100 Days of Terror

The year 1915 marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Kandyan Convention. Protests against British rule were emerging, and Governor Robert Chalmers applied pressure on the Sinhalese community, claiming the riots of 1915, were an ethnic conflict. Martial law enacted on 2 June 1915 authorised the police and army to shoot anyone involved in rioting without trial or showing cause.The murder of Captain Edward Henry Pedris was a decisive milestone in the riots. A soldier of the Colombo Town Guard, he was the first Sinhalese to join it. On suspicion of being an active member of the Temperance Movement, he was arrested and brought before a court-martial and sentenced to death on 7 July 1915. His death was a turning point in Sri Lanka’s independence movement.

Sinhala leaders like D.S. Senanayake, F.R. Senanayake, John de Silva, Edwin Wijeratne, T.E. de Silva, F.H. Dias Bandaranaike, H. Amarasuriya, and A.H.E. Molamure, were imprisoned by the British during this suppression.Nicknamed the 'Lion of Kotte', E.W. Perera went to Britain hiding a petition in his shoe to complain to the British government against the repression. Ponnambalam Ramanathan, and D.B. Jayatilaka, and others were among the leaders who complained. Their efforts led to the recall of Governor Chalmers to Britain, ending the Hundred Days of Terror.

LK-NA/65/229. Secret police report on temperance movement, 07 August 1915

Young Lanka League, Commemoration of Henry Pedris, 04 June 1922.

The Searchlight, Jan-Dec 1936

Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

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