Posted by: lrrp | September 14, 2004

Lanka-Portugal Cultural Commission mooted by Nadira Gunatilleke

Joaguim Ferreira Margues, the Ambassador to Portugal in India has expressed his willingness to appoint a Sri Lanka-Portugal Joint Cultural Commission to investigate and make recommendations on re-discovering cultural affiliations, Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Ministry spokesman said.

He said the Portuguese Ambassador expressed those views after a discussion held with the Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Minister Vijitha Herath at his Ministry. Ambassador Margues said the new Government in Portugal wants to put its colonial past behind it.

According to Minister Herath this commission will provide an opportunity for Sri Lanka to prove the destruction caused during the Portuguese era with strong evidence. It was proposed to carry out excavations to discover new archaeological evidence. The two parties discussed the possibility of holding an exhibition in Sri Lanka in order to display artifacts and jewellery taken away from Sri Lanka. Margues promised to return the ashes of Konappu Bandara, a hero to Sri Lanka.

The 500th anniversary of the Portuguese invasion of Sri Lanka falls next year. The Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Ministry has made arrangements to educate school children and the public on the damage caused by them to the properties and lives of Sri Lanka in order to create patriotic feelings among Sri Lankan citizens.

Minister Herath said that the ministry will intervene at National and International level to force the Portuguese to return the properties seized from Sri Lanka, and apologise for the crimes they committed and to compensate for the properties and human lives destroyed.

The Ministry has already made arrangements to educate society on devastations caused by all European nations who invaded Sri Lanka through essay competitions, debate competitions, dramas, films, posters and other methods organised by the different departments and other institutions under the purview of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Ministry.

A special committee has already been appointed to organise this program with the participation of Ministry officials and outside professors and doctors. The committee is chaired by Dr. Susantha Gunatilleke.

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