When British capitalists in their land-grabbing career appropriated India they also very benevolently incorporated into “our” great and glorious Empire the island of Ceylon, which lies off the coast of that country. We shall now proceed to discuss the tremendous advantages accruing to the native population through the contaminating influence of their oppressors (the single-souled and passionate supporters of the rights of small nationalities).

In “The Humanitarian” for Jan. 1917 an article appears on the Ceylon labour system, and I recommend its perusal to the “props of England’s pride” and the believers in the sincerity of the late utterances of our British masters and their satelites.

The article quotes from a speech by Sir P. Arunachalam (a respectable enough name, surely !) president of the Ceylon Service Leagues, whose speech was reported in the “Indian Emigrant” of July last. I make the following extracts for the Socialist munition chest:

“It will be a surprise to them (friends in England) that in this, the premier crown colony of the Empire, after over a hundred years of British rule, there is a labour system which in some of its aspects is little better than an organised slavery, though it lurks under the name of “free labour,” and that breaches of civil contracts are punishable and are daily punished with imprisonment with hard labour. They will be still more surprised and shocked to learn that under this system even women and children are sent to jail with hard labour. I hold in my hand an advertisement which appeared in a daily paper a few days ago, which recalls the slavery days in the Southern States of America. It offers a reward of Rs. 50 and expenses paid to any person who arrests half a dozen bolted coolies from an estate in Matele. Among them is a woman who is described as “sickly, with a baby in arms, and a boy 8 years, and a girl 3 years.” . . , On the 18th May last, and again on the 9th June, the Social Service League of Ceylon addressed the Government on behalf of coolie women and children imprisoned for labour offences, and begged for remission of the unexpired portion of the sentences on these women, two of whom were sentenced to a month’s rigorous imprisonment each, by the Police Magistrate of Badulla, on a charge of insolence, and the third by the Police Magistrate of Kandy to a like sentence for quitting service without notice, she being ordered to go back to the estate on the expiration of her sentence.
“It was pointed out to the Government that these unfortunate women were compelled to herd with prostitutes and other bad characters in jails. . . . The appeal of the League was in vain.”

In view of the above conditions who will wonder that disorders arose there between 29th May and 15th June 1915, in which “over a hundred. persons were killed by rioters or by soldiers”? The “Manchester Guardian” of Oct. 26th last gives a resume of the the causes that led up to the riotings, and the barbarous way in which the authorities dealt with the situation, from which the following information is taken :

“The Hambaya Mohammedans in Ceylon, against whom the chief fury of the riots was directed, are emigrants from South India, They do not settle on the island, but, after a term of successful trade, return to India with their savings. They are viewed by the Cingalese with the distrust that is so often provoked in an agricultural people by a clever commercial race who, they think, are exploiting them, and the rise in the price of food stuffs due to the war has, quite unreasonably, increased this distrust.”

The Kandyans (the native population) are Buddists, and the British treaty of 1815 (another scrap of paper !) promised to “protect and maintain the rites, ministers and places of worship” of the Buddists. In spite of this the “immemorial processional rites” of the Kandyans were continually interfered with to the advantage of the Mohammedans. On the 28th May 1915 a procession on the occasion of the birthday of Buddha was interfered with, and those taking part in it were jeered at by the Mohammedans ; the riots then commenced.

“The events which followed are an almost incredible record of panic, mismanagement, and injustice. Under martial law, which lasted three months, though the riots were quelled in a fortnight, several people whose innocence was afterwards established, were thrown into prison, flogged, or even shot without trial ; persons charged on suspicion were forced to purchase immunity from trial for cask down ; the country was scoured by “special commissioners” in motor-cars with powers to “shoot at sight” anyone refusing them information, and to extort alike from the innocent and the guilty compensation for the damage done under threat of a forced levy. These facts and others of the kind, some of which are revealed in the Governor’s despatches and others in the sworn affidavits of prominent citizens, European and native, make it clear that a far graver danger to Ceylon and to the traditions of British rule (sic) lay in the means taken to deal with the riots than in the riots themselves.”

The “Manchester Guardian” summed up the penalties as follows :

“Martial law was proclaimed on June 2nd and was not revoked till August 30th. Three hundred and fifty eight prisoners were convicted by courts-martial, 34 executed, and the remainder sentenced to terms of imprisonment varying from two years, to life. In addition nearly a thousand were sentenced by civil courts to terms of less than two years. Finally compensation for the damage done is being levied on all villages which cannot prove conclusively that they had no part in the riots. It takes the form of a “voluntary” contribution made under threat of a forced levy extracted by troops, and in guarantee of its payment the property owners in each village have to pledge their land and goods entirely to the Government. Such is the recent history of a singularly peaceable people whose loyalty is not in question.”

What think you of these barbarities, fellow-workers ? If Louvain was the work of Huns surely the above was the work of super-Huns, who evidently go in for, not merely plain Kultur, but intensive Kultur. While these events were actually happening the government responsible was slobbering over the destruction of small nationalities ! Can any government on earth, surpass, for duplicity, hypocracy, lying deceit, and ruthless repression the premier capitalist government of the present, day that of Great Britain ?

One paragraph in the report is illuminating and suggestive, leading to the idea that there was more underlying the ruthlessness of the repression than meets the eye :

“Nationalist aspirations in Ceylon are expressed through a society for “closer race unity,” which incidentally carries on a temperance campaign against a liquor traffic with which THE GOVERNMENT IS IDENTIFIED.”



Owing to the contributor of the above articles importing under the heading “India” a reference to the Denshawai outrage without stating that Denshawai is in Egypt, communications have reached us that Denshawai is still where it was. Statement accepted with thanks.—Ed. Com.

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