HSBC apologises for Lion flag display, hunger striker welcomes community action in UK
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 August 2012, 10:02 GMT] Eezham Tamil activist Sivanthan who waged a hunger strike in London for 22 days during the Olympics, has welcomed the action by the local Tamil community of New Malden, Surrey, after reading the news report, which appeared in the local news paper Your Local Guardian on Sunday with the title “New Malden bank sorry for displaying ‘genocide’ flag.” The Bank had removed the offending flag on 03 August, a few hours after the local community reacted against the display and the wider attention it acquired through a headline story. After removing the Sri Lankan flag, the HSBC branch had also extended apologies to the members of the community. In the meantime, the recovering hunger striker has appealed the London based Tamil electronic media to refrain from running commercials displaying ‘Sri Lanka’ flag and businesses to stop using the same.
On the concluding day of the Olympics, the apology by the HSBC bank was brought up in the news story by Clare Buchanan of Your Local Guardian.
“The flags were meant with the very best intentions and the bank unreservedly apologises to any members of the Tamil community who were offended,” the paper said citing a spokesman of HSBC.
The local community action was led even by non-Tamil South Asians in New Malden.
In the meantime, Mr. Sivanthan, who is currently hospitalized after the fast, urged Tamil media houses operating from London like the ILC Radio and GTV, to refrain from giving advertisement space to the business establishments, which were using the offending ‘Sri Lankan’ flag in their commercials.
Referring positively to the recent decision taken by the HSBC branch in New Malden, London to remove Sri Lankan flags and apologize for displaying the same after protests from Eezham Tamils in the locality, youth activist Gobi Sivanthan urged Eezham Tamils world over to reject the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity and all symbols associated with it, in a voice interview for TamilNet. He further appealed to Eezham Tamil businesses not to promote any symbols associated with the genocidal Sri Lankan state.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr. Sivanthan said “Sri Lanka colluding with world establishments is taking its process of genocide further by imposing the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity on us,” opining that the Sri Lankan flag is associated with genocide of the Eezham Tamils.
He appealed to Tamil businesses, shops, restaurants and media houses to refrain from using the Sri Lankan flag symbols and other symbols associated with the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity which only legitimizes the ongoing genocide of the Eezham Tamil nation.
Sivanthan also criticized some establishments’ organizations for criminalizing the national flag of the Eezham Tamils, emphasizing that Tamils have a responsibility to defend and uphold the national flag and national symbols of Tamil Eelam.
The Tamil Eelam national flag was on prominent display at the spot of Sivanthan’s protest for all the 22 days.