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Sri Lanka clears 19 citizens branded as traitors by British in 1818

Sri Lanka's president has revoked a nearly 200-year-old British colonial order, clearing the names of 19 citizens who were branded as traitors for rebelling against British rule.

President Maithripala Sirisena rescinded the order and declared the 19 people to be "patriotic war heroes who fought for the freedom of the motherland", a statement from the president's office said.

The order issued by then-British governor Robert Brownrigg in January 1818 listed the names of the 19 people, including Monarawila Keppetipola Disawe, who was a high-ranking official of the country's last kingdom before it was defeated by the British.

Keppetipola Disawe and other leaders of the rebellion were found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death.

He is known for the exceptional courage he showed at the moment of his execution.

Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, was ruled by Britain from 1815 to 1948, when it regained independence.

Groups from the ethnic majority Sinhalese have been urging successive governments to scrap the British decrees against those who fought against colonial rule.

President Sirisena, Keppetipola Disawe and the other 18 people belong to the Sinhalese community.

AP

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