Sri Lankans counter LTTE supporters at the 64th Independence celebrations in Deutschland
By Lalith Ganhewa in Berlin
Feb 10, 2011
The 64th Independence Celebrations of Sri Lanka at the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Berlin was attended by a cross section of the domiciled Sri Lankans living in Berlin. Around 250 invitees gathered at the Embassy in Berlin. The official programme started off with the hoisting of the National Flag followed by singing of the National anthem in the in the Embassy grounds in Berlin. Religious observances according to each religion were performed as practiced in Sri Lanka.
A Buddhist religious observance was conducted by Ven. Rambukwelle Devananda thero and Ven. Shantha Rakkihtha thero, followed by Hindu, Christian, and Islamic religious observances.
President Rajapaksa's massage was read out by Ambassador Sarath Kongahage, followed by the messages of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.
Ambassador Kongahage called the Sri Lankan Community living in Germany to unite and work for a better Sri Lankan future. Rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reconstruction would take Sri Lanka to the future it deserves. He also stressed on the unity and tolerance among communities.
In addition to the Celebrations in Berlin, the Sri Lankan Consulate in Frankfurt too celebrated the Independence Day led by the Consul General in Frankfurt Mr. Pradip Jayawardana.
Speaking to the invited audience of around 150 in Frankfurt, Mr. Jayawardane stressed on the economic opportunities available in Sri Lanka and the importance of Sri Lanka attracting the correct investors useful for her forward march.
Three demonstrations also took place during the Sri Lankan Independence Day Celebrations in Germany. Two, in Berlin and one in Frankurt. However, all attempts by the LTTE supporters to sabotage the Independence Day celebrations in Berlin and Frankfurt were countered well. In Frankfurt, based on the strong protest of Consul Jayawardana, the Police cordoned off the 23 LTTE supporters and named a “No Protest Zone” around the Embassy, hence their attempts to reach out to the visitors was futile.
There was not a single function in the Sri Lankan Embassy in Berlin in the recent past that didn’t attract similar protests by the LTTE in front of the Embassy. However, this year their attempts to conduct a protest akin to their former, was wasted, when a patriotic Sri Lankans in Berlin gathered as “Friends of Sri Lanka”, and conducted a pro Sri Lanka demonstration, stating all the positive things that have taken place after the end of the 30 year war in Sri Lanka. This demonstration was supported by the members of Eksath Sri Lanka Kavaya in Berlin and the Sri Lanka Association in Berlin e.V. Around 100 patriotic Sri Lankans participated in this demonstration.
The demonstrators were not deterred by the extreme weather conditions that day. They braved the minus 19 degrees Celsius cold and snow with each one of them holding a national flag in their hand, a large national flag and banners were also displayed opposite the embassy from 2pm to 8pm. Hence, instead of the usual anti-Sri Lankan propaganda by the LTTE, this year, Friends of Sri Lanka managed to show the visitors to the Sri Lankan Embassy the positive side of Sri Lanka and limit the 09 member LTTE protestors to a side alee around the Sri Lankan Embassy.
When the National flag was hoisted and the National Anthem was being sung within the Embassy premises, Berlin’s LTTE leader Gopalapillai Jeyshankar and his 8 supporters tried to hoot it down, however, they were out voiced by the pro Sri Lanka demonstrators singing the national anthem so laud across the street. Several attempts by the LTTE to read malevolent slogans were also overwhelmed by the pro Sri Lanka demonstrators opposite the Embassy with bellowing “Sri Lankawete Jayaweva” ! At last Jeyshankar and his 8 LTTE supporters called off their protest at 6 PM.
Explaining the reasons for the demonstration, the convenor of the Pro Sri Lanka demonstration said, “The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right in Germany. This right is not theirs only. This right can also be used to demonstrate in support of something. So we too are acting under the same right as the LTTE, but we are in support of Sri Lanka as a nation on her 64th independence day”. Four German riot police units provided tight security to this event.