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Dutch State Secretary to visit SL to sign ownership transfer of cultural artifacts



A Dutch cultural delegation led by Gunay Uslu, State Secretary for Culture and Media in the Netherlands will be visiting Sri Lanka from 27th to 31st August.

The State Secretary is making a special visit to Sri Lanka to sign the legal document transferring the ownership of the cultural artifacts that will be returned to Sri Lanka later this year.

The objects include the famous Lewke’s cannon, two Gold kastanes (ceremonial sword), Sinhalese knives, Silver kastane and two guns.

The visiting State Secretary is expected to meet with the senior officials of the Sri Lankan government to mark this historic moment.

Legal transfer of ownership will be signed at the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka on Monday 28th August 2023.

The delegation will visit few places with religious and Dutch historic value in Sri Lanka.

There will  also be a public lecture conducted by the State Secretary on 29th August at 4 pm at the Auditorium of the Department of National Archives of Sri Lanka.

About the return of cultural artifacts:
While acknowledging both the tangible and intangible heritage of Dutch colonial times in Sri Lanka, the Netherlands is also critically looking at its own role in the history.

In 2021 the Dutch government approved the policy for the return of cultural heritage objects that are in the possession of the Dutch State.

The indigenous populations of colonial territories were served an injustice through the involuntary loss of objects that formed part of their cultural heritage, says the Dutch government.

Therefore Dutch government is keen to help rectify this historic injustice by returning cultural heritage objects to their country of origin and by strengthening international cooperation in this area.

In December 2022, the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands appointed an independent commission,  the Advisory Committee on the Return of Cultural Objects from Colonial Context, chaired by Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, to assess and facilitate the return of colonial objects to their respective countries of origin.

At the request of Sri Lanka , this committee decided in July this year to advised to return  6 objects of cultural significance that were wrongfully brought to the Netherlands during the colonial period.

About Provenance research :
In 2021, researchers from both countries studied the provenance (background) of these objects extensively. In 1765, these items were taken as loot by Dutch from the Kandyan Kingdom during the siege of the Palace.  The people of the Netherlands feel a moral obligation to return looted or otherwise wrongfully acquired objects to their rightful owners. Righting the wrongs of the past is needed  to heal the historic wounds.  

The return process is expected to form the basis for further cooperation between the two countries and the cultural institutions concerned. The cooperation will mainly be focused on the exchange of technical expertise, knowledge sharing and education.

About the delegation:
The official delegation will consist of Ms. Barbera Wolfensberger, Director General Culture and Media in the Netherlands, Ms Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You (Chairperson Dutch Colonial Collections Committee) and Dr. Alicia Schrikker (member of the Committee).

This committee earlier presented a report with recommendation to the Dutch government regarding the returning of colonial artifacts.



Excise officials kidnap beedi businessman & forcefully take Rs.1mn




The Walasmulla Police have launched an investigation into an incident where a Beedi businessman was kidnapped and assaulted before forcefully taking Rs.1 million from him.

The business license of the businessman residing in Maraketiya, Rajapuragoda in Walasmulla expired on June 26. A team of excise officials including the OIC of the Tangalle Excise Unit had arrived at his house on September 18 and seized the Beedi leaves.

Excise officials had demanded Rs.1.4 million from the businessman not to take legal action in this regard.

They had taken the businessman away in a three-wheeler, beaten him up, and then had taken an amount of Rs.1 million by force.

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Test kits ordered to detect ‘Nipah’ virus




Steps have been taken to import special test kits needed for the detection of ‘Nipah’ virus, the Health Ministry said.

Special test kits recommended by the World Health Organization have been ordered to detect the virus and they are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka in a few days.

Commenting further, Virologist Dr. Janaki Abeynayake said that no specific treatment or vaccine has been developed globally for patients infected with Nipah virus.

However, Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Samitha Ginige said that there is no high risk of the virus spreading among countries since the virus spreading pace is slower.

The Ministry requested the public not panic over the virus that has been reported in several countries including India.

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Keheliya & ministry officials undertake 50 foreign tours




Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and the officials of his Ministry had undertaken 50 foreign tours in one year, a report prepared by the International Health Division of the Ministry revealed.

These reports have been compiled by Deputy Director General (Planning) of the Health Ministry Dr. S. Sri Dharan.

It was prepared following a Right to Information (RTI) request made by an organisation called ‘Citizens Power Against Bribery and Corruption.’

Accordingly, Health Minister Rambukwella has made five foreign trips, Health Secretary Janaka Sri Chandragupta has made two foreign trips and Health Services Director General Asela Gunawardena has made four foreign trips.

These foreign trips have taken place as per the invitations made by representative organizations including the World Health Organization, and those organizations have provided expenses for air tickets, food and accommodation facilities.

Furthermore, the International Health Division of the Ministry of Health has approved foreign duty leave for these doctors and has also given them a casual allowance.

Interestingly, the deputy director general who prepared the report has engaged in the highest number of foreign trips.

Source – Aruna

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