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Northerners & Southerners Join Hands Together To Felicitate Gusi Prize Laureate
[Updated :: 2010-12-15 12:53:18 Hours]  

Sri Lanka’s ‘Gusi International Peace Prize – 2010’ laureate, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Commander, Security Forces Jaffna upon his return home was showered with voluminous felicitations at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute on Monday (13) before a galaxy of appreciative audience of religious dignitaries, President’s Secretary, Ministers, Secretary Defence, Army and Navy Chiefs, Senior Military Officers and a blend of North-South denizens.

Minister of Plantation Industries, Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe, Chief Guest for the occasion, in the company of Minister Douglas Devanada, Secretary Defence, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Navy, District Secretaries, senior citizens from the North and South, well-wishers and friends, joined Major General Hathurusinghe, the only South Asian to have received this international honour for inauguration of the day’s felicitation ceremony by lighting the traditional oil lamp after the laureate and distinguished invitees were conducted in a procession.

Monday’s (13) felicitation ceremony, a collective effort organized and coordinated by a representative forum of the North and South civilians, including Jaffna based Hindu and Catholic priests leading senior citizens of the North and South was coloured by several erudite orations. The occasion was also a symbolic mirror of goodwill and appreciation towards Major General Hathurusinghe’s commendable and undisputed public role and in valuable service he rendered to the Jaffna populace and the Kilinochchi district in the past few years.

Rev Ishwara Sharma, Secretary to the organizing committee of the felicitation ceremony and Major General S. D Tennakoon (Retd) at the commencement of the ceremony presented a summary of the laureate’s achievements in Jaffna for the benefit of innocent and displaced people.

Defence Secretary Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his felicitation address to the occasion pointed out that Sri Lanka Army has proved in this instance that it is not only professional to conduct military operations but also equally competent enough to take the country on the path of reconciliation and reconstruction.

“Even after the second world war, some nations are struggling to resettle people while still continuing their demining work in affected areas. We have by now resettled almost 95% of the people affected by war, an achievement perhaps unprecedented in the world. In our country 75% of the demining work is carried out by Sri Lanka Army. Major General Hathurusingha’s international recognition amply testifies to the fact that we have an Army, as some say, that can work much better than even some government servants”, Mr Rajapaksa noted.

Mr Rajapaksa said that during a recent visit to the Philippines, he was told by a senior defence officer that Sri Lanka’s Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe has made the country proud by becoming the first in the course winning a gold. “I was proud myself and felt that he had done exceptionally well in his course”, he said. Referring to Navy’s 60th anniversary, Mr Rajapaksa said that all major naval fleet in the world expressed their appreciation of our Navy as many naval ships and representatives joined the Navy anniversary celebrations.

Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya in his brief note to the august assembly reminded that the Army having fought the most ruthless terrorism in the world has now undertaken a more difficult task to reap the benefits of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction. In that connection, the recognition Major General Hathurusinghe received is a precedent that stands testimony to the Army’s role, that is transformation to peace and reconciliation, a major challenge indeed. “Nation is at crossroads now and is entering a new era of nation building. The Army as a platform for rebuilding has been honoured and recognized further due to this international recognition. This is an honour to the country for its spirits of humanity”, the Commander said.

The laureate, Major General Hathurusinghe, Rev Father Dr Justin B Gnanapragasam, Vicar General Jaffna Diocese, Professor P. Balasundaram Pillai, University of Jaffna, Most Ven. Niyangoda Vijithasiri, Anunayaka Thera of the Malwatte Chapter and Ms Imelda Sukumar, District Secretary for Jaffna also spoke on the occasion.

A special monumental replica was presented to the laureate by Minister Douglas Devananda, representing all the civilians in the peninsula. Colourful cultural feats, choreographed to suit Tamil and Sinhala traditions added entertainment to the occasion.

Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe 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.

The 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. (Courtesy : Army.lk)

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