Assaults over Lion flags

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 February 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Two auto-rickshaw (three wheel taxi) drivers were assaulted by the police this morning in Batticaloa town, for not flying the Sri Lankan national flag on their vehicle. The Sri Lanka Government has ordered all Government buildings and private citizens in the country to display the national flag tomorrow as a mark of patriotism. Tomorrow is Sri Lanka's fiftieth independence anniversary.

Police and military personnel in Batticaloa were seen yesterday going to the auto-rickshaw and the private bus stands in Batticaloa town urging vehicle owners to fly the national flag. Despite this exhortation, many in the town are not complying with the regulation, said sources in Batticaloa.

Meanwhile, the Divisional Secretary of Manmunai 8 km south of Batticaloa has issued orders to his staff that they should be present in office on Independence Day tomorrow.

Official ceremonies to mark independence day including hoisting the national flag are planned. The Divisional Secretary is intending to prevent officers from staying away from the ceremonies, said sources.

Officials and residents in the in the north and east are apprehensive of a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) strike to disrupt proceedings at these ceremonies.

The lion insignia is Sri Lanka's national flag.

Tamils protested vehemently when Sinhala parties adopted the lion flag as the national flag soon after the British relinquished their suzerainty over the island in 1948.

Opposition to the flag, since then, has been part of the Tamil movement for regional autonomy in Sri Lanka. The practice of hoisting the lion flag was secretly and openly shunned in most Tamil areas as the movement grew and became militant in character.

Currently one of the main objections of the Tamil parties in the Sri Lankan Parliament to the Sri Lankan government's devolution proposals is the article in it which clearly stipulates that the lion flag shall be the national flag.

 

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