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Namal Rajapaksa Addresses at the 61st Independence in DC

61 Sri Lankan children from the Greater Washington area representing the 61 years of Sri Lanka´s independence, resplendent in the colours of the national flag With more than 1,000 guests in attendance, H.E. Jaliya Wickramasuriya, the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the United States, called for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists to release civilians currently held in the war zone in the northern part of Sri Lanka. It was the largest Sri Lankan Independence Day celebration ever in the United States.

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya hoisting the National Flag and children representing all communities in Greater Washington area sang the National Anthem

"As we celebrate a very special Independence Day", said the Ambassador in his remarks, marking the country´s 61st year of independence, "let us first consider the many thousands of our fellow Sri Lankans who continue to be at risk in the North. The terrorists are using innocent civilians as human shields, and these Sri Lankans must be released now. I appeal to the LTTE to release the Tamil civilians to the safe area that has been created by the government. Do not continue to block their path to freedom."

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya lighting the traditional oil lamp with children representing all communities

The Ambassador recognized the contributions of the United States government in support of the country´s war on terror. In particular, he thanked the government as being the first western country to ban the LTTE and the first country to ban the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), a charitable organization that acts as a front to facilitate fundraising and procurement for the LTTE. He also reminded those in attendance that the FBI has called the LTTE one of the most dangerous and ruthless terrorist organizations in the world.

The Ambassador further called upon the pro-LTTE Diaspora to join with the government in supporting the redevelopment of the country. "Don´t give your money to bombs and bullets. We need to rebuild the lives of so many Sri Lankans."

"[Instead], let us all share our resources to buy bricks and books," he said, "Let´s give our people a safe place to live and an education that will
benefit the whole world. It is important that we commit ourselves to the pursuit of lasting peace in our motherland."

The 61st Anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka celebration was held on February 7, 2009, at the auditorium on the campus of the University of District of Columbia in Washington, DC. The official Sri Lankan National Independence Day is held on February 4 each year and a ceremony was conducted at the Embassy to mark the occasion.

The program included the reading of the Independence Day message of His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa. The speech stressed that as we move towards a larger freedom, our thoughts go out to the innocent Tamil people of the north who remain in bondage under the ruthless forces of terror who claimed to be their liberaters. The President pledged that these people who share our motherland, will be liberated and given the equality and all rights that they are entitled to, under the Constitution.

A message from President Barack Obama of the USA was also read out in which President Obama noted that

"The United States values its enduring friendship with the people of Sri Lanka. I hope that the coming year will see advancement of our shared beliefs in democracy, liberty, pluralism, and respect for human rights. Our governments together can work to foster peace, prosperity, and stability throughout Sri Lanka.

As the people of Sri Lanka celebrate National Day, they should know that they have a friend and partner in the United States."

Mr. Namal Rajapaksa addresses the distinguished guests

In addition to the Ambassador´s remarks, the celebration included remarks by Namal Rajapaksa, the son of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Rajapaksa thanked the Sri Lankan expatriate community for their support to the Motherland at various times. He also thanked the U.S. Government for its help to Sri Lanka. Mr. Rajapaksa called upon the youth to get together and join the programmes of the Government of Sri Lanka to develop the country. He also reiterated the message of H.E. President Rajapaksa, stressing the importance of unity between all communities at this important time in Sri Lanka´s history.

The event was attended by a large number of senior U.S Government officials, friends of Sri Lanka from the Congress and diplomats.

A presentation was made by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka regarding the announcement of Sri Lankan treasury bonds. There was also a presentation on the "Api Wenuwen Api programme" which supports building houses for security forces personnel.


A highlight of the programme was a cultural program by the internationally renowned Channa & Upuli Dance Troupe, the leading dance group in Sri Lanka.

A National flag, a tea packet, a promotional CD highlighting an array of Tourists attractions and a souvenir were presented to all guests

Children played an important role in the celebrations: Children representing all communities and cultural traditions lit the traditional oil lamp with the Ambassador at the commencement of the event. A child delivered a speech on behalf of all Sri Lankan children in the expatriate community, on the occasion of independence and the Grand Finale was a special singing performances by 61 Sri Lankan children from the Greater Washington area representing the 61 years of Sri Lanka´s independence, resplendent in the colours of the national flag, singing "We are Sri Lankan", a song in all three national languages, which captures the spirit of national unity. The children were joined by couples dressed in the national costumes of all communities of Sri Lanka. The large crowd that participated in the occasion left infused with enthusiasm and a renewed patriotic spirit.

61 Sri Lankan children from the Greater Washington area representing the 61 years of Sri Lanka´s independence, resplendent in the colours
of the national flag, singing "We are Sri Lankan" song

Click here to see His Excellency Jaliya Wickramasuriya´s Remarks at the Independence Day 2009

Courtisy: Embassy of Sri Lanka to the United States

Posted on Monday, February 16, 2009 @ 20:46:59 LKT by

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