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President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday reminded the international community about the provisions in the United Nations Charter that enjoin every memeber nation to refrain from threatening or using force to undermine the territorial integrity or political independence of any other. He said nothing contained in the present Charter authorises the UN to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state, or require the members to submit such matters for settlement under the present Charter. President Rajapaksa addressing the nation’s 65th independence anniversary celebrations in Trincomalee, stressed that Sri Lanka is a country that always respects the Charter of the UN and that all member countries, whether powerful or weak, should respect its Charter.
‘NO NATION CAN BROWBEAT ANOTHER’
PRESIDENT REFERS WORLD COMMUNITY TO UN CHARTER:
“Sri Lanka is a peaceful and reconciled society which is governed by democracy” - Ambassador Wickramasuriya Sri Lanka is a nation that strives for the protection of human rights and the rule of law. – US Congressman Robert Aderholt US Congressman Eni Faleomavaega recalls the terrible soul searching America went through losing 600,000 lives during the civil war
SRI LANKA’S 65TH YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATED IN WASHINGTON DC
President Mahinda Rajapaksa hoists the National Flag amidst the beating of magul bera and the blowing of conch shells at the 65th independence anniversary celebrations in Trincomalee.
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– US CONGRESSMAN ENI FALEOMAVAEGA The United States should not bully a small country like Sri Lanka, considering the difficulties it has had to face during a 30 year conflict, a member of the US House of Rep who is visiting Sri Lanka. “Why is the United States taking the lead in bullying a small country like Sri Lanka; when Sri Lanka has gone through a terrible conflict? Should we be looking at other countries when our own situation is yet to be cleared, for example even with Vietnam,” Eni FFaleomavaega, Jr., a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives from American Samoa, speaking to a group of journalists said. He noted that Sri Lanka has made significant progress with regard to reconciliation and reconstruction and should not be antagonized by the international community at forums such as the United Nations Human Rights Council.
US SHOULD NOT BULLY SMALL COUNTRIES
Copyright © 2013 Embassy of Sri Lanka - Washington DC, USA.
02 | FEBRUARY 2013 | FOCUS SRI LANKA
EMBASSY REQUIRES CONFIRMATION TO FIRM UP TRAVEL PLANS TO ATTEND THE OPENING OF MATTALA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
This communication is to encourage potential passengers who could not register earlier and reserve their seats, since accepting reservations will be closed shortly. The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC expresses thanks all who have evinced interest to be a passenger onboard the flight that will land on the inaugural day of Mattala International Airport in Southern Sri Lanka, which will be a significant milestone in Sri Lanka’s aviation history. As indicated previously, all Mattala bound US passengers will reach Dubai by Emirates Airlines from Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Washington DC, in time to connect to the SriLankan Airlines flight leaving for Mattala International Airport in the morning hours of Opt 1 2 3 4 Departure Washington, DC (IAD) Los Angeles (LAX) New York (JFK) Houston (IAH) March 18. 2013. Please note that the air tickets need to be purchased on or before Tuesday, February 26, 2013 to maintain the above prices. Prices are based on the return flight to USA departing Colombo on or before the 29th of March 2013. If you wish to return on a different date, please discuss your requirement with the travel coordinator. For travelers outside the United States and Canada, please contact Ms. Rushani Perera of the Embassy to discuss your flight plans, as rates and itineraries will vary. For easy coordination, the Embassy will prepare a list of travelers and hand it over to Upul Travels based in Los Angeles with all relevant information. Passengers interested in joining a 10-day tour exploring Sri Lanka should contact Time Arrival 10:55 am Dubai 4:45 pm Dubai 11:00 pm Dubai 6:50 pm Dubai Date 17-Mar 17-Mar 17-Mar 17-Mar the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC to obtain more details. Tour price is US $ 3500/ per person on twin sharing basis, while it will be US $ 4000 per person on single basis. This price is inclusive of air fare on economy class. However, passengers joining from Los Angeles should add US $ 195 per person to cover the additional travel cost from LA. We look forward to your valuable participation onboard our flight to the Mattala International Airport Inauguration on March 18 !!! For more details please contact: Ms. Rushani Perera, Ambassador’s Office, Embassy of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Avenue, NW, DC 20008 M | 202 352 8957 T | 202 483 4025 F | 202 232 7181 E-mail | email@example.com Cost $1,338.00 $1,533.50 $1,153.50 $1,165.00
Please finalize your travel reservations ASAP, as the deadline is Tuesday, February 26,2013
Date March 16 March 16 March 16 March 16 Time 8:00 am 7:35 pm 7:45 pm 6:45 pm
FOCUS SRI LANKA | FEBRUARY 2013 | 03
SRI LANKA’S 65TH YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATED IN WASHINGTON DC HIGHLIGHTING POST CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS & SHARING THE CORRECT STORY OF SRI LANKA
The Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC celebrated the 65th Anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka with a spectacular cultural evening at the University of the District of Columbia on Saturday, February 9. Approximately one thousand Sri Lankan – American community members and distinguished invitees including United States Congressmen, senior government officials and Washington based Ambassadors witnessed the biggest Sri Lankan cultural event held outside of Sri Lanka. Co-chair of the Congressional Sri Lanka Caucus Congressman Hon. Robert Aderholt, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Asia and the Pacific Congressman Hon. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Alyssa Ayres and visiting Sri Lankan Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy Hon. Susil Premajayanth delivered remarks. Minister of Public Management Reforms Hon. Navin Dissanayake, former US envoy to Sri Lanka Ambassador Patricia Butenis, Indian Ambassador to US Her Excellency Mrs. Nirupama Rao and senior diplomats in Washington were also in attendance.
04 | FEBRUARY 2013 | FOCUS SRI LANKA
The Gathering: Sri Lanka’s great elephant migration
SRI LANKA ENTERS TOP GLOBAL COUNTRY BRAND INDEX
Poachers have decimated elephant populations across Africa and parts of Asia, killing thousands of animals for their revered ivory. Yet in Sri Lanka, home to some 7,000 wild Asian elephants, a different, more hopeful story is playing out. It’s a story that’s attracting truckloads of tourists from around the world to witness a stunning wildlife spectacle, simultaneously raising concerns among conservationists about how increasing numbers of visitors may be impacting the large mammals. In north-central Sri Lanka’s Minneriya National Park, hundreds of elephants travel each year to the shores of an ancient reservoir built by a king more than 1,700 years ago. They’ve made the trip for centuries, coming from across the region to bathe, mate, social-
ize and, most importantly, to feed as part of an annual event known as “The Gathering.” During the dry season (July through early November), the water in the reservoir recedes. In its place, lush green grasses grow, providing a veritable feast for the hungry pachyderms. Between meals, the elephants head into the reservoir, spraying themselves with the shallow, muddy waters to create one of the world’s biggest pool parties. “Where else you can get so close to so many wild elephants at once?” asks James Thomas, a lawyer visiting The Gathering from Melbourne. “Watching massive herds of elephants bathe as the sun sets over the nearby mountains is an experience I’ll never forget.”
Sri Lanka has made it to the influential Country Brand Index for the first time in the compilation’s eight year history, debuting at what was described as “respectable” 67th rank with great potential to move up the ladder fast. The Index’ compiler FutureBrand’s South East Asia CEO Sarah Reiter described Sri Lanka’s rank as a “wonderful achievement for a debutant.” Out of 118 countries surveyed by FutureBrand, Sri Lanka is at 67 overall and 13th among Asia Pacific nations. The study involves an in-depth, rigorous and robust research and assesses 27 image attributes by 36,00 international and experienced business and leisure travelers, drawn from 18 countries in five continents. FutureBrand said it is one of the largest studies of its kind globally. FutureBrand explores the complexity, dynamics and benefits of how nations manifest as brands. It uses a proprietary Hierarchical Decision Model (HDM) to determine how key audiences including residents, investors, tourists and foreign governments perceive a country’s brand. The seven measures of brand strength are awareness, familiarity, associations, preference, consideration, decision/visitation and advocacy. Additionally five key dimensions are considered value system, quality of life, good for business, heritage and culture, and tourism.
FOCUS SRI LANKA | FEBRUARY 2013 | 05
Throngs of people welcome President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Jaffna
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he will give everything to the people of the Northern Province. He said whether people appreciate or not , that was his vision, mission and foremost duty. President Rajapaksa said that people should appreciate whatever that is given and then only ask for more. He also said that people should appreciate what the Government is doing for them. Speaking about the freedom that is now available, the Presi-
dent said, “The biggest gift we were able to give is the ability for people to live freely once again. Our most loved treasure is our children, and there was a time when parents had to hide their children to protect them. We should all work to protect this freedom.” President Rajapaksa on his way to Colombo after the completion of his two-day visit to Jaffna, visited a grap farm on the Keerimalai - Mawiddapuram road on the invitation of Minister Douglas Devananda.
06 | FEBRUARY 2013 | FOCUS SRI LANKA
SRI LANKAN TRADITIONAL DANCE AND MUSIC DAZZLES THE WORLD BANK HEADQUARTERS Country promotion through Culture, Investment and Trade
AS A PART OF VIGOROUS NATION BUILDING PROCESS, SRI LANKA EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON DC HOSTS GLITTERING EVENING PROMOTING TOURISM, CEYLON TEA & SRI LANKAN CUISINE
Greater Washington area. The primary objective of this well attended function jointly organized by the Embassy and the International Club DC was to promote Sri Lanka as a travel destination. Attendance of a large US audience was utilized as an ideal platform to showcase and promote Ceylon Tea – Sri Lanka’s unique gift to the World. The colorful evening reflecting the warm hospitality of Sri Lanka was much appreciated by the invitees. They profusely thanked the Ambassador for hosting this wonderful event that would generate much interest among prospective travelers to Sri Lanka. The audience was comprised of diverse personalities including professionals, business leaders and media personnel. Continuing its vigorous nation branding campaign in the US, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC embarked on yet another initiative on January 31 by hosting a glittering evening for over 100 guests who were keen to experience different cultures of the world, from the In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya opined that with the dawn of peace, many opportunities have emerged for international business in Sri Lanka. The Embassy always harnesses this conducive environment to promote real business opportunities in Sri Lanka amongst US corporate leaders. Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington DC as part of its vigorous cultural diplomacy programme organized the fifth annual Sri Lanka cultural performance at the World Bank on Monday, February 11, 2013. The large and representative audience at the prestigious Preston Auditorium, World Bank,were in rapt attention and erupted in applause as they witnessed the spellbinding performance of the internationally renowned Visha School of Dance from Sri Lanka. The Event was compered by Ms. Avanti Weerakoon who welcomed the guests on behalf of the Embassy of Sri Lanka and introduced Ms. Visha Manohari De Silva and her dance troupe. Executive Director of the World Bank for India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka Mr. Mukesh Nandan Prasad, Sri Lanka Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Mr. Jaliya Wickramasuriya and Mrs. Priyanga Wickramasuriya and senior World Bank and IMF officials were among the distinguished guests present.
FOCUS SRI LANKA | FEBRUARY 2013 | 07
All you will ever need is at the Hilton Colombo in Sri Lanka
The small island country of Sri Lanka is the new “gotta-do” destination ranked Number One on Lonely Planet’s Places to go in 2013. The country has a plethora of beaches, beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and friendly people plus seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The good news is the country is at peace making it a very safe place to visit. The best place to start exploring the island is at the Hilton in Colombo located an hour from the airport; however, a new highway should be completed by the 2014 which will make the trip less than 30 minutes. The Hilton’s comfortable accommodations offer a view of the Indian Ocean. The hotel boasts ten restaurants including the Curry Leaf, noted for its Sri Lankan cuisine presented in a traditional manner. The Echelon Pub is the perfect place to enjoy a beverage before dinner. Or, check out the amazing buffet at Spices. For a fine dining experience head to Spoons. Truly a restaurant to suit everyone’s taste. The grounds are beautiful with fountains and plenty of greenery. Beside the excellent accommodations and dining options guests can enjoy their 90-ft outdoor swimming pool and the hotel’s squash court. After a day of sightseeing or business relax in the steam room or sauna after exercising in the fully equipped fitness room.
Ulagalla is an amazing destination in Sri Lanka
There are some places so special that one feels the need to tell everyone but at the same time would like to keep it a secret so as not to have it inundated with people. Such a place is Ulagalla Resort in the heart of Sri Lanka. Ulagalla is located between the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura, which was once the capital of Sri Lanka; and about 20 miles north of Dambulla, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been sacred pilgrimage site for the over 2000 years. Ulagalla is a destination unto itself and while Anuradhapura and Dambulla should be visited on the way to Ulagalla visitors should plan to stay several days at the resort enjoying the bliss and serenity that it offers. Upon arrival guests light an oil lamp then ring the set of bells taking part in a traditional Sri Lankan arrival ceremony.
Ulagalla is the only Leeds Certified property in Sri Lanka which means the preserving the natural beauty of the area is a primary objective. Guests are surrounded by untouched wilderness feeling totally at one with Mother Nature while living a luxurious lifestyle. Each luxury villa comes with Eden-like plunge pool, a spacious living area with dining table for those intimate in-room dinners, and large four-poster bed. And, whether you are looking for an eco-experience, a cultural quest, an idyllic honeymoon, a rejuvenating wellness program, a rural adventure or a peaceful pilgrimage to the olden shrines, you will find it at Ulagalla. This very special place is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Travel writer Sandra Scott is a regular contributor to prestigious Travel Journals.
08 | FEBRUARY 2013 | FOCUS SRI LANKA
There is a very interesting and positive response from a wide cross section of the Sri Lankan public, including the Army, the Police, academic circles and the Ministry of External Affairs, to awareness-raising on human rights norms by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Head of Delegation, ICRC, Sri Lanka, Yves Giovannoni said. “We have reached a stage with the Sri Lankan armed forces, where we feel that the ICRC’s engagement with them in awareness-raising in relation to International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law could be less. In fact, it is time for a joint evaluation between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the training department of the ICRC on how the training in International Humanitarian There is an old saying that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. This phenomenon did take place here when a non-national was honoured as a National Hero of Ceylon. This is likely to be the only unique instance in the world where a non-national is honoured as a national hero. It was in the year 1967 when Dudley Senanayake was Prime Minister, realising the great volume of work done by Colonel Olcott to restore Buddhism in this country and also to teach English to Buddhist children in a Buddhist environment, requested the then Cabinet to pursue parliamentary sanction and honour Colonel Henry Steele Olcott as a National Hero of Ceylon. It was a co-incidence I believe that this posthumous honour was awarded on the 60th death anniversary of Colonel Henry Steele Olcott who departed on February 17,1907. In appreciation of the valuable gesture of Dudley Sananayake he well deserves public applause. BUDDHISM IN PERIL Buddhism was introduced to Ceylon from India with the arrival of Ven. Arhath Mahinda Thera by air with five others around the year 220 BC. There were several minor invasions from South Indian States, but there were no major threats to Buddhism in the country. The real organised threat to Buddhism came in year 1500 with the invasion of the coastal areas by the Portuguese who resorted to atrocities on Buddhist monks and destruction of places of religious worship. Law has been integrated at the national level and at the level of different units. May be, we will draw some lessons and I believe the ICRC’s involvement could be decreased from the current level of engagement, Giovannoni told The Island in an exclusive interview on the occasion of 150th anniversary of the founding of the ICRC. The first meeting of the ICRC was held on February 17, 1863. today reached an appreciable level of organizing this activity by themselves. This year we will try to find out areas where this bilateral cooperation needs to be continued. We have managed to promote an interest in IHL among thousands of Sri Lanka Army officers. They are definitely sensitive to the requirements of this branch of the law,” Giovannoni said. Asked to respond to allegations in some quarters that the ICRC had a bias towards the LTTE, the ICRC Head said that wherever his organization works there are allegations of bias towards one or the other of antagonists to an internal conflict. “For that matter there were occasions when the LTTE told us that we had some partiality for the Sri Lankan government. But this is our challenge. We persist in achieving our humanitarian aims, strict political neutrality. Next to trade the main aim of the Portuguese was propagation of Catholicism. With the passage of 150 years the Dutch, who overpowered the Portuguese with the help of the Sinhala Kings, were against the spread of Catholicism, but propagated their own version of Christianity. However the Dutch were not brutal in attitude as the predecessors. In yet another 150 years the British overran the coastal areas driving out the Dutch. The British rulers did not have religion in their agenda but they turned a blind eye to the numerous Christian missionaries who followed them and started their religious propagation work in various parts of the country. By 1850 the people of this little island had been under foreign oppression for 350 years and as such Buddhism was on a very low ebb and sliding down towards annihilation. Some bold monks at Dodanduwa and Panadura started Buddhist Sinhala Schools. Around this time there was open tension between Buddhists and Christians, resulting in the ‘Pancha Maha Vada’ whereby Ven. Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thera, the silver tongued orator came into prominence. GP DHANATUNGA Daily News - Sri Lanka
SRI LANKA SAYING ‘YES’ TO HUMANITARIAN NORMS
– ICRC CHIEF IN COLOMBO
“In terms of us teaching Humanitarian Law to the Sri Lankan armed forces, I believe the Lankan security forces have
COLONEL HENRY STEELE OLCOTT’S 106TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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