Raising Tiger flag not illegal in US - Embassy

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 August 2006, 03:00 GMT]
Staff at Sri Lanka state-run daily in Colombo, Daily News, were given a civic lesson when they confronted US Embassy's press officer, Evan Owen, on the legality of American Tamils hoisting the Tamileelam flag in a New York sports festival, and diaspora parents teaching their offsprings Tamil. The press officer responded that hoisting of the Tiger flag had not breached US law, and that "the right to assemble and freedom of speech is upheld," by their [US] constitution, the Daily news reported.

"Inquired about the Sunday Tamil schools and the matter that the curricular for these schools being sanctioned by an Education Board in Kilinochchi - the LTTE headquarters, he [Evan Owen] said 'The US does not have a central education ministry controlling what is taught in school. It would be inappropriate for us to be screening material that has been taught,'" the Daily News report further said.

Scribes living in illiberal democracies often confuse Democracy with Liberty. A deeper lesson lies for all Sri Lankans in this encounter with the US Embassy:

  • Democracy is only a procedural concept, marking free and fair elections, which Sri Lanka has.
  • Fundamental to liberty is the free exercise of freedoms, usually termed as "constitutional liberalism" which embodies protection of community rights, equality, rule of law, protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property, and separation of powers. Sri Lanka's illiberal constitution does not protect Tamil rights, affords primacy to a particular language and religion.
  • A strong independent judiciary that protects the constitutional rights of every citizen is fundamental to effective functioning of a liberal democracy. Tamils in the island have little faith in Sri Lankan judiciary.

The New York event marked the confident exercise by Tamil Americans, of the freedom afforded by the US constitution.

The Tiger symbol of Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) created in 1977, was designated as the National Flag of Tamileelam in 1990, without the letters inscribing the movement's name. The Tiger flag, with the above designation, has become a civll flag already in 1990.

Related Articles:
01.08.06   Tamil Americans protest in front of US Capitol
26.11.05   Rules guide on use of Tamileelam National flag published
03.07.05   Supreme Difference
15.02.05   "Tiger flag is Tamil nation’s flag" – Mannar Bishop

External Links:
Cornell University: US Constitution - Bill of Rights
General: First Amendment cases
CCR-NY: Civil rights cases filed by Center for Constitutional Rights
DN: LTTE defies US ban
DN: No evidence of LTTE link with NY event - Embassy official


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