PEACE PRIZE RECOGNIZES NORTHERN COMMANDER’S CONTRIBUTION TO JAFFNA
Sri Lanka Army during a glittering ceremony at Manila-based Philippine
International Convention Center (PICC) received further international
recognition when Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Commander,
Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna was awarded the South Asia’s
most prestigious Gusi Peace Award-2010 for his salutary role and
dedication towards humanitarian assistance to Jaffna people and
attainment of peace, dignity and harmony in the peninsula.
Gusi Peace Award, conferred annually by the Gusi Foundation recognizes
and honours exemplary contributions and commitment made by distinguished
individuals or groups worldwide towards Peace and Human Rights,
in Scientific Discoveries, Politics, Academia, Performing Arts,
Literature, Medicine or Physiology, Journalism, Economics, Humanities,
Physics, Chemistry, Religion, Internationalism, etc.
General Hathurusinghe, the only Southeast Asian laureate to have
received this Peace Prize, similar with the Nobel Peace Prize is
selected by a committee of 20 researchers. 19 more laureates from
every corner of the world, in addition to Major General Hathurusinghe
carried away the prize for this year in different spheres of excellence.
of those awards took place at the PICC Manila early this week, graced
by a galaxy of invitees including Sri Lankan Government’s representative,
North central Province Chief Minister Berti Premalal Dissanayake,
Sri Lankan Ambassador in the Philippines N. Bennet Cooray, senior
military officers, expatriates, et al.
Barry Sotejo Gusi, Chairman, Gusi Foundation and Peace Prize Philippine
Committee and Dr Mrs Evelyn Gusi who have been instrumental in sustaining
the award of those Peace Prizes with the support of the Gusi Peace
Prize Philippine Committee, inherited the arrangement, thanks to
the efforts of Mrs Chua Sotejo Gusi, the wife of much-respected
Captain Gemeniano Javier Gusi, inspiring founder of the Gusi Foundation
and its Peace Prize in 2002 who etched a legacy in the Philippine
history were in attendance at the colourful awards night.
All Gusi Peace Prize laureates on arrival at the main hall at the
PICC were conducted to the main stage in a dignified and colourful
parade, preceded by respective National Flags of their countries
of origin as music heralded their entry. It followed the military
parade, in which National and Gusi colours walked in afterwards
in accordance with the formal practice.
General Hathurusinghe in acknowledgement of the Gusi Peace Award
during his brief address to the audience gratefully reminisced about
the able guidance he received specially to be qualified for this
accolade, from HE the President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and
the Secretary Defence, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa who assisted him whole-heartedly
in restoring normalcy and promoting the economic prospects among
recipient in his brief note to the audience, also did not forget
to share the dignity of being the year’s Gusi Peace Prize laureate
with all military officers and soldiers with whom he worked jointly
for the welfare of Jaffna people in the past couple of years.
cultural troupe, specially flown from Rajarata, at the invitation
of the Gusi Foundation, added special colour to the awards night,
robbing the zenith of the day’s spectacle with traditional drums
reverberating. Several other international music and dancing groups
also provided entertainment to the occasion throughout.
Major General Hathurusinghe upon assumption of his duties as Jaffna
Commander at a critical stage of the recently culminated Humanitarian
Operation for peace, rendered an admirable service showing the highest
regard for humanitarian concerns in the peninsula winning hearts
and minds of the ordinary public. His amiable approach and common
sense as then Commander of Kilinochchi and later on as the Jaffna
Commander, made a difference and brought about an impressively sound
relationship between Tamil civilians and the members of the Security
the instructions of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General
Jagath Jayasuriya, he implemented a number of people-friendly projects,
including construction of houses for the returnees, conduct of medical
clinics, promotion of goodwill by way of sports and recreational
activities, improvement of all government schools, launching of
many community oriented welfare projects, distribution of school
books and stationery, repairs and reconstruction of Hindu temples,
facilitation of various other administrative services, etc.
establishment of the first-ever Civil Affairs and Public Relations
office complex in the heart of Jaffna town, brought immense solace
to the Tamil community and came in for praise of all segments in
society and the international community as it is slated to resolve
issues on the spot after directly connecting with relevant authorities
across the country.
the Gusi Peace Prize is honoring peace-loving endeavors worldwide,
I have chosen my homeland, the Philippines, to be the home of Gusi
Peace Prize… We should become international citizens of the Third
Millennium, helping one another to achieve world peace," Gusi
Ambassador Mr Barry S. Gusi told the august assembly. Mrs Mahinda
Hathurusinghe and members of Major General Hathurusinghe’s family
were present at the ceremony.
General Hathurusinghe was earlier awarded the prestigious Gold Medal
- 2009 for his thesis "Strategic Military Victory over LTTE"
during his Masters degree course in the National Defence College
of the Philippines as the first in order of merits.
Hathurusinghe's erudite theses scored over the other identical 32
works, presented to the 2009 class. He received his Gold Medal from
the Defence Under Secretary Antonio Santos during the graduation
ceremony of the 44th Regular Course - Masters in National Security
Administration (MNSA) in Manila last year before he was selected
for this reputed conferment of the Gusi Peace Award.
largely circulated English daily "Manila Times" in its
September 2, 2010 issue prominently carried a news story about his
graduation with flying colours under the caption "Sri Lankan
General gains top award at the National Defense College".
BY RANDOM JOTTINGS
In recognition of the epic victory of the Sri Lankan military forces
against the feared Tamil Tigers’ terrorist outfit—a bruising conflict
that dragged on for almost three decades at enormous social, economic
and political cost to this alluring tear-drop shaped island nation—the
Philippine-based Gusi International Peace Prize has selected a distinguished
Sri Lankan Army officer, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, as
one of the recipients of the 2010 event which takes place at the
Philippine International Convention Centre on November 24.
seen service in battle, General Hathurusinghe now commands the military
forces in the north in peace, and is playing a key role in over
sighting the advent of calm and prosperity in what was the erstwhile
heartland of the Tamil Tigers.
hearing news of his nomination for the award General Hathurusinghe
told The Manila Times: “Although
am named as the recipient of this prestigious award, I accept it
with all humility on behalf of my Commander in Chief, His Excellency
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Secretary of Defence Gotabaya
Rajapaksa, both of whom created the right framework for the final
victory against the most brutal terrorist group in the world which
had heaped so much grief and destruction on our motherland.
“I am also honored to accept the Guci Peace Award on behalf of all
the military forces, from the highest to the lowest ranks, who all
played their part in bringing peace to Sri Lanka. In particular
I want this award to commemorate all the military personnel who
bravely laid down their lives for this noble cause”.
commander of the northern forces based in Jaffna, General Hathurusinghe—who
possesses natural skills in interacting with people of every social
strata—heads the military arm of a civilian-military partnership
that is propelling this former stronghold of the Tamil Tigers (that
saw so much death and devastation during the reign of the terrorist
outfit) successfully onward and upward.
astute military leadership, which has shown sensitivity to the needs
and practicalities of a post-war Jaffna, is credited with providing
the right atmosphere of peace and security for the economic boom
that is being experienced in this dominant northern province. This
in turn is the key to successfully implementing —and driving—the
government’s “Northern Spring” initiative aimed at bringing prosperity
to this once battle-ridden region.
Hathurusinghe’s nomination for the award from the Philippine end
was somewhat propitious. In 2009-10 he attended a course that drew
ranking military officers from all over the Asian-Pacific region
to the Philippine National Defense College, and where he drew the
attention of senior military offices in the Philippine military
establishment themselves embroiled in the secessionist conflict
in the Southern Philippines.
Sri Lankan General took part in many private and official briefings
with government and military officials to share his experiences
and knowledge on the long drawn out separatist struggle with the
his 30,000 world thesis detailing the manner in which the Sri Lankan
security forces tackled the conflict won for General Hathurusinghe
the sought-after Gold Medal at the end of the academic course that
took place in Camp Aguinaldo.
Hathurusinghe will be supported by a 14-member native dance troupe
that will perform at the PICC ceremony, and also stage two other
traditional Sri Lankan dance performances which have been organized
by Sri Lankan Ambassador Nawalage Bennet Cooray and the Sri Lankan
dance troupe is sponsored by the Northern Provincial Council of
Sri Lanka under the patronage of Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake
who will head the Sri Lankan delegation to the Guci Peace Prize
ceremony. It includes four other senior officials of the provincial
council including the Secretary of Cultural Affairs.
Minister Dissanayake presides over Sri Lanka’s North Central Province
that is home to the famed UNESCO cited “Cultural Triangle” that
contains Buddhist monuments and relics going back to over 2000 years
– and where, shockingly, many internationally denounced atrocities
were committed by the Tamil Tigers during their reign of terror
in order to provoke the majority Buddhist community.
presence at the ceremony of Chief Minister Dissanayake and the dance
troupe from his region is a neat touch to display that Sri Lanka
has turned the corner to a new era of tranquility, and also to showcase
the country’s rich cultural heritage.