Resonance of the Massacre 1818-2018: Art Exhibition depicting Colonial Crimes of Portuguese, Dutch & British
By Shenali D Waduge
History cannot be kept hostage by lies or kept hidden because it exposes the perpetrators many whom project themselves as human rights angels expecting us to forgive and forget the crimes they committed as policy during 500 years of colonial rule. To depict the suffering inflicted by these foreign invaders upon our people 20 canvas paintings will be on public display at the Sri Sambuddhatva Jayanthi Hall from November 25-27th 2017 from 0900a.m. to 0730p.m. All parents & children are specially requested to attend and view the paintings that are accompanied by a historical summary to prove authenticity of the events that occurred.
When foreigners landed, inspired by their rulers entitling them to declare all non-Christian lands as Christian and engage in commerce and conversion of inhabitants of every country they stepped ashore in, our island became one of the many victims of colonial rule. Our people never expected the white coloured men in unusual clothes to be cruel with murderous intent. The friendly smiles of welcome were returned with fire & fury until they took possession of the entire island and began dividing the people to their advantage and taught our people to be at loggerheads with each other, planting evil thoughts and evil motives. We are yet to recover from the seeds of hate and anger that colonial rulers planted to facilitate their rule. These problems have become unsolvable as these very colonial countries deem it their right to again interfere into our internal affairs in more sophisticated methods than what was adopted during colonial rule.
The art exhibition encapsulates some of the most horrific incidents by these 3 invading foreign occupiers. Accepting the white man’s word and the assurances given proved how naïve the natives were and the first attempt of the natives to win back their country from foreign rule was in 1817-1818. The struggle to regain the nation that was betrayed to the British in 1815 began in 1816 itself after realizing that the British had not honored the promises pledged in the Kandyan Convention. The response by the British was gruesome. Led by Governor Robert Brownrigg and applying the ‘Scorched Earth Policy’ orders were given to not even spare babies or nursing mothers. The specific orders were to destroy livelihood, homes, cattle & set fire to everything and kill anything moving. It is believed that some 10,000 Sinhalese were brutally murdered. The murders earned Brownrigg the name ‘Butcher of Uva-Wellassa’. The entire country-side became a lake of blood and no one was left to mourn or even count the dead.
In 2018 it will be 200 years since that brutal genocide one of many others that have gone unaccounted because the perpetrators are the one’s who have drafted present international laws making themselves immune from accountability hiding behind laws that they created for their own advantage. The injustices that Sinhalese suffered have thus gone ignored, unnoticed and unaccounted. But the very nations that are guilty of genocide as a policy today proudly preach accountability and justice. Do they have a moral right to do so? We think not. Yet how many of us know of these facts? When a country’s history is being removed from school syllabus it is denying the future generation the right to know the history of their birth nation. Simply because the bloodied past is an embarrassment to those that committed the act and to those that worship the perpetrators, it should not deny the facts from being known by all.
Resonance of the Massacre 1818-2018” is an art exhibition that will depict in 20 canvass paintings the cries of thousands of majority Sinhalese, native Tamils & Muslims who were assassinated brutally during colonial rule. The sorrow is something that all citizens shared.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words and the art exhibition organized by Sinhala Sangedama (Sinhalese Struggle) has attempted to do what no organization has by bringing to picture form the brutal acts of the 3 colonial rulers.
It is to commemorate how the colonial rulers ruled over local gluttonous Sinhala chiefs, and how Tamil & Muslim minorities exploited to weaken ancient Sinhale nation (present Sri Lanka). We must never forget that we are still trapped in the conspiratorial political reticulations of colonial jurisdiction instead of fighting against or among us, ignoring the rea foe” says Dr. Chamila Liyanage, convenor of the Sinhala Sangedama and chief organizer of the exhibition.
The paintings will be accompanied by a historical summary citing sources to confirm authenticity.
What is poignant about the exhibition is that it is coming at a time when the very perpetrators are screaming accountability for crimes in Geneva & among diplomatic circles. Why are the crimes of these colonial rulers never investigated and asked to compensate for the war crimes, plunder and genocide?
The exhibition is open to the public from 25th, 26th & 27th November, 2017 at the Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandira (Level 3) from 0900a.m. to 0730p.m. Entrance Free. The organizers are planning to take the exhibition to other parts of the island too.
The organizers will be inviting Members of the Government, Opposition, Diplomatic Community, UN & associate bodies, Schools & Universities, researchers & media too.
Parents are asked to accompany their children and view the exhibition and read the background of each painting to realize what our ancestors had gone through under colonial rule for over 440 years.