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Sri Lanka Tamils concerned over national anthem

[AFP, Monday, 13 December 2010 09:20 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s Tamils expressed concern on Monday over a media report suggesting that the government was set to ban singing the national anthem in their language.

The main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said it was seeking clarification from the government, which is dominated by the majority Sinhalese ethnic group.

"At a time when the government is talking about ethnic harmony and national integration, this national anthem is an unwanted issue," TNA legislator Suresh Premachandran told AFP.

"If we can’t sing the anthem in Tamil, we will be driven to boycott the anthem."

The Sunday Times newspaper in Colombo reported that the cabinet of President Mahinda Rajapakse decided last week to order that only Sinhala should be used for the anthem.

The government’s information department and the president’s office were unable to confirm the report when contacted by AFP.

Separatists battled for a homeland for Tamils in the north of the Indian Ocean island for nearly 40 years.

Their violent campaign was finally crushed last year by government forces, but a legacy of polarisation and mistrust remains between the communities and Rajapakse made reconciliation a plank of his re-election campaign in January.

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