Looking back at Lanka Tamil Eelam conflict

2009-01-28 12:41:51

A look at the history of Sri Lanka and how the struggle for Tamil Eelam began and gained momentum.

Area: Around 66,000 sqkm (40,000 sq km Sinhala homeland; 26,000 sq km Tamil homeland — 1948 situation).

Population: Just crossed the mark of 2 crore (estimates, 2006), (74% Sinhala speaking, 25.2% Tamil speaking and 0.8% others - 1981 census, proper census of population not held thereafter).

1505 AD to 1947

This note was prepared by Maravanpulavu K Sachithananthan for the participants at a consultative meeting on Sri Lanka on 1st August 2006 at Chennai.


Timeline: Sri Lanka

A chronology of key events:

Fifth century BC - Indo-Aryan migrants from northern India settle on the island; the Sinhalese emerge as the most powerful of the various clans.

Third century BC - Beginning of Tamil migration from India.

1505 - Portuguese arrive in Colombo, marking beginning of European interest.

Sacred temple complex at Kandy was targeted by bombers in 1998

1815 - British become first European power to win control over whole island, known as Ceylon. Start bringing in Tamil labourers from southern India to work tea, coffee and coconut plantations.

1833 - English made official language.

1931 - British grant the right to vote and introduce power sharing.

1948 - Ceylon gains full independence.

Sinhala nationalism

1949 - Indian Tamil plantation workers disenfranchised.

Srimavo Bandaranaike: The world's first woman PM

1956 - Solomon Bandaranaike elected on wave of Sinhalese nationalism. Sinhala made sole official language and other measures introduced to bolster Sinhalese and Buddhist feeling. More than 100 Tamils killed in widespread violence after Tamil parliamentarians protest at new laws.

1958 - Anti-Tamil riots leave more than 200 people dead. Thousands of Tamils displaced.

1959 - Bandaranaike assassinated by a Bhuddist monk. Succeeded by widow, Srimavo, who continues nationalisation programme.

1965 - Opposition United National Party wins elections and attempts to reverse nationalisation measures.

1970 - Srimavo Bandaranaike returns to power and extends nationalisation programme.

Ethnic tensions

1971 - Sinhalese Marxist uprising led by students and activists.

Sri Lanka is one of the last havens for wild elephants

1972 - Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka and Buddhism given primary place as country's religion, further antagonising Tamil minority.

1976 - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formed as tensions increase in Tamil-dominated areas of north and east.

1977 - Separatist Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) party wins all seats in Tamil areas. Anti-Tamil riots leave more than 100 Tamils dead.

1981 Sinhala policemen accused of burning the Jaffna Public Library, causing further resentment in Tamil community.

1983 - 13 soldiers killed in LTTE ambush, sparking anti-Tamil riots leading to the deaths of an estimated several hundred Tamils. Start of what Tigers call "First Eelam War".

Civil war intensifies

1985 - First attempt at peace talks between government and LTTE fails.

Tea exports are a mainstay of the economy

1987 - Government forces push LTTE back into northern city of Jaffna. Government signs accords creating new councils for Tamil areas in north and east and reaches agreement with India on deployment of Indian peace-keeping force.

1988 - Left-wing and nationalist Sinhalese JVP begins campaign against Indo-Sri Lankan agreement.

1990 - Indian troops leave after getting bogged down in fighting in north. Violence between Sri Lankan army and separatists escalates. "Second Eelam War" begins.

1991 - LTTE implicated in assassination of Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi in southern India.

War and diplomacy

1993 - President Premadasa killed in LTTE bomb attack.

Civil war claimed 65,000 lives; tensions still simmer

1994 - President Kumaratunga comes to power pledging to end war. Peace talks opened with LTTE.

1995 - "Third Eelam War" begins when rebels sink naval craft.

1995-2001 - War rages across north and east. Tigers bomb Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist site. President Kumaratunga is wounded in a bomb attack. Suicide attack on the international airport destroys half the Sri Lankan Airlines fleet.

Peace moves

2002 February - Government and Tamil Tiger rebels sign a Norwegian-mediated ceasefire.

Chandrika Kumaratunga spent 11 turbulent years as president

De-commissioning of weapons begins; the road linking the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka reopens after 12 years; passenger flights to Jaffna resume. Government lifts ban on Tamil Tigers. Rebels drop demand for separate state.

2003 Tigers pull out of talks. Ceasefire holds.

2003 May - Country's worst-ever floods leave more than 200 people dead and drive some 4,000 people from their homes.

2004 March - Renegade Tamil Tiger commander, known as Karuna, leads split in rebel movement and goes underground with his supporters. Tiger offensive regains control of the east.

2004 July - Suicide bomb blast in Colombo - the first such incident since 2001.

2004 tsunami killed more than 30,000 people in Sri Lanka.

2004 December - More than 30,000 people are killed when massive waves, generated by a powerful undersea earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, devastate coastal communities.

2005 June - Row over deal reached with Tamil Tiger rebels to share nearly $3bn in tsunami aid among Sinhalas, Tamils and Muslims.

2005 August - State of emergency after foreign minister is killed by a suspected Tiger assassin.

2005 November - Mahinda Rajapakse, prime minister at the time, wins presidential elections. Most Tamils in areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers do not vote.

Mounting violence

2006 February - Government and Tamil Tiger rebels declare their respect for the 2002 ceasefire at talks in Geneva.

2006 April - Explosions and rioting in Trincomalee, in the north-east, leave 16 people dead. Police blame Tamil Tiger rebels for the blasts, which come amid a marked escalation in deadly violence.

Jaffna: Flashpoint in fighting between Tamil rebels, army

A suicide bomber attacks the main military compound in Colombo, killing at least eight people. The military launch air strikes on Tamil Tiger targets.

2006 May - Tamil Tiger rebels attack a naval convoy near Jaffna. International monitors describe the deadly attack as a "gross violation" of the 2002 ceasefire.

2006 June - 64 people are killed in a mine attack on a bus in Anuradhapura district. Days later, more than 30 people are killed in a land and sea battle between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

2006 August - Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces clash in the north-east. It is the worst fighting since the 2002 ceasefire. Hundreds of people are killed and the UN says tens of thousands have fled their homes.

2006 September - The government says it has pushed Tamil Tiger rebels from the mouth of strategic Trincomalee harbour. This is seen as the first major capture of enemy territory by either side since a 2002 ceasefire.

2006 October - A suicide bomber attacks a military convoy, killing more than 90 sailors.

Tamil Tigers attack a naval base in Galle, the southern city frequented by tourists.

Peace talks resume in Geneva but fail.

2007 January - After weeks of heavy fighting the military says it has captured the Tamil Tiger stronghold of Vakarai, in the east. Tens of thousands of civilians flee the area.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's government secures a long-elusive parliamentary majority after 25 opposition MPs defect to its ranks.

Italian and US ambassadors are slightly hurt as rebels shell a delegation of diplomats touring eastern areas.

2007 March - Government troops claim continuing success in clearing eastern coastal areas of rebels. Thousands of civilians flee the fighting.

Tamil Tigers launch their first confirmed air raid, hitting a military base next to the international airport.

Chronology of events from the Arrival of the first Colonial Powers until 1948

by: Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Unit for Strategic and Security Studies,

National University of Malaysia Bangi,43600 Bangi/Selangor,Malaysia

This factsheet may only be reproduced in its entirety and with due acknowledgment to the author of this compilation D. Hellmann-Rajanayagam.

Any changes, abridgments or other modifications may only be performed with the permission, in writing, of the author.

1505: The Portuguese arrive in Ceylon

1519: Cankili I comes to the throne of Jaffna

1543: Cankili I orders 600 Christians in Mannar to be killed on suspicion of collaborating with the Portuguese.

mid-16th century: The Vanniyar chieftains of Mullaitivu and Trincomalee allly with the Portuguese against Cankili and his attempts to subdue them. Cankili expels the Sinhalese from Jaffna because they support the Vanniyar.

1560: The Portuguese narrowly defeat Cankili in a battle to avenge the 'massacre of Mannar' and demand concession. They retain Mannar and put puppet king Edirmanasingham on the throne.

1564-65: Indian sources report a battle between the Nayak of Madurai and his Poligar army (on the order of the ruler of Vijayanagara) and the king of Kandy near Puttalam, in which the latter was defeated and killed.

1591: Cankili II (Cankilikumaran) declared governor of Jaffna by the Portuguese on condition that he has no contact with the Karaiyar generals.

1619/20: Cankili II allies with the Karaiyar general Mikkappillai (Migapulle) from Mannar; defeated after prolonged fighting with the Portuguese.

1620-24: Karaiyar generals continue the resistance against the Portuguese with the help of the Nayak of Tanjavur. After the final defeat the Karaiyar plunge themselves into their own swords.

1623: Cankilikumaran executed in Goa. The Portuguese destroy all big temples in Jaffna and Trincomalee.

1658: The Dutch take the Maritime Provinces including Jaffna from the Portuguese. They misunderstand the Kutimai and Atimai system and treat them as slaves, thus changing the economic and social structure of Jaffna.

1766: The Dutch force the King of Kandy to hand Batticaloa over to them in a treaty and cut off Kandy's access to the sea.

1795/96: The British take Ceylon from the Dutch.

1796: J. Burnand, a Swiss soldier in the service of the Dutch and later the English, and governor of Batticaloa, composes a 'memoir' in Batticaloa and the Vanni and his administration there in 1794.

1798: J. Burnand helps with the suppression of the revolt against the Indian amildars, administrators brought from Madras to Ceylon. He drafts another 'memoir' on the North and Northeast, in which he locates the origins of the Sinhalese in Siam and mentions that from time immemorial Sinhalese and Tamils had divided the rule of the island between the two of them.

1799 The English translation of Burnand's memoir of 1798 becomes known as the 'Cleghorn minute'.

1803: In the Treaty of Amiens the new possessions of the British and Dutch in Asia are confirmed. Holland retains Batavia, the British Ceylon. The British defeat the last Vanniya, Pantara Vanniyan, and execute him. A pension is paid to his widow, the Vannichi, until the late 19th century.

1813: The American Mission founds the Batticotta Seminary (later Jaffna College).

1815: The British defeat the last King of Kandy, Wikramasinha,and contract the Kandy Convention with the aristocrats.

1818: In a last-ditch revolt against the British a Tamil crown pretender arises and flees to Jaffna after being defeated. He is eventually found and executed.

1820: A Tamil press is established in Jaffna. A report on Trincomalee laments its sorry, poverty-stricken state and recommends 'colonization with intelligent settlers'.

1823: The American Mission establishes a girls' school in Jaffna, the first in Asia.

1827: The 'Return of the Population 1824' gives the population figures for Trincomalee as 19158, among them 317 Sinhalese. Batticaloa town had 9(!) inhabitants, the district 27483, in the Majority Mukkuvar, Moors and 'Bellale'. The Vanni, counted under Mannar, has 22536 inhabitants, among them 517 Sinhalese.

1829: Unrest between Protestants and Catholics in Jaffna.

1833: Under the Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms Ceylon becomes administratively unified, English is the language of administration.

1834: Simon Casie Chetty writes the 'Ceylon Gazetteer'. He describes Batticaloa as a cool, healthy and fertile district. He is nominated as a member to the Executive Council.

1847: Arumuka Navalar (1822-1879) leaves Jaffna Central School because of the admission of a low-caste (Nalavar) boy by Peter Percival. The Ceylon Observer laments the unhealthy climate and economic neglect of the the Eastern province.

1848: A rebellion in Kandy against corn taxes and rajakariya is put down by the British. Arumuka Navalar accompanies Peter Percival to Madras to present their translation of the bible. He founds his own school in Vannarponnai.

1829-67: Van Dyke is Government Agent in Jaffna.

1859: Simon Casie Chetty publishes his 'Tamil Plutarch'.

1865: Muttu Coomaraswamy is nominated as member of the Legislative Council.

1866: In one of his famous sermons Arumuka Navalar reproaches his fellow Tamils with neglecting their religion and their language. The Report of the Education Commission emphasises the importance of English as medium of instruction over and against the 'vernaculars'.

1867-84: Twynam is Government Agent in Jaffna.

1871: Caste clashes between Vellalar, dhobies and barbers in Mavittappuram, because the dhobies refuse to wash the barbers' clothes. Vellalar are blamed for the conflagration. Arumuka Navalar founds the Caivap Pirapalanarc Capai.

1872: An English medium school founded by Arumuka Navalar founders due to financial difficulties.

1876: During a famine in Jaffna Arumuka Navalar helps with collecting and distributing food to starving Vellalar.

1879: Sir P. Ramanathan is nominated for the Legislative Council with the strong support of the Jaffna elite against Christopher Brito. Brito publishes the English translation of the Yalppana Vaipava Malai.

1890: Sir P. Ramanathan claims in a controversial article that the Tamil speaking Muslims are Tamils which is fiercely rejected.

1895: P. Arunachalam is nominated for the Legislative Council. One Muslim member is nominated to the Legislative Council.

1895-1905: Twynam is again Government Agent for Jaffna.

1907: In an article for a British publication P. Arunachalam defends the caste system as benevolent and necesssary.

1908/ 1910/ 1912: During 'Durbars of Tamil Chiefs in Jaffna and Batticaloa' the British governor is told that the inhabitants of the two districts are not interested in the 'Settlement of the Vanni', though the latter was of the opinion that the Tamils had the right of first refusal in this area. Tamils do not want to go into the Vanni because of the unhealthy climate, but they do not want to admit Sinhalese or Indians there either.

1909: The Jaffna Association rejects group representation.

1909/11: Under the Crewe-McCallum Reforms four non-officials and an 'educated Ceylonese' are to be elected to the Legislative Council by selected Ceylonese voters.

1910: A memorial of the Jaffna Association requests voting rights also for Tamils educated in the vernacular.

1912: Sir P. Ramanathan wins the elections for the 'educated Ceylonese' seat against the Sinhalese doctor Marcus Fernando. In a 'History of Jaffna' Muttutampippillai calls Elara a king of Jaffna and a Cola prince. The Education Commission debates the question of the advisability of instruction in the mother tongue in English language and Anglo-vernacular schools.

1916: The Trincomalee Gazetteer reports that Tamils are the numerically strongest group on the East coast.

1917: P. Arunachalam demands more political influence for the Ceylonese in a speech 'On Our Political Needs' at the establishment of the Ceylon National Association.

1918: The Jaffna Association introduces the 50-50 representation formula for the Legislative Council in a memo.

1919: The Ceylon National Congress is established with P. Arunachalam as one of its founder members.

1920: As member of a delegation on constitutional reform in London P. Arunachalam assures Count Milner that all Ceylonese desire 'territorial representation' and none 'group representation'. Founding of 'Jaffna Historical Society'.

1920/21: The Manning Reforms abolish group representation (2:1) and introduce territorial representation to the fierce protest of the Tamils and the minorities who lose their relative strength under an extended voting system (4% of the population).

1921: P. Arunachalam leaves the CNC because of a controversy over the Western(Colombo) Seat for the Tamils.

22nd Jan.: In a lecture in Jaffna entitled Tamilar Nakarikam (The Culture of the Tamils!) Marai Malai Atikal (1876-1951) names the Vellalar as the 'cultured agricultural class among the Tamils'.

15th Aug.: The Tamil Mahajana Sabhai is founded and takes up the call for 50-50: Balanced Representation.

In a booklet on the East Canagaratnam calls Batticaloa hot and unhealthy without significant economic growth. Diseases like Malaria, Smallpox, and Choler and periodic famines are rampant, after the irrigation installations have fallen into decrepitude. The population percentages for the district in 1920: were: 55% Tamils, 39% Muslims, 3.75 Sinhalese.

1922: S. Rasanayagam gives a paper on 'Ancient Jaffna' to the RAS(CB) which is heavily attacked by Sinhalese scholars.

1922/23: The Manning Reforms are retracted and modified group representation is reintroduced.

1923 (16th Sept.): P. Arunachalam founds the Ceylon Tamil League (Ilankai Tamil makkal cankam) to ssafeguard Tamil Culture in the Tamilakam (Arunachalam's speech in the 'Morning Leader' of that date). In a caste revolt in Sutumalai Vellalar attack Paramba who had hired drummers for a funeral.

During a historical conference Tamil New Year (13th/14th April) is declared Tamil National Day. A number of Tamil Literary and Cultural Associations are founded. During a second visit Marai Malai Atikal is warmly greeted in Jaffna. A CNC document calls the Eastsern province "...admittedly Tamil".

1924: First elections under the rules of the Manning Reforms. P. Arunachalam dies.

1926: S. Rasanayagam's 'Ancient Jaffna' is published.

1928: Nanappirakacar publisheshis replique to Rasanayagam: 'A Critical History of Jaffna'.

1928/29: The Donoughmore Commission comes to Ceylon. It gives the population figures for the Eastern Province as 192821, of which 101880 are Tamils, 8600 Sinhalese, 75475 Muslims and 1371 Indians.

1929: Catholics from Mannar complain to the Donoughmore Commission about caste repression and injustice and demand to be acknowledged as an 'ethnic' minority. Protestant Tamils denounce the move. In a preface to a new edition of his father's historical study on Jaffna Daniel John names Cankili I as sthe king who by driving the Sinhalese from Jaffna made 'Jaffna safe for the Tamils'. Fernao Queyroz' report on the conquest of Ceylon is published in English translation. The Education Report (signed, among others, by P. Ramanathan) demands instruction in the mother tongue and compulsory religious education. E.V. Ramacami Naicker (Periyar) visits Jaffna.

14th June/16th Aug. 1929: Start of the 'Equal-seating' controversy: After a directive by the administration that in grant-aided schools low-casste children have to be allowed to sit on benches instead on the floor or outside on the ground virulent protests erupt from the Vellalar. Low-caste children are assaulted and their houses burnt down. The low-caste parents are afraid to send their children to school.

1930: Death of Sir P. Ramanathan.

20th June: In a petition to the government Vellalar from Urelu, Vasavilan and Punalakkattavan demand to rescind the equal-seating directive.

1931: The Donoughmore constitution introduces universal suffrage and territorial representation against the spirited protests of the Tamils. The Jaffna Youth Congress demands a boycott of the constitution and the elections, since they do not confer dominion status on Ceylon. Caste clashes in Canganai where Pallar are attacked by Vellalar for hiring drummers for a funeral. Nehru visits Jaffna and is warmly greeted by the Jaffna Youth Congress.

1933: G.G. Ponnambalam denounces the boycott. In articles in Ilakecari the Jaffna Youth Congress now agrees to end the boycott. Sesveral pamphlets denouncing democracy and voting rights for low castes and women demand a federation between India and Ceylon to safeguard group representation under the umbrella of the British Raj.

1934: Bye-elections in Jaffna after the boycott is rescinded. G.G. Ponnambalam founds the All Ceylon Tamil Conference. A Tamil author, Singhan, residing in Malaya, demands the abolition of universal suffrage and the respect of caste rules and distinctions. S. Rasanayagam publishes his history of Jaffna under the British (in Tamil).

1935: The Jaffna Association repeats its demand for 50-50 representation: 50% for the Sinhalese, 25% for the Tamils, 25% for the other minorities.

1936: In the elections G.G. Ponnambalam wins for the first time against A. Mahadeva. Governor Stsubbs recommends the abolition of territorial representation.

1937: a 'pan-Sinhalese' Board of Ministers is established under Senanayake which does not contain a single Tamil in order to punish the Tamils for the election Boycott in 1931. Ponnambalam demands 50-50 representation for the first time.

1938: Leonard Woolfe proposes a federation as the best solution for Ceylon in a memo to the Fabian Society. The Jaffna Youth Congress passes a resolution against the 50-50 formula. As souvenir in honour of Arumuka Navalar is published.

1939: In his famous 'nine-hour-speech' Ponnambalam defends the concept of 50-50 representation: 50% for the Sinhalese, 50% for ALL minorities. Ilakecari praises the formerly vilified P. Ramanathan for his yeoman service for the Tamils and denounces G.G. Ponnambalam as a 'Colombo Tamil'. Jaffna Youth Congress leader K. Balasingham calls for a federation with India to safeguard democratic principles.

1940: The elections due in that year are postponed because of the outbreak of WWII. In a amemo to the CNC Jayewardene demands a federation between India and Ceylon.

1941: In a preliminary draft constitution formulated bye Jayewardene and others for the CNC Tamil and Sinhala are named as sthe official languages in their respective areas. But in a memo to the CNC J.R. Jayewardene rejects any concessions to the minorities in the political systam and says the Donoughmore Constitution tried to buy the loyalty of the Sinhalese, the 'stronger group'.

1942: The idea of a federation with India is repeated in a memo to the CNC by G. Perera.

1943: The BoM is asked to draft a new constitution for an independent Ceylon after the end of the war. The Report of the Special Committee on Education recommends free education up to tertiary level in the mother tongues.

1944: G.G. Ponnambalam founds the All Ceylon Tamil Congress. In a series of telegrams to the British Government and the Labour Party he demands the protection and granting of equal rights to the Indian Tamils. A resollution by Jayewardene in the State Council states that Sinhala and Tamil will be official languages and media of instruction after independence.

15th Oct: The Communist Party of Ceylon proposes an All-Party Conference to discuss the right of self-determination and independence for the two nationalities of Ceylon, Sinhalese and Tamils.

19th Dec.: The All-Party Conference is held in Colombo with nearly all parties participating, except Tamil Congress, Kandyan Assembly and European Association.

1944/45: The Soulbury Commission visits Ceylon to get feedback on the draft constitution and is boycotted by the Sinhalese. The Commission accepts the BoM constitution draft with silight midifications as the 'Soulbury Constitution'.

1946: In an article in the Ceylon Daily News the Secretary General of the ACTC, S.C. Sivasubramaniam, denounces the Soulbury Constitution. Subseqsuently he pleads for cooperation between UNP and ACTC as the only chance for the Tamils in a letter to the editor of the Colombo Observer in March 1947. Dudley Senanayake demands Sinhala to be made the only national language and is fiercely attacked by the English language press.

1947: The UNP wins the elections. In Jaffna, the ACTC wins a majority of votes.

1948 (4th Feb.): Ceylon becomes independent under the UNP government. A. Mahadeva and G.G. Ponnambalam join Senanayake's Cabinet.

1505      The Portuguese arrived in Ceylon during the existence of three sovereign kingdoms, one Tamil Kingdom in Jaffna, and two Sinhala Kingdoms in Kotte and Kandy.    

1619      Tamil sovereignty ended in June when the Portuguese defeated the Tamil King, and the Jaffna Kingdom became a Colony of the Portuguese.  

1658      The Dutch arrived in Ceylon and the Jaffna Kingdom became a Dutch Colony.
1795       The British arrived in Ceylon and the Jaffna Kingdom became a British Colony.  

1802       Ceylon became a British Crown Colony.  

1833      For the first time in over 2,500 years of its recorded history, the entire island of Ceylon was brought under a single administration based on the recommendations of the Colebrook-Cameron Report.  

1862      Tamils from Southern India were brought as labourers to work in the tea plantations in the hill country by the British. During the same period Tamil labourers from South India were taken to work in the sugar cane plantations in South Africa, Mauritius and in many other British colonies.  

1885      Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan ­ Tamil leader called for increased representation in Legislative council for Tamils.  

1915       In June, Sinhala Buddhist-Muslim riots in Ceylon. Riots spread from the central province to the western and northwestern provinces.  

There were heavy casualties amongst the Muslims. According to available records, 36 Muslims were killed and 205 Muslims were injured and raped. Nearly 85 mosques were damaged and more than 4,075 Muslim-owned shops were looted by the Sinhala rioters.  

1919      The Ceylon National Congress (CNC), the first full-fledged "Nationalist" political party was formed by a celebrated Tamil, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam.  

1921      Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam quitted the CNC, denouncing it as a party representing mainly a section of the Sinhalese.  

1927-1931 Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam had talks with Sinhala leaders when the Donoughmore Commission announced its recommendations in 1927. The talks ended in a failure as the  Sinhala  leaders ignored the aspirations of the Tamils.


1944      The first Tamil political party, “All Ceylon Tamil Congress-ACTC”  was founded by G. G. Ponnambalam to champion the cause of the Tamils against Sinhala Buddhist domination.  

1947      The United National Party (UNP) was formed.                

The first constitution of Ceylon was adopted by an Order in Council rather than by a Constituent Assembly. It was known as the (Lord) “Soulbury Constitution” which remained in force until 1972.  

1948      The British left Ceylon ­ independence was granted to “Ceylon” and the power to govern Ceylon  was handed over to the Sinhalese who were numerically superior.  

After the stringent 15 November 1948 Citizenship Act and the laws of disenfranchisement were enacted and adopted, the Tamils of Indian origin Tamils in the hill country (plantation Tamils) were deprived of selecting their representatives to the Parliament. More than a million plantation Tamil workers were rendered stateless.  

1948-1950 The Government launched massive Sinhala colonisation schemes in the Eastern province. Gal oya in Batticaloa, Allai and Kathalai in Trincomalee were colonised under pretexts of development.  

1949      Dissension with the “Tamil Congress” party led to the formation of the “Tamil Federal Party” (FP) under the leadership of S. J. V. Chelvanayagam.  

1951      The first convention of the Federal Party was held and it was unanimously decided to campaign for a federal structure of governance with regional autonomy for Tamils living in North and East. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike broke away from UNP and forms the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).  

1956      The United National Party-UNP was ousted from power in the general elections by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which swept the island with a wave of Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism with strong anti-Tamil overtones.

On 14 June S. W. R. D. Bandaranayake father of President Chandrika Kumaratunga proclaimed the  “Sinhala Only Act” which made the Sinhala language the only official language of Ceylon.  

The peaceful Satyagraha campaign staged by the Tamils to protest against the “Sinhala Only Act” at the Galle Face Green, in front of the Parliament in Colombo was brutally savaged by Sinhalese thugs with the connivance of government. The outbreak of first anti-Tamil riots in the island. More than 150 Tamils were burnt or hacked to death and million rupees worth of properties belonging to Tamils were looted and destroyed. <More>  

1957      Soon after the “Sinhala Only Act” was passed in Parliament, talks were initiated between the Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the Federal Party leader S. J. V. Chelvanayagam.  

On 26 July an agreement known as “Banda Chelvapact was signed between Bandaranayake and Chevanayagam. This agreement was based on a quasi federal system devolving certain powers to the Tamils in   the North East provinces.

Within a week of signing the “Banda-Chelva” pact, it was unilaterally abrogated by the Prime Minister Bandaranaike due to vehement protests staged by the UNP, Buddhist clergy and SLFP. J R Jeyawardena of United National Party-UNP undertook a march to Kandy in protest against this pact.  

1958      Anti-Tamil pogrom broke out in the island. Many Tamils were massacred and million of rupees worth of   properties belonging to the Tamils were looted and destroyed. <More>  

On 25 May, in the government sugar-cane plantation at Polonnaruwa and Hingurakgoda, the Sinhala thugs assaulted the Tamil labourers remorselessly. The Sinhala thugs set fire to the sugar canes and burnt or hacked to death 500 Tamils in Polonnaruwa and Hingurakgoda. Violence spread to the Southern part of the island wherever the Tamils live.  

1959       The Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was assassinated by a Buddhist monk.  

1960       Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike, widow of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and mother of President Chandrika Kumaratunge, swore in  as the Prime Minister.  

1961       A non-violent civil disobedience campaign was launched by the Federal Party.  

The government reacted violently by sending Police and military forces to Jaffna to suppress the agitation. Anti-Tamil pogrom broke out in areas where Sinhalese were in a majority, killing hundreds of Tamils and rendering thousands homeless.  

1964       The Srimavo-Shashtri pact was signed for the repatriation of the Tamil people of Indian origin to whom citizenship was denied and disenfranchised through the 1948 Citizenship Act. They lived in the island for over 115 years.  

1965      Dudley Senanayake leader of the UNP formed the government with the help of the Federal Party and other parties.  

Talks   were held between the Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake and S. J. V. Chelvanayagam.  

On 24 March, an agreement known as “Dudley-Chelva” Pact was signed between Dudley Senanayake and S. J. V. Chelvanayagam.  

The agreement was abandoned without being implemented due to opposition from the SLFP, the Buddhist clergy, and UNP backbenchers.
1967       The Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP-People's Liberation Front) was formed.  

1970      Mrs Bandaranaike became the Prime Minister, as the United Front (a coalition of SLFP and other Sinhala leftist parties) gained a two-third majority in the Parliament.  

1971      Armed revolution by the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna was suppressed by Srimavoa Bandaranayke.  Thousands of Sinhala JVP youths were  killed.  

Talks were held between various Tamils leaders and Srimavo Bandaranayake on constitutional amendments.

No agreement was reached but the Sinhala leaders went ahead undeterred with their republican constitution amending the minimum safeguards granted  to Tamils by the earlier constitution.


1972      Ceylon became a “Republic” on 22 May and Ceylon was officially renamed as the “Republic of SRI LANKA”

            The United Front government enacted a Sinhala-Supremacist "Republican Constitution" for the country, which made Buddhism the state religion.

            Formation of Tamil United Front (TUF) comprising Federal Party led by, S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, Tamil Congress (TC) led by GG Ponnambalam, and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) led by Savariamoorthy Thondaman.  

State discrimination against Tamil students' admission to Universities reached the peak with the introduction of "Standardisation". University admission based on merit was abandoned deliberately to stop Tamil students entering Universities.

A youth group comprising self-sacrificing and disciplined youths named Tamil New Tigers (TNT) was formed by Mr. V. Pirabaharan to fight for the right to self-determination of the Tamils in the North East.  

1974      On 10 January, Sinhalese Police unleashed an unprovoked violent attack on those attending the prestigious “4th Tamil Research Conference” in Jaffna, leaving nine innocent civilians dead.  

1975      On 5 May the Tamil New Tigers -TNT was renamed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ­ LTTE. Mr. V. Pirabaharan was named the Chairman and military commander of the LTTE.  

1976       On 14 May, the Tamil United Front -TUF was renamed as Tamil United Liberation Front-TULF. The TULF passed the   "Vaddukkoddai resolution"  pledging to restore a free, sovereign, secular, socialist state of Tamil  Eelam based on the right to self-determination, and also to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil nation in the  island.  

1977      In July, Tamil United Liberation Front-TULF, contested and won overwhelmingly at the Parliamentary  election giving them a mandate to establish  the “Right to Self-determination” of Tamil Eelam in the North East. J. R. Jeyewardena of UNP became the Prime Minister, with a five-sixth majority in the Parliament. The TULF became the major opposition party in the parliament.  

Talks took place between Prime Minister J.R. Jayawardena and the Tamil United Liberation Front. No agreement was reached.  Anti-Tamil pogrom  occurred immediately after elections in the areas where Sinhalese were in the majority killing hundreds of Tamils. <More>


1978      A New Constitution was enacted and J.R. Jeyawardena became first Executive President of the country. The phrase “Republic of  Sri Lanka” was rephrased as “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”
Sri Lankan security forces started perpetrating their dreadful atrocities against Tamil youths. Counter activities of Tamil militant organisations were also on the increase.  

1979       The government enacted the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), banning the Tamil militant organisations.  On 11 July, the Jaffna peninsula was brought effectively under martial law under Public Security ordinance.  Anti-Tamil pogrom broke out in the island. Many Tamils were killed and properties belonging to Tamils were looted and destroyed.  

1980      Several Tamil youths were arbitrarily killed by the Sri Lankan security forces, Police and Army. 


1981      In June, another anti-Tamil pogrom was unleashed. Increased military repression in the North. The Jaffna Public Library was burnt down by the Sri Lankan armed forces, allegedly under the direction of two senior government ministers, Gamini Dissanayake and Cyril Matthew. 95,000 volumes of books including numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts and the buildings were totally destroyed by arson. The Jaffna city market, the office of the Tamils daily newspaper “Eelanadu”, the office of the political party TULF, etc were burnt down by the Sri Lanka security forces.  

An anti-Tamil pogrom broke out in the island. Many Tamils were killed and looting of the Tamils  properties were widespread.  <More>  

1982       Government sponsored a Sinhala settlement in the Tamil populated Mullaitivu.  

1983      Major anti-Tamil pogrom took place in July all over the island with the buoyed up support of the government. During the four days riots, more than 6,000 Tamils were killed and over 250,000 were rendered refugees. Thousands of Tamils fled the country and went to India and to Western countries. Billions rupees worth of Tamils properties was looted and destroyed by the Sinhala rioters.                

Between 27-28 July, fifty-three Tamil political prisoners were massacred inside the walls of the Welikadai prison in Colombo by the Sinhala inmates. The government masterminded this massacre and the Sinhala attackers were released from the prison and were rewarded with houses and properties in the Sinhala settlements in the Tamil homeland.
Hundreds of youths joined the LTTE movement and the TULF Members of Parliament sought asylum in India.  

J. R. Jeyawardena’s government enacts the 6th amendment to the constitution and rejected the right to  self-determination of the Tamil people in the island on 8th August. This amendment outlawed the mandate voted by the Tamils in 1977 general election. The Sixth amendment and the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 1979 along with the Emergency Law provisions became the instruments through which repression was unleashed on the Tamil people.



1984      At the beginning of EELAM WAR-I. Tamils living in the North East were lynched, arrested, tortured and killed. Women and many men disappeared. Sri Lankan Air Force bombers dropped lethal napalm bombs in residential areas causing severe loss and damage to the Tamil people and to their properties.  

1985      Talks mediated by India took place in Thimbu, the capital of Bhutan, between the LTTE including other Tamil parties  and the J. R. Jeyawardena’s government. Two rounds of direct negotiations were held in July-August and on 17th September.



All Tamil parties worked out four cardinal principles as the basis for the negotiation, which are today known as the “Thimpu principles”. The Sri Lankan government's reluctance to devolve powers and its refusal to recognise the Thimbu principles as the basis for the talk resulted in the abrupt premature termination of the negotiation. No agreement was reached.


1985-1987 State repression and counter attacks intensified in the North East resulting in all-out war between the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE. LTTE effectively took control of the Jaffna peninsula and other Northern areas.


Thousands of Tamils were killed as fighting turned brutal.  Non-combatants were systematically targeted by the Sri Lanka Police, Army, Navy, Air force and Special Task Force-STF.


1986      In November, talks between the LTTE representatives and President J. R. Jeyawardena took place through the mediation of the Indian Prime minister in Bangalore, India.   LTTE Leader Pirabaharan and advisor Dr. Anton Balasingham participated in the talk.


Talks ended in a failure. J. R. Jeyawardena refused to recognise the right to self-determination and the homeland of the Tamils.


1987      An economic embargo was imposed by the Sri Lankan government on the Jaffna peninsula.  Sri Lankan government launched  a military operation named “Operation Liberation” to recapture the Jaffna peninsula. Sri Lanka’s two army brigades launched an offensive in the early hours on the 26th May in Vadamarachchi. The operation continued for five days.  

On the 29th July 1987, a peace accord known as “Indo-Lanka” pact was signed between Sri Lanka and India. Even though this accord purported to bring an end to the island’s ethnic crisis, it was signed by India and Sri Lanka  without any consultation with LTTE and the Tamils of the North East of the Island.  

Tens of thousands of Indian troops known as “Indian Peace Keeping Force" (IPKF) arrived in North East.  Later this force was named by the Tamils and civil society as the “Innocent Public Killing Force” (IPKF).  

The Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Permuna (JVP) vigorously opposed the “Indo-Lanka” pact.  

The LTTE’s first public meeting was held in Suthumalai on 4 August 1987. The LTTE Leader Mr. Pirabaharan’s speech in this meeting became known as the “Suthumalai Declaration”.  

On 5th August, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -LTTE and other militant groups surrendered their arms to the Indian army.  

On 3rd October, seventeen LTTE members, including two leaders, were intercepted at sea near the coastal waters of Point Pedro, by the Sri Lankan Navy and were held at the Pallaly military base. This was a violation of the cease-fire as an amnesty had been given to the militant groups in the “Indo-Lanka” accord. When the Sri Lanka army attempted to forcibly transport them by air to Colombo, all seventeen simultaneously bit cyanide capsules. Twelve died on the spot and five survived.  

On 10th October, the Indian Peace Keeping Force-IPKF which came to maintain peace in the North East, started attacking the Tamils in the North East killing more than six thousand (6000) civilians, torturing, raping innumerable women, looting billions of rupees worth of jewellery. Fighting started between the IPKF and the LTTE.  

1988      The leader of the United Socialist Alliance (USA), Vijaya Kumaratunge, husband of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, was assassinated allegedly by the members of Janath Vimukthi Peramuna-JVP. Ironically JVP are present allies of President Chandrika. Ranasinghe Premadasa of the United National Party won the Presidential election.  

1989      Talks between the LTTE the President Premadasa took place in Colombo. LTTE’s chief negotiator Dr. Anton Balasingham, Mrs Adel Balasingham and many other LTTE high-level leaders took part in the talks.   

                While in negotiation with the LTTE, Sri Lanka President Premadasa demanded the Indian government to withdraw the Indian troops from Sri Lanka. The Up-rising of Janatha                  Vimukthi Perumuna (JVP) was suppressed by the government and the   JVP leader, Rohana  Wijeweera and many others were killed.  

The LTTE formed a political party and named it as  People Front of the Liberation Tigers (PFLT). The LTTE was preparing to participate in the Elections to demonstrate the peoples’ support to the LTTE.  

12 August, the PFLT representative attended the All Party Conference as an “Observer”. Twenty six political parties participated in this conference in Colombo.  

1990      In March, the IPKF withdrew from the island of Sri Lanka.  

As soon as the Indian Army left the island, President Premadasa started changing his tactics and kept on dragging on the issues negotiated with the LTTE. For example LTTE participation in an election to demonstrate the support of the people was systematically avoided. Premadasa was preparing for a military victory over the LTTE. Talks ended in a failure.

At the beginning of EELAM WAR ­ II. Hostilities broke out again between the Sri Lankan forces and the  LTTE. Economic blockade was imposed causing severe shortage of food and medicine in the North.  

On the 10th September, 185 Tamil civilians were butchered by the Sri Lankan army at the Saththurukondan Army camp in the Batticaloa district. Tamils from Saththurukondan, Panichchaiyady, Kokkuvil, Pillaiyaraddy were the victims of the massacre.  

1991      Tamils in the North East were subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, rape, summary executions and massacres. Properties of the Tamils worth million of rupees were destroyed in aerial bombardments  and artillery shelling. Military operation ‘JAYASHAKTI’ was launched to expand the Pallaly army camp and the airfield.  In September,  military operation code named 'SEA BREEZE' was launched in Mullaithivu.  

Military operation 'THRIVIDHA BALAYA' was launched during the operation on the old Dutch Fort in the heart of Jaffna town.  The military operation 'BALAVEGAYA - I' was the largest military operation conducted at that time. 'AKUNUPAHARA' was launched in the Niththikaikulam area and military operation 'BALAVEGAYA - II' was launched in  the Jaffna peninsula.

On 12th June, 82 Tamils were massacred in the village of Kokaddicholai, Mahiladi Theevu and Muthalai Kuddah in the Batticaloa district. More than 400 houses were looted and burnt by the Sri Lanka army  

1992      On 9th  August, 32 Tamils were killed in the village of Mailanthannai in Batticaloa district. Most of the victims were hacked to death by the Sri Lanka army. 

1993      President Premadasa was killed in a bomb explosion at a May Day rally in Colombo. The then Prime Minister D.B. Wijetunge assumed Presidency. The then cabinet minister Ranil Wickremasinghe became the Prime Minister.

1994      The People's Alliance led by Chandrika Kumaratunge won the  Parliamentary elections with the pledge to "end the war and bring peace". The LTTE unilaterally announced a temporary ceasefire to welcome the change of government.  

Talks between the LTTE and the PA government led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga commenced in Jaffna. Kumaratunge won the Presidential election. LTTE chief negotiator Dr. Anton Balasingham, and many other LTTE high-level leaders participated in the talks.  

1995      On 5 January, the Government of Sri Lanka (President Chandrika) and the LTTE (Leader V. Pirabahakaran) signed an agreement for cessation of hostilities. The Government announced lifting of the economic embargo on some items only on paper, but the embargo continued. Later Chandrika government argued that there was no such thing as an economic embargo in the Tamil region.  This was considered by civil society and the international humanitarian organisations as an “Utter lie with hidden agenda”.  

The PA was not at all interested in a negotiated political settlement to the bloody ethnic conflict. The PA government was preparing for a military assault on the LTTE.  In order to buy time they were sending non-governmental officials for talks with LTTE and were dragging on the promise to lift the economic embargo.

The LTTE gave a two-week ultimatum in March to the government to implement what they had promised to the civilians. This ultimatum was later extended by another three weeks until April 19th. Talks ended in failure.

Government launched a major offensive in July in several parts of the Jaffna peninsula after imposing a  press censorship. This was the beginning of EELAM WAR-III.  

On the 9th July, military operation ‘OPERATION LEAP FORWARD’ was launched from Pallaly, Tellipallai and Mathagal towards Alaveddy, Sandilipay and Vaddukoddai.  

On the same day, St. Peters church at Navaly which was functioning as a temporary refugee camp for displaced people from the battle zone was bombed by Sri Lankan Air force killing 165 civilians, including many women and children.  

On the 1st October, military operation ‘THUNDER’ was launched in Vasavillan, Pathameni, Atchuveli and Puttur.  

On the 22nd September, Sri Lankan Air force bombed a school at Nagarkovil in Vadamaradchi, killing 25 school children among the  71 killed on the spot.
On 17th October military operation 'RIVIRESA-I' was launched in the Valikamam area of the Jaffna peninsula. Most of the people had fled Valikamam during this military operation. The Sri Lanka army captured Valigamam and Jaffna city and this resulted in more than 500,000 civilians fleeing to LTTE controlled Vadamaradchi, Thenmaradchi divisions of the peninsula and to Vanni. On the 30th October, Jaffna remained a “ghost town” sans people.  

1995      On the morning of 15th November, the NGO Forum took place at Bentota Beach Hotel, in Bentota, in the South of Sri Lanka. Both foreign and local NGO representatives participated in this forum, which was designed to improve cooperation between local and international NGOs in the effort to promote equitable development. The forum meeting was disrupted by anti-NGO demonstrators.                

                Three journalists were nearly hammered to death by members of the crowd, which congregated outside the Bentota hotel! They smashed a car and attempted to throw a journalist into the river. The police authorities made no effort to prevent the assault or to rescue the victims. It was alleged that certain government politicians were behind the anti-NGO demonstration. The organisers of the NGO forum decided to shift the venue to the capital, Colombo.


On 16th November, the NGO Forum re-convened in the morning at a conference hall in Ratmalana, a suburb south of Colombo. The conference attendees, several of whom had been questioned by police officers at their hotel the previous night, once again became nervous. Just as the Forum was beginning its work, police officers arrived to “request” the Forum to suspend its proceedings, claiming that the meeting was illegal! The meeting was dissolved and all attendees dispersed.  

In the afternoon of the 16th November, the Forum’s international Core Group and the Sri Lanka Working Group convened an emergency meeting at an NGO’s office in Colombo to discuss their concerns regarding the disrupting of the NGO Forum in two different locations. Unfortunately this meeting, too, was disrupted when an angry crowd, made aware of the venue by radio news broadcast, converged on the site. It was evident that the discussions could not continue there either.  

1996      Human rights violations by the army, including rape and disappearances increased in the Jaffna peninsula. This fact was brought to light by the revelation made of the rape and murder of Krishanthy Kumaraswamy, a Tamil schoolgirl. The girl's mother, brother and a neighbour were also murdered when they went to the army camp, inquiring about the fate of the girl.  

The LTTE released 16 Sinhala fishermen captured earlier, as a gesture of good will for Christmas-New Year. During the month of April-May, the 2nd and 3rd Stages of Operation 'RIVIRESA' were launched in Thenamarachchi and Vadamarachchi in the Jaffna peninsula. In September, the military operation 'SATHJAYA' was launched in Kilinochchi and Paranthan areas.  

1997      Sri Lankan forces began another major offensive in the Northern town of Vavuniya. In February, operation 'EDIBALA' was launched in Mannar. In May, the longest and the largest military operation "JAYSIKURU" was launched in Vanni. Operation “RIVIBALA” was launched by the Army (53 and 55 Divisions) in Oddusudan town and along Nedunkerny ­ Oddusudan Road.                

                On the 25th September, 38 NGOs serving in several parts of Batticaloa district,  were ordered by Government of Sri Lanka to cease all their humanitarian operations. This immediately followed a government order banning NGOs from assisting people in the areas of Batticaloa.  

1998      Sri Lankan armed forces shelled the residential area Karuvakeni. Medical embargo to the North-East continued. Sri Lankan Kfir bombers bombarded the towns. The Jaffna Teaching Hospital was on the verge of shutting down its surgical wards owing to the short supply of items. Two Catholic priests were killed by bombs dropped by Sri Lankan Kfir planes. The Sri Lankan army shot and hacked to death many Tamil civilians.  

On the 5th July, it was revealed in High Court, Colombo by the former Army Lance Corporal that that “hundreds of men and women arrested by the army in Jaffna were killed and buried in Chemmani.  


 Military operation commenced in early March in Mundumurippu, Iranai, Illuppaikkulam and  Puwarasankulam areas.

Stage ­ II               The military operation was launched (53 and 55 Divisions) in mid March 1999 in Madu and Palamppiddi areas.

Stage ­ III     Military operation was launched in early May 1999 in Periyamadu and south west of Chiraddikulam.

Stage ­ IV     Military operation was launched on mid June 1999 in Papamodai, Vedithalathivu and Welimarandmadu areas.  


Military operation ‘RIVIKIRANA I & II’ were launched in Ariyalai, Thanakillppu and Kaithaddy. Military operation ‘KINIHEERA ­ I’ was launched by 51,52,53 and 55 Divisions along the Thanakillappu-Chava Road.  Military Operation ‘KINIHEERA ­ II’  was launched in Kaithaddy, Nunavil, Thanakillappu and Ariyalai.  


Military operation ‘KINIHEERA ­ III and IV’ was launched in Sarasalai, Puthur, Maduvil South and Nunavil East.  

2000      On the 5th January, Human Rights Defender Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam was assassinated allegedly the by the PA (Chandrika’s) government’s hirelings.


The Norwegian government came forward to facilitate peace talks between LTTE and the Chandrika government. The Norwegian chief facilitator Mr. Eric Solheim was shuttling between LTTE and the government. The Norwegian chief facilitator had meetings with LTTE Chief negotiator Dr. Anton Balasingham in London as well with LTTE Leader Mr. V. Pirabaharan in the Vanni. He also had meetings with other political leaders in Sri Lanka.


2001      Sinhala Muslims riots broke out on 2nd May in Mawanella, between Colombo and Kandy.   Two Muslims were killed and Muslim- owned shops and houses were set on fire by the Sinhala rioters. On the following Friday Muslim worshippers at a Mosque in Colombo, demonstrated against the violence against Muslims in Mawanella.


There were also Sinhala-Muslim riots in Muttur in Trincomalee following the Mawanella incidents. Many shops in Muttur were razed to the ground.


The LTTE have announced unilateral cease-fires many a time. One lasted for  four months. President Chandrika’s government refused to reciprocate the cease-fire declared by the LTTE and opted to continue with its military agenda.


The Minister of foreign affairs Lakshman Kadirgamar accused the Norwegian peace envoy Mr. Eric Solheim of giving too much consolation to the Tamils and sidelined him, out of personal dislike for Eric Solheim. On the 7th June, Kadirgamar insisted that the Norwegian government must remove Mr. Eric Solheim from the peace mediation. This brought the mediation to a stalemate.


The Tamil political parties formed a front known as the “Tamil National Alliance (TNA)” and contested the Parliament elections in the North East on the 5th December 2001 and won in 16 electorates.  TNA’s Election manifesto.


                In December, the UNP government headed by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe came into power with the mandate for peace and negotiations with LTTE. The LTTE declared a one month cease-fire and it was renewed. The government also declared one month cease-fire and renewed it.


2002      LTTE released 10 prisoners of war as a gesture of good will for peace. 


                The Norwegian government re-activated its peace role. The Norwegian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesenand and Mr. Eric Solheim met with the LTTE   chief negotiator Dr. Anton Balasingham in London and the Prime Minister and other ministers in Sri Lanka.

            On 21 February,  an historic agreement, a “Memorandum  of Understanding” was  signed  between Mr. V. Pirabaharan, the leader of the   Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ­ LTTE, and  the Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe. This MOU was worked out under     the facilitation of the Norwegian government.

A Flashback at the Tamil Eelam Liberation Struggle: A Chronology of Events


Portuguese arrive in Ceylon during the existence of three sovereign kingdoms, one tamil based in Jaffna, and two sinhalese based in Kotte and Kandy.


  • Tamil sovereignity ends when Portuguese defeats the tamil king and annex the Jaffna kingdom.


  • Dutch arrive in Ceylon.


  • British arrive in Ceylon.


  • Ceylon becomes a British Crown Colony.


  • Fall of Kandyan kingdom, the last holdout against colonial occupation.


  • For the first time in over 2,500 years of its recorded history, the entire island of Ceylon is brought under a single administration based on the recommendations of Colebrook-Cameron Report.


  • Ceylon National Congress (CNC), the first full-fledged "nationalist" political party is formed by Ponnambalam Arunachalam.


  • Arunachalam quits CNC, denouncing it as a party representing mainly a section of the Sinhalese.


  • Formation of Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP).


  • Formation of Communist Party of Ceylon (CP).


  • United National Party (UNP) is formed.


  • The British leave and Ceylon becomes a self-governing dominion with a government dominated by the Sinhalese elite assuming power.

  • Passage of the Citizenship Act that makes more than a million tamil plantation workers of Indian origin disenfranchised and stateless.


  • Formation of the Tamil Federal Party under the leadership of SJV Chelvanayagam.


  • First convention of the Federal Party, declaring its intention to campaign for a federal structure of governance, and for regional autonomy for Tamils living in North and East.

  • SWRD Bandaranaike breaks away from UNP and forms Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).


  • UNP ousted from power in the general elections by SLFP, riding on the wave of Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism with strong anti-Tamil overtones.

  • Sinhalese is proclaimed as the sole official language of Ceylon.

  • Colvin R. de Silva speaks out against "Sinhala Only", warning it will divide the country along ethnic lines.

  • FP establishes itself as the major representative party of Ceylon Tamils.

  • The outbreak of first post-colonial anti-Tamil riots.


  • Prime Minister Bandaranaike and FP leader Chelvanayagam sign a historic agreement (the B-C Pact) on a federal solution, devolving wide-ranging powers to the Tamil-majority North and East Provinces.

  • Barely a week later, the pact is unilaterally abrogated by Bandaranaike under pressure from UNP and the Buddhist clergy.

  • A non-violent civil disobedience campaign is launched by FP.

  • The government reacts violently by sending Police and the military forces to Jaffna to suppress the agitation.

  • A major anti-Tamil pogrom breaks out in Sinhala-majority areas, killing hundreds of Tamils and making thousands of Tamils homeless.


  • Prime Minister Bandaranaike assassinated by a buddhist monk.


  • Srimavo Bandaranaike, widow of Solomon Bandaranaike becomes the first woman Prime Minister in the world.


  • Sirimavo-Shashtri pact was signed for the repatriation of stateless plantation workers to India.


  • UNP's Dudley Senanayake forms government with the help of FP and other parties.

  • Dudley-Chelva agreement, which amounts to a diluted version of the B-C pact.

  • The agreement is abandoned without being implemented due to opposition from the SLFP, the buddhist clergy, and UNP backbenchers.

  • FP's Tiruchelvam, Minister of Local Government, resigns from the cabinet.


  • Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP-People's Liberation Front) is formed.


  • Mrs Bandaranaike becomes Prime Minister, as the United Front (a coalition of SLFP, LSSP, and CP) gains two-thirds majority.

  • JR Jayewardena becomes the leader of opposition.


  • Armed insurrection of JVP is brutally put down, with thousands of Sinhalese youth being killed.

  • A state of emergency is declared, which was to continue for six long years.


  • Ceylon becomes a Republic on May 22.

  • The United Front government enacts a Sinhalese-supremacist "Republican Constitution" for the country, which made Buddhism as the de facto state religion.

  • Ironically, the architect of this constitution was the same Colvin R. de Silva, who made the famous "one language-two nations" speech, opposing the "Sinhala only" legislation in 1956.

  • Ceylon is officially renamed Republic of Sri Lanka.

  • Formation of Tamil United Front (TUF) comprising FP, Tamil Congress (TC) led by GG Ponnambalam, and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) led by Savumiamoorthy Thondaman.

  • A small youth group named Tamil New Tigers is formed in the Jaffna peninsula to fight for tamil rights by a 17-year old high school student from Valvettiturai, named Velupillai Pirabhakaran.


  • Unprovoked attack on attendees of a prestigious International Tamil Cultural conference in Jaffna by Sinhalese police leaves nine civilians dead.

  • State discrimination against Tamil students' admission to universities reaches a peak with the introduction of "standardisation".

  • Formation of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO).


  • Jaffna mayor and SLFP organiser Alfred Duraiyappah assassinated, apparantly in retaliation for the attack on International Tamil Conference.

  • Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS) is formed.


  • TUF is renamed Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and passes the "Vaddukkoddai resolution" to restore a "free, sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam based on the right to self-determination" to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil nation in the country.

  • TNT is renamed and reorganized as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, with Uma Maheswaran as its leader.


  • Death of ailing Chelvanayagam.

  • Appapillai Amirthalingam becomes the leader of Federal Party.

  • JR Jayewardena becomes Prime Minister when UNP routs SLFP in the general elections to come back to power with a thumping five-sixths majority in parliament.

  • TULF, contesting on a platform of seeking a mandate for a sovereign Tamil Eelam, wins overwhelmingly in the North and does very well in Tamil-dominated areas of East, and becomes the major oppostion party in parliament.

  • Severe anti-Tamil riots occur immediately after elections in Sinhalese-majority areas, killing hundreds of tamils.


  • New constitution is enacted and Jayawardena becomes first Executive President of the country.

  • Armed activities of tamil militant organisations increase, with attacks on police stations and robberies of banks.


  • Uma Maheswaran is expelled from LTTE and forms People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE).

  • Government enacts a Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), banning tamil militant organizations.

  • Jaffna peninsula is effectively under martial law.

  • More anti-Tamil riots in Sinhalese-majority areas.


  • Formation of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF).


  • Elections for District Development Councils (DDC) as an attempt to devolve power.

  • Further anti-Tamil riots. Increased military repression in the north, as Tamil violence continue.

  • The invaluable Jaffna Public Library is burnt down by the Sri Lankan armed forces, allegedly under the direction of two government ministers, Gamini Dissanayake and Cyril Mathew.


  • JR Jayewardena defeats Hector Kobbekaduwa in the first-ever Presidential election of the country.


  • Major anti-Tamil pogrom takes place in the entire country.

  • More than 3,000 tamils killed and over 150,000 become refugees, many fleeing the country to India and the West.

  • With increasingly restive mood of people of Tamil Nadu, the Indian government comes out in support of the Tamil cause.

  • LTTE and other guerilla organizations set up training camps in India, with direct and indirect support from various state agencies.

  • Thousands of youth join the militant organizations, with TULF beginning to fade into political oblivion.


  • LTTE, EPRLF, EROS, and TELO form Eelam National Liberation Front (ENLF) to coordinate the "revolutionary struggle for national independence".

  • Peace talks mediated by India in Thimpu, Bhutan, breaks down with Sri Lankan government's reluctance to devolve power.


  • State repression and Tamil violence intensify in the North and East resulting in all-out war between the Sri Lankan state and the Tamils.

  • LTTE emerges as the dominant guerilla group and effectively takes control of Jaffna peninsula and other northern areas.

  • Thousands, mostly Tamils, die as fighting turns brutal, with non-combatants from both sides are systematically targetted, firstly by the Sri Lankan armed forces and then by Tamil guerillas.


  • Sri Lankan government launches Operation Liberation to recapture Jaffna peninsula.

  • A floatilla of Indian boats with food and medical supplies for Jaffna peninsula was turned back by Sri Lankan Navy.

  • India airdrops food on Jaffna peninsula.

  • Indo-Sri Lankan Peace Accord signed without consulting the tamil parties.

  • Tens of thousands of Indian troops arrive in Northeastern Sri Lanka as "Indian Peace Keeping Force" (IPKF).

  • Initial surrender of arms by Tamil guerilla groups.

  • Seventeen LTTE members, including two leaders, were arrested by Sri Lankan Navy in violation of the Peace Accord, and commit suicide.

  • Fighting breaks out between LTTE and IPKF.

  • Jaffna falls to IPKF, but fighting continues throughout the Tamil region.

  • Rise of Sinhala nationalist insurrection by JVP.


  • Assassination of Vijaya Kumaratunge, leader of United Socialist Alliance (USA), allegedly by the JVP.

  • EPRLF assumes power in the Northeastern Provincial Council.

  • Ranasinghe Premadasa of UNP wins the presidential election defeating Srimavo Bandaranaike of SLFP.


  • Sri Lankan President Premadasa requests the Indian government to withdraw their troops from Sri Lanka.

  • JVP insurrection is brutally put down by the Government.


  • Withdrawal of IPKF from Sri Lanka and the collapse of the Northeastern Provincial government.

  • Hostilities break out again between Sri Lankan forces and LTTE.


  • Assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu by suspected LTTE suicide bomber.


  • Top opposition politician and former National Security minister Lalith Athulathmudali assassinated.

  • A week later, President Premadasa is killed in a suicide bomb attack.

  • D.B Wijetunge assumes Presidency.

  • LTTE leader calls for unconditional talks with the government, with a commitment to the federalisation of Sri Lanka, which is rejected by President Wijetunge.


  • People's Alliance led by Chandrika Kumaratunge wins Parliamentary elections.

  • LTTE unilaterally announces a temporary ceasefire to welcome the change of government.

  • PA Government begins peace talks with LTTE in Jaffna.

  • UNP's Presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake assasinated at an election rally.

  • Kumaratunge wins Presidential election with a landslide on a platform of "ending the war and bringing peace".


  • Government and LTTE sign cessation of hostilities agreement.

  • More rounds of talks in Jaffna.

  • Government announces lifting of economic embargo on most items, but armed forces at the border checkpoints continue to enforce the embargo.

  • LTTE issues two-week ultimatum in March to the government to implement their requests, which is later extended by another 3 weeks to April 19th.

  • Government ignores the ultimatum and LTTE calls off the peace talks and resume hostilities.

  • Government begins major offensive in July in parts of Jaffna peninsula after imposing press censorship. A church and it's premises, functioning as a safe place for refugees away from the battle zone are repeatedly bombed by Sri Lankan Airforce killing 67 civilians, including women and children.

  • Government informally announces a package of devolution proposals, making Sri Lanka a "Union of Regions".

  • Sri Lankan Air Force bombs school premises in Nagarkovil in Vadamaradchi region, killing 25 school children.

  • Another major offensive by the government in October results in the capture of Valigamam division and the city of Jaffna, but more than 400,000 civilians escape to LTTE controlled Vadamaradchi, Thenmaradchi divisions of the peninsula and to Vanni district in the mainland, virtually leaving a peopleless land for the Sri Lankan army, including a ghosttown of Jaffna.


  • An extensively watered down legal draft of the devolution proposals is submitted to the Parliamentary Select Committee for discussion.

  • As customary, powerful buddhist clergy opposes any devolution of power.

  • Government lanuches another offensive and captures the entire Jaffna peninsula. The armed forces also succeed in preventing a large number of people from escaping to LTTE controlled territory by sealing off the Jaffna lagoon. Yet, nearly half a million people are displaced from their homes and live in the LTTE controlled Vanni region in the mainland.

  • Despite government's claim of the peninsula fast returning to normal life, neutral news reporters are still barred from entering the region.

  • LTTE announces it's willingness to negotiate peace if mediated by a neutral country, which is rejected by the Sri Lankan government.

  • LTTE launches a daring attack and overruns the army camp at Mullaitheevu, capturing large quantities of arms and military hardware, and killing more than 1,200 soldiers.

  • Sri Lankan armed forces launch another offensive and captures Killinochchi, relocated headquarters of the LTTE.

  • Human rights violations by the army, including rape and disappearances increase in the Jaffna peninsula. This fact is brought to light by the revelation of the rape and killing of Krishanthy Kumaraswamy, a tamil schoolgirl. The girls mother, brother, and a neighbor were also killed when they go to the army camp, inquiring about the fate of the girl. Nine soldiers were charged with the crime.

  • Death of former Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayawardena at the age of 90, who played a major role in sowing the seeds for the conflict and later in it's escalation.

  • LTTE releases 16 Sinhalese fisherman captured earlier as a goodwill gesture for Christmas/New Year.

  • President Kumaratunge goes on a private holiday to India, raising speculations and hopes of impending peace talks with LTTE with foreign mediation.


  • The LTTE overruns a Special Task Force camp near Batticaloa in the Eastern Province.

  • The LTTE launches simultaneous attacks on Sri Lanka's army camps in Paranthan and Elephant Pass, and overruns the Paranthan camp.

  • Sri Lankan forces begin another major offensive in the Northern border town of Vavuniya

  • Sri Lankan forces begin a major offensive to capture a major highway running through Vanni

  • Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Defence, General Ratwatte promises the capture of the highway and linking Jaffna with the south before February 04, 1998, Sri Lanka's 50th anniversary of Independence.

  • Elections announced for Jaffna and other local government bodies in the peninsula.

  • And the problem continues with no apparent end of war in foreseeable future.


Bose, S. (1994). States, Nations, Sovereignity: Sri Lanka, India and the Tamil Eelam Movement. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications.

O'Ballance, E. (1989). The Cyanide War: Tamil Insurrection in Sri Lanka 1973-88. London: Brassey's.

SLnet-news. (1994-to date).

TamilNet. (1995-to date).

Time Line - From Independence to 1999

1948-1951, 1952-1955, 1956-1960, 1961-1970,
1971-1980, 1981-1990, 1991-1999


  • British Crown colony established over low-country Sinhalese and Tamil areas (1802)

  • Sinhalese Kandyan kingdom secedes to British (1815)

  • British unify low-country Sinhalese, Tamil areas with the Kandyan area and establish Government of Ceylon. Legislative Council established (1833)

  • Sinhalese-Muslim riots (1915)

  • Ceylon National Congress formed (1919)

  • Donoughmore Constitutional Commission introduced. State Council elected by universal suffrage. Board of   Ministers formed.(1931)

  • Soulbury Constitutional Commission.(1944-45)

  • Select committee of State Council on Sinhala and Tamil as official languages appointed.(1945)

  • Independence bill passed in parliament. Inaugural meeting of the first parliament. (1947)

  • Agreement signed between Colombo and  London granting Sri Lanka full independence.(1947)

  • First parliamentary elections.(1947)


  • Sri Lanka gains independence, ending 152 years of British rule.(4 Feb. 1948)

  • D S Senanayake government enacts two bills (Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18, 1948) to deprive the Indian plantation workers of  their citizenship rights making 705,000 Indian plantation workers stateless.(Nov 15,1948)

  • G G Ponnambalam (leader of the Tamil Congress (TC)) asks for a 50-50 representation before the Soulbury Commission. He votes against the first [citizenship] bill but votes for the second after getting a portfolio.?

  • The Tamil Congress splits over the citizenship bill. S J V Chelvanayakam forms the Federal Party(Ilankai Tamil Arisu Kachchi) (Dec 18, 1948)

  • An act of parliament to establish the Sri Lanka Army passed.(Oct. 10 1949)

  • The National Flag formally adopted (Feb. 13 1950)

  • The National Anthem formally adopted. (Nov. 22 1951)

  • S W R D Bandaranaike (leader of the Sinhala Maha Sabha) leaves the UNP government and joins the opposition.

  • Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) founded. (Sept. 2 1951)

  • National Anthem formally adopted. (Nov. 22 1951)


  • Prime Minister D S Senanayake dies in a horse riding accident. (March 22 1952)

  • Lord Soulbury invites the late Prime Minister's son Dudly Senanayake to become the next Prime Minister.?

  • Dudley Senanayake appointed prime minister. (March 26 1952) 

  • First parliament dissolved.(April 8 1952)

  • Second parliamentary elections.(May 24 1952)

  • Settlement of colonists in Gal Oya Scheme commences (Feb 3 1953)

  • General strike organized by the left parties and trade unions; curfew imposed.(Aug. 12 1953) 

  • Prime Minister Dudly Senanayake resigns, Sir John Kotelawala succeeds Senanayake.(Oct 12 1953)

  • J Kotelawela declares intention to amend constitution giving "parity of status" to Sinhala and Tamil as official languages.?

  • Kotelawala-Nehru agreement on Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka. (Jan. 18 1954)

  • Sinhala and Tamil made the medium of instruction in secondary schools starting 1957 (Jan. 6 1955)

  • Bandaranaike announces SLFP's language policy as Sinhala with "reasonable use of Tamil".

  • A "Sinhala only" campaign is initiated by some groups.


  • Kotelawala changes UNP's language policy to a "Sinhala only".?

  • Mahajana Eksath Peramuna led by the SLFP is formed. (22 Feb, 1956)

  • Publishing of  "Betrayal of Buddhism" ?

  • General election returns MEP coalition and Bandaranaike becomes the Prime Minister. (April 5,7 and 10, 1956)

  • The "Sinhala only" bill is passed (15th June 1956) and the Federal Party conducts a Gandhian style protest (also known as "Sathyagraha") in the open air space by the beach known as the Gall Face Green, opposite the former Parliament building.(June 5 1956)

  • A group of Sinhala chauvinists clashes with the Tamil Sathyagrahis.?

  • The Department of Official Languages established (Aug.16 1956)

  • Decision to teach in Sinhala, Tamil and English media in the University of Ceylon from 1960 announced. (Jan. 14 1957)

  • The Federal Party resolves to hold Sathyagraha campaigns to force the government to grant the legitimate demands of the Tamil people including their language rights.?

  • Prime Minister Bandaranaike holds talks with the lead`ers of  the Federal Party which resulted in signing of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact (July 25 1957).

  • J RJayewardene, organizes a march to Kandy against the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact (October 1957)

  • The Federal Party initiates the "Anti-Sri" campaign.(19 January, 1957)

  • Bandaranaike tears the pact amid demands and threats by a faction of Buddhist monks ("Eksath Bhikkhu Peramua") and Sinhalese chauvinists.(Jan 1958)

  • Campaign of obliterating Tamil name boards commenced. (April 1 1958)

  • Anti-Tamil riots in May 27 1958. Emergency declared. Detaining of Federal Party MPs.(27 May, 1958)

  • Tamil language ( Special Provisions ) Act passed.(Aug. 14 1958)

  • Bandaranaike assassinated.  Ven. Buddharakkhita who was the founder of the "Eksath Bhikku Peramuna" is accused of  leading the conspiracy. A woman parliamentarian, Minister of Health, Wimala Wijewardene is also accused of involvement in the conspiracy. (September 25 1959).

  • Switch-over of administration to "Sinhala Only". FP calls 'hartal' in North and East.?

  • Fourth parliamentary elections; the UNP obtains 50 seats as against 46 won by the SLFP. (March 19 1960) Dudly Senanayake forms "minority government" and becomes prime minister of a UNP government. (March 21 1960)  But in April this govt. is defeated in parliament (April 22 1960)and parliament dissolved.(April 26 1960)

  • General elections held for the fifth parliament. SLFP secures 75 seats and Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes world's first woman prime minister. (July 20 1960)


  • Nationalisation of Schools (Jan 14 1961)

  • Federal Party 'Sathyagraha' in North and the East. And FP inaugurated Tamil Arasu (Government) Postal Service in Jaffna.(April 14 1961)

  • Military occupation of  Tamil areas for two years. Federal Party MPs arrested and detained for six months.(April 18 1961)

  • Language of the Courts Act provided for  "Sinhala Only"  in the Court proceedings.?

  • Coup de' etat attempt by armed forces against the government. (Jan. 27 1962)

  • Sinhala made the official language of Sri Lanka. (Jan. 1 1963)

  • Population Census. (Jul. 5 1963)

  • Sirima-Shastri Pact signed (30 October, 1964)

  • SLFP, LSSP coalition defeated by 74 votes to 73 in parliament fifth parliament dissolved. (17 December, 1964)

  • Sixth general elections - The United National Party (UNP) gains 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 Prajathanthravadhi Pakshaya.

  • Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact. (1965)

  • Regulation for "Reasonable use of  Tamil" (Tamil Language (Special) Provisions Act. SLFP-LSSP-CP led street demonstrations against the regulation.(Jan 8 1966)

  • District Councils bill presented to the parliament. (June 26 1968)

  • Sixth parliament dissolved. (March 25 1970)

  • Seventh parliamentary elections returns SLFP-LSSP-CP United Front coalition to power with Mrs. Bandaranaike as Prime Minister.(27 May, 1970)


  • An insurrection by a radical, leftist  youth group calling themselves "Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna" (JVP), led by Rohana Wijeweera begins. (4 April, 1971)

  • The trial of accused in the April insurrection begins. (June 12 1971)

  • Rohana Wijeweera, the JVP leader, sentenced to 20 years in prison. (Dec. 12 1971)

  • Tamil United Front (TUF) formed. (May 1972)

  • The first Republican Constitution promulgated and Sri Lanka declared a republic; the name of the country officially changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.(May 22 1972)

  • Language of the Courts (Special Provision) bill passed in parliament. (March 23 1973)

  • Discriminatory standards applied against the Tamil students for entry to the university.?

  • Tamil youth of the North form militant secret organisations against satandardisation for university admissions.?

  • "Sirima-Gandhi Pact".(28 June, 1974)

  • Assassination of Jaffna mayor Duriappah by Prabhakaran (the present leader of  LTTE) (27 July, 1975)

  • Police action at the 4th International Tamil conference leaves 10 people dead by electrocution.?

  • Chelvanayakam calls for a separate Tamil state.?

  • Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) is formed with pledge to establish a separate Tamil State?

  • General elections1977  returns UNP (led by J.R. Jayewardene) to power.(23 June, 1977)

  • August 1977: anti Tamil riots.?

  • The Second Republican Constitution promulgated. (7 September, 1978)

  • 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. (4 February, 1978)

  • A law enacted proscribing the Liberation Tigers of  Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other similar organisations. (May 19 1978)

  • Prevention of  Terrorism Act enacted.(July 12 1979)

  • TULF ends its boycott of parliament. (Sept. 4 1979)

  • Former Prime Minister Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike deprived of her civic rights and expelled from parliament. (16 October, 1980)

  • Mrs Ranaganayaky Pathmanathan takes oaths as the first Tamil woman MP since independence (26 November 1980)


  • Population Census (17 March, 1981)

  • Curfew in Jaffna (2 June, 1981)

  • Emergency imposed  (4 June 1981)

  • District Development Council election disrupted in Jaffna. Burning down of   Jaffna Public Library. (4 June, 1981)

  • Emergency lifted (9 June 1981)

  • State of emergency declared (17 August, 1981)

  • Emergency declared and a curfew imposed in Galle; Sinhala-Muslim communal clashes in Galle (30 July, 1982)

  • Curfew in Galle lifted (4 August, 1982)

  • Presidential election (20 October, 1982)

  • Curfew imposed in the Jaffna district (28 October, 1982)

  • A Referendum is held to extend the term of  eighth parliament till 1989. (Dec 22 1982)

  • The UNP wins 14 of the 17 parliamentary by-elections (19 May, 1983)

  • The fifth amendment to the constitution (24 May, 1983)

  • 13 soldiers including an officer killed in an LTTE ambush. (23 July, 1983)

  • Anti-Tamil rioting breaks out in several parts of Colombo and curfew imposed in the city (25 July, 1983)

  • Racial riots throughout the island.  All-island curfew imposed About 70,000 Tamils flee to India.(26 July, 1983).

  • Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Nava Sama Samaja Party, and the Communist Party proscribed (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. (Aug 4 1983)

  • The new district of Kilinochchi constituted. (Aug. 11 1983)

  • Talks begin in Colombo to end the ethnic conflict. (Dec 21 1983)

  • Gopalanswami Parthasarathi, the special emissary of the Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Ghandhi, arrives in Colombo for talks on the ethnic conflict. (Jan 3 1984)

  • All  Party conference on devolution of powers. (January 10 1984)

  • Ministry of National Security established (March 24 1984)

  • Terrorist bombs explode in Colombo (22 October, 1984)

  • Government abandons the proposals of the All-Party Conference on ethnic peace. (Dec 26 1984)

  • LTTE, EROS,EPRLF and TELO together form the Elam National Liberation Front (ENLF). (April 1985)

  • The Anuradhapura massacre, the first attack on Sinhalese civilians by Tamil militants. About 250 men, women and children are gunned down at the central bus stand at the Anuradhapura town. (May 1985)

  • A summit in Bangalore between Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene.?

  • Thimpu talks between Tamil parties and the Jayewardene Government initiated by the Indian Government.(July 5 1985)

  • The government lifts the eight-month-long night curfew in the Northern Province (10 July, 1985)

  • The second round of  ethnic peace talks in Thimpu. (Aug 9 1985)

  • Two former TULF MPs, V Dharmalingam and A Alalasundaram murdered (2 September, 1985)

  • Failure of Thimpu talks: Tamil militants withdraw  from the discussion.?

  • The Jayewardene government rejects proposals by TULF on the basis that they are Federalist.?

  • Two former TULF MPs, Messers. V. Dharmalingam and A. Alalasundaram, murdered. (Sept. 2 1985)

  • Launching of  an military operation at Vadamarachchi to put an end to the dominance established by Prabhakaran in Jaffna after the black July of 1983?

  • President J R Jayewardene restores the civic rights of Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, former prime minster and Mr Felix Dias Bandaranaike, former Cabinet minister (posthumously) (1 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. (3 May, 1986)

  • All Party Conference to resolve th ethnic crisis begins at the BMICH (25 June, 1986)

  • Eastern University, Sri Lanka (EUSL), the country's eighth university inaugurated (15 November, 1986)

  • Terrorists massacre 128 civilians and injure more than 60 near Kitulottuwa along the Habarana-Trincomalee road (17 April, 1987)

  • A bomb explosion kills 113 persons and injures more than 300 in Pettah, Colombo (21 April, 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. (3 June 1987)

  • A 72 hour islandwide curfew imposed (27 July, 1987)

  • The signing of Indo-Lanka peace accord. (27 July, 1987)

  • Late July (30th), early August, 1987: Arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) (30 July, 1987)

  • The 13th amendment to the constitution 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. (14 November, 1987)

  • The first ever Provincial Council election takes place for the North Central, Sabaragamuwa, North Western and Uva Provincial Councils (28 April, 1988)

  • President Jayewardene officially authorises the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces within a single North Eastern Province. (7 September 1988)

  • Elections were held for seats in the above Provincial Council.(19 November 1988)

  • 16th Amendment to the Constitution certified. The provisions of the 13th amendment dealing with language, were clarified and consolidated by the 16th amendment.(17 December 1988)

  • R Premadasa of the UNP wins the presidential election (19 December, 1988)

  • The ninth parliamentary election held for the first time under a proportional representation scheme (15 Febuary, 1989)

  • Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader A Amirthalingam and former TULF MP Yogeswaran assassinated by LTTE gunmen (13 July, 1989)

  • An All-Party Conference held in Colombo to find a solution to the prevailing unrest in the country (13 September, 1989)

  • Sri Lanka and India sign 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 onward (18 September, 1989)

  • International Committee Red Cross arrives in Sri Lanka.  Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) begins its withdrawal from Ampara.  The Tamil National Army and the Sri Lankan Army move into the areas vacated by the IPKF (October, 1989)

  • The LTTE takes over areas vacated by the IPKF in the North and East (January 1990)

  • President R Premadasa holds talks with the LTTE (February, 1990)

  • EPRLF declares an "Independent Eleam" and renamed the provincial council as a Tamil National Assembly on 1st of  March 1990.

  • President R Premadasa imposes direct control on Northeast Provincial Councils (March, 1990)

  • Justice Minister Hameed and the LTTE leader Prabhakaran hold talks (12 May, 1990)

  • LTTE attacks two Muslim mosques killing 290 people (August 1990)

  • LTTE evicts Muslims from the North (October 1990)


  • Defense Minister Ranjan Wijeratna assassinated. (2 March, 1991).

  • IPKF withdrawal completed. (24 March 1991)

  • The UNP wins local government elections (11 May, 1991)

  • Fighting breaks out between government troops and the LTTE in what is dubbed as Eelam War II (June, 1991)

  • A group of senior Army officers including General Denzil Kobbekaduwa die in a land mine explosion. (8 August, 1992)

  • Former Defense Minister Lalith Athulathmudali assassinated.(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. (1 May 1993)

  • Provincial Council elections (17 March, 1993)

  • Two peace delegations, one led by the Anglican Bishop of Colombo Rev. Kenneth Fernando and the other led by the Sarvodaya Leader A T Ariayaratne, visit Jaffna (5 February, 1994)

  • General elections for the tenth parliament; the People's Alliance wins a plurality, beating the UNP (16 August, 1994)

  • A delegation of  influential officials including the Secretary to the President leaves for Jaffna to initiate negotiations for a peaceful settlement.(13 October 1994)

  • Mr. Gamini Dissanayake, a former minister in the UNP government, and a presidential election candidate is 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 1991 (24 October 1994)

  • Mrs. Chandrika Kumaranatunga Bandaranaike becomes the fourth Executive President of Sri Lanka.(10 November 1994)

  • Second round of talks between the Government and LTTE. (3 January, 1995)

  • Cessation of  hostilities between the Government and the LTTE (7 January, 1995)

  • Third round of talks between the Government and LTTE. (14 January, 1995)

  • Fourth round of Government-LTTE talks (10 April, 1995)

  •  LTTE attacks government naval installation, resumption of   hostilities (19 April, 1995)

  •  Government Security forces commence operation "Leap Forward" (9 July, 1995)

  •  Government officially announces its Peace Package (3 August,1995)

  •  Government security forces in the north commence operation "Riviresa" (17 October,1995)

  •  LTTE attacks Colombo oil installation facilities (20 October, 1995)

  • Operation "Riviresa" military campaign concluded with the taking of Jaffna from the LTTE (5 December, 1995)

  • A suicide bomb explosion by the LTTE at the Central Bank in Colombo kills more than 100 civilians and wounds 1,300 others. (31 January, 1996)

  • Two bombs explode in a Colombo commuter train killing more than 60 people (14 July, 1996)

  • Nearly 1,400 soldiers killed in an LTTE attack on the Mulativu military camp (18 July, 1996)

  • India bans the LTTE (1 August,1996)

  • 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. (25 January, 1998)

  • Mrs. Sarojini Yogeshwaran, the first woman mayor of  Jaffna was gunned down by LTTE gunmen (17 May 1998)

  • A bomb blast at the Municipal council kills Mr. P. Sivapalan, who took over after the death of   Mrs. Yogeshwaran. Some of  Jaffna top military brass were killed along with him. (11 September,1998)

  • Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, a constitutional lawyer, a human rights advocate and a parliametary member of   TULF (a moderate Tamil party) is assassinated by a LTTE suicide bomber in Colombo (29 July, 1999)

  •  President Chandrika Kumaratunga temporarily rules out the possibility of peace talks with the LTTE. (18 October, 1999)

  • President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga narrowly escapes with injuries an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Colombo. (18 December, 1999)



Fifty years of independence

Mileposts on the road to freedom



January 15

Declaration of war by Sir Robert Brownrigg, governor of the martime provinces, against the king of the Kandyan Kingdom.

February 14

Capture of the city of Kandy, with the support of the Kandyan chiefs, by eight battalions, comprising more than 3000 soldiers who set out from eight points, viz. Colombo, Galle, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Negombo.

February 18

The British succeed in capturing King Sri Wiekrama Rajasinghe while he was hiding in a house at Dumbara in Meda Mahanuwara. With the capture of the King came to an end the line of Sinhala monarchs which had continued without break from the time it started with Vijaya in about 543 B.C.

Although Sri Wiekrama Rajasinghe was a Dravidian from South India, the fact that he is considered to be the last King of Sinhala shows that what determined the Sinhalaness was the culture rather than the ethnicity.

March 02

A group of English officials including the governor, along with the Kandyan Sinhala Chiefs, assembled in the Magul Maduwa (Royal Assembly Hall) at Senkadagala and signed a convention where, by the Kandyan Kingdom was handed over to King George III of England. With that the whole country becomes a dependency of the British Crown.

The brain behind the scheme to capture the Kandyan Kingdom was John Doyly, Government Agent, Colombo, and the chief translator to the British government who had a specialist knowledge of the Sinhala language. The local allies of the British in the project that Doyly launched for the capture of the Kandyan Kingdom were Ehelepola Maha Nilame, Molligoda Maha Nilame, Kobbekaduwe Maha Nayake Thero of the Poya Maluwe Maha Vihara, Yatawatte Maha Nayake Thero of the Asigiriya Maha Vihara, Dunuwila Dissawe, Kapuliyadde Adigar, Thambi Mudaliyar (great grandfather of J. R. Jayewardene), and Ilangakoon Maha Mudaliyar.


From September 1817 to November 26, 1818

A rebellion arose in Uva-Wellasse area under the leadership of a Dravidian from South India against British rule. While proceeding with a small contingent of troops to crush the rebellion, Assistant Resident, Mr. Silverster Douglas Wilson was killed by the rebels, on September 16. Later another contingent was sent under the leadership of Keppettipola Nilame to crush the rebellion to Wellassa. But he, instead of crushing the rebellion, joined the rebels, resulting in the worsening of the situation in Uva-Wellassa. Because even the Kandyan Sinhala chiefs who had helped the British to capture the Kandyan Kingdom were directly or indirectly assisting the rebels, the British were compelled to get down additional contingents from Bengal and Madras and to burn down the houses and gardens and to torch the villages in order to intimate the Kandyans. Ehelepola Adgiar who was the main local leader who had helped the British to capture the Kandyan Kingdom was arrested on the suspicion that he had aided and abetted the rebels and was brought to Colombo and was late, deported to Mauritius. On October 30 Keppetipola Dissawe too was arrested, and on November 26 Keppetipola Dissawe and Madugalle Dissawe were tried and beheaded.

November 21

By a special decree issued by the governor the Kandyan feudal chief were deprived of all their privileges. The lands and properties of all the Kandyan chiefs who were involved in the rebellion were confiscated and they were given to the chiefs who had helped the British (Viz Molligoda Maha Nilame (Father), Molligoda Maha Nilame (Son), Ratwatte Nilame, Kadigamuwa Nilame, Dehigama Nilame, Mullegama Nilame, Ekneligoda Nilame, Mahawalatenne Nilame, Doloswala Nilame, Eheliyagoda Nilame, Katugaha Nilame (Father), Katugaha Nilame (Son), Dimbulane Nilame, Godagedera Nilame, Gonggoda Nilame) and these chiefs were also freed from the necessity to pay taxes.


Commencement of the construction of a stone paved cart track between Colombo and Kandy.


A person named George Byrd started a coffee plantation of 400 acres at Sinhapitiya on a special concession from the government.


King George IV sent W. M. G. Colebrooke to examine and report on all the laws and regulations, customs of the "Crown Colony of Ceylon" and all matters relating to its government.


King George IV sent Charles K. Camaron to inquire into and report on the judicial councils and traditions of the "Crown Colony of Ceylon".

1832 February 01

Start of the Colombo - Kandy mail coach. It was the first mail service to start in Asia


Under the Colebrooke reforms the low country maritime provinces and the Kandyan Provinces were integrated so that the whole country came under a single administration. The powers of the governor were curtailed. The governor's power to imprison or deport a person without a court judgement was abolished.

A State Council of five main government officers was set up to advise the governor about the affairs of the king's budget. A legislative council of nine official members and six unofficial was created. The unofficial members were to be selected by the governor from amongst the leading businessmen and landowners of the country. Three of them were to represent the European while the three others were to represent the Sinhalese, the Tamils and the Burghers. The Rajakariya was abolished and the government's monopoly of trade was done away with.

In order to do away with differences between local and foreign legal and judical systems, a supreme court consisting of a chief justice and three junior justices, and a system of district courts, each consisting of a justice of the supreme court and two valuers were created.

1834 May

The legislative council created under the Colebrooke reforms met for the first time without the appointment of unofficial members. The reason was that it was not possible to find two persons with an English knowledge from amongst the Sinhala and Tamil members. As a temporary solution Mudaliyar Johannes Godfrey William Panditharathne, chief interpreter Mudaliyar of the supreme court was appointed as the Sinhala representative while Mudaliyar Coomaraswamy, chief interpreter of the commissioner of revenue was appointed to represent the Tamils.


Founding of Colombo Academy which later became Royal College.


Inauguration of a mail coach to Colombo


Setting up of a chamber of Commerce by English and Parsee merchants.

It was not possible to recruit from amongst the Kandyan peasants the workers required for the coffee plantations which were spreading and, consequently, the first group of 2243 migrant workers was got down from India.


Crown lands ordinance is enacted. So that all lands about which a vesting cannot be proved are considered to be crown lands.

1841 June

Inauguration of Ceylon National Bank of India.


The British governor divests himself of the custody of the Tooth Relic and hands it over to Diyawadane Nilame. Along with that the government terminate the annual payment of $300 for the maintenance of the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth). This step leads to discontent among the Bhikkhus about the British administration.


Imposition of a Road Tax. According to the relevant rule everybody between 18-35 years had to work connected with the building of roads for six days a year. If he failed to do so he had to pay a sum of 3 shillings.

July 6

A large number of Kandyans appear before GA Kandy and protest against the road tax, gun tax and other new taxes.

July 29

Anti-government riots spread in Matale. The government imposes martial law on the Kandy and Matale districts and suppresses the riots.

August 9

The main leaders of the rebellion who had been arrested, Puran Appu and Gongalegoda Banda, are tried and executed by firing squad.

1850 June 31

Lord Torrington is removed from the post of governor due to accusations against him that arose in England because of the factors that led to the rebellion and the means employed to crush it.

1858 January 1

Inauguration of telecommunication between Colombo and Galle.

1859 August

M. Coomaraswamy and H. Dias are appointed as the Tamil representative and Sinhala representative respectively to the Legislative Council.

1862 September

Inauguration of the first Sinhala newspaper "Lakmini Pahana"


August 2

Ceremonial opening of the railway from Colombo to Ambepussa.


Formation of the Ramanna Nikaya with the aim of having a Bhikku Sasane free of caste divisions.

1866 January 12

The first election to the Colombo Municipal Council.

1867 October 2

Opening of the completed railway line from Colombo to Kandy.

1870 March

Inauguration of the Medical College in association with the Colombo general hospital.


The first census of population


Introduction of rupees and cents in place of pounds, shillings and pence.


February 1

Lighting of Colombo city with gas.

August 26-27

Panadura debate


April 10

Completion of the Break Water dam at Colombo harbour.

May 17

Colonel Henry Steele Olcott in Ceylon.

June 17

Formation of the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society under the leadership of Colonel Olcott.


Niti Nighanduva is published as a government publication. It gave primacy to the Goigama caste and lower ranks to the other castes in the caste hierarchy, leading to strong objections from the other castes. This resulted in a sharp debate carried through books and pamphlets.

1883 March 25

Buddhist - Catholic clash at Kotahena


Import of the first rickshaw to Ceylon by Whittal Co.

July 30

A public auction is held for the first time for Ceylon tea.

1885 May 10

Opening of the railway from Talawakelle to Nanu Oya.


Inauguration of the Jaffna Hindu College by Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar, the leader of the Hindu revivalist movement.


The Ceylon Agricultural Society started in 1882 by C. H. de Soysa of the Karawe caste who was the richest among the local businessmen in order to defend the rights of the local businessmen becomes Ceylon National Congress.


Inauguration of Zahira College, Maradana, on the initiative of Siddi Lebbe, the pioneer of the Muslim revivalist movement.


February 14

Opening of the Colombo - Kurunegala Railway.

May 7

Opening of the Colombo - Galle Railway.

August 17

Opening of Ananda College, Maradana.

1902 February

Import of a motor car to Ceylon for the first time.


Inauguration of Ceylon Reform League on the initiative of Ananda Coomaraswamy and W. A de Silva. The aim of this league was to prevent blind adherence to western habits and traditions and to revive local (National ) traditions.

1906 August

Activity in the city of Colombo comes to a near standstill due to a strike by carters.


The Ceylon National Organization protests against the fact that when the low country Sinhala representative is nominated, a member of the Goigama caste and one family group is selected. By a petition addressed to the Colonial Secretary Sir James Pieris requests that the system of communal representation be abolished and that nomination be replaced by election.

1910 February 02

New constitutional reforms are announced by an Order-in-Council. According to it the number of official members of the Legislative Council is increased to 10 and that of unofficial members is increased to 11. The number of representatives for the Low Country Sinhalese and the Tamils, which had been one each until then, was increased to two each. An opportunity was created for the election of an educated Ceylonese member through limited branches.

1911 December 13

The election held for the educated Ceylonese member became an open contest between the Goigama and Karawe castes. Marcus Fernando, as the representative of the Karawe caste, files his nomination papers. In order to prevent this high position (Seat) going to a person of the Karawe Caste, Hector Jayawardene (Uncle of J. R. Jayewardene) manages to get Ponnambalam Ramanathan, who was a leading member of the Tamil Vellala caste to enter the fray as Marcus Fernando's opponent. Leaders of coastal castes led by the Karawe caste work for Marcus Fernando while the leaders of the Sinhala Goigama and Tamil Vellala castes work openly for Ramanathan. Marcus Fernando received 981 votes while Ponnambalam Ramanathan received 1645 votes and had an easy win.


A strong temperance movement emerges against a new decree issued by the government permitting the opening of new taverns in areas where illicit liquor was brewed on a large scale. This movement is led by Anagarika Dharmapala, Walisinghe Harischandra, A. E. Bulgens, Dr. C. A. Hewawitharana, D. B. Jayatillake and F. R. Senanayake etc. It becomes the largest mass agitation movement that had arisen up to that time against the colonial rule.


May 28

A Sinhala-Muslim clash that starts from Kandy spreads to all other provinces except North and East. The government erroneously considers this to be an anti-English rebellion, declares the martial law, and arrests a number of prominent figures in the temperance movement including F. R. Senanayake, D. S. Senanayake, D. B. Jayatilake, W. A. de Silva, C. Batuwan-tudawa, Edmund Hewawitharane and C. A. Hewawitharane. In order to put down the riots the govenrment follows a tough policy of shooting to death any suspected person.

The number of mosques damaged in the riots - 86

The number of churches burnt down - 17

Number of boutiques and shops looted - 4075

The number of Muslims killed - 35

The number of Muslims injured - 189

The number of Muslim women raped - 4

Although the government said the number of those shot to death under the martial law was 69, the contemporary records are of the view that it was very much higher. The number of those who were tried and sentenced to death was 83. Edward Henry Pedris who is considered to be a hero by the Wahumpura community was among them. Edmund Hewawitha-rane died of typhoid while being imprisoned in Jaffna.

September 25

Dr. Solomon Fernando, a Christian Karawa member of the municipal council dies while making a speech at Public Hall, Colombo, demanding the release of the Sinhalese in custody. It is with these riots that the Sinhala and Tamil leaders realise for the first time that they are not secure and that it is essential to have an organized national movement to protect themselves. The Sinhala leaders decide to forward a memorandum to the secretary for the colonies about the inhuman treatment meted out to the Sinhalese by the government during the riots. It was the time of the first world war and E. W. Perera accepts the risky job of taking the memorandum to England, crossing the torpedo infested sea.


April 2

On an invitation from the Ceylon National Organization, Ponnambalam Arunachalam, a former director of statistics, makes a public speech about the necessity of an organized political movement.

May 17

Ceylon Reform League is formed. Agitation for a constitutional reform that would enable the public to participate effectively in the governance is declared to be the aim of the League. At this conference, in which 19 rich and educated persons participated, Ponnambalam Arunachalam was elected the president while W. A. de Silva was elected secretary and F. R. Senanayake was elected treasurer.


A constitutional reform conference is held with the participation of the Ceylon Reform League and the Ceylon National Organization. The number of participants is 114.

The views of the Sinhala and Tamil leaders about the principle of representation on which the reforms demanded should be based were dissimilar. While the view of the Sinhala leaders is that a local representation weighted in favour of the minority nationalities was suitable, the Tamil leaders are of the view that there should be a system of proporational representation between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. This dispute is settled temporarily on the basis of a written promise that the Tamils would be afforded as large a representation as possible and that they would be given a seat in the western province.

1919 December 11

Ceylon National Congress is formed bringing together a nubmer of political organizations including Ceylon National Organization, Young Ceylon Congress, Jaffna Congress, Chilaw Congress, Kandy Mahajana Sabha and Ceylon Muslim League.

Ponnambalam Arunachalam, M. A. Arulananthan and E. D. de Silva are elected president, secretary and tresurer respectively. It is decided to send a delegation of the Congress to England in order to convey to the secretary for the Colonies the demands and views of the Congress about constitutional reforms.

1920 August

Although the demands a council of 50 consisting of 40 members elected on a territorial basis and 10 nominated members, the Legislative Council created consists of 37 members.



For the Legislative Council thus created under the Morley-Minto reforms, an election is held on the basis of limited franchise.


The Tamil representatives resign from Ceylon National Congress on the grounds that the promise to allocate a seat in the Western Province to the Tamils has been violated, and form the Tamil Mahajana Sabha. Ponnambalam Arunachalam, the founder of Ceylon National Congress also resigns, but his son Arunachalam Mahadeva remains.



On behalf of Ceylon National Congress, James Pieris demands a legislature of 45 members. Making use of the rift that had arisen between the Sinhala leaders and the minorities, Governor Manning is able to promote a series of more lukewarm proposals through Tamil, Muslim and Burgher representatives.


Advocate Victor Corea is sentenced to one month's rigorous imprisonment for refusal to pay Rs. 2 as road tax.

September 10

A. E. Goonasinghe forms a workers' organization by the name of Ceylon Labour Union. Its founder president is Victor Corea while its founder Vice president is Goona-singhe.


The new president of Ceylon National Congress H. J. C. Perera explains before the Congress the nature of the freedom that the Congress is demanding, thus:

The ultimate aim of this Congress is the right to internal administration under the British Flag. Please remember that, we do not call it freedom. We never asked for it. We are not so foolish as to ask for that.


An election is held to select members for the Legislative Council of 49 members, created under the Manning reforms. Less than two hundred thousand persons had the franchise and only the males had the right to contest.

It is at this election that both D. B. Jayatillake and D. S. Senanayake are elected to the legislating for the first time.

1924 December

The Kandyan Sinhalese Representatives leave Ceylon National Congress.


June 28

In the belief that the Tamil representatives remaining outside the Ceylon National Congress is an obstacle to the winning of constitutional reforms, a group led by Victor Corea, with the approval of the Congress, meet Tamil leaders in Jaffna at a round table and come to an agreement to evolve a common understanding.

December 16

Opening of the Colombo Radio station.

1926 December

Although there had been assurance that the agreement reached by Victor Corea with the Tamil leaders would taken up for discussion at the annual conference of the Ceylon national Congress, it is not taken up.

A. E. Goona-singhe's Ceylon Labour Union also leaves the Ceylon National Congress. With that the Congress becomes a movement confined to Low Country Sinhalese.

1927 November 21

A three member Commission headed by Lord Doughnamore arrives in Ceylon to inquire into and report on the working of the system of government.

The Ceylon National Congress testifies before the Doughnamore Commission that Ceylon needs a form of government with full responsibility for internal affairs.

The Tamil leaders state that Ceylon has not yet matured enough for slef-government and ask for a system which would protect the rights of various communities.

Muslim representatives also ask for a system of annual representation.

Speaking for the Kandyan Sinhalese, the Sinhala Maha Sabha asks for a system which would give self-administration to Kandyan areas.

A group of representatives speaking for the Vahumpura community ask for a system which would do away with the caste oppression they are suffering from.

All national leaders except A. E. Goona-singhe (Sir Ponnam-balam Ramanathan, E. W. Perera, D. B. Jayatillake, D. S. Senanayake and S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike) oppose the granting of universal franchise.

1928 July 16

Doughnamore report is published.

The report recommends the granitng of franchise (right to vote) to men and women above 21 years, and a State Council which would be larger than the existing Legislative Council and which would permit the Ceylonese to mange their own affairs as long as it would not be detrimental to the interests of the empire.


April 17

Dissolution of the old Legislative Council.

June 13-20

An election is held for the new State Council. It is at this election that Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe, a pioneer of the left movement is elected the member for Morawaka and Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike is elected the member for Veyangoda. This is their entry into the legislature for the first time.


Oxford graduate S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike forms the Sinhala Maha Sabha and Cambridge graduate G. G. Ponnambalam forms the Tamil Congress.


Malaria epidemic begins and spreads rapidly to Kurunegala and Kegalle districts. The epidemic claims the lives of about 125,000 people.


November 27

An aeroplane lands at Ratmalana, for the first time in Ceylon.

December 18

A group of young men, educated abroad and with Marxist ideas, from a party by the name of Lanka Sama Samaja Party. Colvin R. de Silva is its first President and Vernon Gunasekera its first secretary.

1936 February

Election for the second State Council. Two leaders of the LSSP, N. M. Perera and Philip Gunawardene, are returned from Ruwan-wella and Awissawella respectively.

1937 March 28

Arrival in Ceylon of Kamala Devi Chattopadhya, a leader of the Indian National Congress.



Governor Stubbs issues an order of deportation against Mark Antony Bracegirdle an English estate official requiring him to leave Ceylon before April 30, 1937 for having made a public speech denouncing the British rulers at a meeting held in the plantation area with the participation of Kamala Devi along with LSSP leaders. Bracegirdle defies the order and goes underground.

May 18

The LSSP goes before the Supreme Court against the governor's deportation order and succeeds in getting the order invalidated by the Supreme Court.

September 1

With the invasion of Poland by Germany the Second World War breaks out. All the national leaders declare their loyalty to Britain during the War. The LSSP declares an anti-British policy, characterizing both the parties to the war as imperialists.



A group led by Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe and M. G. Mendis are expelled from the LSSP on the ground that they are Stalinists.

June 18

N.M., Philip, Colvin and Edmund Samarakkody who had functioned as leaders of the LSSP are arrested.


Those who were expelled from the LSSP from the United Socialist Party under the leadership of Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe.


June 15

Although the term of office of the State Council which had been elected in 1936 had expired, it is extended by two years by an Order in Council on the grounds that an election cannot be held in conditions of war, and the board of ministers is converted to a war Cabinet.


March 12

A war council is formed and Sir Jeffrey Layton is made its Commander-in-Chief. The LSSP and the United Socialist Party are proscribed by a special gazette notification.

April 5

Japanese air strike in Colombo

April 7

LSSP leader escape from prison.


The leading members of the United Socialist Party including leader Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe join the Ceylon National Congress individually.

1943 May 26

By a cabinet paper the secretary for the colonies assures that at the end of the war Ceylon would be granted the right of internal administration under the British Crown.

By this time D. S. Senanayake is implementing subtle plan to take over the future administrative power to his own hands. His chief advisor is Sir Oliver Goonatilleka who is functioning as the Civil Defence Commissioner. Sir Oliver was a close friend of the Commander-in-Chief, and thereby he is securing the support of the Commander-in-Chief also for the plan. Considering the presence of a person senior to him as an obstacle to his own prime ministerial ambitions, D. S. Senanayake by this time had managed to remove D. B. Jayatilleke from the State Council and has sent him to India as High Commissioner for Ceylon.

With the presentation of the Colonial Secretary's memorandum, D. S. Senanayake gets Sir Ivor Jennings to draft a constitution and sends it to the Colonial Secretary.



Lord Mountbatten, the Commander-in-Chief for South Asia, brings his command headquarters from Delhi to Peradeniya.

December 14

A three member Commission arrives in Ceylon to inquire into necessary constitutional reforms and to make recommendation. D. S. Senanayake is not pleased with the fact that a commission has been appointed to make further inquiries, disregarding his own proposals. But on the advise of Sir Oliver, D. S. SenanayAKE refrains from giving evidence officially, and the two of them manage to win over the Commissioners by going round the country with them and entertaining them, meeting all the necessary costs. It is the Secretary to the Commission who later becomes Sir Oliver's second wife.

1945 April 4

The Soulbury Commission returns to England after making inquiries.

Along with them, D. S. Senanayake and Oliver Goonatilleke too went to England. Sir Oliver Goontilleke manages to get for himself the copy of the report which had not been proof-read. They realised that there were no fundamental differences between Lord Soulbury's recommendations and the draft constitution the ministers had got Ivor Jennings to prepare.

Thereafter they return to Ceylon and D. S. Senanayake sendS Sir Oliver back to England, entrusting him with the task of finalising on his behalf the transaction that had to be done with the Colonial Secretary.

By the time Sir Oliver reaches England the British Parliament has decided to grant independence to India and Burma (Myanmar).

Sir Oliver Goonatilleke told the Colonial Secretary that the whole world would consider Britain to be an ungrateful country if, while granting independence to India and Burma which had followed an anti-British Policy during the war, Britain fails to grant independence to Ceylon.

He also argued that if Britain did not grant independence at this particular time in a manner that will help D. S. Senanayake, a close friend of Britain, she would inevitably have to transact with the Sama Samaja movement from a more disadvantageous basis. Contemporary records state that the Colonial Secretary accepted Sir Oliver's reasoning.


June 24

Release of Sama Samaja leaders who had been in prison.

October 30

The Soulbury proposals are published as a white paper.

November 2

A general strike merges in Colombo under the leadership of the left leaders. Tram car employees, and bank employees join it.

November 8

The Soulbury white paper is taken up for debate. In a situation where it was essential to show that the minorTies agree to it, D. S. Senanayake tables the resolution and makes an emotional speech before the State Council in which he says that no room would be left for any discrimination against the minorities in any manner and that constitution has been so framed that it would be absolutely impossible to commit any such act. Only three members opposed the resolution while 51 voted for it.

1946 December

D. S. Senanayake forms a new party United National Party, bringing together the Ceylon National Congress, the Sinhala Maha Sabha and the Muslim League, reflecting national unity.


May 15

Issue of an Order-in-Council for an interim government.

June 18

The governor informs the State Council that the King has decided to grant Dominion status to Ceylon.

July 1

The final meeting of the State Council.

August 23 -- September 20

Elections to the first parliament.

D. S. Senanayake conducts the election campaign as the person who has won the independence which is to be granted immediately after the elections. However, his party, the UNP manages to win only 42 seats. Sri Nissanka makes an attempt to form a non-UNP government. He invites S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike to head a non-UNP government. Bandaranaike refuses and consequently Sri Nissanka's attempt fails. D. S. Senanayake forms a government with the support of the Tamil Congress and a group of members and becomes the Prime Minister.

November 21

Ceylon Independence Act is read for the 3rd time in the British Parliament and is adopted unanimously.

December 1

The new Prime Minister tables Ceylon Independence Act before the Parliament.

December 3

The resolution moved by the Prime Minister is adopted by Parliament. Duke of Gloucester reads the Order-in-Council before Parliament.

Ceylon History - Events of Significance [TIS]

300 BC Buddhism brought into Lanka from India
600 AD Mahavamsa origin claim
1505 Portuguese Arrival
1519 Chankili I becomes King of Jaffna
1591 Portugese declare Chankili Kumauran - Chankili II - Governor of Jaffna
1621 Portuguese conquer & occupy Jaffna kingdom
1623 Chankili II executed in Goa by Portuguese
1658 Dutch capture maritime provinces, including Jaffna, from Portuguese
1796 British take Ceylon from Dutch
1799 English translation of Swiss soldier J. Burmand's Memoire which comes to be know as the "Cleghorn Minute." The Minute mentions that "from time immemorial Sinhalese and Tamils have divided rule of the island between the two of them."
1803 The Treaty of Amiens confirms Ceylon as a British possession, the Dutch retain Batavia in return
1813 American mission founds the "Batticatta Seminary" (which later came to be "Jaffna College") at Vaddukoddai
1815 Kandyan Kingdom cedes to British
1833 Under Colebrooke - Cameron Reforms, the island becomes administratively unified (all three kingdoms captured by colonists at different times), the North and East Provinces made integral parts of Ceylon & English made the language of administration
1834 Arrival of first plantation workers from India
1847 Arumuga Navalar leaves Jaffna Central College, protesting against the admission of a low caste (Nalavan) by Peter Percival, the school Principal.
1879 Ponnampalam Ramanathan nominated to the Legislative Council
1895 Ponnampalam Arunachalam nominated to the Legislative Council
1915 Major Sinhalese – Muslim riot took place
1919 Ceylon National Congress formed, with Ponnampalam Arunachalam as one of the founder members
1920 "Manning Reforms" recommends abolition of community (group) representation and introducing of territorial representation, fiercely protested by Tamils and other minorities
1921 Ponnampalam Arunachalam resigns from Ceylon National Congress, following controversy over non-allocation of the Western Province (Colombo) Legislative Council seat promised earlier
1922 Sir James Pieris and .J. Samarawickrema give written undertaking to Sir Ponnampalam Arunachalam to support the creation of a special seat, for the
State Council, for the Tamils in the Western Province

1923 "Manning Reforms" retracted, and community (group) representation re-introduced in modified form
1924 Sir Ponnampalam Arunachalam dies
1928 Donoughmore commission comes to Ceylon, and recommends universal franchise as well as territorial representation
1930 Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan dies
1931 The Tamils boycott the general elections
1932 G.G. Ponnampalam forms the Tamil Ceylon Congress
1933 Rasanayagam publishes his book History of Jaffna under the British
1936 G.G. Ponnambalam demands 50-50 representation – 50 % of seats in the legislature for the majority Sinhalese, with the other 50% to be reserved for all minorities put together, namely Tamils, Muslims, Indians, Burghers, Malays and Europeans
1936 Entirely Sinhala cabinet and government installed, under the executive committee system of the Donoughmore Constitution
1940 D.S. Senanayake, as Minister of Agriculture, starts the state-aided colonization of Sinhalese in the Eastern province
J.R. Jayawardene demands federation between India and Ceylon.
Board of Ministers asked to draft a new constitution for an independent Ceylon, independence to be granted after World War II
1944 J.R, Jayawardene proposes a resolution in the State Council for " Sinhala and Tamil to be made Official Languages and Media of Instruction" after independence
Introduction of free education at State-aided, private English schools.

Formation of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress under G.G.Ponnampalam’s leadership

1945 Soulbury Commission accepts the (pan-Sinhala) Board of Ministers’ draft Constitution, making slight modifications
1947 Ceylon granted independence by the British Crown
1948 Independece, under Soulbury Constitution, celebrated on February 4th
Passing of the Citizenship Act no. 18 0f 1948, takes away existing citizenship from almost a million (more than 10% of total Tamils) 'Plantation' Tamils

1949 Enactment of the Ceylon Parliamentary Elections Act, depriving the 'Plantation' Tamils of their voting rights - the universal franchise they had enjoyed for more than 20 years
Major colonization scheme (Gal Oya development), launched by Prime Minister D.S.Senanayake, in several districts of the Eastern Province, part of the Tamil homeland. This was followed by subsequent colonizations, including Padaviya, Kantalai, Trinciomalee and Vavuniya areas, all vital parts of the Tamil homeland

1951 S.W.R.D Bandaranaike leaves the United National Party (UNP), and forms his own party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)
1952 D.S. Senanayake dies, and his son, Dudley Senanayake, becomes Prime Minister
1953 Dudley Senanayake resigns following an all-island general strike (hartal).
Sir John Kotalawala (a Senanayake cousin, also from the UNP) becomes Prime Minister

1954 Kotalawala declares his government’s intent to give 'parity of status' to Sinhala and Tamil as official languages
1955 SWRD Bandaranaike announces SLFP’s language policy as Sinhala, with "reasonable use of Tamil"

1956 J.R. Jayawardene proposes a "Sinhala Only" policy. The UNP Kelaniya Convention adopts a resolution to make Sinhala "the only official
language", pre-empting Bandaranaike's Sinhala Only campaign

SLFP wins general elections with a Left party coalition, the "MEP" (Mahajan Eksath Peramuna) in majority. Bandaranayaike becomes Prime Minister.

Passage of the "Sinhala Only" Act no. 33 0f 1956 on June 5.

Tamil leaders who staged a peaceful protest (satyagraha) outside the Parliament were insulted, kicked and dragged to the Beira Lake, by an unruly Sinhalese mob organized by the SLFP government.

Nationalisation of transport, and formation of other State Corporations and commercial enterprises.

Sinhalese mobs attack and drive out Tamil families from their villages in the Gal Oya Valley in the Batticaloa District, burning their houses.

1957 Passage of the "Tamil Language (Special Provisions )" Act no. 28 of 1958, specifying regulations governing "reasonable use of Tamil" in the North and East provinces, which has been implemented only in default

1958 The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact signed on July 26.
SWRD Bandaranaike literally tears up the B-C Pact at the urging of a group of monks instigated by J.R. Jayawardene.

Following the National Convention of the Federal Party (FP), anti-Tamil riots encouraged by the government take place throughout the country. More than 100,000 Tamils flee to their traditional homelands in the NorthEast by boat. Government declares Emergency from May to February.

1959 Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike assassinated by a Buddhist monk.
Dahanayake, MP from Galle, acts as Prime Minister until elections take place

1960 Dudley Senanayake’s UNP government defeated at general elections..
Srimavo Bandaranayake becomes Prime Minister.

Switch of government administration to "Sinhala Only".

Nationalization of schools.

Declaration of Anuradhapura as a "Sacred City", and demolishing all Hindu temples in the locality.

1961 FP calls a peaceful hartal (satyagraha) in the North and East.
Sri Lankan military moves into Tamil areas, and the army and the Sinhala Police unleash violence on Tamil MPs who staged a peaceful protest against the Language of the Courts Act, which imposed ’Sinhala Only’ in the northeast courts.

FP MPs arrested and detained for six months

1962 Tamils stage a massive civil disobedience campaign, paralysing the civil administration in the North.
C. Kodeswaran, a Tamil Public Servant, successfully sues the Ceylon Government for denying him his annual salary increment on the grounds of non- proficiency in Sinhala –the now official language.

Unsuccessful coup against Srimavo Bandaranaike government attempted by about 30 British-trained army officers

1964 Signing of the Srimavo-Sastri Pact on citizenship rights of 'Plantation' Tamils - an agreement to evacuate 500,000 of these Tamils to India
1965 Signing of the Senanayake- Chelvanayagam Pact.
Federal Party (FP) supports the UNP to form a national coalition Government

1969 Federal Party withdraws support to government
1970 Sirimavo Bandaranaike wins elections becomes Prime Minister and forms government with support of LSSP and CP
1971 Insurrection of the Sinhala youth - the Jatika Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). resulting in more than 3000 Sinhla youth murdered by the Bandaranaike Government.
Government. Introduction of "Standardisation of Education" Bill, intended to restrict the number of Tamil students entering the university on the usual merit basis

1972 Adoption of a republican constituion on May 22nd, using a constituent assembly which Tamils boycotted, with primacy for Buddhism and eliminating the safeguards available to minorities under Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution
Introduction of standardisation, requiring Tamil students to score higher marks than their Sinhalese counterparts to gain university admissions

Colvin R. de Silva cautions Mrs. Bandaranayake, stating " one language, two nations – two languages,one nation"

Velupillai Pirabakaran forms the Tamil New Tigers (TNT)

1974 Lanka Police go on rampage at the World Tamil Research Conference held in Jaffna, killing nine and wounding many
1975 Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah, who collaborated with the Sinhala SLFP, assassinated by TNT
1976 Vaddukoddai Resolution, passed by Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), calls for the of a separate state of Tamil Eelam covering the North and East Provinces
TNT transformed into Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

1977 UNP, led by J.R. Jayawardene, wins elections by a landslide.
Sinhala mob violence against 'estate' Tamils turns into islandwide communal riots, triggered by inflamatory speeches by J.R. More than 1,000 Tamils killed and many thousands rendered homeless. Raping of Tamil women and looting of Tamil properties encouraged by Sinahalese politicians and armed forces

1978 Second Republican constitution - with an executive president with extraordinary powers.
All Supreme Court and High Court judges dismissed under Article 163 of the new constitution.

Intensification of state-aided colonisation of Sinhalese in the Eastern Province under the Accelerated Mahaveli River Development Scheme

1979 Enactment of the "Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) Act."
Sri Lankan police destroy Tamil shops in Chunnakam (in the Jaffna peninsula) soon after the enactment of the PTA.

J. R. Jayawardene declares war against the Tamils, moving Sri Lankan armed forces into the North.

Increase in arbitrary arrests, disappearances and killing of Tamil youth in Jaffna, setting up of "torture camps."

1980 Passing of the District Development Act
1981 District Councils elections held in the NorthEast.
Burning of the Jaffna Public Library by Sri Lankan forces.

1981 National Referendum utilized by J.R. Jayawardene to extend life of parliament, thus avoiding elections

1982 Nov 27: day the first LTTE fighter fell in combat
1983 LTTE ambush SLA forces on July 22nd and kill 13 soldiers on the Jaffna-Palay Road in Thinneveli.
Island-wide anti-Tamil pogrom in which more than 4,300 Tamils were massacred.

On July 25 and 27, Tamil political detainees, held in the Welikade maximum security prison, were slaughtered by a carefully conceived plan, executed by combined forces of prison guards and Sinhalese prison inmates.

Sinhalese army brought into the NorthEast in larger numbers.

J.R. Jayawardene’s "All Party Conference’ ends in failure.

Passage of Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, making it an offense to espouse the creation of a separate state

1984 Tamil residents in the "Manal Aru" area in Mullaitivu District chased out by the Sri Lankan Army, large numbers massacred, and the vacated area colonized with some 25,000 Sinhalese settlers. The river itself and the area then given the Sinhala name "Weli Oya."
Increased number of sl army camps set up in Tamil areas, and declared "Security Zones", curtailing civilian movement, and stifling their economic activities.

Prabaharan builds a national liberation army and the basic structures for a separate state, as well as mobilizes the Tamil people. The 1983 pogrom and collective punishment meted out to the people by the police and the army drive the people behind Pirabharan.

India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Central Intelligence Bureau (CBI), "Military intelligence", and the "Q Branch", Tamil Nadu’s intelligence agency monitor the Tamil militant groups from the beginning of the Eighties.

1986 Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL)'s "scorched earth" policy becomes explicit with the economic blockade, shelling and aerial bombing against Jaffna and the North intensified.
1987 Jaffna burns again. Some 850,000 Tamils driven to starvation, due to GOSL’s blockade of food, fuel and medicine. Massive military offensive by air, sea and land; bombing even temples designated as "safe areas, and wanton
destruction of houses, hospitals and schools. Thousands of Tamil civilians killed and more than 4,000 youth taken hostage.

SLA resorts to large scale use of Tamil civilians as "human shields," in an effort to protect the advancing Sri Lankan army.

India intervenes with airlifting of food and emergency supplies, countering GOSL’s economic blockade and intensified bombing of Jaffna.

Indo-Sri Lanka Accord signed by J. R. Jayawardene and Rajiv Gandhi. Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) lands in Jaffna.

India flies Pirabakaran to New Delhi, in an effort to twist his arm to accept the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

13th Amendment to the Constitution to implement the Accord passed in November - setting up of provincial councils, and the temporary merger of the North and East Provinces.

1988 September – IPKF - LTTE war results in Indian occupation ofthe NorthEast, saturating the region with some 100,000 IPKF troops.
Provincial Government elections, and setting up of an EPRLF government in the NorthEast with Varatharaja Perumal as Chief Minister.

December – Ranasinghe Premadasa elected president, promises to send the IPKF back to India.

1989 April - Pres. Premadsa and the LTTE agree on ceasefire and sending IPKF back to India.
December- IPKF begins pulling out from the NorthEast.

Premadasa’s All party Conference comes to nothing, similar to J.R. Jayawarene’s 1983 "All Party Conference’

Commencing from this year, LTTE, commemorates Heroes' Day on the 27th of November,

1990 Feb 23 – Premadsa begins talks with LTTE
Mar 13 - India completes IPKF pull-out

EPRLF-controlled NorthEast Provincial government dismissed, and Varatharaja Perumal moves to india

Jun 11 - Talks fail , Eelam War II declared, launched, under Premadasa, and Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne

GOSL makes formal declaration of economic embargo against NorthEast

1991 March 2 - Defence Minister Wijeratne killed in bomb explosion, at Havelock Road in Colombo, allegedly by the LTTE. Rumours still persist of a conpiracy by Premadasa’s group to prevent Wijeratne’s ascention to power.
May 22 - Rajiv Gandhi killed in a bomb exolosion in Tamil Nadu, allegedly by the LTTE. Rumours still persist that several Indian interests were involved in the assassination

1992 Athulathmudali (opposition party leader) murdered by a gunman, allegedly sent up by the LTTE. Rumours still abound that this was done by gang members sent by his own party's inner circle.

1993 Assassination of Pres. Premadasa in Kotahena, Colombo.

1994 Opposition (UNP) leader and presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake and 50 others killed in a bomb explosion at a political meeting.

General elections. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge canvasses on a 'peace platform' and wins presidency at head of PA party.

LTTE declares a unilateral cease-fire for a week, and calls the GOSL for peace talks.

Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed, providing for a 72 hours notice abrogation.

1995 Chandrika’s govt fails to implement promises given to LTTE. Four rounds of peace talks, from January to April 10, prove meaningless
March 16 - LTTE express concern over non-fulfillment of agreements reached at previous rounds of talks

April 19 - LTTE withdraws from the peace talks, pointing out GOSL’s inaction, blows up two Navy vessels in the Trincomalee port, killing 12 sailors

Eelam War III launched with Chandrika’s uncle, Ratwatte, as the Defence Minister after LTTE gives notice of abrogation to SL Government

uly 9 - SLA launches "Operation Leap Forward," pouring thousands of troops into the North

July 11 - Chandrika announces that a "comprehensive set of proposals for devolution of power to the North and East" would be presented within a fortnight, but continued the military operations, aiming to "liberate the people of the North from the LTTE."

July 13 - Navaly Church bombing kills 121 civilians, and seriously wounding more than 2,000 from SLA indiscriminate shelling.

September 21 - Within a few hours of imposing a military censorship, Sri Lankan war planes indiscriminately bomb civilian targets in the North, killing more than 100 civilians including 30 schoolchildren in Nagarkovil

All-out assault on Jaffna by Sri Lankan armed forces in "Operation Riviresa."

October 31 - Entire population of Jaffna flees, and the army takes the empty Jaffna city and the Peninsula. Human crisis of enormous proportions. Humanitarian agencies warn of danger from hunger, malaria, and other epidemics.

Dec 05 - Colonel Ratwatte, Minister of Defense, raises the lion flag in Jaffna city, captured after a fierce 50-day offensive which flattened much of the populated area

1996 GOSL puts out its draft "devoluton proposals" for a political settlement of the conflict. These proposals are watered down in the subsequent period.
Military attacks continue with ferocity.

1999 Chandrika survives an assassination attempt, a bomb attack at an election meeting, and suffers an eye injury. Same day there was an attempt, another bomb attack, to assassinate Ranil Wickremasinghe, the opposition leader, at a UNP election meeting
2000 LTTE declares unilateral ceasefire – Negotiations with chandrika Kumaratunga under PA government (lasting 4 months)
2001 May - Elephant Pass, the biggest military base in the entire island, over-run by the LTTE who then made their way to the outskirts of Jaffna city and came close to destroying the heart of the SLA. Indian response to the GOSL's appeal for military assistance lukewarm and was to offer to evacuate the troops.
LTTE attack on Katunayake International Airport, which seriously affects SL economy.

December - LTTE declares unilateral ceasefire.

2002 UNP (UNF) wins general elections, defeating Chandrika’s coalition (UPFA). Ranil Wickremasinge takes over as Prime Minister.

February 23 - Ceasefire agreement (MOU) signed by Ranil Wickeremasinghe and Velupillai Pirabakaran.

September 16 - Peace Talks between UNF government and LTTE commence in Thailand.

Oslo Declaration (statement), where LTTE offers to explore alternatives to separation.

2003 April - LTTE puts peace talks in abeyance, citing GOSL’s action in regard to resettlement of refugees and dismantling of High Security Zones of SLA
Tokyo conference of donors' consortium, where $ 4.5 billion pledge for reconstruction and development, subject to satisfactory progress in peace talks.

October 31 - LTTE submits its Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals.

Chandrika uses ISGA proposal as evidence of UNF government weakness, and takes over the Defence, Media and Interior Ministries in November, with the intent to dissolve Parliament and call a general election.

Nov. 27 - Pirbakaran declares on Heroes' Day that "If the Sinhala chauvinistic ruling elites continue to deny the rights of our people and oppose reconciliation and if the conditions of oppression continue, we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state invoking the right to self-determination of our people."

2004 Feb. 7 - Chandrika dissolves Parliament.

March - Eastern Province Commander Karuna breaks ranks with LTTE.
Parliamentary elections held in April. UNF party loses its majority, and Chandrika’s UPFA (SLFP & JVP) forms a minority government.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) win 20 seats at the general elections, well over the majority from the NorthEast. Tamils thus overwhelmingly endorse the representation of the LTTE and the ISGA proposals.

Chandrika and the UPFA make concerted efforts to break up the TNA and get the 5 TNA MPs from the Batticaloa and Amparai Districts to function as a separate group, but fail in their attempt

SL defence for 2005 increased from Rs 52.08 billion –($526 Million) in 2004 to Rs 562.98 Billion, an 8.1 % increase despite the ceasefire.

Nov. 27 - Pirabakaran delivers his Heroes' Day speech, the day following his 50th birthday, "urged the government to resume the peace negotiations without conditions, based on our proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority. If the Government of Sri Lanka rejects our urgent appeal and adopts delaying tactics, perpetuating the suffering of our people, we have no alternative other than to advance the freedom struggle of our nation".

Dec 26 - Tsunami hits Sri Lanka, with 2/3 of total casualties from NorthEast.

Timeline: Sri Lanka

A chronology of key events:

1948 – The Citizenship Act disenfranchising Indian Tamil Plantation workers was passed in Parliament. One million 3rd generation plantation workers had been living in the island for over 115 years. They were brought to the island by the British from South India to work in Tea and Rubber plantations in the hill country. 100,000 plantation Tamils were victimised. (Violation of UDHR article – 21)

Sinhala colonisation – As a result of many years of State planned Sinhala colonisation since 1948 in the Tamil homeland (North and East), the Sinhala governments and its destructive agents plundered and robbed 50% of the ancestral lands of the Tamils in the North East of Sri Lanka. (Violation of UDHR articles – 17)

1956 – The “Sinhala Only” Act was passed in the Sri Lankan Parliament. This Act made Tamils second class citizens in the island. Tamils staged peaceful protests in Colombo and Gal Oya. 150 Tamils were burnt or hacked to death; 20 Women were raped; 3000 were made refugees and their properties were looted by Sinhala mobs. (Violation of UDHR article – 2, 3, 5, 12, 17 )

1957 – the “Banda Chelva” pact and in 1965 the “Dudley-Chelva” pact. These agreements were based on a quasi-federal system devolving certain powers to the Tamils in the North East province. These were the first of several agreements and pacts signed between Tamil leaders and Sinhala leaders to resolve the political turmoil in the country, that were unilaterally abrogated by Sri Lanka.

1958 – Anti Tamil riots in Sinhala areas. Massacre of Tamils, looting of their properties, setting fire to their houses. 25,000 Tamils were made refugees; 500 Tamils were burnt or hacked to death; 200 Women were raped and Tamil properties were looted or destroyed by Sinhala mobs. (Violation of UDHR articles – 2, 3, 5, 12, 17)

1961 – Tamil non-violent (Satyagraha) civil disobedience campaign in the North and East was disrupted by the security forces, protesters were beaten and arrested. (Violation of UDHR articles – 5, 9, 20)

1964 – The Pact (Srima-Shastri) to evacuate Tamil plantation workers of Indian origin was signed. They were living in the island for over 131 years. 650,000 Plantation Tamils became stateless persons. (Violation of UDHR articles – 4, 15, 23)

1972 – Equal education opportunities for Tamil students were denied. Standardisation on University admission was introduced. (Violation of UDHR article – 26)

1974 – The Fourth International Tamil research Conference held on 10/01/1974 in Jaffna was disrupted by the Sri Lankan Police. 9 Tamils were brutally killed. (Violation of UDHR articles – 2, 3, 20, 27)

1977 – In July, Tamil United Liberation Front-TULF, contested and won overwhelmingly at the Parliamentary election giving them a mandate to exercise the “Right to Self-determination” and establish Tamil Eelam in the North East. In 1983 August 8, Sri Lankan government enacts the 6th amendment to the constitution and rejected the right to self-determination of the Tamil people, the mandate voted by the Tamils in 1977 general election. (Violation of UDHR articles – 8, 10, 21)

1979 July – Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was introduced in Sri Lanka. This Act gives a free hand to the Security forces to arrest, detain, torture, rape, kill and dispose bodies with impunity. Arrested people could be detained for three months without being produced in courts. (Violations of UDHR articles – 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

1981 – The Jaffna Public Library containing 95,000 volumes was completely destroyed in a fire set by a group of Police officers who went on a rampage in the Jaffna city on May 31, 1981. 95, 000 volumes of unrecoverable-invaluable books were burnt. (Violations of UDHR articles – 2, 21, 24, 27)

1983 – Since independence in 1948, more than 35 years of peaceful non-violent struggle by the Tamils protesting against Sinhala oppression, were suppressed by violent means by the Sri Lankan security forces, inflicting loss of many lives and much material damage to the Tamils. (Violations of UDHR articles – 3, 4, 5,9,13,20)

1983 – The Government masterminded anti-Tamil riots in July 83. More than 6,000 Tamils were killed by the Sinhalese in the South. Tamil houses and businesses were looted and destroyed. Tamils living in the South were sent in ships to the North and East by the government.

250,000 Tamils were made refugees; 2,500 Tamils were burnt or hacked to death; 500 Women were raped; 53 Tamil political prisoners were brutally murdered in the maximum security Welikada prison on 25-27th July. Sinhala extremist groups and thugs, ruined the socio-economic and the political rights of the Tamil people. Anti-Tamil riots also in 1956, 1958, 1977, and 1981. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26)

1984 – To date Tamils living in the North-East were arrested, tortured and killed. Women were raped, many disappeared. Tamil properties were looted or destroyed by the Sri Lankan security forces. Air Force bombers dropping Cluster bombs in residential areas and near IDPs camps causing severe loss and damage to Tamil people and their property.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations (ER) adopted by the government are helped the security forces to carry out all sorts of human rights violations with impunity. (UDHR was completely violated)

1990 – To date Economic embargo in Tamil areas. Food, medicine, electricity and other important items are denied to the Tamils. (Violations of UDHR articles – 22, 25, 26)

1995 – On 15th November, the NGO Forum took place at Bentota Beach Hotel, in Bentota, in the South of Sri Lanka. Both foreign and local NGO representatives participated in this forum and this forum meeting was disrupted by anti-NGO demonstrators. The organisers of the NGO forum decided to shift the venue to the capital, Colombo. On 16th November, the NGO Forum re-convened in the morning at a conference hall in Ratmalana, police officers arrived to “request” the Forum to suspend its proceedings, claiming that the meeting was illegal! The meeting was dissolved and all attendees dispersed. (Violations of UDHR articles – 8, 13, 18, 19, 20)

1997 – On 25th September, 38 NGOs serving in several parts of Batticaloa district, were ordered by Government of Sri Lanka to cease all their humanitarian operations. This immediately followed a government order banning NGOs from assisting people in the areas of Batticaloa. (Violations of UDHR articles – 8, 13, 18, 19, 20)

1998 – the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances stated that, “Sri Lanka had the second highest number of disappearances in the world, ranking next to Iraq”.

Also Sri Lanka was the only country that the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances had visited several times. So far no proper remedies had been found for these disappearances. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3,4,5,7,9,10,11)

2005 – with the aim of ensuring equal distribution of Tsunami aid to the worst affected North East, an agreement known as the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure – PTOMS was signed between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. This was unilaterally abrogated by the government of Sri Lanka under the pretext of a Supreme Court judgement. (Violation of UDHR articles – 16, 25)

At this time, over 85,000 Tamil people had been killed or “disappeared”; more than 12,500 Tamil women raped and killed; more than 2500 buildings of Tamils’ religious places of worship (Churches and Temples) destroyed in aerial bombings and artillery shelling and billions of rupees worth of material damage had been caused to the Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.

As a result of well planned ethnic cleansing by the Sinhala State, nearly 500,000 Tamil people were internally displaced and more than 500,000 Tamils’ have sought political asylum in Europe and other countries. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3, 16, 16,17)

2005 – 7th January, the UN Secretary General made a humanitarian visit to Sri Lanka to see the Tsunami affected areas. When Kofi Annan requested to visit the North East, the areas in the island most affected by the tsunami, the Sri Lankan authorities deliberately prevented him from making a humanitarian visit there.

(Violation of UDHR articles – 13,25 & a serious violation of the United Nations Charter, Chapter XV Article 100.

2006 – Sri Lankan citizens cannot seek remedy from the UN Human Rights Committee – Even though Sri Lanka is signatory to the ICCPR, on 15 September 2006, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that Sri Lankan citizens cannot seek remedy from the UN Human Rights Committee regarding human rights violations. It declared that the accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1997 does not bind Sri Lanka and has no legal effect within the island. – Decision of the Supreme Court 15 September 2006 – SC Spl (LA) No 182/99. (Violation of UDHR articles – 8, 10,19)

2006 – Sri Lanka’s Air Force bombed a gathering of schoolgirls at Vallipunam on August 14, 2006, killing 56 schools girls and wounding 210 others. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3, 10,12,13,20,26)

2006 – The India and Sri Lanka accord was signed in 1987 under the guise of settling the Tamil ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Under this accord the merger of North Eastern province took place on 8 Sep.1988. But, after exactly 18 years, The Supreme Court delivered its political judgement on 16 October 2006, stating that the merger of these two provinces was invalid. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3,5,9,10,13,21)

2007 – Sri Lanka was ranked third most dangerous place for the media in the world, with many journalists having been killed. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3,5,6,7,10,13,18,19)

2008 – Sri Lanka withdrew from the Ceasefire Agreement-CFA between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE that was signed in February 2002. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3,5,9,10,13,)

2008 – According to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, presently Sri Lanka rank as the country with the highest number of disappearances. The fate of 656 Tamils who ‘disappeared’ in 1996 was not yet known but Tamils continued to ‘disappear’ in North East. Many Tamil journalists, academics, parliamentarians, human rights activists, children and others in the North East were killed. (Violation of UDHR articles – 3,4,5,7,9,10,11)

2008 – IIGEP quit Sri Lanka – President Rajapaksa had invited the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons – IIGEP to observe and ensure the transparency of investigations held by the Commission of Inquiries on the complaints of abductions, disappearances and other serious violations of human rights arising since 1st August 2005. Also, the IIGEP was to ensure that those inquiries were conducted in accordance with basic international norms and standards. On 22 April 2008, the IIGEP, quit Sri Lanka, citing government unwillingness to implement its recommendations to bring the probe up to international standards, lack of financial stability, government interference and slow process. (Violation of UDHR articles – 8,10)

2009 – Sri Lanka government and their security forces committed War crimes and Genocide against the Tamil people. This has been well recorded by all international human rights organisations and the United Nations. Furthermore these serious violations have been documented and screened by the TV Channel 4, UK. (Violation of UDHR and other international conventions)

2010 – The UN Secretary-General’s appointed panel submitted a report on War Crimes in Sri Lanka on 12 April 2011. This was subsequently transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Human Rights Council on 13 September 2011. However no action was taken. The Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) submitted its interim recomendations on September 13, 2010

Persistent violations of the UDHR and other international conventions continue unabated despite increasing international pressure on Sri Lanka.