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DISTORTION OF OUR HISTORY - CBC NEWS

Gamage Palihapitiya

The followign articel sent to me by the CBC is a total distortion of our history.  
 
(1) The origin of the Sinhala race in this Island, according to one school of thought, is the arrival of Prince Vijaya.  MAHAVAMASA, the great Chronicle bears testimony.  Another school of thought is that King PANDUWASADEVA.  Whoever who it is, the Sinhalese were the first settlers in this Island.  In his celebrated book, 'Discovery of India', Nehru too,  had admitted this.   
 
2) Tamils, on the other hand, were late comers as invadors from South India.  They invaded our country from time to time.   Later, during the British period, South Indian Tamils were brought to the country as estate coolies. 
 
(3) King Dhatusena had two sons, DUTAGA & UTHARA.  UTHARA was in charge of the UTHTHARA PRADESHA (Jaffna Peninsula).  A Buddhist temple was erected in NAKA DIVA by a Sinahalese Minister, ISIGIRA, and it is now known as Naga Dipa or Nainathive, in Tamil.
 
(4)  JAMBU KOLA PATTANA is now known as SAMBILITHURAI, where King Devanam Piya Tissa welcomed the Bo Sapling brought by Theri Sanghamitta.  Sinhala villages were converted into 'tamilised' villages.  Hunugama, Weligama, Kasubdiva, Nakadiva, Hiru Gonagala, etc. came to be known in Tamil as, Chunnakam, Valikamam, Kaccativu, Nainativu, Thirukonamalai, etc. respectively.
 
5) Chinese emperor invaded the Island once, however, he coudn't rule the country.
 
(6) During the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Gampola, and Kandy periods, classical literary books were written in Sinhala language.  At the beginning, under the Department of Instrucions by the British, English was taught only to read the Bible.  Only a small percentage of Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslims had the privilege of learning English. English was confined only to urban schools.  With the commencement of the free education, central colleges began to teach English.  According to statistics, only 4-5% out of the total population, were proficient in English even in 1958.  In rural areas, not only the majority of the Sinahalese people, but also, Tamils and Muslims, were not proficient with English.  They and their children had been debarrd from entering the government service.  Sinhala had to be made the official language, in order to rectify this historical injustice.  Emeritus Professor, Ranjith Ruberu has, in some of his articles in the media explained this grave injustice done to the Sinhalese people.    I invite some scholars to put the record straight. 
 
Gamage Palihapitiya
 
INDEPTH: SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka: A profile
CBC News Online | January 19, 2005

What would become modern Sri Lanka was settled by Sinhalese immigrants from northern India more than 2,400 years ago. They forced the native Veddah people into the mountains. By the eighth century AD, Tamils arrived from India in increasing numbers.

Sinhalese have always been in the majority and the two groups have alternated between peaceful co-existence and outright hostility.

In 1408, Chinese forces occupied the island, which had been partitioned into a number of petty kingdoms.

In the 1500s, the Europeans began arriving, first the Portuguese, sniffing money to be made in the spice trade. They quickly monopolized the industry. By 1597, they controlled most of the island.

But they couldn't control the powerful Sinhalese kingdom of Kandy, which persuaded the Dutch to help it throw out the Portuguese in 1658.

The Dutch parlayed that alliance into a very profitable business arrangement until 1795. By then, the Netherlands was under French control, which allowed Britain to add most of Sri Lanka to its growing list of colonies.

Kandy continued to resist, but by 1815, the entire island was under British control. Coffee, tea, cinnamon and coconut plantations (worked by Tamil labourers imported from southern India) sprang up and English was introduced as the national language.

In 1931, Britain granted the local population a degree of self-government. And 16 years later the nation of Ceylon came into being when Britain granted the island independence. The new country was no longer a colony of the British Empire, but a member of the British Commonwealth.

The government leaned towards socialism and promoted Sinhalese interests. It made Sinhalese the national language and effectively reserved the best jobs for the Sinhalese. The move was meant to level the playing field between the majority Sinhalese and the English-speaking, Christian-educated elite. But it also worried the Tamil Hindu minority, which began to press for greater autonomy in the main Tamil areas in the north and east.

The country's ethnic and religious conflicts escalated as competition for wealth and work intensified. When Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike was assassinated in 1959 trying to reconcile the two communities, his widow, Sirimavo, succeeded him, becoming the first woman in the world to hold the job of prime minister.

A year later, she became the first woman in the world to win a national election. Her government was defeated in 1964, but she was back as prime minister in 1970. She maintained close ties with China and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and moved the country to the left politically. In 1972, she declared the country a republic and changed the name to Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

By the mid-1970s, tensions between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils were escalating. Civil unrest led to a state of emergency in Tamil areas, and a Tamil secessionist movement emerged.

In 1983, members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) massacred an army patrol. Sinhalese mobs went on a two-day rampage, killing several thousand Tamils and burning and looting property.

Many Tamils moved north into parts of the country where Tamils formed the majority. There were also large concentrations of Tamils on the east coast. Tamil secessionists claimed the northern third of the country and parts of the east coast.

Violence escalated most of the fighting was confined to the north, although several suicide bombings in the capital, Colombo, brought the conflict to the heart of Sri Lankan society.

The violence has hurt the country's economy and discouraged tourism. The economy has experienced steady growth, but economists say the growth may have been far greater without the ethnic violence.

Sri Lanka has moved quickly from an economy based on agriculture to one focused on food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking.

In 2003, plantation crops made up only 15 per cent of exports. In 1970, plantation crops accounted for 93 per cent of exports.

In December 2001, Norwegian intermediaries helped broker the first ceasefire in seven years between the government and the rebels. Within a year, there were hopes that a lasting peace could be at hand when the two sides reached a political agreement. But talks between the two sides stalled in 2003.

Civil strife was mainly set aside in the wake of the tsunami that struck on Dec. 26, 2004. More than 30,000 people were killed in the country's worst-ever natural disaster.

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