TP2022 1

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C celebrated Thai Pongal on Friday, 14 January 2022 connecting virtually with the Tamil community in the USA.  The event was conducted at the Embassy premises along with the Thai Pongal Pooja. Thai Pongal is a traditional festival observed by all Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka and all over the world coinciding with the agricultural cycle of a new harvest paying homage to the Sun God “Suriya”. Celebrating Thai Pongal emphasizes the significance of our diverse culture, religion and beliefs.

The ceremony commenced with traditional Kolam, lighting the lamp and offering of Pongal rice to the deities. The Hindu religious observance (Pooja) was conducted by Swamy Ragupathi Kurukkal, and invoked blessings on the Sri Lankan Community in the USA, the government and the people of Sri Lanka for peace, happiness and prosperity.  He appreciated the efforts of the Embassy in bringing the community together to celebrate Thai Pongal during these difficult times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

chamber usa lv 2021

Board of Directors: Seated (from left) Arushan Yogalingam, Shashinie Perera, Sujanie Abayakoon Dr. Yoojin Lee-Sedera, Dr. Ruchika Ranasinghe and Daya Gamage Standing (from left) Lalaindra Wickremaratne, Piyal Jayasankha, Sanje Sedera (President), Aruna Abayakoon, Douglas Perera and Pradeep Perera

The Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce, in American was inaugurated and established on Dec 9 by a group of professional Sri Lankan expatriates centering the City of Las Vegas with the blessings of the United States Congressional leaders.

The Sri Lankan expatriates selected the City of Las Vegas to make it the Chamber’s headquarters because of the global attraction it has for international conventions that brings trade and commerce activist leaders and influential economic peddlers to the city.

Sensing the importance of a twin-nation commerce, trade and investment arrangement of this nature that could bring more meaningful economic engagement between the United States and Sri Lanka, five Members of U.S. Congress – both House and Senate – apart from sending their immediate staff to the event, communicated through video messages, commending the initiators of the Chamber project, some of whom they knew, and aired congratulatory messages. They expressed confidence that the Chamber could bring conducive atmosphere for American entrepreneurs to search avenues for investments and economic enhancement in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s new Ambassador to Washington, Mahinda Samarasinghe, delivered a congratulatory message on a video clip.

unhrcfm pconf1

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena held a media conference at the Foreign Ministry today, 23 March 2021, to brief the media on the outcome of the UNHRC sessions in Geneva. He appreciated the support extended by the countries in favour of Sri Lanka.

Media Release


Dinesh Gunawardena, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka was elected to chair the 17th Session of the Ministerial Meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Mahinda 1   

Mahinda Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka’s new Ambassador to the United States of America, concurrently accredited to the United Mexican States (Mexico), Trinidad and Tobago, is an Asian diplomat, politician and administrator who has considerable expertise in international affairs and diplomacy, regional and national governance and human rights. He counts almost 40 years of public service as a diplomat, popular representative, member of legislative bodies, holder of provincial and national executive ministerial positions and as an international representative of the Sri Lankan State.

Soon after his graduation with an Honours degree in economics from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, he was coopted into the Sri Lanka Overseas Service, serving consecutively as First Secretary in the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra, Australia, and thereafter as Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. While serving in Geneva, he was tasked with representing the country at several international organizations including the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Through his diplomatic engagement and in response to traumatic events in his homeland during the 1980s, he developed an interest in human rights and the issues and difficulties faced by diverse segments of the Sri Lankan people. Having evinced an abiding interest in the subject area he was invited to focus on resolving the myriad problems of plantation communities in the District of Kalutara, south of Colombo, in the Western Province of the island. The transition into representational politics was to take place when he won the most votes in Provincial elections in 1988 and was elected to the newly formed Council of the Western Province. He was also appointed to executive office and commenced establishing provincial institutions through sponsoring a series of pioneering legislative instruments which became templates for other regional assemblies in the ensuing years.  

Having served as a provincial legislator and Minister for 6 years, Mahinda Samarasinghe took the next step by seeking national public office in 1994, becoming a Member of the national Parliament representing Kalutara District. He remained a national legislator for 27 consecutive years being elected in several successive elections until his last electoral win in 2020. He only resigned his position to take up the current Ambassadorial position in Washington DC.

As a member of the national executive, Mahinda Samarasinghe counts 19 years of experience as the Minister of State for Public Administration and Home Affairs (2019 – 20), Minister of Ports and Shipping (2017 – 2019), Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training (2015 – 2017), Minister of State for Finance (2015), Minister of Plantation Industries & the Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights (2010-2015), Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights (2006 - 2010) and Minister of Employment and Labour (2001-2004) – a wide array of portfolios and responsibilities. This experience equips him to deal with a range of issues that a Sri Lankan Ambassador in Washington will inevitably encounter and deal with.

His manifold expertise and experience led him back to Geneva where he served as a member of, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and later was elected as the President of, its Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. As Minister, he represented Sri Lanka at, and facilitated engagement with, that Committee. During this period he also served as Minister for Human Rights and special envoy of the President on Human Rights guiding exchanges with successive High Commissioners for Human Rights, experts and representatives of the UN human rights system including participation at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York. He also spearheaded law reform initiatives by several governments to devise new constitutional standards for the promotion and protection of human rights. He also introduced and oversaw a comprehensive audit of the domestic human rights situation which led to two successive, and successful, Universal Periodic Reviews before the UN Human Rights Council as well as the first ever National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP). During the period 2006 to 2014, he led many Sri Lankan delegations to the Council sessions in Geneva.

In addition to his efforts at human rights promotion and protection, Ambassador Samarasinghe, also gave leadership to several humanitarian initiatives during the 2006 to 2009 final phase of the internal armed conflict to defeat terrorism. He chaired the one-of-a-kind Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA) which brought together international partners including the UN family, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United States, Japan and the European Union, key government agencies (military and civilian), international and national civil society groups and non-governmental organizations in a collective and cohesive effort to minimize the impact of the conflict on civilians in and outside the theatre of conflict. He also coordinated the relief efforts of the government relating to the internally displaced and supported the efforts towards reconciliation through the NHRAP in conjunction with the overall government programme. Throughout this period, he maintained a dialogue with international interlocutors to explain and elucidate Sri Lanka’s efforts in all relevant fields of endeavour.

Always a pragmatic leader and an avowed multilateralist, Mahinda Samarasinghe remains committed to Sri Lanka and her people’s future notwithstanding internal ethnic, linguistic or religious divisions. He still envisions all people sharing a common “Sri Lankan” identity which celebrates their rich diversity as one, united polity living in harmony.