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The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera strongly rejected allegations that a diaspora festival suggested by him has received funds from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reintroduce the separatist Eelam agenda.

The Minister rejected the media reports and explained that the diaspora festival is solely his suggestion and not by any other organization or UNHRC. He said the reports which said the Government received US$ 3.5 million from UNHRC to organize the festival and it is an effort to revive the Eelam are totally false.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera was speaking to media at a workshop held for the newly appointed diplomats who are due to take up their positions in other countries. The 10-day workshop, jointly organized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute, was held for 33 newly appointed Sri Lankan diplomats.

Stating that the holding of a Diaspora Senakeliya (Festival) was no

one’s, but, his own idea, Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that such felicitation ceremonies are so common in the world and he has seen many countries, such as, India and Ireland conduct such events with Diaspora communities. “These events help establish healthy connections between the Diaspora communities and communities that represent their countries of origin. They have been able to get the support of Diaspora communities to support their development activities in this manner,” he explained.

“We have many members among the Sri Lanka Diaspora community who have been major successes. It is wrong to think that Diaspora means some kind of aliens from Mars or some terrorists. We have a large number of members comprising the Burgher diaspora living in Australia,” he added.

“Diaspora members mean anyone. They could be Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims. Some of these members have reached very high positions in the countries they live in. I have come to learn that NASA has about nine Sri Lankans working for them. We have the best of businessmen, artistes, literary persons, cooks and many others who are experts in diverse fields of work in this very Sri Lanka diaspora,” he explained. “We need them and their expertise to be included in our development activities. There are people who can invest large amounts of money in business among them. We can take a quantum leap in development with their support,” he said.

He said that extremist groups in any country stand in the way of development, be they Sinhala or Tamil extremists as is the case in our country.

“The victory at the January election is victory for the moderates. We cannot just let extremists raise their heads and destroy this country,” Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

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