3RD LEAD (Correction)

‘Come on you Sri Lankan Lions!’ – UK

[TamilNet, Friday, 27 April 2007, 10:40 GMT]
The British diplomatic mission in Colombo shed diplomatic neutrality on Friday to support Sri Lanka's cricket team in their World Cup final against Australia, AFP reported. "We're hoping for a repeat of the 1996 World Cup final result. Come on you Sri Lankan Lions. Let's hear you roar," a message from the UK High Commission said.

British High Commissioner
British High Commissioner, Dominic Chilcott
British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott led his mission’s staff in signing greetings to skipper Mahela Jayawardene and his team-mates ahead of Saturday's game in Barbados.

"The British High Commission wish the Sri Lankan cricket team the best of luck in Saturday's cricket World Cup final," the High Commission said in a statement signed by all its staff.

"We're hoping for a repeat of the 1996 World Cup final result. Come on you Sri Lankan Lions. Let's hear you roar," the message said, referring to Sri Lanka’s surprise win in that competition.

The lion is the symbol of the Sinhala community in the island which has been torn by ethnic strif, since independence from Britain in 1948. Sri Lanka’s flag features a golden lion brandishing a sword.

The flag was amended in early 50's with two stripes to represent Tamils and Muslims. In 1972, the finials that represented Buddhism were replaced with Bo leaves to indicate that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country as the government of the time changed the country’s name from Ceylon and introduced a majoritarian constitution, dumping the safeguards for the island’s minorities in the British-inspired Ceylonese constitution.

In an interview last year, Mr. Chilcott observed: “Britain thought that the rights of the Tamils in particular would be safeguarded by these arrangements. However history has proved otherwise that these safeguards were inadequate and not robust enough. I regret that Britain’s policies have to such an extent been the cause for the problems.”

Noting that “in over half the number of countries in the world the British colonial rulers adopted a ‘divide and rule’ policy,” he also said “In that regard this policy was not unique to the island alone.”

On Friday Mr. Chilcott, dressed in the Sri Lankan team's blue and yellow T-shirt, raised his hands in the air with 52 staff members in support of the Sri Lankan team, AFP reported.

Last week Mr. Chilcott become embroiled in controversy last week when he visited the officers of Daily Mirror editor, Ms Champika Liyanarachchi, after she received a threatening phone call from Sri Lanka’s hardline Defence Secretary, Gotathabaya Rajapaksa, over reports in her paper.

Mr. Chilcott was summoned by Mr. Rajapaksa to his offices the following day. Both men agreed to keep the contents of their discussion out of the press.

The UK High Commission subsequently denied a report in the state-owned Daily News that Mr. Chilcott had admitted he had been misled about threats to the editor.


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