) (http://www.sinhalanet.net/holocaust-of-elephants-by-the-british-raj-in-sri-lanka)
  5. British Crimes in the enactment and implementation of Waste lands laws during colonial rule in Sri Lanka ( 1796 – 1948) by Senaka Weeraratna (http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2016/04/18/british-crimes-in-the-enactment-and-implementation-of-waste-lands-laws-during-colonial-rule-in-sri-lanka-1796-1948/)
  6. The Crimes against humanity by British Governor Robert Brownrigg – Butcher of Uva – Wellassa in Sri Lanka (2014) by Shenali D. Waduge (http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2016/04/18/british-crimes-in-the-enactment-and-implementation-of-waste-lands-laws-during-colonial-rule-in-sri-lanka-1796-1948/)
  7. The Butcher of Matale by Shenali Waduge ( 2011) ( Sunday Times)

(http://www.sundaytimes.lk/080511/Plus/plus000022.html)

10 Responses to “Colonial crimes in British occupied Ceylon during the freedom struggles (1796 – 1948)”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    Fantastic article and thanks to the writer for the hard work gone into it.

    Although it needs time to read it properly, the contents look like from reliable sources.

    I suggest that this should be printed with properly cross referenced as a booklet along with the artwork done by an artist included in Shenali’s article sometimes ago and distributed in UN, UK parliament and all our diplomatic missions.

    It will be a good return for these opportunistic Western hyenas

  2. Christie Says:

    අනේ මහත්තයෝ යන්නකො පොඩිගමනක් රටපුර පොඩි බත් මුලකුත් බැඳගෙන.

    කොහෙගියත් ඉන්නෙ ඉන්දියානු පරපෝසිත දෙමලු. මලයාලි, පාර්සි, බෝරා වගෙ 1792කෙන් පස්සෙ ඉන්දියාඑන් ආපු අපිව අදත් හූරගෙන කන අපිව කුලහීනයන් ලෙස සලකන අපි මහපොලවෙන් ත්‍රන් වෙනකන් බලාගෙන් ඉන්න උන්.

  3. samurai Says:

    I fully agree with Hiranthe.

    All these details should be included in our history text books as part of the school syllabus to educate our children. Since 1972 two generations have grown up with no proper knowledge of our country’s past or the root causes of some of our present-day problems in the different spheres of Sri Lankan society

  4. Nimal Says:

    The best thing that ever happened to our country was to put down the rebellions in 1818 and 1848 mostly instigated by rascals and fake heroes who tried to put the clock back. Since they did not succeed we had a stable country since the colonials left us in 1948.African people and even some honest politician’s want them back. See in u tube how they welcome the good white settlers back to Zimbabwe.We need another back up as our country had gone to dogs where they openly desecrate the sanctity of the parliament then where else in court houses and even in forcibly occupying our houses and businesses?

  5. Christie Says:

    Hi Folks.

    British could not have been able to rule and control us if not for the Indian Colonial Parasites who came with the British.

    1818 Sinhala Rebellion was put down with the Marati Regiment. It is the Marati Sepoys who cleaned barrels of guns used by the British Soldiers. It is the Marati Sepoys who burnet down Sinhala villages.

    Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma Gandhi) was an Indian Sepoy who helped British to crush the Zulu uprising in South Africa.

    While we Sinhalese are fighting among ourselves the Indian Colonial Parasites and India are enjoying our wealth.

  6. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Colonials did irreparable damage to Sri Lanka, Sinhalese race and Sri Lanka. Parangis brought their religion of
    convenience and a lot of traitor Sinhalese licked the back of them for titles, favours from them. End result was this
    religion of convenience followers became mostly Sinhalese Buddhist haters and most of them had little allegiance
    to Mother Lanka since their mentality was that they hailed from Europe. Then, who succeeded parangies, the
    bandesis, did even more damage by bringing tamils from tn to work in tobacco plantations in the north and the east.

    Today, we have millions of tamils who descend from these who have no allegiance to Mother Lanka. What’s more, they hate the native Sinhalese and want to destroy Buddhism and the Sinhalese claiming they are the natives
    of this land, without an ancient brick to substantiate their claim.Then who got rid of the bandesis, the british did
    even more damage by bringing in tamils from tn again. Now we have another set of Sinhalese hating, Sri Lanka hating, Buddhism hating millions in the up country. So anyone who is rejoicing these Mother Lanka destroyed, Sinhalese race destroyed, Buddhism destroyed colonials are a god send cannot be a Sinhalese if he/she has an
    iota of love for the Motherland.

    Patriotic Sirima B managed to right one of these treacheries during the 60s with the Sirima Shasthri Pact
    which allowed 650,000 tamils to go to tn voluntarily. But Sirima lost the elections and traitor alugusowa (to
    Sinhalese Buddhists only) thambi mudiyanselage [email protected] gave all of them the citizenship. Today, they must be
    numbering a few millions and paved the way for a greater drealam.

    The worst thing is, colonials after destroying Mother Lanka, Buddhism and the Sinhalese still not finished with us.
    They still want to carry on where they left off and traitor anti Buddhist, anti Sinhalese, anti Sri Lanka catholic run
    UNPatriotic-rats party have been doing the job for them for the last 40 years. Traitor chief die hard catholic token
    Buddhist mega thief mega thakkadiya bagal karaya walking crime bomb (against Sinhalese Buddhists, Sri Lanka
    and Buddhism only) Batalande Wandakaya pol pot [email protected]_leech wickrama Sinhala killer being at the helm for the
    last 40 years immensely helped the colonials do their dirty work. It looks like Batalande Wandakaya’s reign of
    terror coming to an end and Lanka can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

    All the patriotic Sri Lankans have seen who got together with the traitor UNPatriotic_rats party during this
    political turmoil. If the Sinhalese race, Sri Lanka and Buddhism want to survive, all patriotic Sri Lankans
    should get together and wipe out these anti Buddhist, anti Sinhalese, anti Sri Lanka traitor UNPatriotic_rats
    party traitor thieving thugs for good. from the political map of Sri Lanka.

  7. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Please click on the following links to see how traitor anti Sinhalese, anti Buddhist, anti Sri Lanka UNPatriotic_rats
    destroying Sri Lanka, Sinhalese race and Buddhism and doing the job for colonials. You won’t see these in so
    called Buddhist (on paper) Sri Lanka where all the media are controlled by the UNPatriotic_rats party henchmen.

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2016/05/27/ranil-wickremasinghes-new-unp-3/

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2017/08/09/ranil-wicremasinghes-crimes-against-sri-lanka-and-its-people-for-forty-years/

    http://ltte-christian-ties.blogspot.com/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV6_o9txURc

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2015/08/05/christianizing-of-sri-lanka-unps-betrayal-of-buddhism/

    http://www.lankagrid.com/soma-thero/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_eJ1gX_fuU

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2016/09/26/ltte-terrorism-church-links-can-someone-explain-these-photos/

  8. Nimal Says:

    If people who claim to be good Sinhalese and Buddhists must show tolerance and kindness to people but I can’t notice that in these comments.
    One of the reasons that colonials were welcomed was due to the fact that some of our leaders saw the progressive nature of their culture, their administration elsewhere. One or two of our leaders seems to have travelled to the places of the colonials.Ehalapola’s house in Kandy was a replica of a Dutch house in Batavia, sadly destroyed with other houses(in Batavia) by a tsunami. He added the union jack to the railings of his house in Kandy. One could see that even today.
    Some patriotic leaders inspired by the true patriotic people from the deep south wanted the same standards and governance for their country that was governed by cliques of various regimes that ran the country in a manner only few people matter and rest of the people were no body and completely unaccountable to the majority and the majority were mere slaves to the cliques in power.This culture was universal until a revolution began in UK,the social revolution that was even admired by Lenin and even Carl Marx where he lived and died in London. There was no doubt even the social culture in UK 2 to 3 centuries ago was bad but the leaders first went against their own religion and gradual power was ushered to people resulting in the mother of the Parliament.
    Sadly for Sri Lanka the good intentions of the so called patriots who signed the convention wanted to reverse back to their old medieval tyrannical ways and the reasons for that attempted revision was the two rebellions in 1818 and 1848 and we are glad that it never succeeded or we will still live a primitive life where few privilege people matter.
    One could see a glimpse of our past reoccurring in 2015 where some people had the good intention of putting things right but due to their selfish and greedy reasons fought among themselves and we saw the sorry spectacle in the parliament where they are no more accountable for the people of the country,completly law less shows no regards for human rights and common decency.
    Good old days the punishment is scorch earth policy but we have law courts and UN.So if things get out of hand we pray that there will be another 1818 to put the country right,after all it is the well being of the majority matters and these so called Buddhists and Sinhalese never mentioned the goodness that the colonials brought to our countries.
    I meet many people from Africa and other third world countries where they come here to seek help to put their countries right where their past pleaders have fleeced their assets and now living in these Western countries.
    Why can’t these pseudo patriots write about the advance culture left behind by the last colonials where no other past kings and numerous foreign tyrants that ever ruled us?
    I am angry and disappointed with all the leaders of our parties but I will never personally insult them like AS is doing here because I am true Sinhalese and a practising Buddhist. And a good ay to you all.

  9. Christie Says:

    Nimal we always stood up to Indian Parasites and invaders from India, there was no India before the British made it.

    Let us unite and stand up to India and Indian Parasites.

  10. Nimal Says:

    Christie
    For your information it was the British that saved us the true Sinhalese who were hold up in a small section in the South while the Dravidian rulers were every where in the country, judging by the Dravidian devales scattered all over the country.Colonialist gave every Tamil a chance to convert themselves to become a Sinhalese and we the pioneers from the south were given every incentive to move out and settle all over the island except north of Elephant Pass that divided us from the Tamils.
    Our crooked politicians can’t help going back to their Tamil ancestry by wearing their Dravidian attire. I think they are not true Sinhalese.We Sinhalese were well known for our genuine hospitality and kindness to strangers and friends alike. People use to boast about the Southern hospitality during the times of Suddas.
    Our journeys stated from Baddegama to Kaluthara,then to Kotte and a direct jump to Anuradhapura and area close to Talawa.
    My Young grandfather’s father was pushed into area held by the Portuguese in Kotte name Gotambi where a small scale English school was formed prior to 1815 and that school evolved in to the present day Sri Jaywardana pura maha Vidyalya which was the old Christian Collage Kotte where like of Daramapala had their education.
    No previous invader or colonial ever did so much in so early in their rule for the country like the British.That collage was built in 1822 only 4 years after the cruel rebellion in 1818 and only 7 years after they took over the administration of the country in 1815.
    Remnants of the Dravidian rule was the Maligawa in Kandy where the British erased as much as possible of the cruel Dravidian rule by banishing their king and British administrator Doyle made sure they gave the Buddhist faith all the respect due, brought in the relics, since the evil pageantry the king had for his own people held in the only road that was there named Malabar Street(not exactly Sinhalese? to an expanded area in the newly built town of Kandy where for the first time in our history where the innocent population of the country could participate in the pageantry known as the Kandy Perahara which is now been hijacked by the scoundrels. First Perahara was held in 1824 under the guidance of Governor Manning and there was opposition by the remnants of the 1818 rebels who never wanted to usher the good life and enjoyment to the humble people and to protect them the British had to bring in 1800 Malay troopers.
    It is our Karume with the Sinhalese who seem to glorify the cruel history and not the good that was done because we cruelly and wickedly wants bring back the dark days which will never allow to happen..
    By the way our families were encourage to settle in Anradapura where the built a walawa very close to Basawakulama lake.Colonials did unite the people within their domain.
    Yesterday I had a dinner with some NGOs who have come to London on a brief visit from South Sudan and it was their earnest wish to unite the two major tribes where both the top leaders belong to.No one in their right mind like divisions and conflicts. Just ignore the mad Americans who are an exception to this rule and they will be sidelinened by the Other progressive Western democracies if like of Trump gets another term.

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