Ambassador of Bangladesh to The Netherlands Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Ambassador of Pakistan to The Netherlands Moazzam A. Khan, President of the Dutch Senate Ankie Broekers-Knol, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to The Netherlands Adam M.J. Sadiq, International Commission on Missing Persons Director General Kathryne Bomberger, Hague Conference on Private International Law Secretary General Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, Ambassador of India to The Netherlands J.S. Mukul, and Permanent Court of Arbitration Secretary General Hugo Siblesz. Second row from left: Common Fund for Commodities Managing Director Parvindar Singh, former Dutch Ambassador to Sri Lanka Louis Piet, former Dutch Ambassador to Sri Lanka Bastiaan Korner, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Head of the Asia & Oceania Department Dr. Peter Potman, Ambassador of Afghanistan to The Netherlands Obaidullah Obaid, Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Director General Ahmet Üzümcü and Mayor of Wassenaar Jan Hoekema
The National Day celebrations to mark the 68th anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka were held last Thursday 4 February at the Embassy premises, followed by a reception at the Official Residence of the Ambassador on Monday, 8 February respectively in The Hague.
The formal ceremony at the Embassy on 4 February, commenced with the hoisting of the National Flag by the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Adam M.J. Sadiq to the accompaniment of magul bera music. Thereafter, the National Anthem was sung in both official languages and two minutes of silence were observed in memory of the national heroes who fought for the independence of Sri Lanka, as well as members of the Armed Forces, Police and Civil Defence Force who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence of the motherland.
For the first time an open invitation was extended to Dutch friends and well-wishers of Sri Lanka to attend the ceremony. Despite the inclement weather, there was a high turnout of both the members of the expatriate Sri Lankan community and Dutch well-wishers at the function.
Multi-faith prayers were offered to invoke blessings on Sri Lanka by religious dignitaries representing Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths.
The highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by children belonging to the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Dutch Burgher communities in The Netherlands, dressed in their traditional costumes, which Ambassador Sadiq alluded to, in his address to the gathering. He said that the participation of children from all four communities symbolised the national unity and the ongoing process of national reconciliation that is underway in Sri Lanka, after a long-drawn-out and bitter armed conflict.
He remarked that the celebration of the National Day is one of the many opportunities for Sri Lankan expatriate communities living far away from the shores of Sri Lanka to reconnect with each other and mend strained relations. In this context, he hoped that the Sri Lankan community in The Netherlands would provide a shining example and a beacon of hope to fellow compatriots in other parts of the world, as well as the people in Sri Lanka.
He also highlighted the importance of all patriotic Sri Lankans who have genuine affection for their motherland to shed past prejudices and outmoded concepts of the nation-state of Sri Lanka, and accept the reality that the island is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-linguistic country, where all citizens enjoy equal rights, without any discrimination whatsoever.
He remarked that it is only when the Sri Lankan people whole heartedly embrace and celebrate the pluralistic nature of the State, in all its diversity that it would be possible to achieve lasting peace and stability, so essential for the continued progress and prosperity of the motherland.
At the end of the event, a traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch was served to the assembled gathering.
Ambassador Sadiq hosted a Diplomatic Reception at Lak Medura, the official residence of the Ambassador, on 8 February which was attended by over 100 invited guests, including senior Foreign Ministry and Dutch Government officials, Ambassadors, heads of international organisations headquartered in The Netherlands, namely, the Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Secretary General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), the Director General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Managing Director of the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and Dutch business and media personalities.
At the beginning of the reception, the Chief Guest Ankie Broekers-Knol, the President of the Dutch Senate, lit the traditional oil lamp, joined by the Mayor of Wassenaar, Jan Hoekema, Director of the Asia and Oceania Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Peter Potman, former Dutch Ambassadors to Sri Lanka, Bastiaan Korner and Louis Piet, Heads of the above five international organisations and Ambassadors of SAARC countries in The Netherlands, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
At the end of the reception, all guests were given gift bags containing tourist brochures, Ceylon tea and souvenir items, generously provided by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau in Colombo.