Ambassador says, “People in Sri Lanka are happy to be living without the fear of terrorism”

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya recently urged a mix of Sri Lanka expatriates here -- including Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims -- to support peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in the country’s war-damaged Northern Province.

At a meeting organized by the Sri Lankan Diaspora, Ambassador Wickramasuriya offered a detailed explanation of the situation in Sri Lanka, including the progress in resettling the more than 287,000 civilians initially displaced when the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) concluded in May.

Since then, the government has resettled about 50,000 civilians, and plans are underway to return another 50,000 home by Sept. 30. That would leave fewer than 200,000 displaced people in government-run welfare centers.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya said that the government is keen to resettle all displaced civilians as soon as possible, and that the government is currently taking the necessary steps to remove landmines and weapons buried throughout the North.

Ambassador further noted that the LTTE, one of the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfits, had been eliminated by Sri Lankan forces that also freed thousands of civilians held hostage by the terrorists. Ambassador Wickramasuriya, who just completed his first year of service in Washington, recalled his recent visit to Sri Lanka and elaborated that, "people in Sri Lanka are happy to be living without the fear of terrorism."

The cross section of expatriates praised the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for his efforts to eliminate terrorism from Sri Lanka, and they expressed confidence that the President would create an atmosphere in which all Sri Lankans could live happily. The participants also expressed their willingness to assist the Embassy to achieve this goal.

In response, Ambassador Wickramasuriya invited the Tamil Diaspora to visit Sri Lanka in order to develop the nation. He further pointed out that the conflict’s conclusion provides an opportunity to work together as Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnicity and religion.

A group of students from Pennies and Dimes for Better Times also met Ambassador and explained their activities in Boston. Their mission provides educational materials and supplies to displaced children in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Wickramasuriya congratulated them on their efforts.

During the visit, Ambassador also met the venerable Aluthgama Dhamma Jothi, Chief Incumbent of the New England Buddhist Vihara and Meditation Centre. Venerable Aluthgama Dhamma Jothi thanked Ambassador and invoked blessings.

In addition, Ambassador Wickramasuriya attended at a SaaRangaa Cultural Show. SaaRangaa shows provide an opportunity for children to perform works that celebrate Sri Lankan art, culture and heritage.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

03 September 2009

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