The 68th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence was celebrated at an event organised by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva on 6 February (Saturday) at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) New Building. Over 250 members of the Sri Lankan community attended the event.
Addressing the gathering, Samantha Jayasuriya, Charge d’Affaires a.i. said this solemn event was a celebration of Sri Lankan identity and the rich ethno-religious diversity that all Sri Lankans share. She noted that the Independence Day this year was celebrated at a time when the national unity government under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, “has presented to the world a Sri Lanka that is seeking to be a prosperous and peaceful nation, with equal opportunities for all its peoples, irrespective of their cast, creed or ethnicity”. Samantha Jayasuriya, also highlighted the contribution made by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva through actively engaging with a wide range of UN and international agencies, on human rights, trade, migration, disarmament, sustainable development, intellectual property, scientific research, environment and humanitarian work, over the last year, accruing tangible benefits to Sri Lanka. In this context she commended the Sri Lankan experts who have worked and are working in these organisations for their dedication as well as for their assistance to Sri Lanka over the years, and recalling Ambassador Aryasinha’s call on expatriate Sri Lankans and organisations to help in making the ‘Declaration of Peace’ pledge a reality abroad in practical ways she invited the overseas Sri Lankans and their associations to continue their good efforts to promote peace, prosperity and harmony in Sri Lanka.
The proceedings commenced with the hoisting of the national flag followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Two minutes silence was observed in honor of all patriots who have laid down their lives to preserve and protect the freedom, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
Following the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, multi-religious observances were conducted. Ven. Thawalama Dhammika Thero, Ven. Halyale Wimalarathana Thero and Ven. Halwitigala Sujatha Thero invoked blessings according to the Buddhist religious tradition. Rev. Uma Shankar Kurukkal and Rev. Karthik Ragavan Kurukkal conducted the Hindu religious observances. A.M. Zawahir conducted the Islamic religious observances. Rev. Vincent Schmid conducted the Christian religious observances.
The 68th Independence Day message of the President was read by Saman Ganiachchi, Attaché (Consular), while Mafusa Lafir, Second Secretary read the Prime Minister’s Message and Sarasi de Silva, Attaché (Research Officer) read the Message of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
R.D.S. Kumararatne, Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) delivered the Vote of Thanks. The official ceremony concluded with the playing of the National Anthem in Tamil. The hosts of the evening were Nalinda Wijerathna, First Secretary in Sinhala, Asha Neeliya, Management Assistant in Tamil and Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary in English.
The ceremonial segment of the program was followed by a Sri Lankan dinner hosted by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka.