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A Sri Lankan forensic archaeologist says a mass grave discovered in November is roughly 25 years old.
His conclusions have strengthened arguments that the 150 bodies are those of leftist insurgents who launched a failed revolution in the late 1980s.
Early accounts given by officials when the grave was first unearthed suggested the deaths might not have been political in nature.
But the leftist JVP is calling for a full investigation of what happened.
The JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, is the political party which spawned the insurgents.
Archaeologist Raj Somadeva is one of several experts investigating the grave in the central town of Matale. He told the BBC that he believed that the skeletons dated to between 1986 and 1990.
Magistrate Chathurika de Silva told a Matale court that a parallel investigation by a judicial medical officer reached the same conclusion on the dates, according to the Associated Press.
It was during construction work on the Matale district hospital that the first sets of human remains were unearthed.
As the weeks went by more skeletons were found, buried in neat rows stacked on top of each other.
Other investigations including a geological one are still under way.
In December the medical specialist involved in the excavation told the BBC it appeared to be the site of a “crime” as it was not a regular place of burial.
This contradicted other assertions that those buried might have been smallpox victims or people killed in a landslide in the 1940s.
Matale was an epicentre of the late 1980s insurgency by a Sinhalese leftist group, the JVP, in which the state matched the guerrillas’ extreme violence with equal bloodshed.
Thousands of prisoners were rounded up and many subsequently “disappeared” - thousands of others were burnt to death or decapitated.
The insurgency was separate from the Tamil separatist one then under way in the north and east, although the politics were linked in part because of the JVP’s strident opposition to minority separatism or autonomy.
An MP in the JVP’s now tiny parliamentary party, Anura Dissanayake, told the AFP news agency the dating of the grave showed that the victims were killed during its uprising.
“We want this thoroughly probed and [the] perpetrators brought to justice,” he said.
India’s Tamil Nadu state has said it will not host Indian Premier League games with Sri Lankan players, amid anger over Colombo’s rights record.
Chief Minister Jayalalitha announced the decision in a letter to the PM. The Indian Premier League said teams taking part were being told of the move.
Players from around the world compete in the world’s richest cricket league.
Thirteen Sri Lankans are signed up to play in the nine-team Twenty20 tournament, which begins on 3 April.
They include Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Tilakratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis.
Ten Indian Premier League (IPL) games are scheduled to be played in Chennai (Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu. Chennai Super Kings, one of the top franchises, has two Sri Lankans.
Last week the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution highly critical of Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The government in Colombo rejects allegations of abuses.
Sri Lanka’s army defeated separatist Tamil rebels after a brutal 26-year war in 2009, but it is the final phase of that war which has come under most scrutiny by rights activists.
Potential for aggravation
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms Jayalalitha said people in Tamil Nadu had been angered by “barbaric acts” against Sri Lankan Tamils.
Her government therefore felt that “IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu”.
Ms Jayalalitha said her government would permit IPL matches to go ahead in Tamil Nadu “only if organisers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches”.
She said that people in Tamil Nadu were disturbed by alleged human rights violations and the systematic killing of people of Tamil ethnicity in Sri Lanka, and that if the Sri Lankans played in the state, it would “aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere”.
In a statement on Tuesday, IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said that the security of all involved in the tournament, “whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance”.
“The [IPL] Governing Council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the Pepsi IPL 2013 League matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly,” it said.
On Monday, Indian cricket board chief N Srinivasan said “every state in India is safe for playing cricket.”
“I cannot predict anything, but these are operational matters,” Mr Srinivasan told the NDTV news channel.
Ajith Jayasekara, chief of Sri Lanka cricket, told the station that players were being kept informed of developments.
Earlier this month, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu withdrew from India’s governing coalition over its failure to condemn alleged atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils.
There have been protests in the state over the treatment of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority.
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) says Sri Lanka is not a multiracial or multi-religious country but a Sinhala Budhist country.
Speaking at the Bodu Bala Sena convention in Panadura this evening, the venerable Medagoda Abayathissa thero urged the Sinhalese to protect the nation and not let other races or religions to take over.
The monk also urged Sinhalese families to have at least 5-6 children so that the Sinhalese Buddhist population grows in order to protect the Sinhala race and Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena, the venerable Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara thera said that the country should be ready to rally against Christian and Muslim extremist groups operating in the country.
He insisted that the Bodu Bala Sena does not have issues with Muslims and Tamils as a whole. However he said that Muslim women should not be allowed to wear the Niqab in Sri Lanka.
The venerable Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara thera also said that all stores should close on Poya Days, including Muslim stores, so that all Buddhist employees working in those organisations can go to the Temple instead of work.
“We have now become the police of this nation. We must help the police arrest people bringing down heroin in Sri Lanka,” he added.
He also said that the Ministry of Defence had given an assurance that the halal issue will be resolved.
However he warned that if the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) goes against its commitments to the Ministry of Defence and the Buddhist clergy then the Bodu Bala Sena will take appropriate action.
The venerable Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara thera also insisted that the Bodu Bala Sena has not done anything wrong to call for their arrest.
He also slammed Sri Lanka’s foreign service, particularly the appointment of a former Muslim Minister as the High Commissioner to Singapore.
The venerable Medagoda Abayathissa thero, meanwhile, discouraged Sinhalese families from watching the movie ‘Sri Sidhartha’ which is currently screening in Colombo and cinemas around the country.
The monk said that the movie gives the wrong impression about Buddhism and so the Bodu Bala Sena will take measures to ban the film.
The venerable Medagoda Abayathissa thero said that Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) were behind the funding of the movie.
Another monk speaking at the convention in Panadura said that a Bodu Bala Sena ringing tone on Mobitel phones, if downloaded, will be used to fund the Bodu Bala Sena organisation.
(After a series of attacks on mosques, wild rumours about animal slaughter and an attempt to outlaw the halal system of classification, the BBC’s Charles Haviland investigates how Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority is being targeted by hardline Buddhists.)
On a January morning a crowd of Buddhist monks storm a law college, yelling, chanting and even hitting one or two seemingly random people and pushing back the police. Furiously they shout that the exam results have been distorted to favour Muslims.
A few weeks later, apparently abetted by the police, monks attack a slaughterhouse in Dematagoda, Colombo, alleging that calves are being slaughtered inside (illegal in the capital) or the meat is improperly stored.
Both are incorrect, but the monks spread rumours that the facility is Muslim-owned as most of the truck drivers are Muslim.
Sri Lankan monks are now taking this so-called “direct action” every few days. It is part of a growing wave of anti-Muslim activities in Sri Lanka carried out by new hardline Buddhist groups – a trend that is making many people anxious, even fearful.
It comes four years after the army in this mainly Sinhalese Buddhist country defeated Tamil separatists.
During Sri Lanka’s bitter civil war war the Muslims – a small Tamil-speaking minority, about 9% of the population – kept a low profile, although many suffered violence.
Muslims are seen as having remained largely loyal to the state during the 26-year conflict. Indeed in 1990 they were expelled en masse from the north of Sri Lanka by Tamil rebels with just a few hours’ notice.
But they now fear that ethnic majority hardliners are trying to target them.
At their recent rallies, the most prominent new hardline group, the Buddhist Strength Force (Bodu Bala Sena, BBS) have used coarse, derogatory language to describe Muslim imams and have told the Sinhalese majority not to rent property to Muslims.
At one meeting attracting thousands, the organisation’s secretary, Gnanasara Thero, told each Buddhist present to become “an unofficial policeman against Muslim extremism” and said “so-called democrats” were destroying the Sinhala race.
Away from the rallies, I visited a temple in the suburb of Dehiwala as the early morning sun hit the majestic bo tree.
The presiding monk, Akmeemana Dayarathana, has founded another ultra-nationalist Buddhist group, Sinhala Echo. He says the Sinhalese have real grievances, that Muslims are trying to convert people, building too many mosques – even having too many children. In fact statistics show that both the Sinhalese and Muslim population percentages have grown slightly over three decades.
He says, without giving any evidence, that Muslims propagated a message that Sinhalese families should be small.
“Then they started to increase their own population,” he says. “This is the only country for the Sinhalese.”
He proceeds to give a unique take on geography and religion.
“Look around the world – Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and others, they were all Buddhist countries – but the Muslims destroyed the culture and then took over the country. We worry they’re planning it here too.”
A few days later his organisation stormed a house where they alleged Christian conversions were taking place and verbally abused the family inside, some of them – according to a local website – physically assaulting a woman.
Since last April, when monks led an attack on a mosque during Friday prayers in the town of Dambulla, there have been regular accounts of mosques being attacked or vandalised, for instance with graffiti or pictures of pigs. There have also been assaults on churches and Christian pastors but it is the Muslims who are the most concerned.
In the south of the country on 18 March, a mob of hundreds including monks surrounded a pastor’s house, set fire to tyres outside and shouted abusively to those inside.
“Muslims are worried all over the country,” Mufti MIM Rizwe tells me. “Everybody is [in] fear.”
He is president of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), the main organisation of Muslim clerics, and meets me at a hotel where imams have come together for emergency discussions on the situation.
He defends the halal system of food classification, which the hardline monks are now trying to outlaw, and strongly denies that the community is fostering extremism as they claim. He rejects their accusation that Muslims have been destroying Buddhist holy sites.
“You can’t show one incident that Muslims have reacted in this way,” he says. “No single statue or any religious worship places have been targeted by Muslims, totally not. Muslims have never done this. We hope we are guiding our Muslims to be calm and respect every religion.”
Days later his organisation appears on a platform with moderate Buddhist monks who have decided to distance themselves from the hardliners. The hardliners are withering in their description of the moderates, calling them “unethical and immoral”.
It has become clear that the BBS has top-level support. At its ceremony to open a new training school, the guest of honour was the powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of the president.
“It is the monks who protect our country, religion and race,” he said in a speech.
“No one should doubt these clergy. We’re here to give you encouragement.”
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was reported to have told a BBS delegation in January not to promote “communal hatred”, but the official communique was issued only in English, not in Sinhala.
It is also apparent that Muslim leaders have shied away from any kind of confrontation with the powerful monks or any supporters they may have in government on this issue, remaining largely conciliatory in their language and actions.
Mood of triumphalism
Civic society activists are concerned. Sanjana Hattotuwa, editor of a citizen media initiative, groundviews.org, showed me some of the anti-Muslim web pages that are fast growing in number.
The main picture on a Sinhala Facebook page called “My Conscience”, with more than 8,000 followers, shows a lion – symbol of the Sinhalese – devouring a wild boar depicted with a crescent and star on its forehead.
Mr Hattotuwa believes the dominant mood in the country is one of triumphalism, four years after the Tamil Tigers were beaten, and that this is encouraging victimisation of a new minority.
“The country is seen today as Sinhala Buddhist,” he says. “Everybody else has a rightful place. If they articulate concerns that question the dominant narrative then they should be put into their place. So the end of the war ironically has given the space for new social fault lines to occur.”
He rejects the concern voiced by some people that the socially conservative Muslim community is doing too little to integrate.
“Integration means a recognition that this country is comprised of many communities and each one of them has the right to live where they want, how they want.”
Clearly not everyone in the government – which in any case contains Muslim ministers – is happy with the rise of the hardliners.
Some Sinhalese ministers have expressed unease and a prominent newly retired diplomat, Dayan Jayatilleka, calls the BBS an “ethno-religious fascist movement from the dark underside of Sinhala society”.
Many Sri Lankans feel there are uncomfortable echoes of the 1983 pogroms, when Sinhala violence against Tamils precipitated the war.
But hardline Buddhist rallies and “direct action” stunts are happening all the time now. And their social and political influence is expanding.
India was among the 24 countries which backed a U.S.-sponsored resolution on Thursday at the U.N. Human Rights Council against Sri Lanka asking it to conduct an “independent and credible” probe into allegations of human rights violations, an issue on which the DMK pulled out of the ruling UPA.
Thirteen member countries, including Pakistan voted against and eight member states abstained from voting on the contentious resolution on ‘Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka’ which was adopted in the 47-nation strong UNHRC. Gabon could not vote due to an issue over voting rights.
The watered-down resolution also saw India’s bid for tougher written amendments, which were not taken into the final document with the sponsors of the resolution maintaining that the attempt was to make it “broadest-possible” and with tougher amendments, the purpose will be defeated.
The U.N. resolution noted “with concern that the national plan of action and the Commission’s report do not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”
It also expressed “concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.”
During the intervention on the resolution, India’s Permanent Representative Dilip Sinha said, “We reiterate our call for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives”.
“We note with concern the inadequate progress by Sri Lanka in fulfilling its commitment to this Council in 2009. Further, we call on Sri Lanka to move forward on its public commitments, including on the devolution of political authority through full implementation of the 13th Amendment and building upon it,” Mr. Sinha said.
India had given seven written amendments in six paragraphs which also talked about other accountability measures by Sri Lanka, which, in an official reaction in Colombo, said it “understood domestic compulsions” of the Indian government.
Moving the vote, the U.S. said it “acknowledges the progress made in some areas but a lot more needs to be done,” and added that Sri Lanka must “take meaningful action and address the growing concern.”
Criticising the resolution, Sri Lanka at the UNHRC said, “The resolution presented here today is clearly unacceptable to Sri Lanka.”
“The government of Sri Lanka totally rejects the attempts by the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and proponents of this resolution,” the Sri Lankan representative said.
He also said the resolution failed to recognise the progress made in the country in recent years, saying it is “replete with misrepresentations” on the situation in his country today.
India said it believes that the report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and its findings and recommendation provides a window of opportunity to forge a consensual way forward towards a lasting political settlement through genuine national reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all its citizens.
“India has always been of the view that the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka provided a unique opportunity to pursue a lasting political settlement, acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka, including the Tamils,” Mr. Sinha said.
“We call for effective and timely implementation of all the constructive recommendations contained in the LLRC report, including those pertaining to missing persons, detainees, disappearances and abductions, reduction of ‘high security zones’, return of private lands by the military and withdrawal of the security forces from the civilian domain in the Northern Province,” he said.
“We reiterate our call for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives. We urge Sri Lanka to take forward measures to ensure accountability. We expect these measures to be to the satisfaction of the international community,” the Indian Permanent Representative said.
Opposing the move, Pakistan said the resolution “would fail to engage Sri Lanka constructively and will negatively impact the ongoing process of reconciliation”.
The countries that voted in favour of the resolution included Benin, Libya, Sierra Leone Argentina, Brazil, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and South Korea.
Those who voted against the U.S.-sponsored resolution included Congo, Maldives, Thailand, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Ecuador among others.
Among those who abstained was Kenya, Japan, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Botswana.
If the pressure being brought to bear by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and other Tamil political parties and groups on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to take a strong stand against Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council (HRC) is aimed at helping the Tamil minority in that country, it is unlikely to achieve that objective.
In fact, it is quite likely to have the opposite effect of painting Sri Lankan Tamils as a fifth column for Tamil nationalist or Eelamist designs emanating from Tamil Nadu, and increasing the political polarisation in that country.
This is not to say that the Rajapaksa government is blameless in the way it has treated the violations of human rights against Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan forces and of international laws of conduct by soldiers in combat. Its cavalier attitude to reports of civilian casualties during the war, and towards post-war ethnic reconciliation also does it no credit.
Where Sri Lanka erred
It would have been the easiest thing for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to be magnanimous in victory. Admitting in 2009 that Tamil civilians had been killed in the fighting; apologising for those killings; immediately investigating reports of violations by the Sri Lankan Army of the No Fire Zone and probing the cases of missing people. This would have been the most politically graceful, as well as effortless, way forward.
Mr. Rajapaksa could have even gone as far as make a national apology for the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, the turning point of the conflict in Sri Lanka, and he would have gone down in history as a different sort of leader, as a statesman. Instead, he allowed narrow triumphalism to set the national agenda, to the point where resolving the Tamil question is now seen by Sinhala nationalists as unnecessary. Since the end of the war, revisionists have ensured that the Sinhalese majority thinks of the conflict only as a series of atrocities committed by the LTTE, and the LTTE as a group created by India, while the Sri Lankan military remains stationed all across northern Sri Lanka, as if in readiness for another war.
The government’s decision to set up a parliamentary committee to find a political solution to Tamil aspirations is hardly adequate, especially as reports by previous committees have been unceremoniously shelved. From the pronouncements of those close to Mr. Rajapaksa, the future of what little devolution now exists in Sri Lanka is uncertain. By the time the much-delayed elections to the Tamil-dominated Northern Province are held, as stated by him in September this year, it is not clear how much power will be devolved.
So it will not be wrong to say that Sri Lanka’s obstinate reluctance to deal with its national question is squarely to blame for the churning in Tamil Nadu today. But protests in Tamil Nadu by political parties and students are hardly going to push Colombo to take the right steps. Indeed, all this only makes it easier for the Sri Lankan government to dismiss any Indian effort to make it do the right thing as inspired by the “Tamil Nadu factor,” and therefore, not take it seriously.
Even Sri Lankan Tamils are not convinced that Dravidian political parties take up their cause for anything other than their own political gains. The half-day Marina hunger strike by DMK leader M. Karunanidhi in the closing stages of the war against the LTTE in 2009, still evokes much derisive laughter among Sri Lankan Tamils, and has also gone down as a lasting symbol of the cynical use that Tamil Nadu parties make of the Eelam Tamil cause.
Sri Lankan Tamils also know more than anyone else that such shows by Tamil Nadu politicians only heighten the siege mentality of the Sinhalese, who have always regarded Tamil Nadu with suspicion, and the island’s once secessionist Tamil politics and militancy as not just influenced, but directed by Tamil leaders in the southern Indian state.
View on resolutions
Any move by New Delhi to strengthen the U.S-sponsored resolution before the HRC at the behest of the DMK is hardly going to persuade Sri Lanka to do what is right and just. If the Rajapaksa regime did not feel pushed by the 2012 resolution, in many ways the real wake-up call, it is hardly worried by the 2013 one.
As India did not so long ago, Sri Lanka views resolutions against it in the HRC as driven by lobbies with agendas against the country, especially when sponsored by a country accused of rights violations across the globe, and is able to find enough political support within for this view. In any case, the HRC resolutions are not binding.
How then to get Sri Lanka to take the right steps towards national reconciliation? The answer lies in India, but it is located in New Delhi, not in Chennai. On Tuesday, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi took the extraordinary step at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, of expressing her party’s concern for Sri Lankan Tamils.
“The plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka is close to our hearts. Our support for equal rights and equal protection of the laws to them has been unwavering since the days of Indiraji and Rajivji.
“We are most pained at the manner in which their legitimate political rights continue to be denied to them. We are anguished by reports of unspeakable atrocities on innocent civilians and children, especially during the last days of the conflict in 2009,” she said.
This should have been New Delhi’s line from the start, one that it should have used in hard-edged, but quiet diplomacy with Sri Lanka.
But it allowed itself to be scared by the “China card,” real or not, being waved at it by Sri Lanka, and by our own strategic thinkers. New Delhi does itself and Sri Lankan Tamils a big disfavour by shaking the dust off its Sri Lanka policy from March to March, HRC session to HRC session, crisis to crisis for the UPA coalition from its Tamil Nadu partner, instead of framing one that is confident, non-reactive and long term.
Mrs Gandhi’s statement on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue was the strongest from any Indian leader in more than two decades. And it is all the more remarkable for one who has suffered personal loss at the hands of the LTTE. Unfortunately, it will not carry the moral edge that it should, likely as it is to be seen as nothing more than a plunge by the Congress leader into Tamil Nadu’s competitive Eelamist politics, a move to save her party from a total eclipse in the State, made under the assumption that this is an issue that will sway voters one year from now.
Over 500 college students were arrested in Chennai for attempting to picket the Raj Bhawan even as they continued their protests over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue for the eighth day on Monday.
A large number of students joined the protests despite government directing closure of educational institutions.
Protests ranged from fast to agitation to boycott of classes in various parts of the state including Coimbatore, Salem and Tirunelveli, with students pressing for various demands, including an independent probe against Colombo for alleged human rights violations and moving the International Court of Justice.
City-based Loyola College students had first embarked on a fast-unto-death last week on this vexed issue, with more and more students taking to various forms of protests.
Tamil Nadu is on the boil after pictures by a private channel showed the alleged cold blooded killing of slain LTTE chief V Prabakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran.
Meanwhile, around 200 students were arrested when they tried to proceed towards the airport to stage a protest.
They were detained outside the airport and arrested, police said.
Tamil activists, protesting against Sri Lanka’s alleged war-time abuses, hold placards demanding “Tamil Elam,” an independent state that Tamils aspire to create in Sri Lanka, during a protest in Chennai on Monday.
What happened in Sri Lanka in 2009 has come back to haunt the UN with the leak of an internal inquiry commissioned by the Secretary-General. The independent report concluded that the UN’s own conduct during the final months of Sri Lanka’s civil war marked a “grave failure.” There was damning criticism of senior staff, who “simply did not perceive the prevention of killing of civilians as their responsibility.”
Would the entire report have seen the light of day if a draft hadn’t been leaked to the BBC? A reluctant UN in New York had to publish the document, but chose to do so without its powerful executive summary that set the conflict in the context of post-9/11 global attitudes to terrorism that tragically skewed the reporting of the bloodshed. Internal communications show senior UN officials struggling to portray the proscribed terrorist group, the Tamil Tigers, as the ones primarily to blame for the killings.
But the latest UN report documents how UN staff members were in possession of reliable information that showed that the Sri Lankan government was responsible for the majority of deaths. And that two-thirds of the killings were inside safe zones unilaterally declared by the Sri Lankan government purportedly to protect civilians. This was information senior UN managers decided not to share with diplomats when they briefed them.
- First country in the world to have established a dedicated hospital (Mihintale, 4th century BC)
- The world’s first recorded wildlife sanctuary was at Mihintale. It was established by King Devanampiyatissa in the 3rd century BC.
- Oldest country in the World within its present borders (the island of Sri Lanka existed as a independent sovereign country as far back as the 4th century BC)
- First female monarch in an Asian country, Queen Anula (47-42 BC)
- First country in the World to have a female prime minister (Sirimavo Bandaranaike, July 21, 1960)
- Longest period of continuous multi-party democracy by a non-western country (1931-present)
- World’s leading exporter of tea; Ceylon tea is famed to be one of the best teas in the world.
- World’s leading exporter of cinnamon; exported to Egypt as early as 1400 BC
- First country in South Asia to start radio broadcasting with Radio Ceylon - celebrated 80 years in Broadcasting on December 16, 2005
- First country in Asia to fly the Airbus A340 (via)