Going back in time...
In 1945 a select committee of State Council on
Sinhala and Tamil as official languages appointed. An Independence bill
was passed in parliament which was the inaugural meeting of the first
parliament in 1947.
all the invasion we had been through, we finally gained our own
independent country on the February 4, 1948. A day that everyone
celebrates with a lot of happiness in their hearts. The
Portuguese, Dutch and the British all come one after the other
try to claim an island that was living a life of its own as
their own property and treating the inhabitants like slaves.
Well, you all know the history of Independence, so here are a
few years from the day of our Independence to now as we
celebrate our 61st Independence Day of Sri Lanka.
The agreement to grant Sri Lanka fully independence was signed
between Colombo and London was signed as well as the first Parliamentary
elections were also held in that year.
Sri Lanka gained independence ending 152 years of British rule on 4
February 1948. The D S Senanayake government enacts two bills, one,
Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18, 1948 to deprive the Indian plantation
workers of their citizenship rights making 705,000 Indian plantation
workers stateless. On November 15,1948, G G Ponnambalam who was the
leader of the Tamil Congress asked for a 50-50 representation before the
Soulbury Commission. He voted against the first citizenship bill but
votes for the second after getting a portfolio which lead to the split
of the Tamil Congress. S J V Chelvanayakam then formed the Federal Party
Ilankai Tamil Arisu Kachchi in the same year.
An Act of parliament to establish the Sri Lanka Army was passed in
October 1949. The National Flag was formally adopted on 13 February 1950
and the National Anthem was adopted in 1951. The then Prime Minister
D.S. Senanayake appointed a committee to advice the government on the
design of a new national flag. The design approved by the committee in
February 1950 had the symbol of the lion with the sword and the bo-leaves
from the civil standard of the last king of Kandy with the inclusion of
two vertical stripes green and orange in colour.
D S Senanayake who was a pioneer of Independence movement
The significance of each symbol of the national flag is said to be as
The lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race, the sword of the
lion represents the sovereignty of the country, the noble eight-fold
path of Buddhism is signified by the lion's tail, the curly hair on the
lion's head indicates religious observance, wisdom and meditation.
The beard denotes purity of words, the handle of the sword highlights
the elements of water, fire, air and earth, the nose indicates
intelligence, the two front paws purport to purity in handling wealth.
The vertical stripe of orange represent the minority Tamil race and the
green vertical stripe the Muslim race, the four virtues kindness,
friendliness, happiness and equanimity are also represented in the flag.
The border round the flag, which is yellow in colour, represents other
minor races, the bo-leaves at the four corners of the flag represent
Buddhism and its influence on the nation.
They also stand for the four virtues - Kindness, Friendliness,
Happiness and Equanimity. The maroon coloured portion of the flag
manifests the other minor religions.
The National Anthem was formally adopted on 22 November 1951 and S W
R D Bandaranaike leader of the Sinhala Maha Sabha, leaves the UNP
government and joins the opposition and then the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(SLFP) was founded.
Prime Minister D S Senanayake dies in a horse riding accident March
22 1952 and Lord Soulbury invites the late Prime Minister's son Dudley
Senanayake to become the next Prime Minister and he was officially
appointed as PM on March 26 1952. The first Parliament was dissolved in
the same year as well.
Settlement of colonists in Gal Oya Scheme started on February 3 1953.
Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake resigned and Sir John Kotelawala
succeeded him in October 1953.
The Kotelawala-Nehru agreement on Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka was
signed on January 18 1954. Mahajana Eksath Peramuna led by the SLFP was
formed on February 22 1956. The General election returns MEP coalition
and S W R D Bandaranaike becomes the Prime Minister on April 1956. The "Sinhala
only" bill was passed in June 1956 and the Federal Party conducted a
Gandhian style protest, also known as "Sathyagraha" in the open air
space by the beach known as the Galle Face Green, opposite the former
The Department of Official Languages was established and the decision
to teach in Sinhala, Tamil and English media in the University of Ceylon
from 1960 was announced. PM SWRD Bandaranaike was assassinated.
Ven.Buddharakkhita who was the founder of the "Eksath Bhikku Peramuna"
is accused of leading the conspiracy and a woman parliamentarian,
Minister of Health, Wimala Wijewardene was also accused of involvementin
the conspiracy on September 1959.
The Federal Party 'Sathyagraha' in North and the East and FP
inaugurated Tamil Arasu (Government) Postal Service in Jaffna on 14
April 1961. Military occupation of Tamil areas for two years and Federal
Party MPs were arrested and detained for six months. Sinhala made the
official language of Sri Lanka on January 1 1963. SLFP, LSSP coalition
defeated by 74 votes to 73 in parliament fifth parliament dissolved in
Sixth general elections were held where the United National Party (UNP)
gained 66 seats, led by Dudley Senanayake for a coalition government
comprising UNP, Federal Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Socialist Party, Tamil
Congress, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and Lanka
Seventh parliamentary elections returns SLFP-LSSP-CP United Front
coalition to power with Mrs. Bandaranaike as Prime Minister on 27 May
1970. An insurrection by a radical leftist youth group calling
themselves "Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna" (JVP), led by Rohana Wijeweera
began in April 1971. Rohana Wijeweera, the JVP leader was sentenced to
20 years in prison in December 1971.
At the International Tamil Research Conference seven people were dead
by electrocution. Assassination of Jaffna mayor Duriappah by Velupillai
Prabhakaran who is the leader of LTTE on 27 July 1975. The Second
Republican Constitution promulgated. Adopting the new Constitution for
the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Presidential System of
Government with J R Jayewardene as the first Executive President on 4
February 1978. A law enacted proscribing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) and other similar organisations.
Former Prime Minister Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike was deprived of her
civic rights and was expelled from Parliament in October 1980. Mrs
Ranaganayaky Pathmanathan takes oaths as the first Tamil woman MP since
independence on November 1980. The District Development Council election
was disrupted in Jaffna and the Jaffna Public Library was burnt down on
June 1981. Emergency declared and a curfew imposed in Galle; Sinhala-Muslim
communal clashes in Galle. The UNP wins 14 of the 17 parliamentary
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Nava Sama Samaja Party, and the Communist
Party proscribed on 30 July 1983. The sixth amendment to the
constitution making espousal , promotion, financing, encouraging or
advocacy of the establishment of a separate state in Sri Lanka illegal,
passed in parliament and talks begin in Colombo to end the ethnic
conflict on Dec 1983.
The Ministry of National Security established in March 1984 and
terrorist bombs explode in Colombo. The Government abandons the
proposals of the All-Party Conference on ethnic peace in December 1984.
LTTE, EROS, EPRLF and TELO together form the Elam National Liberation
Front (ENLF) in April 1985.
The Anuradhapura massacre, the first attack on Sinhalese civilians by
Tamil militants where about 250 men, women and children were gunned down
at the central bus stand at the Anuradhapura town on May 1985.
Air Lanka explosion
The Jayewardene government rejects proposals by TULF on the basis
that they are Federalist. President J R Jayewardene restores the civic
rights of Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, former prime minister and Mr Felix
Dias Bandaranaike, former Cabinet minister in January 1986. A bomb
explosion in an Air Lanka plane bound for Male at the Katunayake
International Airport kills 17 passengers and injures about 24 on 3 May
1986. The Eastern University of Sri Lanka (EUSL), the country's eighth
university was inaugurated on 15 November 1986.
A summit in Bangalore between Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene was held
on the 17 & 18 November 1986. Terrorists massacre 128 civilians and
injure more than 60 near Kitulottuwa along the Habarana-Trincomalee road
in April 1987. A bomb explosion kills 113 persons and injures more than
300 in Pettah, Colombo again a few days after the first one.
Launching of a military operation at Vadamarachchi to put an end to
the dominance established by Prabhakaran in Jaffna after the black say
on 26 May 1987. India shows its protest against the Vadamarachchi
operation by sending a flotilla of "humanitarian aid" to Jaffna. When
these boats (Indian fishing vessels) were turned back by the Sri Lankan
navy, the Indian Air Force dropped food and medical supplies in Jaffna
the following day violating the Sri Lankan air space in June 1987.
A 72 hour island-wide curfew imposed in July 1987. The signing of
Indo-Lanka peace accord was on 27 July 1987. The 13th amendment to the
constitution was debated in Parliament. This amendment among other
things made provisions for the establishment of a system of Provincial
Councils. Amendment was certified on 14th November 1987.
The first ever Provincial Council election takes place for the North
Central, Sabaragamuwa, North Western and Uva Provincial Councils on
April 1988. President Jayewardene officially authorises the merger of
the Northern and Eastern provinces within a single North Eastern
Elections were held for seats in the above Provincial Council on
November 1988 and the 16th Amendment to the Constitution certified. The
provisions of the 13th amendment dealing with language, were clarified
and consolidated by the 16th amendment.
R Premadasa of the UNP wins the presidential election. Tamil United
Liberation Front (TULF) leader A Amirthalingam and former TULF MP
Yogeswaran assassinated by LTTE gunmen on July 1989.Sri Lanka and India
signed an agreement in Colombo providing for the withdrawal of the IPKF
from the North and East by December 31 and the suspension of offensive
military operations against the LTTE from the 20th onwards.
The International Committee Red Cross arrives in Sri Lanka. Indian
Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) begins its withdrawal from Ampara and the
Tamil National Army and the Sri Lankan Army move into the areas vacated
by the IPKF. The LTTE takes over areas vacated by the IPKF in the North
and East on January 1990 and President R Premadasa holds talks with the
LTTE on February 1990. EPRLF declares an "Independent
Eelam" and renamed the provincial council as a Tamil National
Assembly on the March 1, 1990.
Defense Minister Ranjan Wijeratna was assassinated on 2 March 1991.
Fighting breaks out between government troops and the LTTE in what is
dubbed as Eelam War II on June 1991. Former Defense Minister Lalith
Athulathmudali was assassinated on 23 April 1993. A bomb explosion in a
street in Colombo kills President R Premadasa who was taking part in his
party's May day rally on May 1, 1993. Gamini Dissanayake, a former
minister in the UNP government, and a presidential election candidatewas
killed along with several other senior members of the party by a
suspected LTTE suicide bomber in a manner identical to the killing of
Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu in 1991on 24 October 1994.
Chandrika Kumaranatunga Bandaranaike becomes the fourth Executive
President of Sri Lanka on 10 November 1994 and second round of talks
between the Government and LTTE begin on January 1995. Cessation of
hostilities between the Government and the LTTE on 7 January 1995. The
Government Security forces commence operation "Leap Forward" and the
LTTE attack Colombo oil installation facilities on October 1995.
A suicide bomb explosion by the LTTE at the Central Bank in Colombo
kills more than 100 civilians and wounds 1,300 others on January 1996
and two bombs explode in a Colombo commuter train killing more than 60
Nearly 1,400 soldiers killed in an LTTE attack on the Mulaitivu
military camp on July 1996. India bans the LTTE. A lorry packed with
explosives is exploded at the outer gates of the Dalada Maligawa, a 400
years old Buddhist shrine in the city of Kandy, as it was preparing for
the 50th independence celebrations on January 1998.
Twenty first century
Sarojini Yogeshwaran, the first woman mayor of Jaffna was gunned down
by LTTE gunmen A bomb blast at the Municipal council kills P Sivapalan,
who took over after the death of Mrs Yogeshwaran. Some of Jaffna top
military brass were killed along with him in the same year.
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga narrowly escapes with
injuries an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber at an election
rally on Colombo on 18 December 1999. Year 2000, the millennium year
where we entered the 21st century the Independence Day celebrations held
in Colombo on February 4 to mark the 52nd anniversary of the end of
British colonial rule was well quite an independence as no one appeared
to be there at the ceremony.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga did not attend as doctors had advised
her to go and her mother, the late Prime Minister Mrs. Sirima
Bandaranaike who was also unable to come because of her old age.
The ceremony lasted for just half an hour. On July 24, 2001, Tamil
Tigers attacked the Bandaranaika International Airport causing an
estimated $500 million of damages.
Destruction of Tsunami
In the year end of 2004 the most unthinkable disasters hit the shores
of Sri Lanka, something no one dreamt about and that took thousands of
lives and separating people from their home, family and lives they
couldn't ever have again. The Tsunami came without a single warning and
took away the lives of many here and around the Indian Ocean. the year
that followed was never the same as every household in every part of the
country mourned the loss of a loved one.
On the 56th Independence Day the LTTE had openly called to hoist
black flags and to adhere forthcoming 04 February as a Black Day and as
Day of Mourning in Sri Lanka. The Tamil rebel organization in its
official Peace Secretariat web site had published an appeal from
hitherto unheard and by unnamed organizations, classifying them simply
as "People's Organizations, in the Jaffna District" and publishing a
call said to be emanating from those anonymous organizations - Calling
for the observance of 4 February - Sri Lanka's independence day, as the
saddest day for the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
On the 60th Independence day of Sri Lanka, the celebrations were held
under very tight security as a series of bombings over the weekend,
which were reportedly masterminded by the rebel LTTE, has claimed 37
lives. Twelve of the 37 were killed in a suicide bomb attack at the main
railway station on Sunday, while 18 died in a bus blast in Dambulla on
Saturday. Seven were killed by a blast inside a suburban zoo.
Well last year has been a year of surprises, and a lot losses as
well. We had lost some fine people who did a lot for the country for the
love of the country.
This year we already tasted a bit of sourness, but everything lies in
our hands to make it sweet. So lets celebrate this Independence Day as a
day where we tell ourselves o fight all obstacles and come on top and be
the best you can be and help your motherland to be a "one" country with
no separation form any cast or creed.