MESSAGE FROM HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA
The 62nd anniversary of independence we mark today has special significance being the first such celebration of our freedom since the defeat of terrorism in our country last year, and also as it takes place soon after our people have expressed their firm and resounding commitment to democracy.
The freedom from colonial rule that we gained 62 years ago is now more meaningful, because we have been liberated from the forces of separatist terror that marred our freedom for nearly half the period since independence, and also gravely threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.
As much as we recall with gratitude the great contributions made by our patriots of the past in the struggle for independence, it is also fitting that we pay a tribute in full measure to all our heroic troops and their families for the sacrifices made in the battle against terrorism, as well as all sections of our people for the patriotism they showed in putting up with the hardships during this battle to restore freedom and democracy to our entire country. We are particularly grateful for the courage shown by the people as we were confronted with the armed might of the forces of terror from within, as well as forces from outside who sought to pressure us into conceding to the aims of those who used terror as a political weapon.
We are also grateful to all friendly nations, from East and West, those near and afar, who understood the true nature of the struggle we were engaged in, and extended to us all support to achieve our objective of true freedom for our country and people.
As we move into the new era of peace in our country, we are ready to face the challenges of the future. It is necessary that we give equal priority to the tasks of national reconciliation and the building of trust among all sections of our people, as well as to development that will take us to our rightful place in the community of nations. The fruits of peace and the aspects of development that were not neglected despite our major occupation with the battle against terror, are already seen in the many projects initiated and completed in the power and energy sectors and in infrastructure development.
As our forefathers did in the glorious days of our past, and the more recent leaders in the struggle for freedom showed us, we remain committed to a single, unitary Sri Lanka, where all our people, irrespective of differences of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion, can enjoy the full benefits of freedom, development, and equal rights in a democratic society.
The new and even stronger mandate you have given us, gives greater confidence to move ahead in building the New Sri Lanka, which we envisage as the hub of economic activity and a beacon of progress in our region; together with a full commitment to the Rights of Man which are integral to the heritage bestowed on us from the past.
On this historic and significant anniversary of freedom, let us rededicate our nation to the ideals of peace, tolerance, mutual trust and progress, in the democratic tradition our people have cherished and protected as the oldest democracy in Asia.
I wish you a Prosperous Future.
May our nation be blessed by the Noble Triple Gem.
President of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka
Message from the Prime Minister
Freedom is desired by all living beings.
Sri Lanka enriched by Buddhist values, is a nation which gives importance to the freedom of the individual.
Inhumane acts of a few in the society violate the freedom of the entire society. The value of freedom is deeply felt when it is lost, more than when it is enjoyed.
History shows that there was a period when Sri Lankans were longing for freedom. And during that period great national personalities have emerged, who surmounting all barriers had achieved the coveted goals for the nation.
We recently passed an era when freedom was limited to a word. During that bleak period the society had to live in fear and with uncertainty of the future. However, the country was fortunate enough at that juncture to be blessed with heroes who sacrificed their lives to bring freedom and happiness to the nation by ending the scourge of terrorism that lasted nearly thirty years.
Freedom which was achieved in February 1948 became more meaningful in 1972. It strengthened to an absolute freedom in 2010, with the results of the recently concluded Presidential Election where Sri Lankans freely expressed their democratic rights.
I believe that all the citizens of this country will now unite to bring a brighter future to our motherland.
Prime Minister of the
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
National Day Message
Rising from the shackles of colonialism 62 years ago and annihilating an almost three decade long grip of terrorism from our shores eight months ago, we celebrate this anniversary of Independence in 2010, with a great sense of oneness and pride. Nearly half of our country’s contemporary independent history has witnessed a struggle against the brutal forces of terrorism which sought to tear asunder the very sovereignty of our great nation gained by our forefathers.
The successful humanitarian operation to extricate our motherland from the jackboot of the terrorists under the committed leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has brought a new Sri Lanka to its people and the world at large. The vote at the recent Presidential election, is an overwhelming endorsement by the people of this country of President Rajapaksa’s achievements for their betterment, and providing a firmer foundation for the further strengthening of national amity, progress and prosperity of our nation as envisioned in the “Mahinda Chinthana”.
The defeat of the separatist terrorists, one time thought to be invincible, has been achieved, thus eradicating the plague of terrorism. I pay tribute to our heroic forces who valiantly fought the elimination of terror to secure our blessed country, and the people of Sri Lanka, for the resilience demonstrated by their sacrifices through those dark days of uncertainty.
A new era of peace and hope has dawned for the country with a renewed mandate for the continued leadership of President Rajapaksa, that too with the beginning of another decade. Sri Lanka is now wholly poised as a free country to achieve prosperity, which the people so richly deserve. This freedom I believe, enriches the achievement of our Independence in 1948. While in the clutches of terrorist conflict, unprecedented development work has been undertaken by the Government, with the last four years recording an exceptional increase in per capita income, enabling sustained economic growth. Sri Lanka is a land of plenty, fertile in rich resources which provided the very basis for the country’s economic resistance to a turbulent world economy, exacerbated by having to defend the onslaught of terrorism domestically.
Mega development programmes are being actively pursued in the country with the initiation of the construction of harbours, airports, roads, electricity generation etc. Investments are flowing into the country with new employment avenues being generated, further empowering the people with the accruing benefits which the Government has sought to spread equitably with the distribution of equal resources throughout the country. The surge towards the country’s development and glory has now begun in earnest, which we must sustain to emerge as a “Wonder of Asia” in the near future.
Guided by the principles of non-alignment and being friends with all in the conduct of foreign relations, has earned Sri Lanka a pivotal position in the global community. The bedrock of our engagement with the international community has been one of moderation, engagement and peaceful co-existence which have facilitated Sri Lanka to continue to play an important role in the United Nations and other multilateral fora, culminating in currently being Chair of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and endorsed to take the top slots of the G-15 this year and Commonwealth in three years. The diverse interests of Sri Lanka have been served through its membership in multilateral fora which also include BIMSTEC, IORARC, G77, Shanghai Cooperation Dialogue and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Sri Lanka has never been bereft of friends in the international community, and this is an appropriate opportunity to extend our appreciation for the assistance rendered to us in countering terrorism to safeguard the sovereignty of this nation and enhancing economic development.
On this momentous anniversary of Independence, with the added significance of it being in immediate succession of the first post conflict national election, let us Sri Lankans, all come together in a spirit of trust and understanding leaving aside differences, to rededicate ourselves to be united as a single nation, community and citizenry, and embark on a journey to lead Sri Lanka into new vistas for a brighter future. Following in the footsteps of those Sri Lankans who freed our country from colonial domination, it is time that we banished any hatred and mistrust amongst us, and let no force queer the pitch of democratic institutions being reinvigorated which has begun, in order to create an equal political space for us all.
I reiterate the call of President Mahinda Rajapaksa for all Sri Lankans living overseas to return to Sri Lanka and join in being true stakeholders of Sri Lanka’s economic and social advancement.
As we celebrate our anniversary of Independence in this new decade of the 21st century, let us all march forward united, to secure and begin an era with a greater vibrant democracy and spiraling development for the country, while achieving our own aspirations – it is a New Sri Lanka that is before us today.
Rohitha Bogollagama, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
62nd Independence Day of Sri Lanka
Today Sri Lanka celebrates the 62nd Independence Day under the vibrant leadership of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, who spearheaded historic victory over terrorism which culminated in honorable peace in our beloved motherland. This day has become more meaningful as the nation has expressed their gratitude in unprecedented manner at the recently concluded Presidential Election strengthening his hands to focus more attention on post war reconciliation and economic development of the country. The Government of Bangladesh congratulated His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his resounding victory.
On this auspicious day, I join the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Bangladesh to celebrate this occasion with deep sense of pleasure and dignity.
I take this opportunity to salute our national heroes who struggled for freedom from four and a half centuries of foreign domination which realized in 1948 and the valiant members of armed forces who laid down their lives in defence of the nation during three decade of internal conflict which ended in May 2009. During this humanitarian operation, the tri-forces could free nearly three hundred thousand innocent Tamils who were taken hostage as human shield by the LTTE. Sri Lankan nation at large survived from continuous violence unleashed by the terrorists with this victory. Virtually, this is the second freedom struggle launched to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
The Government of Sri Lanka has been carrying out reconstruction of infrastructure, resettlement and rehabilitation under the “North Spring” programme after “Eastern Revival” was implemented. Government’s determination is to create an atmosphere where all people can live in harmony under one flag ensuring rights of Tamil people strengthening democratic institutions. Holding local government elections in the East and mine-free areas of the North and opportunity given to exercise their franchise in the Presidential Election are clear indications towards this end.
Sri Lanka admires pro poor policies of Bangladesh Government and its perspective to create digital Bangladesh by 2021. It is praiseworthy to note that the request made by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh from developed countries to reach an agreement with legal obligation to stop discharging green house gas and more money for the adaptation fund to compensate affected climate refugees in vulnerable countries at Climate Change Summit at Copenhagen.
Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have a shared commitment to democratic values. We have time-tested ties of friendship and cooperation. It is my great pleasure to record our heartfelt thanks for the government of Bangladesh for the support extended during our difficult times and the statement issued after the great victory terming that as welcome development and expressing solidarity with Sri Lankan government while wishing peace, amity and harmony. I wish to remind with gratitude the support extended by Bangladesh Government at the UN Human Rights Council on counter motions/resolutions put forward by Sri Lanka against the undue allegations leveled against Sri Lanka in May 2009.
Our bilateral relations further strengthened with the visit of Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Dr. Dipu Moni to attend the 4th SAARC Ministerial Conference on Children held in Colombo. During her meeting with Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, she congratulated Sri Lanka for eliminating the LTTE terrorism and reiterated support for unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Also Hon. Foreign Minister participated in 8th Asia Cooperation Dialogue held in Sri Lanka.
At international forums such as FAO Council, UN Economic and Social Council and UN-Ad-Hoc Committee on International Terrorism, Bangladesh extended invaluable support to Sri Lanka.
Last year a high powered business delegation from Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce visited Bangladesh and had discussions with its almost all Chambers to start business beneficial to both countries. Members of Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited Sri Lanka to attend the annual meeting of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The delegation from Ceylon Chamber of Commerce also visited Bangladesh this year. Sri Lanka is optimistic that the above links in the fields of trade and investments will strengthen already exist trade volumes. Sri Lanka has already invested in the readymade Garment, Banking, Hotels and other service sectors in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has become the 4th largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region in terms of export and import. It is our firm expectation that operation of direct flights between Colombo Dhaka which is one of the impediments for expansion of trade and investment will be a reality during this year.
Last year marked significant improvement in the fields of cooperation on religious activities, arts and culture, between the two countries. Hon. Abul Kalam Azad, Minister of Information and Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh attended “Lakrangana 2009” talent show organized by Seva Vanitha Unit of Sri Lanka High Commission in Dhaka. Hon. Piyasiri Wijenayake, M.P., Minister of Cultural Affairs attended Regional Seminar organized by Theatre Foundation Institute of Bangladesh.
Initial agreement has been reached by the both countries to exchange experts, teachers and films, promote culture, sports and scientific cooperation.
In recent times cooperation in the field of sports between two countries has been enhanced considerably. Sri Lanka under 19 Cricket Team and National Football team toured Bangladesh and Sri Lanka National Cricket Team won the IDEA Cup recently. A contingent of nearly four hundred Sri Lankan athletes is now in Bangladesh to participate in the 11th South Asian Games.
Sri Lanka appreciates steps taken by the Bangladesh Government to reform free universal non discriminatory education from the primary to tertiary level. The Government of Sri Lanka is ready to assist whatever possible manner in this direction.
Under the agreement which is due to be signed shortly on fisheries cooperation, both countries will be able to use maritime resources for the benefit of both countries. Sri Lanka is grateful to Bangladesh Department of Foreign Affairs, Navy and Department of Fisheries for their cooperation in repatriation of stranded Sri Lankan fishermen.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the friendly people of Bangladesh for their goodwill and friendship and wish them peace, happiness and prosperity in the year 2010. I also take this opportunity to extend my heartiest wishes to the Government of Bangladesh, and look forward to a continued friendship on our bilateral relations in the time ahead.
Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh