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Nullification of 1818 British Declaration

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As the saying goes "every dog has its day". I am no dog, yet the above news made my day that I am compelled to pen these few words. My only fear at this moment of joy is that this will be a short-lived political fiasco intended to slight a nation that has given us plenty of aid in the past and present. It should be a planned negotiated exercise seeking a Crown Apology from the British for the many atrocities committed by their colonial ancestors on the Sri Lankan nation. The erudite editor of The Island has in today’s (14th March. summarized the nasty and beastly deeds committed by the colonial British. The Colonial Office documents are the primary sources for those wishing to know more about those many atrocities. In a small way I too have contributed to sum total of this knowledge in my two books, "The Rebels, Outlaws and Enemies to the British" and "The Kandyans’ Last Stand Against the British". In the first part of my recent book, "In Defence of the Independence and Sovereignty of the Nation" I have put together my efforts in the past to get the British to apologize for their depredations in our country.

My stand on this issue is that a nullification though a belated salutary action, it is not enough. There should be a calculated and planned negotiation for an apology and some form of compensation for the massacres of the past.

The British have apologized for their mistakes in the past. The most recent one was to the Irish for the "shoot to Kill" policy as exposed by Lord Saville’s Commission. In a situation very similar to that of ours H.M Queen herself apologized to the Maoris in 1990 in the New Zealand parliament for violating the contract solemnly made with the Maoris in 1848. The Kandyans did petition Queen Victoria in 1846. They pleaded that "the infringements of the promises and engagements, amicably made and entered into are contrary to British law, are in opposition to British Equity, Justice, and impartiality of the British Government and discreditable to its good faith".

Apologies are today a redeeming feature of society. It ennobles rather than demean the apologizer. We saw this happen in the many confessions and apologies before the Truth Commission of South Africa. In the recent past the Pope has apologized to the Jews, the Spanish King to the Arabs, the German Chancellor to the Polish, and the Jews for the Nazi crimes on them, the Australian PM to the Original people of Australia (Aborigenes).

It is my hope that our government will pursue this matter in a dignified and diplomatic manner beyond a mere Gazette notification. Our government has the right and the necessary arguments and evidence on its side on this issue to persuade the British Government that in the words of Sir Winston Churchill’s admission that the "British are not a young people with innocent record and a scanty inheritance. We have engrossed to ourselves an altogether a disproportionate share of wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seem less reasonable to others than to us" (Churchill [Cabinet Papers 1914] by Clive Ponting, p.132). I look forward to the day when a Crown Apology with a package of suitable reparation will be offered by the British Government.

Durand Appuhamy
Negombo

 

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