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Victor Corea - A National Hero from Chilaw, Sri Lanka

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Uploaded on Oct 1, 2011

Victor Corea is a national hero of Sri Lanka. Charles Edward Victor Seneviratne Corea was born in Chilaw, Sri Lanka on 29 January 1871 to Charles Edward Bandaranaike Corea, a famous lawyer, and Henrietta Seneviratne. He was the youngest out of five children, three boys and two girls, Charles Edgar Corea, James Alfred Ernest Corea, Agnes Corea and Evangeline Corea.

After leaving school, Victor Corea entered politics, like most of the men in the Corea family. His father also was in the legal profession, being a Proctor as well as his brother Charles Edgar Corea who was a very successful Proctor and a member of the Legislative Council. He became and Advocate of the Supreme Court and in September 1922 he was elected founder President of the Ceylon Labour Union which was led by A.E Goonesinha. During the 1920s he was active in the Ceylon Labour Party. He successfully abolished Poll Tax and after this he became one of the most popular men in Chilaw. He then contested a seat in 1924 for the Legislative Council, he ran against E.W Jayawardene and won comfortably. The Coreas and the Jayawardene family are related through marriage. Victor was elected a founder member of the Ceylon National Congress. According to the Asia Times, 'During the period 1915 to 1928, members of the Ceylon National Congress, in combination with various political groups, devoted their attention to reforming the political administrative structure of the island.

As well as being a successful Advocate and Politician, Victor Corea also spent much of his time fighting for Sri Lanka's independence against the British or against anyone or anything where there wasn't justice. He fought fearlessly with the help of his older brother Charles Edgar Corea and became two of the most famous Political figures their country had ever seen, and were particularly well known in their hometown Chilaw. They were respected people and in Jaffna they were acclaimed as outstanding leaders. in 1921 Victor Corea refused to pay Poll Tax. Every male who was over the age of 21 in Ceylon had to pay this and it would go to the British Government. Victor wrote to the governor and said that according to their law he should be arrested. Victor Corea was then arrested and put in prison. He suffered much pain by doing work in a very hot climate such as crushing metal, beating coconut husks and twisting rope. All this work was done where the public could see him. He continued to do this work even though he had to go through a lot of pain. The British realised that Victor had become a national hero. Many people came from all over the country to see a man of high standing fight for his people and for the independence of Ceylon. The British released him from prison and also abolished Poll Tax, they had
When the beating of hewisi at the Dalada Maligawa was stopped on the orders of the Government Agent who was a Britisher, it was Victor Corea who single handedly defied the order and threatened to beat the hewisi himself if the Diyawadana Nilame did not order the temple to resume the beating of the hewisi.

Victor Corea told the GA in no uncertain terms that he should change his residence if the noise is disturbing his household instead of changing religious traditions that have been coming down from the time of the Sinhalese Kings. Since Victor Corea was known to be a man who lived up to his word, the GA fearing a revolt, revoked the order.Victor Corea died on the 6th of June 1962 at 91 years old. He will be remembered for his bravery and his battle with the British for independence. He will also be remembered for getting the Poll Tax abolished and being a brilliant Advocate.On 2 December 2008, the people of Chilaw paid tribute to Victor by having a statue built in his hometown. The statue was sculptured by Kalasoori Ariyawansa Weerakkody.

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