The Sri Lanka Embassy together with the Sri Lankan community in the Greater Washington area celebrated International Peace Day at the Embassy in Washington DC, on September 21, 2006.

The event organized by the Embassy staff was attended by a cross section of Sri Lankans in the Greater Washington DC area and representatives of the Sri Lanka related associations and focused on multi-religious observances. The Buddhist religious observances were led by Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Thera of the Washington Buddhist Vihara and Ven. Katugastota Uparatana Thera of the International Buddhist Center in Wheaton. This was followed by the Hindu religious observances led by Mrs. Kanagar Ranganathan, the Christian religious observances led by Dr. Hillary Codippily and the Muslim religious observances led by Mr. Nazeer Azeez. Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha welcomed the guests.

Leader of the House, Health and Nutrition Minister and Sri Lanka Government Chief Negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva and the Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat Dr. Palitha Kohona who were visiting Washington DC at the time also participated in the event. Addressing the gathering at the Embassy, Minister de Silva said President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent a very clear message to the international community by openly declaring that Sri Lanka is not pursuing a military option but is seeking an honorable peace where all communities can reap the benefit of a successful peace process. The Minister said the US government is very supportive of Sri Lanka’s stand and has full confidence in the government.

In a message issued for International Peace Day which was read at the event, President Mahinda Rajapaksa stated, "I also reiterate my call for a negotiated settlement of the internal strife in our country and extend my hand of friendship to the LTTE that is conducting an armed struggle against the state to join me in a search for a dignified and just peace for our motherland."

The International Peace Day, September 21 is celebrated worldwide in accordance with a UN resolution which declares that this day be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. Furthermore, September 21, 2006 falls within the period covering the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010.

Adding a colorful touch to the program was the participation of the young student Asanga Roshan who is on a Peace Walk since August 20, 2006, from Durham, North Carolina to the Statue of Liberty in New York who arrived at the Embassy to participate in the International Peace Day celebrations. Minister de Silva who commended Roshan said that the government is encouraged and strengthened by such individuals. "The second and third generations of Sri Lankans need to necessarily get involved too, to ensure a sustainable peace," said the Minister.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

22 September 2006

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