Posted by: lrrp | July 22, 2004

Sri Lanka’s Colonial Past: A committee appointed to look into Portuguese era

A special committee has been appointed to look into the colonial rule of the Portuguese era in Sri Lanka, from the year 1505 until the fall of Mannar and Jaffna in 1658 .

Vijitha Herath – Minister of Culture and National Heritage, said that the main objective of the committee is to present a report to the Sri Lankan Government on the effects on the indigenous culture and national heritage as result of the Portuguese rule based on their ideals of conquest, conversion and commercial; activities during this colonial rule.

In 1505 – Don Lourenco de Almeida, the son of the Portuguese viceroy in India was caught in a storm while passing by the Maldives Island and was tossed to the Southern coast of Sri Lanka unawares and put into the harbor of Galle.

That incident was said to be the arrival of the Portuguese to Ceylon and was subsequently replaced by the Dutch colonialist.

Jaffna and Mannar was the last maritime regions held by the Portuguese to fall in the year 1658. It is learnt that Portuguese Government indicated its desire to the former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe to celebrate marking the 500 years of the arrival of Portuguese to Ceylon – Sri Lanka in 1505 in a grand scale.

Recently a Portuguese delegation was in Colombo to discus about their proposal to concelebrate in 2005 the Portuguese arrival 500 years ago in 1505.

The delegation met Minister Vijitha Herath but reports revealed that the Minister was not in favor of celebrating the colonial past of the country.

The Minister appointed a committee to look into the colonial rule when the maritime region of the country was under the Portuguese suzerainty.
The committee consisted of Dr. Susantha Gunathilaka is the Chairman of the committee. Other members are the professionals in the filed of archeology, Professor K.D. Paranavithana, Olcott Gunasekara, Dr. K.D.G. Wimalarathne, Professor M.U.D. Silva, Dr. Lorna Devaraja and Dr. M.A.M. Sukri. .

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