Celebrating 72 years of Independence
Unlike our immediate neighbour India, Sri Lanka’s transition into an independent nation was calm and smooth.
The first to agitate for independence and self-rule were not representatives of the majority Sinhala community, but Jaffna’s Tamil Youth. Originally known as the Jaffna Students’ Congress, and renamed the Jaffna Youth Congress, the movement was secular and committed to achieving self-rule, eradication of inequalities and national unity. Later, they were joined by Youth Leagues from the South.
During this time, an ex-serviceman Aelian Perera began the sale of Surya Mal, using the proceeds to assist Sri Lankan ex-servicemen. He was protesting against the use of the proceeds from the sale of Poppy flowers to support British ex-serviceman. As his protest action gathered momentum, a British teacher, Doreen Young Wickremesinghe was elected the first president of the Surya Mal Movement.
The first party to demand independence from the British was the Lanka Sama Samaja party. Many Sri Lankans, then known as Ceylonese, played an active role in agitating for independence, and they were drawn from all ethnicities and religions as well as backgrounds.
The country won her independence on February 4, 1948.