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DateLine Wednesday, 4 February 2009

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Government Gazette
61st Independence Day

Views on Independence

As our country celebrate its 61st year of independence, many are hopeful that the country will be liberated very soon. As our armed forces toil in the sand and liberate our beloved Motherland, we hope that very soon blood will not be shed and peace will be a reality.

Independence Square

We interviewed a cross section of the public including religious leaders to give their views on independence. It was enlightening to know that the positive outlook and the patriotism felt by the people is hope that as our country will celebrate a near-peaceful Independence Day on the 4th of February.

The Bellanvila Wimalarathna Thera said that this year’s independence offers some food for thought. The venerable Thera said, “Even though we gained independence in 1848, for the past decades we haven’t been free in our country because of the terrorists”. The venerable Thera added, “This year, I’m happy that we see our ‘proper’ independence in the horizon and hope that people set aside their differences to build a better Sri Lanka”.

The Chief Imaam of the Colombo Grand mosque, Moulavi Al Haj Shamsudeen said

that the Muslims have always joined together with the Sinhalese and Tamils to gain independence for the country and this time that vision will be fulfilled soon. “Every citizen should live in peace fully among communities with the freedom we have gained in the dignity and basic rights, if not the word ‘freedom’ has lost its value in sense”, said the Moulavi.

Rule of law

In his Independence Day message, the most venerable Archbishop of Colombo, Dr. Oswald Gomis said that victory has to be achieved through a political solution that is acceptable to the larger majority of our people on both sides of the divide and our fair-minded people should restore the rule of law in our country. The most venerable archbishop said, “It is my firm hope and prayer that the commemoration of Independence this year will help us initiate our journey in the direction of peace and prosperity”. The most venerable Swami Sarvarupananta of the Ramakrishna Mission in Wellawatte said, “We only pray and hope that peace will be a reality soon in our country”. The Swarmi said that the people should join hands and work together to achieve peace and success for this independence. “We have not been governed by politics but only by people who have faith in Sri Lanka and those who will pray and look at a person’s character and not by their skin colour”. Iranganie, a mother of three from Rajagiriya said that she hopes that the country will be liberated because sometimes it can be cumbersome to be checked at the security checkpoints.

True patriot

A wayside vendor Sangadasa from Grandpass said that he’s a true patriot and under the jurisdiction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country will be liberated soon. “I am definitely sure that by the time we celebrate next year’s independence, we can live in a terrorist-free Sri Lanka”.

Udaya from Gampaha, a lottery ticket seller said, “This time we can really celebrate independence because we feel that peace is now a reality and not a dream as we thought before”.

He said that the country has always been in turmoil with the terrorist problem and now there is hope for the people in the North and East”. A well-renowned businessman gave his views too by saying that the North and East can be liberated very soon. “The big corporations have already thought of business investments in the North and East because the situation is much better than before”.

He added that many are willing to go and invest there because the mentality is changing and peace is indeed possible in the near future. “It is best to grab the chance before the price on things like property rises fast as peace dawns”, he said.

Adding to this, an economist said that foreign investors to Sri Lanka can only be a reality if peace is established. “The economic recession is widespread around the world and Sri Lanka’s economy is pretty much stagnant because of the war”.

Interviews with college students in the Colpetty area was that while some said that they will definitely go abroad to complete their studies, many said that they will try to eke a living in their home country. Sudarshi (24) said, “After graduating recently, I used to think that there’s no future in Sri Lanka as I had plans to go abroad.

Global phenomenon

However, now I am confident that since peace is just round the corner, it would be good to take up a career here and I’ll still be home”. Master’s degree student Chamith (30) said, “Even though I studied and worked abroad for a long time, I always felt like a second-class citizen”. He said that living in Sri Lanka is no different than the rest of the world because terrorism is a global phenomenon and the countries in Africa have a situation that is far worse than here.

A Tamil student, who didn’t want to be named said, “Right now, the situation is difficult for Tamils because we are checked thoroughly which makes it difficult for us to travel in the dark”.

He hopes that peace will be soon but he had his doubts. “I hope Tamils will be free to travel around the city but if the country is liberated, it might not mean that the terrorist threat will not go away”. He further added, “Even though all around the world,

terrorism is prevalent, the government of Sri Lanka has optimum national security because the incidence of terrorist attacks is greatly lesser than before”.

An army officer posted near a checkpoint said, “We adhere to strict security measures in order to protect our nation’s people because it is our duty”. The officer, who usually has to stand guard for hours in the hot sun, said, “We know that the people find it difficult especially with the checking routine but we have done our best to prevent the loss of lives”.

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