The Victory Day parade took place on Friday the 18th of June amidst much pomp and ceremony. Somewhat surprisingly proceedings went smoothly and delays were almost nil. The troops had obviously practiced well and presented themselves admirably marching along in front of Galle Face. The same can be said of the VVIPs whose entrances were coordinated and timed to the second.
The parade marks the first year anniversary of the win against the forces of the LTTE. It was originally scheduled to be held on the 18th of May, exactly one year after the victory but was postponed due to bad weather. No meteorological complications affected the wonderful June morning on which victory was celebrated but as always, certain complications in the circles of power were apparent beneath the thick veneer of poetic patriotism that was cast over the proceedings.
The president’s speech praised the soldiers and especially all those who had perished in the war. He claimed that as long as every Sri Lankan remembered that the soil of his motherland was made up of the skin, flesh and blood of those who had fought and died for her, no Sri Lankan would ever dream of trying to divide her again. The struggle against terrorism had gone beyond the battlefields and into the parliament and even into households, such was the great challenge that had to be overcome in winning the war.
No mention was made of General Sarath Fonseka; a man who lays claim to having played a significant role in winning the war. But allusion was made to certain ‘traitors’ whose claims that terrorists carrying white flags of truce were shot down were a betrayal and an insult to the tri-(armed)services. The president went on to add that only terrorists themselves and separatists would make such claims, which originate from a deep hatred towards the country.
He went on to add, in what was perhaps a very profound statement, that terrorism only survives globally because of the support extended to it by nations who use it for their own gain. He said that the fate of such sympathizers of terrorism is to fall into the grip of terrorism themselves, as has been continuously proven through history.
Many VIPs, including several foreign dignitaries, were present at Galle Face Green to witness the parade. But notably, prominent members from opposition parties were absent including Fonseka himself and Ranil Wickremasinghe. Sajith Premadasa and Rauff Hakeem were among the UNP parliamentarians who were present.