The management of the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMCIH) yesterday cancelled the booking of a conference to be held tomorrow (10) to mark the Human Rights Day, saying the purpose of the event was politically motivated to promote the ‘Aragalaya’.
Civil society organisations and trade unions have organised a conference under the theme ‘Nidahasa saha yukthiya udesa aragalaya niyathayak’ (Aragalaya, a fact for freedom and justice) to be held on Saturday and had made the booking for one of the committee rooms by paying an advance on Friday, December 2nd.
One of the organisers to the event Journalist Tharindu Uduwaragedara told the Daily Mirror that they have made the booking well in advance through not-for-profit organisation Law and Society Trust (LST), and the purpose of the event and its agenda had been duly informed to the reservations desk of the BMICH at the time of the booking.
He said that the event was to be held under the auspices of the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) Saliya Pieris PC with Prof. Arjuna Parakrama, and the former was to deliver the keynote address.
According to Uduwaragedara, the BMICH management had contacted them yesterday morning and had said that the event has been cancelled and a refund would be made. The reason for the cancellation of the event as stated by the venue was, that no political event will be allowed to take place in the premises according to its act since 1973.
When the organisers had questioned how an event organised to mark the International Human Rights’ Day would be a politically motivated one, the management had said the theme of the event relates to ‘Aragalaya’, which as a result they could not let it take place.
When contacted, Head of Events and Reservations Devani Embuldeniya told the Daily Mirror the event was cancelled as per a decision taken by the management of the BMICH.
She further said that under the BMICH Act since 1973 no ‘political programmes’ were allowed to take place in the premises, and that they have recognized tomorrow’s programme to be a politically motivated one to back the aragalaya.
However, the S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike National Memorial Foundation Law (No.2 of 1975) Sect 6 clearly states the aims and objects of the Foundation shall be, (a) to promote international peace, understanding and co-operation, (b) to promote the study and discussion of international problems in the economic, political, educational, cultural, and social fields and the dissemination of knowledge on international affairs; and (c) to maintain and utilize the BMICH in order to secure the objectives set out above and any other purpose which the Board may consider fit, so however that the hall shall not be used for partisan political purposes.