Posted on September 14th, 2015

K G Courtesy:  Sunday Island

September 13, 2015
I had written no less than three times requesting that the road named after the butcher of Uva-Wellassa, Brownrigg, be changed and it was appropriately changed subsequently to Keppetipola Mawatha.

Many Brits and other western countries at the behest of the non-resident Sri Lanka Tamils now living in their countries, have been promoting attacks on our country claiming gross HR violations. Our HR record certainly is not what it should have been but who is Britain in particular to point a finger at us —- for when they point a finger at us they should know that there are three pointing at them. After Blair, of Iraq mass murder fame, came for his holiday of sorts, I decided to recall what they did here when they ruled our country and cite  just one instance alone to make my point.

“Slaughter every man, woman, and child (including babes suckling at the breast)” were the orders given by Governor Robert Brownrigg (third British Governor of Ceylon from 1813 – 1820) to Maj. Gen. Hay MacDowell in 1818. It is the edict that left the people in the agriculturally rich grain growing region of Uva-Wellassa of then Ceylon in a state of famine and starvation. Uva-Wellassa region was the granary of the Kingdom of Kandy before it was annexed by the British in 1815 under the ‘Kandyan Convention’ entered into with the Traditional Chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom. No sooner was the ink  dry, after the signing of this Treaty, that the British Colonial Government began to dishonour it in both spirit and substance; that  it was that led to a popular uprising of the people, led by the Kandyan Chiefs in 1818 that nearly brought the collapse of the British Colonial Government in Ceylon.

The British used a scorched earth policy including mass murder and genocide of innocent Sinhala civilians to crush this rebellion. A 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.

Kandy was occupied by February 14, 1815 using only 3,744 British troops. The King of Kandy Sri Wickrama Rajasinha was taken prisoner on February 18 at Gallehewatte in Dumbara and deported to Vellore, South India and he died in 1832 while his only son born in exile died in 1843. That Sri Lanka was not conquered is proved in the Act of Settlement read at the Convention on March 2, 1815, stipulating the conditions under which the British Crown would administer the annexed Kingdom. The ceding of Kandy ended Sinhalese independence of 2,357 years.

In recognition of his ‘achievement’ of helping Britain to annex the Kandyan Kingdom, Brownrigg was made a Baron in 1816. D’Oyly was rewarded by making him the ‘Resident of Kandy’.

The genocide committed by the British to quell the uprisings between 1818 and 1822 by slaughtering every man, woman and child including babies suckling at the breast, in the Uva Province (Badulla and Moneragala districts) goes down as notable examples of British crimes against humanity. Uva occupies a prominent place in Sri Lanka’s history for the first recorded visit of The Buddha to Sri Lanka was to Mahiyangana, South of Uva.

British human rights campaigners now pointing accusing fingers at Sri Lanka have forgotten the Madulla Massacre that led to razing and annihilating of entire villages. In the entire Uva region the male population above the age of 18 were killed in revenge for resisting British imperial occupation under Governor Brownrigg. No paddy or chena cultivation could be done for 10 years due to lack of man power. Davy’s records reveal that during an inspection of the Uva region with Governor Brownrigg they had not seen a single person or house for seven days.

Britain’s shame

The Britain that today preaches human rights and demands accountability and upholding of universally accepted standards on human rights needs to recall some of the orders given by men Britain knighted in recognition of their services to Her Majesty the Queen during Imperial colonial rule.

The British that are now demanding demilitarization in Sri Lanka may like to note that the auxiliary force that was brought as reinforcements from India in 1818 only left Ceylon in 1920 – after 102 years and we wonder how many women were raped and were left with children!!! 10,000 Sinhalese Buddhists are said to have been killed in battle.

The people of Uva were very proud people as they had also fought against the Portuguese and the Dutch.

Britain  not releasing the Chilcott Report  which exposes the crimes of Blair and  Bush is no surprise.  The British human rights champions have conveniently avoided acknowledging how their troops killed all cattle, animals, burnt homes, property, burnt grain, cut down their coconut, jak and breadfruit trees, agricultural crops and fields and even salt that the people possessed? Simply said neither UN nor the Human Rights Council existed at the time is simply not an excuse. The Statute of Limitations does not apply to Crimes against Humanity. We demand Britain come clean on its crimes in all of the colonies.

British human rights preaching omit how the irrigation systems of Uva and Wellassa, the rice-bowl of Sri Lanka, were systematically destroyed under British Government orders. Wellassa which means ‘WelLakshsa’ – Lakh of paddy fields, was ruined by the British.

The British who preach now about honouring commitments made may like to ask how they betrayed the core terms of the Kandyan Convention in particular the assurance given to protect Buddhism as state religion (Article 5 of the Convention which refers to the inviolability of the Buddhist religion). Unfortunately, every post-independent leader continues to flout this key commitment.

Governor Robert Brownrigg who issued the gazette notification on January 1, 1818 condemned all 17 who rebelled against the British, termed them ‘traitors’, and confiscated their properties by Government declaration. They were declared ‘Rebels, Outlaws and Enemies of the British’. It took over 180 years for the Sri Lankan Government recognize them as ‘National Heroes’ and it is about time that the Government establishes an official memorial for them.

The people of Sri Lanka need to know who their true heroes are: they were:-

1 .Keppetipola, former Dissawe of Uva

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

Monarawila Keppetipola Disawe

The British that now claim to stand for righteousness and seek the high moral ground wherever possible need to be reminded how they treated Madugalle Uda Bagada Nilame who was dismissed from office, arrested without being given the opportunity to bid farewell to his family (what today resembles extraordinary renditions), while his residence was publicly burnt on Governor Brownrigg’s orders, possessions confiscated and sold with proceeds going to a British pension fund.

What must also be mentioned here is that the British army in Ceylon comprised Europeans, Javanese, Malay, African troops, Indian sepoys. The 1818 rebellion was crushed by bringing Indian Tamils (Sepoys) from the Madras Presidency (Tamil Nadu).

The British Governments throughout its infamous colonial history had always  applied double standards. The duplicity of the British Government in calling for accountability in Sri Lanka is best illustrated by its own handling of the ‘Chilcot Inquiry’ which investigated the conduct of the UK government and military in relation for the invasion of Iraq. This inquiry ran from November 2009 until February 2011 and it cost approximately £7.5 million, but its Report is not yet made public for fear of the huge embarrassment it would cause to both the British Government and British military once its contents are released. What is Britain now preaching against Sri Lanka with blood on its hands?

Robert Brownrigg must be condemned for his crimes in Ceylon even at this late stage because that is a historic duty that posterity owes to our freedom fighters and national heroes who sacrificed their lives and liberty in the Uva-Wellassa based war of independence in 1818.


Courtesy:  Sunday Island


  1. Christie Says:

    I am sure British used Indian Sepoys to put down the 1818 Sinhala uprising. They used Indian Sepoys in 1815 when they captured the King.

  2. Christie Says:

    “What must also be mentioned here is that the British army in Ceylon comprised Europeans, Javanese, Malay, African troops, Indian Sepoys. The 1818 rebellion was crushed by bringing Indian Tamils (Sepoys) from the Madras Presidency (Tamil Nadu)”

    This is the most important aspect that we do not accept. It is the Indian colonial parasites that are the cause of our problems as well as other tropical dominions of the British. Most of the Madras Sepoys settled in Ceylon.

  3. Nimal Says:

    I lived in a house in Brownrigg street Kandy,one of the finest at that time with huge storm water drains.The road was and is nearly 70 feet wide with pavements on both sides with metal studs to mark the center of the road with a reflective studs at the only bend.Unlike the likes of Kapetipola colonials did a lot for us. Though Brownrigg was not the best governor we had.
    We must appreciate the good done by the past rulers while some of are slaves to our history that was not beneficial to the people and to hero worship past tyrants who never did anything for us is revengeful because the colonials were different from us and we sadly accept invaders from the Indian mainland as heroes.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress