A public meeting was held on the 28th Dec at the Whitton Community Centre, Twickenham to pledge the support of patriotic UK Sri Lankans to Mr Maithripala Sirisena at the forthcoming presidential election. The meeting was organised by ‘ Support Maithri UK Team’ which is an independent political forum . The meeting was well attended by officials of branches of political parties which include United National Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Jathika Hela Urumaya, Democratic Party, professionals and business owners who live and work in the UK.
Buddhi Weerasinghe , Joint Convenor chaired the meeting and the meeting commence at 3pmUK time.
The attendees of the meeting observed 2 minutes silence in remembrance of people who lost lives due to floods and landslides in Sri Lanka and for those died due to Tsunami in 2004.
Delivering the welcome speech Buddhi Weerasinghe, Chartered Marketer, Joint Convenor stated that ‘Support Maithri UK Team’ is a forum which aim to bring cross sections of people who love Sri Lanka to one platform on which they can work towards influencing Sri Lankan policy makers, politicians to re-establish democratic institutions & create a free and fair society. The Support Maithri Team and UK Sri Lankans are very sensitive on the current political climate in Sri Lanka and extremely concerned and worried about the way in which the current regime is violating fundamental rights of fellow citizens of Sri Lanka. Buddhi Weerasinghe further stated that although most of UK Sri Lankans are not able to cast their votes at elections in Sri Lanka, there are still ways to influence politicians and policy makers of Sri Lankan and can try to hold authorities accountable on issues such violations of elections laws, abuse of constitution and executive powers by the incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa. He further went onto say that, as Sri Lankans everybody should appreciate the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his collation partners such as JVP and JHU for the political leadership given in winning the civil war, in particular the immense service rendered by Gen Sarath Fonseka. However, the victory of the war shouldn’t be used an open cheque to rob the country for which UK Sri Lankans are against. Buddhi Weerasinghe shared how Support Maithri UK Team intend to support Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign. He said that the Support Maithri UK Team aim to ensure families and friends will be requested by UK Sri Lankans to use their franchise rights and cast their votes for Maithripala Sirisena. There is a planed campaign and the Support Maithri Team expects to canvass 10,000 plus votes on this campaign. He said that ‘ Support Maithri UK Team ‘ will write to the election commissioner of Sri Lanka, Inspectors of Police and Elections Monitoring Groups.
Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena had sent a special message which was read by Damendra Panangala, the joint convenor of Support Maithri UK Team. On his special message to UK Sri Lankans, The Common Candidate thanked all UK Sri Lankans for their trust placed on him and he assured that he will deliver what he promised and he welcomes suggestions from UK Sri Lankans towards his 100 days plans as stipulated on his manifesto. He also requested UK Sri Lankans to get their friends and families in Sri Lanka to vote for him at the coming presidential election.
Delivering a speech on Truth and Myth about UK Sri Lankan Diaspora Involvement in Sri Lanka, Mr Harshaka Kannangara ,Barrister and President of UNP UK Branch stated that it is completely a false propaganda from the Sri Lankan government and stated that the government was involved in a misleading and mudslinging campaign against the common opposition that they want to bring war heroes to a war crimes tribunal.
He further stated that a very small group such as Global Tamil Forum and some of LTTE supporters living in foreign countries probably would like to promote LTTE ideologies but Sri Lankans government cannot classify every opposition supporter as Pro-LTTEers. He stated that its imperative for all Sri Lankans to understand the cheap propaganda campaigns carried out by the current regime with a slogan of “international conspiracy”. This is the only slogan they have today as they are facing a heavy defeat at the hands of common opposition.
Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a commission to look in to the post war issues. The LLRC issued their report which was welcomed by both local and international community. The United Nations are only requesting to implement the recommendations made by the Presidential commission. There has never been a call for bringing war crimes against the troops. Despite that, the common opposition has very clearly declared that they would not allow to bring any Sri Lankan to a war crimes tribunal. Mr Kannangara went to say that Sri Lankan government doesn’t have a clear foreign policy and as result we have become isolated in the international community. The government is spreading false propaganda that the president and members of armed forces will be taken to tribunal and try to win the electorate through that. Fortunately, Sri Lankans are not naive to believe such a story.
He also mentioned that the government used a photograph of him and few other UNP UK Branch officials with Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe to publish few slanderous articles in 2 weekend newspapers in Sri Lanka to indicate that Mr Wickramasignhe met the LTTE Diaspora in London. That was an evidence of government’s bankrupt strategies. UNP managed to counter that allegation without a difficulty. Now they have published another false document alleged to have signed by Mr Maithreepala Sirisena and Mr Ranil Wickramasignhe. That document carried all hallmarks of a false document. The country would not believe the current regime any longer and they are waiting until 8th January to change the entire corrupt political culture.
He requested everyone to educate their friends and families who still have not heard the truth about the myth of international conspiracy.
The Significant feature of this meeting was Prof Sarath WIjesooriya’s key note speech. Pro Jayasooriya noted that, in terms of volatile scenario now prevailing the island , he appraised very much the efforts of UK Sri Lankans who have come forward to support the common candidate. The common candidate is gathering support like a storm from all sections of the communities , from parties whose sole common object is to remove the Rajapakse’s dictatorial family rule. The forces that have been mobilized against the incumbent president have rightly raised the issue of democracy as a central issue facing the country today
Pro Jayasooriya recalled that President Rajapaksa promised the people of Sri Lanka that he would abolished executive presidency in 2005 and then again 2010. Instead of abolishing executive presidency., he got 18th amendment passed through the parliament which paved the way for him to contest again to the presidency. Its evident that Rajapakssa have the full control over the executive, legislative and judiciary powers of the county where there is no law and order, good governance of the country. He further stated that the way in which Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was ousted is disgusting. In the circumstance, Sri Lankans are fed up and now rally around to send President Rajapaksa home. Besides this purpose, the backers of Mathripala Sirisena also aim at eliminating or removing the powers of the president’s post.
He urged Sri Lankans living in the UK to speak to their families and friends in Sri Lankan and join hand with fellow Sri Lankans to put an end regime of thugs, goons, drug peddlers, rapists and murderers
The Chairman of Leadership Council Karu Jayasuriya has sent a video message to UK Sri Lankans and he appreciated the hard work of all UK Sri Lankans who have come forward to support common candidate.
The manifesto of Maithripala Sirisena was presented to an attendee UK Sri Lankan on behalf of Maithripala Sirisena by Harsha Siriwardena, the past president of UNP UK Branch.
Following the presentation of manifesto, the open discussion commenced. Among the contributors to the open discussion were Dr. S. Muthulingam, Dr. Sampath Wickramarathne, Ms Maheshi Kodikara (representing UK media), Managing Director of Apekama, Mr. Mahinda Perera Ushettige of Jathika Hela Urumaya , Mr Muditha Roshan, Mr Roshan Daniel of United National Party, ex-local Councillor Mr. Chathura Mallawa and Roshan Samantha from National Youth Front, UK Branch.
Mr. Lal Dias, the President of Janahanda Foundation in Hounslow passed on his best wishes to the forum and expressed his concerns on the current political state in Sri Lanka. He said the time has come for a change and as Sri Lankans we all should be united and make our voice. He further said that, its extremely important to educate UK Sri Lankans and irrespective of their political views, they need to contribute to make the upcoming presidential election a victory for common candidate Maithripala Sirisena and the people of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans living overseas.
Mr. Harsha Siriwardena speaking at the meeting, extended his appreciation to the Support Maithri UK Team on behalf of the United National Party. He said that his party’s only focus is to safeguard democracy in the island and said that by agreeing to field SLFP’s General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, the UNP has proved again that UNP only prioritize National Interest and needs of the country
Vote of thank was delivered by Roshan Ranmandala . The event was organized by team of all party activitist together with co-organizers Madhawa Ranmadala, Ravi Siriwardena.