69th National Day celebrated in The Netherlands
|07 Feb 2017|
The National Day, marking the 69th Anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka from almost 450 years of colonial rule was celebrated at the Embassy on Saturday, 4th February 2017 in The Hague.
The program commenced with the hoisting of the National Flag by the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Mr. A.M.J. Sadiq to the accompaniment of ‘ Magul Bera ‘, in the presence of a large number of Sri Lankans, Dutch friends and well-wishers. Thereafter, the National Anthem was sung in both official languages, Sinhala & Tamil, followed by the observance of 2 minutes silence in remembrance of all Sri Lankans who had sacrificed their lives for the motherland.
This was followed by the lighting of the ceremonial oil lamp by the Ambassador, Second Secretary and the Attaché. The participation of Ms. Ayumi Pathirana, Master Arjun Murugesu, Master Amru Fatheen and Master Thomas van der Gert dressed in their traditional costumes and representing the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Dutch Burger communities respectively in this event was the cynosure of all eyes.
Thereafter, multi-religious observances were conducted by 4 religious dignitaries representing Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths. Following the reading of the National Day messages of President Maithripala Sirisena in Sinhala, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Tamil and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in English by members of the staff, Ambassador Mr. A.M.J. Sadiq addressed the assembled gathering.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Sadiq while extending a warm welcome to all the guests, referred to the participation of children from all four communities represented in Sri Lanka, in the lighting of the ceremonial oil lamp, as symbolic of the ardent desire and aspiration of all peace loving Sri Lankans for national unity and genuine reconciliation in the motherland. He also highlighted the need for all Sri Lankans to acquire at least conversational ability in the three languages of Sri Lanka, namely Sinhala, Tamil & English, which would help create a new society in which people would be able to truly appreciate the value and benefit of life in a multi-cultural, multi-faith and multi-linguistic environment. In this manner, it would be possible for all communities to embrace and cherish the rainbow diversity of the nation.At the end of the ceremony, a sumptuous Sri Lankan lunch was served, which was greatly enjoyed by the guests.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
6th February 2017
69th National Day Address
By H.E. A.M.J. Sadiq, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Netherlands
Ven. Kahagolle Charana Sumana Thero,
Rev. Fr Ad van der Helm,
Moulana Saheb Mohamed Fares Mokiem,
My dear Sri Lankan compatriots,
Ayubowan, Vanakkam, Assalamu Alaikum, Good Morning.
A very warm welcome to my fellow Sri Lankans from all communities, both citizens as well as those who have made The Netherlands their home, who have joined us today at the Embassy of Sri Lanka to celebrate our National Day, marking the 69th anniversary of independence from almost 450 years of colonial rule, successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British.
I take this opportunity to extend a special welcome to our Dutch friends and well-wishers who have honoured our invitation to be present with us on this important occasion, especially those who are here for the first time.
Others who have regularly attended the National Day celebrations in the past would recall that it was last year that an open invitation was extended to Dutch friends of Sri Lanka to attend the event.
The presence of such a large number of our Sri Lankan compatriots as indeed Dutch friends and well-wishers today is tangible proof of their love and attachment to Sri Lanka.
As in previous years, we are honoured to have the presence of the dignitaries representing the four main faiths in our motherland and to commence the official proceedings with their invocation of prayers and blessings upon Sri Lanka and her people.
Likewise, as we did last year, I am delighted to have four children belonging to the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Dutch Burgher communities, dressed in their traditional costumes join me and my staff to light the ceremonial oil lamp. I believe this is a significant gesture symbolizing our collective desire to foster ethnic harmony and national unity in our country.
Although in May this year, it will be 8 years since the bitter and long drawn out armed conflict, which claimed the lives of many thousands of people from all communities, ended in our motherland, genuine reconciliation among the communities is still a matter of “work in progress”.
The National Unity Government elected in 2015 has taken the country forward during the past two years based on the three pillars of democratization, reconciliation and development. Sri Lanka is in the process of finalizing a new Constitutional draft that celebrates the diversity of the nation.
Notwithstanding these positive and salutary measures, it is my belief that in order to achieve durable peace, ethnic and social harmony among the different communities, it is imperative for all Sri Lankans to take an active and positive interest in learning each other’s languages, as well as study and understand the different cultures, so that they can begin to truly appreciate the richness and diversity of their heritage. It is in this manner that we would be able to foster a Sri Lankan identity.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching”. There is no good in my preaching the virtue of learning the three languages of Sri Lanka, Sinhala, Tamil and English, if I do not genuinely believe in it. My words would then amount to no more than empty rhetoric.
In order to demonstrate my own personal commitment to the importance for all Sri Lankans to acquire at least conversational ability in the three languages, I decided to read the National Day Message of the Hon Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Tamil today. Although I do speak Tamil, I must confess that reading and writing Tamil is challenging!
In this context, it is imperative that the education system in Sri Lanka is urgently reformed to enable all students to acquire competence in Sinhala, Tamil and English, in order that they will be able to build a strong Sri Lanka, and be free from the prejudice and mutual hostility and suspicion, that have corroded the mindset of the present and past generations, contributing greatly to fuelling the armed uprisings that we have faced in our post-independence history.
I am delighted to learn that India and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding 2 days ago in Colombo on 2nd February to construct a new multi-ethnic tri-lingual secondary school in Polonnaruwa District, fully equipped with classrooms, laboratories and library. The school would provide opportunities to Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students to learn in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment.
While this school project is a step in the right direction, I personally am of the considered view that for at least the last 60 years or so, students in Sri Lanka have grown up and been taught in a segregated school environment, thus denying them the real value and benefit of a life in a truly multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic society in which we genuinely cherish and appreciate the rainbow diversity of our beloved motherland, Sri Lanka. For this to happen, children should be taught in a mixed and fully integrated environment in the classroom from the primary level.
Expecting adults to learn a new language is a tall order, as you would have noticed in my own personal struggle to read the Prime Minister’s National Day Message in Tamil today!
Before I conclude, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our respected religious dignitaries for their presence, which has been a source of inspiration and strength to us today. I also wish to thank all my dear Sri Lankan compatriots and Dutch friends and well-wishers for taking time off from their usual schedules to join us in celebrating our National Day.
A special word of thanks to Ayumi Pathirana, Arjun Murugesu, Amru Fatheen and Thomas Van der Gert, representing the four communities in Sri Lanka and their parents for participating in the lighting of the ceremonial oil lamp, adding colour to the occasion.
I am also thankful to Mr Asoka Siriwardena for lending his sound equipment for the occasion, without which it would not have been possible for you to listen to the proceedings today.
I am deeply grateful to my dear friend, Mr Niyas and his wife, who despite their indisposition, as always unfailingly rose to the occasion to make the catering arrangements. I am certain that all of you whom I cordially invite to the Sri Lankan buffet shortly will enjoy their delicious cooking.
Last, but not least, I will be remiss in my duty if I did not acknowledge with profound appreciation and gratitude the hard work and dedication of all members of my staff at the Embassy to make the celebration of Sri Lanka’s 69th National Day a truly memorable one.
I would like to conclude with a few verses from a poem entitled The Call of Lanka by Rev. Walter Stanley Senior, which eloquently captures the ardent desire and aspiration of all peace loving Sri lankans for our beloved nation.
But most shall he sing of Lanka
March to a mighty purpose,
Hark! Bard of the fateful future,
Independence Day Speech delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena on February 4, 2017
|04 Feb 2017|
Today our country completes 69 years of the freedom from colonial rule. I am very pleased with this occasion to hold this 69th independence celebration with high dignity, pride and glory.
When we celebrate the freedom, we should talk about what the real freedom is. As far as I know more than 6000 languages are spoken by various nationalities living in the countries across the world. In all those languages the word ‘independence’ is considered as a significant, incomparable and unconquerable word.
There is a difference between the ideas come into minds when we talk about the freedom during the time our country has been under foreign invaders from 1505 to 1948 and the freedom in the current era.
In 1948 D. S. Senanayake and contemporary national leaders who represented all communities; Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim gave a giant strength to the national struggle for freedom.
During that struggle, there were occasions when our national leaders were imprisoned. Thousands sacrificed their lives for the country and the freedom from 1505 to 1948. On this Independence Day we should remember the sweet fragrance of the noble sacrifices made by the heroes in that historic era who sacrificed their lives and shed their blood in the fight against colonial rulers.
During the decades of 1930 and 1940, as a result of the demands made by the leaders of this country, we got rid of some major grievances through the Donoughmore and Solbary Commissions. We succeeded in winning the freedom on the 4th of February 1948.
When we talk about the freedom it is essential to remember the valiant war heroes who fought to save our country from L. T. T. E. terrorism throughout 30 years. They sacrificed their lives. They lost their limbs. They became disabled and their families suffered heavily. Economy was ruined. About 100,000 people including civilians lost their lives. Thousands became disabled. Are the people who lost their lives in the 30 years long war were losers? Are those who saved their lives are winners? I believe that we, who saved our lives from that tragedy, should remember the lessons we learnt.
Today we talk about freedom in a more complex manner than it was discussed in the past. All of us know, at present when we talk about freedom primarily, we talk about a freedom blowing across the sky, including our human freedom, media freedom, the right to expression, right to thought and the right to assemble.
In the process of building our great Motherland as a modern state which is compatible with the twenty-first century, we have to work, giving priority to the political stability and the social development. All of you know that to achieve those goals, it is necessary to strengthen the national as well as religious reconciliation in the country. Specifically, I have to mention that we, as a Government, have given priority in this regard.
I clearly state that even though we receive accolades from locally and internationally for our commitment and determination to establish national reconciliation and peace in the country, there are some opportunistic elements who act against those noble efforts of the Government. I describe those opportunist forces as a section of society who acts against the country.
Today, all of us should commit ourselves to ensure the economic freedom of our country, when we define the word freedom. The knowledge and the ability of the intellectuals and scholars in the country, innovative skills and capabilities, and the efficiency of the skilled workforce as well as the strength of labour of all the people including the farmers and workers plus their commitment is essential to gain economic freedom to our country.
I believe this era as a period where our new generation is extremely interested in obtaining knowledge and the skills in the field of the high technology. I must mention that always as a Government we are giving priority to provide requisite guidance to our young generation to acquire new knowledge to conquer the world also to build this country based on the concept of the knowledge economy.
All of us agreed that to ensure full democracy in the country in this 21st Century, first we should achieve the economic prosperity. In that context, we give priority to our new generation. I should specially mention here the inheritors and custodians in the process of building an innovative economy based on the knowledge, is our young generation.
I request all the intellectuals and academics in the country to give their contribution in providing guidance to our young generation in associating all different economic processes, concepts like knowledge economy, innovative economy, green economy, digital economy, oceans economy into our national economy. When we work as a country, we have given priority to the economic freedom of our country and work with commitment. All of you know we declare the year 2017 as a year that the country will be freed from poverty.
We expect the commitment and the sacrifices of all the public and the intellectuals, academics, politicians, public officials in implementing national sustainable development policies and strategies and freeing the country from poverty. I believe everyone will fulfill their respective duties in achieving noble national goals.
We are a strong, talented and efficient nation. People in our country are educated and intelligent. Therefore, we should accept that we have that knowledge, resources and ability to move forward as a nation. I request all of you to unite to build our nation.
Everybody acknowledges the imperative need for eliminating corruption, bribery, malpractices, waste and fraud. It is essential for the politicians and public servants to work honestly and with commitment.
When we attempt to achieve economic prosperity, it is essential for the politician to be a character of honesty and commitment. Furthermore I trust the politicians and public servants fulfill the responsibilities and duties honestly and with commitment to build the Motherland.
When we talk about political science and economic theories, there are strengths and weaknesses in social democracy and market economy. We should understand those strengths and weaknesses and current international economic conditions in order to adopt a mixed system by obtaining positive segments of both the systems.
I am pleased that the 69th national independence celebration was held in a dignified and successful manner. I respectfully thank all who contributed to the success of this program of celebration.
On this 69th national freedom celebration, I request all to build our beloved motherland as a great and prosperous nation by acting with purity and honesty, achieving victories fortified and strengthened with economic prosperity and knowledge, and wining the goodwill of the international community.
President's Independence Day Message
|04 Feb 2017|
Many freedom struggles of the humankind have aggrandized the story of human progress. We, Sri Lankans, too have inherited a long history of such struggles that brings forth memories of grief and glory, from the times of our Kings to that of modern democracy. The nation is indebted to our forebears, whose selfless sacrifices of sweat and blood have brought about the freedom, in which we breathe today.
It is at a challenging and decisive moment, that we celebrate the 69th Independence anniversary this year. The responsibility of strengthening the recently secured democratic freedom as well as ensuring that, enriched by indigenous wisdom, all communities could live with dignity, lies on our shoulders. We have been able to overcome a dark era and reillumine our unsurmountable aspirations for democracy, freedom, and human dignity. However, the realization of the true meaning of freedom and independence lies in our potential to free ourselves from the shackles of all kinds and forms of poverty, ill-health, and confines of divisive identities of race, religion and caste, and enrich ourselves, as a society that values equity and rights of all.
We are a nation that deserves to live a prosperous life in a country where peace and justice and equality prevail.
It is my sincere wish that we continue to prosper by vanquishing ignorance by knowledge, untruth by truth, hatred by compassion and violence by nonviolence and become a compassionate nation.
Prime Minister's Independence Day Message
|04 Feb 2017|
As Sri Lanka celebrates the 69th Independence Day, I believe that we are also celebrating the 02nd anniversary of the election of Good Governance Government.
In order to make the spirit of freedom more meaningful to us all, the Government must take steps that reaffirm the liberties of the people with regard to their economic, social and spiritual well being.
During the last two years, we have been able to achieve many steps in the right direction; restore democratic values, rebuild relationships with friendly nations and affirm mutual trust while focusing on revitalizing the economy towards laying the foundation for a nation that has overcome various differences and is firmly anchored on principles of freedom and human values.
Only a path that unites all can pave the way for a stronger Sri Lanka, a path that calls for what each of us can give of ourselves to our nation, to our common future and to a better tomorrow.
May we as Sri Lankans possess the courage and the determination to choose that path this
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