Chronology 3

1.Chronology of the Conflict, 1505 to 2000 – Alex Bilodeau
2.Chronology of Events in Eelam, 1505 to 1948 -Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam BBC Timeline of Sri Lankan Conflict
3.Timeline of Ethnic Conflict – Sinhala Controlled Sri Lanka International Centre for Ethnic Studies


the following is from the International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES), Sri Lanka

 Ethnic Conflict of Sri Lanka: Time Line – From Independence to 1999
1948-1951,  1952-1955,  1956-1960,  1961-1970,  1971-1980,  1981-1990,  1991-1999

  • British Crown colony established over low-country Sinhalese and Tamil areas (1802)
  • Sinhalese Kandyan kingdom secedes to British (1815)
  • British unify low-country Sinhalese, Tamil areas with the Kandyan area and establish Government of Ceylon. Legislative Council established (1833)
  • Sinhalese-Muslim riots (1915)
  • Ceylon National Congress formed (1919)
  • Donoughmore Constitutional Commission introduced. State Council elected by universal suffrage. Board of   Ministers formed.(1931)
  • Soulbury Constitutional Commission.(1944-45)
  • Select committee of State Council on Sinhala and Tamil as official languages appointed.(1945)
  • Independence bill passed in parliament. Inaugural meeting of the first parliament.(1947)
  • Agreement signed between Colombo and  London granting Sri Lanka full independence.(1947)
  • First parliamentary elections.(1947)


  • Sri Lanka gains independence, ending 152 years of British rule.(4 Feb. 1948)
  • D S Senanayake government enacts two bills (Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18, 1948) to deprive the Indian plantation workers of  their citizenship rights making 705,000 Indian plantation workers stateless.(Nov 15,1948)
  • G G Ponnambalam (leader of the Tamil Congress (TC)) asks for a 50-50 representation before the Soulbury Commission. He votes against the first [citizenship] bill but votes for the second after getting a portfolio.?
  • The Tamil Congress splits over the citizenship bill. S J V Chelvanayakam forms the Federal Party(Ilankai Tamil Arisu Kachchi) (Dec 18, 1948)
  • An act of parliament to establish the Sri Lanka Army passed.(Oct. 10 1949)
  • The National Flag formally adopted (Feb. 13 1950)
  • The National Anthem formally adopted. (Nov. 22 1951)
  • S W R D Bandaranaike (leader of the Sinhala Maha Sabha) leaves the UNP government and joins the opposition.
  • Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) founded. (Sept. 2 1951)
  • National Anthem formally adopted. (Nov. 22 1951)


  • Prime Minister D S Senanayake dies in a horse riding accident. (22 March 1952)
  • Lord Soulbury invites the late Prime Minister’s son Dudley Senanayake to become the next Prime Minister. Dudley Senanayake appointed prime minister. (March 26 1952) 
  • First parliament dissolved.(April 8 1952)
  • Second parliamentary elections.(May 24 1952)
  • Settlement of colonists in Gal Oya Scheme commences (Feb 3 1953)
  • General strike (hartal) organized by the left parties and trade unions; curfew imposed.(12 Aug.1953) 
  • Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake resigns, Sir John Kotelawala succeeds Senanayake.(Oct 12 1953)
  • Kotelawala-Nehru agreement on Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka. (Jan. 18 1954)
  • Sinhala and Tamil made the medium of instruction in secondary schools starting 1957 (Jan. 6 1955)


  • Mahajana Eksath Peramuna led by the SLFP is formed. (22 Feb 1956)
  • General election returns MEP coalition and S W R D Bandaranaike becomes the Prime Minister. (5,7 and 10 April 1956)
  • The “Sinhala only” bill is passed (15th June 1956) and the Federal Party conducts a Gandhian style protest (also known as “Sathyagraha”) in the open air space by the beach known as the Gall Face Green, opposite the former Parliament building.(5 June 1956)
  • The Department of Official Languages established (16 August 1956)
  • Decision to teach in Sinhala, Tamil and English media in the University of Ceylon from 1960 announced. (14 Jan. 1957)
  • Prime Minister Bandaranaike holds talks with the leaders of  the Federal Party which resulted in signing of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact (25 July 1957).
  • J R Jayewardene, organizes a march from Colombo to Kandy against the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact (3 October 1957)
  • The Federal Party initiates the “Anti-Sri” campaign.(19 January 1957)
  • Bandaranaike tears the pact amid demands and threats by a faction of Buddhist monks (“Eksath Bhikkhu Peramua”) and Sinhalese chauvinists.(Jan 1958)
  • Campaign of obliterating Tamil name boards commenced. (April 1 1958)
  • Anti-Tamil riots in May 27 1958. Emergency declared. Detaining of Federal Party MPs.(27 May, 1958)
  • Tamil language ( Special Provisions ) Act passed.(14 August 1958)
  • Bandaranaike assassinated.  Ven. Buddharakkhita who was the founder of the “Eksath Bhikku Peramuna” is accused of  leading the conspiracy. A woman parliamentarian, Minister of Health, Wimala Wijewardene is also accused of involvement in the conspiracy. (25 September 1959).
  • Switch-over of administration to “Sinhala Only”.  
  • Fourth parliamentary elections; the UNP obtains 50 seats as against 46 won by the SLFP. (19 March 1960) Dudley Senanayake forms “minority government” and becomes prime minister of a UNP government. (21 March 1960)  But in April this govt. is defeated in parliament (22 April 1960)and parliament dissolved.(26 April  1960)
  • General elections held for the fifth parliament. SLFP secures 75 seats and Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes world’s first woman prime minister. (20 July 1960)


  • Nationalisation of Schools (14 Jan 1961)
  • Federal Party ‘Sathyagraha’ in North and the East. And FP inaugurated Tamil Arasu (Government) Postal Service in Jaffna.(14 April 1961)
  • Military occupation of  Tamil areas for two years. Federal Party MPs arrested and detained for six months.(18 April 1961)
  • Coup de’ etat attempt by armed forces against the government. (27 Jan.1962)
  • Sinhala made the official language of Sri Lanka. (01 January 1963)
  • Population Census. (5 July 1963)
  • Sirima-Shastri Pact signed (30 October 1964)
  • SLFP, LSSP coalition defeated by 74 votes to 73 in parliament fifth parliament dissolved. (17 December 1964)
  • Sixth general elections – The United National Party (UNP) gains 66 seats, led by Dudley Senanayake for a coalition government comprising UNP, Federal Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Socialist Party, Tamil Congress, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and Lanka Prajathanthravadhi Pakshaya.
  • Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact. (1965)
  • Regulation for “Reasonable use of  Tamil” (Tamil Language (Special) Provisions Act. SLFP-LSSP-CP led street demonstrations against the regulation.(8 Jan 1966)
  • District Councils bill presented to the parliament. (26 June 1968)
  • Sixth parliament dissolved. (25 March 1970)
  • Seventh parliamentary elections returns SLFP-LSSP-CP United Front coalition to power with Mrs. Bandaranaike as Prime Minister.(27 May 1970)


  • An insurrection by a radical, leftist  youth group calling themselves “Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna” (JVP), led by Rohana Wijeweera begins. (4 April 1971)
  • The trial of accused in the April insurrection begins. (12 June 1971)
  • Rohana Wijeweera, the JVP leader, sentenced to 20 years in prison. (12 Dec. 1971)
  • Tamil United Front (TUF) formed. (May 1972)
  • The first Republican Constitution promulgated and Sri Lanka declared a republic; the name of the country officially changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.(22 May 1972)
  • Language of the Courts (Special Provision) bill passed in parliament. (23 March 1973)
  • At the International Tamil Research Conference 7 people were dead by electrocution. (January 1974)
  • “Sirima-Gandhi Pact”.(28 June 1974)
  • Assassination of Jaffna mayor Duriappah by Velupillai Prabhakaran (the present leader of  LTTE) (27 July 1975)
  • Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) is formed with pledge to establish a separate Tamil State (15 May 1976)
  • Chelvanayakam calls for a separate Tamil state.(19 November 1976)
  • General elections1977  returns UNP (led by J R Jayewardene) to power.(23 June 1977)
  • Anti-Tamil riots (August 1977)
  • The Second Republican Constitution promulgated. (7 September 1978)
  • Adopting the new Constitution for the Democratic Socialist Republic of  Sri Lanka.  Presidential System of Government with J R Jayewardene as the first Executive President. (4 February 1978)
  • A law enacted proscribing the Liberation Tigers of  Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other similar organisations. (19 May 1978)
  • Prevention of  Terrorism Act enacted.(12 July 1979)
  • TULF ends its boycott of parliament. (4 Sept. 1979)
  • Former Prime Minister Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike deprived of her civic rights and expelled from parliament. (16 October 1980)
  • Mrs Ranaganayaky Pathmanathan takes oaths as the first Tamil woman MP since independence (26 November 1980)


  • Population Census (17 March 1981)
  • Curfew in Jaffna (2 June 1981)
  • Emergency imposed  (4 June 1981)
  • District Development Council election disrupted in Jaffna. Burning down of   Jaffna Public Library. (4 June 1981)
  • Emergency lifted (9 June 1981)
  • State of emergency declared (17 August 1981)
  • Emergency declared and a curfew imposed in Galle; Sinhala-Muslim communal clashes in Galle (30 July 1982)
  • Curfew in Galle lifted (4 August 1982)
  • Presidential election (20 October 1982)
  • Curfew imposed in the Jaffna district (28 October 1982)
  • A Referendum is held to extend the term of  eighth parliament till 1989. (22 Dec1982)
  • The UNP wins 14 of the 17 parliamentary by-elections (19 May 1983)
  • The fifth amendment to the constitution (24 May 1983)
  • 13 soldiers including an officer killed in a LTTE ambush. (23 July 1983)
  • Anti-Tamil rioting breaks out in several parts of Colombo and curfew imposed in the city (25 July 1983)
  • Racial riots throughout the island.  All-island curfew imposed About 70,000 Tamils flee to India.(26 July 1983).
  • Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Nava Sama Samaja Party, and the Communist Party proscribed (30 July 1983)
  • The sixth amendment to the constitution making espousal , promotion, financing, encouraging or advocacy of the establishment of a separate state in Sri Lanka illegal, passed in parliament. (4 Aug 1983)
  • The new district of Kilinochchi constituted. (11 Aug. 1983)
  • Talks begin in Colombo to end the ethnic conflict. (21 Dec 1983)
  • Gopalanswami Parthasarathi, the special emissary of the Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Ghandhi, arrives in Colombo for talks on the ethnic conflict. (3 Jan 1984)
  • All-Party Conference on devolution of powers. (10 January 1984)
  • Ministry of National Security established (24 March 1984)
  • Terrorist bombs explode in Colombo (22 October 1984)
  • Government abandons the proposals of the All-Party Conference on ethnic peace. (26 Dec 1984)
  • LTTE, EROS, EPRLF and TELO together form the Elam National Liberation Front (ENLF). (April 1985)
  • The Anuradhapura massacre, the first attack on Sinhalese civilians by Tamil militants. About 250 men, women and children are gunned down at the central bus stand at the Anuradhapura town. (May 1985)
  • Thimpu talks between Tamil parties and the Jayewardene Government initiated by the Indian Government.(5 July 1985)
  • The government lifts the eight-month-long night curfew in the Northern Province (10 July 1985)
  • The second round of  ethnic peace talks in Thimpu. (9 Aug 1985)
  • Failure of Thimpu talks: Tamil militants withdraw  from the discussion (17 August 1985)
  • Two former TULF MPs, V Dharmalingam and A Alalasundaram murdered (2 September 1985)
  • The Jayewardene government rejects proposals by TULF on the basis that they are Federalist.
  • President J R Jayewardene restores the civic rights of Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, former prime minster and Mr Felix Dias Bandaranaike, former Cabinet minister (posthumously) (1 January 1986)
  • A bomb explosion in an Air Lanka plane bound for Male at the Katunayake International Airport kills 17 passengers and injures about 24. (3 May 1986)
  • All-Party-Conference to resolve the ethnic crisis begins at the BMICH (25 June 1986)
  • Eastern University of Sri Lanka (EUSL), the country’s eighth university inaugurated (15 November 1986)
  • A summit in Bangalore between Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene (17 & 18 November 1986)
  • Terrorists massacre 128 civilians and injure more than 60 near Kitulottuwa along the Habarana-Trincomalee road (17 April 1987)
  • A bomb explosion kills 113 persons and injures more than 300 in Pettah, Colombo (21 April 1987)
  • Launching of  a military operation at Vadamarachchi to put an end to the dominance established by Prabhakaran in Jaffna after the black (26 May 1987)
  • India shows its protest against the Vadamarachchi operation by sending a flotilla of  “humanitarian aid” to Jaffna. When these boats (Indian fishing vessels) were turned back by the Sri Lankan navy, the Indian Air Force dropped food and medical supplies in Jaffna the following day violating the Sri Lankan air space. (3 June 1987)
  • A 72 hour islandwide curfew imposed (27 July 1987)
  • The signing of Indo-Lanka peace accord (27 July 1987)
  • Arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) (late July 30th – early August 1987) (30 July 1987)
  • The 13th amendment to the constitution debated in Parliament. This amendment among other things made provisions for the establishment of a system of Provincial Councils. Amendment was certified on 14th November 1987. (14 November 1987)
  • The first ever Provincial Council election takes place for the North Central, Sabaragamuwa, North Western and Uva Provincial Councils (28 April 1988)
  • President Jayewardene officially authorises the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces within a single North Eastern Province. (7 September 1988)
  • Elections were held for seats in the above Provincial Council.(19 November 1988)
  • 16th Amendment to the Constitution certified. The provisions of the 13th amendment dealing with language, were clarified and consolidated by the 16th amendment.(17 December 1988)
  • R Premadasa of the UNP wins the presidential election (19 December 1988)
  • The ninth parliamentary election held for the first time under a proportional representation scheme (15 February 1989)
  • Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader A Amirthalingam and former TULF MP Yogeswaran assassinated by LTTE gunmen (13 July 1989)
  • An All-Party Conference held in Colombo to find a solution to the prevailing unrest in the country (13 September 1989)
  • Sri Lanka and India sign an agreement in Colombo providing for the withdrawal of the IPKF from the North and East by December 31 and the suspension of offensive military operations against the LTTE from the 20th onward (18 September 1989)
  • International Committee Red Cross arrives in Sri Lanka.  Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) begins its withdrawal from Ampara.  The Tamil National Army and the Sri Lankan Army move into the areas vacated by the IPKF (October 1989)
  • The LTTE takes over areas vacated by the IPKF in the North and East (January 1990)
  • President R Premadasa holds talks with the LTTE (February 1990)
  • EPRLF declares an “Independent Eleam” and renamed the provincial council as a Tamil National Assembly on 1st of  March 1990.
  • President R Premadasa imposes direct control on Northeast Provincial Councils (March, 1990)
  • Justice Minister Hameed and the LTTE leader Prabhakaran hold talks (12 May 1990)
  • LTTE attacks two Muslim mosques killing 290 people (August 1990)
  • LTTE evicts Muslims from the North (October 1990)


  • Defense Minister Ranjan Wijeratna assassinated. (2 March 1991)
  • IPKF withdrawal completed (24 March 1991)
  • The UNP wins local government elections (11 May 1991)
  • Fighting breaks out between government troops and the LTTE in what is dubbed as Eelam War II (June 1991)
  • A group of senior Army officers including General Denzil Kobbekaduwa die in a land mine explosion. (8 August 1992)
  • Former Defense Minister Lalith Athulathmudali assassinated (23 April 1993)
  • A bomb explosion in a street in Colombo kills President R Premadasa who was taking part in his party’s May day rally. (1 May 1993)
  • Provincial Council elections (17 March 1993)
  • Two peace delegations, one led by the Anglican Bishop of Colombo Rev. Kenneth Fernando and the other led by the Sarvodaya Leader A T Ariayaratne, visit Jaffna (5 February 1994)
  • General elections for the tenth parliament; the People’s Alliance wins a plurality, beating the UNP (16 August 1994)
  • A delegation of  influential officials including the Secretary to the President leaves for Jaffna to initiate negotiations for a peaceful settlement.(13 October 1994)
  • Gamini Dissanayake, a former minister in the UNP government, and a presidential election candidate is killed along with several other senior members of the party by a suspected LTTE suicide bomber in a manner identical to the killing of Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu in 1991 (24 October 1994)
  • Chandrika Kumaranatunga Bandaranaike becomes the fourth Executive President of Sri Lanka.(10 November 1994)
  • Second round of talks between the Government and LTTE. (3 January 1995)
  • Cessation of  hostilities between the Government and the LTTE (7 January 1995)
  • Third round of talks between the Government and LTTE. (14 January 1995)
  • Fourth round of Government-LTTE talks (10 April 1995)
  •  LTTE attacks government naval installation, resumption of   hostilities (19 April 1995)
  • Government Security forces commence operation “Leap Forward” (9 July 1995)
  • Government officially announces its Peace Package (3 August1995)
  • Government security forces in the north commence operation “Riviresa” (17October 1995)
  • LTTE attacks Colombo oil installation facilities (20 October 1995)
  • Operation “Riviresa” military campaign concluded with the taking of Jaffna from the LTTE (5 December 1995)
  • A suicide bomb explosion by the LTTE at the Central Bank in Colombo kills more than 100 civilians and wounds 1,300 others. (31 January 1996)
  • Two bombs explode in a Colombo commuter train killing more than 60 people (14July 1996)
  • Nearly 1,400 soldiers killed in an LTTE attack on the Mulativu military camp (18 July 1996)
  • India bans the LTTE (1 August1996)
  • A lorry packed with explosives is exploded at the outer gates of  the Dalada Maligawa, a 400 years old Buddhist shrine in the city of  Kandy, as it was preparing for the 50th independence celebrations (25 January 1998)
  • Sarojini Yogeshwaran, the first woman mayor of  Jaffna was gunned down by LTTE gunmen (17 May 1998)
  • A bomb blast at the Municipal council kills P Sivapalan, who took over after the death of  Mrs Yogeshwaran. Some of  Jaffna top military brass were killed along with him. (11 September 1998)
  • Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, a constitutional lawyer, a human rights advocate and a parliamentary member of   TULF (a moderate Tamil party) is assassinated by a LTTE suicide bomber in Colombo (29 July 1999)
  •  President Chandrika Kumaratunga temporarily rules out the possibility of peace talks with the LTTE. (18 October 1999)
  • President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga narrowly escapes with injuries an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Colombo. (18December 1999)

Source:  International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES), Sri Lanka and

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