By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Photos by Asanka Ratnayake
The ruling UPFA today held its May Day celebrations in Colombo giving prominence to the building of an island wide hysteria over the report by the panel of experts by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sri Lanka.
The UPFA decided to deviate from focusing on workers’ rights at this year’s May Day celebrations claiming the immediate problem faced by the whole nation was the report released by the UN Secretary General’s panel.
The main procession commenced in the afternoon from the Campbell Park in Borella and proceeded towards the Town Hall where the rally was held under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A large number of processions organized by coalition parties of the UPFA and employees of state institutions also joined the main the main procession and entered the Town Hall area.
Participants in the UPFA May Day celebrations carried placards and shouted slogans against the UN Secretary General, the report by the panel of experts (Darusman report) and the so called imperialist powers among the international community.
Effigies of Ban Ki-moon were thrown on the ground and burnt as a mark of protest against the panel report.
Leaders of coalition parties of the UPFA like Ministers Champika Ranawaka, Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, D.E.W. Gunasekera, Dinesh Gunawardena, Douglas Devananda, A.L.M. Athaulla and Rishard Bathiudeen addressed gathering at Town Hall.
All the party leaders expressed the importance of focusing attention on the Darusman report, as the whole nation had to oppose it as a united front.
They called on the nation to stand together to defeat moves by the UN to hinder the country’s reconciliation process following the hard earned peace by the Rajapaksa regime. The unified voice of the UPFA leaders was that the government was not ready to bow down to any international pressure.
Rajapaksa together with his son, parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa joined the procession and was seen marching down Ward Place together with other participants. SLFP seniors and leaders of the coalition parties also marched to the Town Hall in procession.
Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses that transported large crowds to participate in the UPFA rally were parked along many roads including Bauddhaloka Mawatha.
Thousands of members from Namal’s Nil Balakaya clad in uniforms of blue shirt, black trousers, black boots and black beret caps took center stage in the procession this year.
The youth wore red badges with Rajapksa’s photograph on their black beret caps.