Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama met with the Sri Lankan expatriates living in the Greater Washington DC area, on October 4, 2007, to brief them of the current situation in Sri Lanka, to appreciate their assistance to Sri Lanka and to encourage their future efforts on the country’s behalf.

Minister Bogollagama in his address explained the current ground situation in Sri Lanka in relation to the LTTE. "The mistake we made was giving parity of status to the LTTE in the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002," said the Minister.

He dwelt at length on the allegations of human rights on which the international community, especially the western nations, has raised concerns with Sri Lanka. The Minister explained the situation in terms of what Sri Lanka is doing to counter these adverse opinions, particularly the allegations of impunity. He spoke of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) established by the government in 2006, to probe into fifteen incidents of extra judicial killings and other incidents that have occurred since August 2005. These include the massacre of 17 NGO aid workers, the killing of 68 bus passengers in a landmine attack, and the assassination of foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The commission is made up of prominent Sri Lankans and their investigations are being observed by an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIEGP), whose members are from Australia, Britain, Canada, the European Union, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. The Minister said that Sri Lanka has a functioning judicial system where people can seek redress. "There can’t be impunity when there is the rule of law," he said.

The Minister also spoke on Sri Lanka’s devolution process, tracing the political negotiations the government of Sri Lanka has unsuccessfully pursued with the LTTE since 1985. There can’t be a divide in the southern polity. This is the challenge the challenge the President took upon himself," said the Minister, explaining why the government established the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), to get in motion a political process to address the core issues that have confronted the country for close to three decades and build consensus among political parties represented in the parliament.

While thanking the community for their many efforts to help Sri Lanka over the years, the Minister said that there was yet a lot to be done and that he looked to the expatriate community living in various parts of the world for an even greater degree of commitment to help Sri Lanka toward a better tomorrow.

Before the Minister addressed the gathering, Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke in his introductory remarks, recalled President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s words to Sri Lankan expatriates in Los Angeles, California, recently. "President Mahinda Rajapaksa is deeply appreciative of the generosity and support of expatriate Sri Lankans toward bringing peace and prosperity to Sri Lanka, and he wants you all to be Ambassadors of Sri Lanka in your individual capacities and in the various opportunities that present themselves to you," said Ambassador Goonetilleke.

The gathering comprised nearly 200 Sri Lankans living in the Greater Washington DC area.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

07 October 2007


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