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On this day July 21, 1960

Sirimavo Bandaranaike is elected prime minister of Sri Lanka and becomes the first woman in the world to held this position.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike (April 17, 1916 – October 10, 2000) was a Sri Lankan politician and she served as Prime Minister of Ceylon and Sri Lanka three times, from 1960 to 1965, 1970 to 1977 and 1994 to 2000 and was long time leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

On her husband Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike’s assassination, Bandaranaike took over the leadership of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party kept it for forty years until her death, became a Senator and lead her party to an election victory in 1956. Read More…

On this day June 11, 1956

The six-day Gal Oya riots, the first ethnic riots that targeted the minority Sri Lankan Tamils in post-independent Sri Lanka, began, eventually resulting in the deaths of at least 150 people and 100 injuries.

The riots started on June 11, 1956 and continued over the next five days. Local majority Sinhalese colonists and employees of the Gal Oya settlement board commandeered government vehicles, dynamite and weapons and massacred minority Tamils by the hundreds. It is estimated that over 150 people lost their lives due in the violence. Although initially inactive, the police and army were eventually able to regain control of the situation. Read More…

Tamils demand for independent homeland

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the chief political party of the ethnic Tamil group in Sri Lanka, has said in its manifesto for upcoming elections that it would accept a “federal structure” for the country.

Since its formation in 2001, the TNA had previously aimed for full independence for Tamil regions. The party also stated it would encourage non-violent civil disobedience in support of Tamil rights.

Sri Lanka’s civil war has killed up to 100,000 people, after the Tamil Tiger rebel group began its armed struggle in 1983. The TNA had widely been viewed as a political wing to the Tigers.

In 2009 the Sri Lankan government launched a major military assault against Tiger militants in the north of the country, which displaced around 280,000 people and provoked international controversy. However it succeeded in defeating the rebels, and led to the re-election of president Mahinda Rajapaksa this year. Read More…

Voting ends in Sri Lanka polls

Ballots are being counted in Sri Lanka, after a presidential election was held there, the first after the Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated during a 25-year-long civil war.

The incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is expected to be in a close race against former army chief, General Sarath Fonseka; both candidates say they expect to win. There are twenty other candidates on the ballot, but none of them are expected to win.

Polls closed at 16.00 local time, or 10.30 GMT on Tuesday. There were claims of voter intimidation and sporadic acts of violence, and the BBC reports that there were some small bomb blasts. Read More…

On this day December 26, 2004

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake creates a tsunami causing devastation in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Maldives and many other areas around the rim of the Indian Ocean.


Animation of the tsunami waves 1,600 km

The earthquake was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

It is known by the scientific community as the Great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, and the following tsunami is known as the Asian Tsunami or the Boxing Day Tsunami.

The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunami along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing more than 225,000 people in eleven countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 feet) high. Read More…

On this day August 4, 2006

A massacre of NGO workers, is carried out by Sri Lankan government forces, killing 17 employees of the French INGO Action Against Hunger (known internationally as Action Contre la Faim, or ACF) in the city of Muttur, close to Trincomalee..

The victims included sixteen minority Sri Lankan Tamils and one Sri Lankan Muslim. When the bodies were discovered the town of Muttur had come under the control of the government forces. There was fierce fighting between government forces and rebel LTTE forces the previous week prior to the discovery of the bodies.

The Sri Lankan government denied responsibility but the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission suspect that the Sri Lankan Army was responsible for the killings. Read More…

Indiscriminate artillery attacks in Sri Lanka

Artillery shelling by the Sri Lanka Army kills at least 378 civilians and injures over 1,000 others in the safe zone in Sri Lanka.

On May 8, 2009, a group of independent United Nations experts called on the Human Rights Council to urgently set up an international inquiry to address the “critical” situation in Sri Lanka amid fighting between the Army and Tamil rebels.LTTE_soldiers_in_Killinochi

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 196,000 people fled the conflict zone, a shrinking pocket of land on the north-east coastline, where clashes continue between Government troops and the LTTE, while at least 50,000 people are still trapped there.

According to a government health official, at least 378 civilians were killed and another 1,122 hurt during heavy and lengthy shelling overnight on May 9, 2009. The official stated that the shelling came from territory controlled by the Sri Lankan Army. The Sri Lankan military denied shelling the ‘no-fire zone’. Read More…