The annual main summit of the ‘Ethera Api’ branch of the United Kingdom was held at the Novotel Hotel Heathrow in Cherry Lane with the participation of the Chairman of the organization, MP Sunil Handunnetti.
Along with the Branch’s Board of Officials and Members, religious leaders and many special invited guests including Deputy Mayor of the Harrow Council, Kareema Marikar and Councillor of the Newham Council, Paul Sathianesan participated in the occasion. Handunnetti along with Chairman of the Branch, Ajantha Kangahaarachchi, Secretary of the Branch, Henry G. Wickramaratne, Treasurer of the Branch, Sujith Gunawardena lit the oil lamp and commenced the festivities.
Kangahaarachchi in his speech, presented his views regarding problems faced by Sri Lankans in Great Britain and pledged that the Organization would intervene to solve the said issues.
Marikar who addressed the summit next in all three languages (Sinhala, Tamil and English), explained about the need of such an Organization, the importance of obtaining the universal franchise and suffrage for Sri Lankans living overseas, building up peace, harmony and equality among the Sinhalese, the Tamils and Muslims and that it is essential that the nation be developed. She pledged her support to the said Organization and the said Branch.
Sathianesan who spoke next, said that the sole wish of the Tamil people was building peace, harmony, equality and coexistence among Sri Lankans and to gift a Sri Lanka free of ethnic conflicts to the future generation. He highlighted that therefore the Tamil Diaspora should be considered as a treasure, a source of both intellectual and economic wealth belonging to the Sri Lankan people as opposed to considering them as an enemy.
He noted that the future generations should lead independent lives sans reliance on relief that is provided. He pledged his support to the Organization’s movement to gain the right to vote for Lankans toiling overseas. He emphasized that democratic rights and benefits should be afforded to all and that such would be the foundation of lasting peace. He further added that the nation’s development was dependent upon communal peace. “The cruel war of 30 years has ended. It is futile to attempt to rewrite history.”
Handunnetti noted that although foreign remittance was the main source of income for the country, this group had received no rights.