President at 65th Independence Day celebrations:
Development and reconciliation - best answer to false propaganda
Foreign countries invited to witness developments in
Sri Lanka responds to the publicity against the country carried out
abroad by inviting foreign countries to come here. The best answer to
false publicity and propaganda carried out in foreign countries is
development and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa
told the 65th Independence Day celebrations.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa addresses
the 65th Independence Day celebrations
Addressing the gathering in Trincomalee last Monday, he said, “Do not
believe something just because it is said, because you have read
reports, critics have said it or the media has published it. Come and
see for yourselves”.
The full text of the President's speech:
“We celebrate this 65th anniversary of Independence with great
freedom and the immense pride derived from it. I offer my respectful
salute to all who sacrificed their lives and shed blood and sweat for
Sri Lanka’s freedom and independence.
You are aware that the city of Trincomalee that we are gathered in
today is an area with a very important history. For thousands of years,
Sri Lanka was important to the world because of the Trincomalee Harbour
located here. In the past, this port was called the Port of
As stated in our chronicles, it was in this area that the two
merchant brothers - Thapassu and Bhalluka - set ashore with the Hair
Relics of the Buddha. During the Kandyan period, when we had been
deprived of higher ordination of the Sangha, the monks who brought
higher ordination from the ancient land of Siam, also arrived at
Important port city
When we were important in the world because of this port, the Dutch
arrived and established a fort at Kottiyar and captured this area. The
evidence of history is that to secure power in Asia, control over this
port of Trincomalee should be obtained. That is why, even after the
country received Independence in 1948, the British maintained their
naval camps in this area. The camps of foreign naval forces that were in
the country since 1795 were removed in 1957.
You will recall what the LTTE Tigers subsequently did to gain control
of this port and city that had become a nerve centre in the Indian
Ocean. The Buddha statue at Trincomalee was protected with barbed wire
fencing around it. There was no peace or freedom even for the sacred
statue. On the day when the first provincial council elections were held
after this area was liberated, the terrorists sunk a ship that was
anchored in this harbour.
Shackles of slavery
We have arrived in Trincomalee today, having broken all those
shackles of slavery. Therefore, by holding our Independence Day
celebrations in this city, important to the world for thousands of
years, we show the world the importance we attach to both world peace,
freedom and reconciliation.
Nearly four years have gone since Sri Lanka became the only country
in the world to have totally eradicated terrorism. However, throughout
this entire period we have had to face continued challenges to protect
the freedom and independence of our motherland. For this very reason we
have now come to a very strong situation.
Similarly, facing up to these challenges has increased our desire to
be committed to our freedom.
Our interest in gaining economic strength has similarly increased.
Sri Lanka’s foreign policy is that of non-alignment. It is necessary
for us to build a new era in foreign affairs based on this policy. This
is essential for the freedom of Sri Lanka today. In addition to our
traditional relations, we have established new links with Asian,
African, Arab and Latin American countries.
We respond to the publicity against Sri Lanka carried out abroad by
inviting foreign countries to come to Sri Lanka. We have seen that the
best answer to false publicity and propaganda carried out in foreign
countries is development and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Do not believe something just because it is said, because you have
read reports, critics have said it or the media has published it. We
tell the people of the world – Come! Come Over and See for yourselves!
Along with gaining independence in 1948, we were able to be seated as
an equal member of the United Nations Organization. Article 2 of the
United Nations Charter states that the organisation is based on the
principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
I shall now quote it,
“* The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign
equality of all its Members.
* All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the
threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state, or any other manner inconsistent with the
purposes of the United Nations.
* Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorise the United
Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the
domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to
submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.”
We are a country that has always respected the Charter of the United
Nations. We strongly hold the position that whether powerful or weak,
any country in the United Nations Organization should respect its
At the 65th Independence Day
Pic: Sudath Malaweera
It is necessary to state on this occasion that as much as racism,
religious differences too can be a cause for the destruction of a
country. If anyone is trying to build religious rivalry in Sri Lanka
again, they do not serve their religion, but serve the interests of
separatism in the country. We cannot leave room for what could not be
achieved through terrorism to be gained by this.
Today in Colombo and the South, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslim
people live together. In the East, the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim
people live together. The best example of this is Trincomalee.
In Ampara too, all three communities live in harmony. In building of
the Velgama Raja Maha Vihara here in Trincomalee, during a certain era,
the Tamil Hindus also contributed as much as the Sinhala Buddhists. That
is not all, in Kandy where the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha is
enshrined, the land to build the Meera Makkam Mosque was donated from
the land of the Asgiriya Temple.
When the people live together in unity, there are no racial or
religious differences. Therefore, it is not practical for this country
to be divided based on ethnicity. The solution is to live together in
this country with equal rights for all communities.”
Ethnic, religious differences
Speaking in Tamil too, President Rajapaksa gave the example of people
of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities living together in harmony in
Colombo and the South, with Trincomalee being a very good example. He
reminded that the building of the Welgama Raja Maha Vihara in
Trincomalee was through the joint efforts of Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil
Hindus and that land for the Meera Makkam Mosque in Kandy was given from
a Buddhist temple.
He added that when people live together there was no room for ethnic
or religious differences. It was not possible to divide the country on
The best solution is for all to live together with equal rights.
Religious differences, just as racial differences, lead to destruction
of the country. Anyone who causes such division supports the division of
the country. We will not leave room for that.
Speaking further in Tamil, he said, “My friends in the Sinhala, Tamil
and Muslim communities, all of you have a very high culture. I would
urge you to trust your neighbour and not leave the country as done by
the Diaspora that has left the country and live abroad.”
Speaking in Sinhala again, the President said, “If freedom is a
heavenly state, it is not a state one can fully achieve. There was a
time when you went past road blocks in fear of death. When you trod in
fear past the roadblocks, you did not see the potholes. You did not have
the time to think of cleanliness of the city or new road signs.
But when the fear of death and the roadblocks are no more, you notice
the potholes on those roads. What is next needed is a concrete road.
Once concrete roads are given to the entire country and the roads are
properly carpeted, one notices the absence of modern signboards. When
these are completed, we seek roads with more lanes for traffic. The
expectations in a free country are also like this. The more freedom is
obtained, the people expect a more advanced life.
Decade of freedom
If you count the decades from 1948 to 1958, and onwards, there is no
doubt that the decade of freedom from 2008 to 2018 will become the
greatest era in our country. It is in this decade that we gave full
meaning and content to the statement by D.S. Senanayake at the time of
Independence that “freedom was obtained to reduce sorrow and increased
We are a nation that has suffered immensely for freedom. All
political parties in this country should understand this. It is not only
the Government, but the Opposition too has the responsibility to
safeguard this freedom we have won. Protecting the country and building
reconciliation is not support extended to the Government or the
Opposition. It is support given to the country. It is doing one’s duty
by the land of one’s birth.
It is necessary that I place before the world a reference in Buddhist
teaching about the value of freedom. In preaching to a young Brahmana
named Ambatta, the Buddha related the example of Gomariththa to show the
importance of being able to live freely even under the most trying
The bird referred to, Kata Kirilli, commonly known in villages as
Gomariththa (common wagtail), is found in paddy fields and builds its
nets under the mud raised by ploughing the field. The Kata Kirilli too
should have the freedom to live within its nest the way it wishes. The
Sri Lankan people are also entitled to this freedom. Therefore, the
people of my country should have the right to live freely. Wish you a
bright and prosperous future!”