The local community of New Malden, Surrey, is enraged at the insensitivity of the HSBC bank for its display of Sri Lanka’s Lion Flag in its New Malden branch. In making a request addressed to its manager, Mr. Sam Sletcher, the local community members said, “HSBC prides themselves in being the local bank and we hope that this also involves for them to be aware of our local issues.” The protestors pointed out that as most of the island’s community in the UK are victims of State with memories of torture, rape and massacre, they are greatly upset at seeing the flag reminding them of the horrors. The protest, led by even non-Tamil South Asians in New Malden, cited support of local parliamentarian, Mr Edward Davey. The London-based HSBC was the first foreign bank to initiate a branch in Jaffna. It has 16 branches in the island labelled Sri Lanka.
While initiating the Jaffna branch in September 2009, four months after the genocidal war, the British multinational bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Nick A Nicolaou said that a lot of money comes in from expatriate ‘Sri Lankan’ Tamils.
He was “very interested” in activities in the war-ravaged regions, believing finances would come from, the World Bank, the IMF, the ADB and the ‘Sri Lankan’ diaspora, especially the Tamil diaspora in countries like Canada, the UK, Norway and Australia.
The British High Commissioner in Colombo, Peter Hayes, ceremoniously opened HSBC’s Jaffna branch at 145, KKS Road, on 11-02-2010.
If the HSBC in London thinks that the flag display of the genocidal State is a way for its business promotion, it is making only a mistake. But if the largest banking corporate in Europe and the second largest in the world thinks of undertaking the task of imposing a ‘Sri Lanka’ identity and its symbols on Eezham Tamils to facilitate an agenda of the International Community of Establishments (ICE), then it is high time for the Eezham Tamils to identify it and take suitable political and social actions, commented diaspora activists in London.
In their investment spree, if the ICE and India continue to play deaf and blind to the national question in the island, our struggle seems to have reached the stage of exploring ways of bringing them to their senses by direct democratic targeting of their interests, to safeguard our own interests or to achieve our goals, the activists said.
Eezham Tamils and peoples of similar situation should carefully watch the genre of investment personalities that rushed to Colombo after May 2009, rushed to Myanmar quite recently, and their associations with agenda-setting crisis outfits that do the same in the island, Myanmar, Indonesia and elsewhere, after getting emboldened in Vanni, the activists further said.
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The Tamil protest to the Lion Flag is not a recent one after seeing it as a flag of genocide in 2009.
More than 60 years ago, finding the flag as a “gratuitous insult” to the Tamil-speaking people, the Tamil mainstream polity in the island had openly rejected it.
The flag symbolically discriminates Tamils and Muslims as ‘outsiders’ as opposed to the sword-wielding Sinhalese Lion.
The following is the relevant resolution passed by the most popular Tamil political party at that time, Ilankai Tamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) or the Federal Party, in its First National Convention convened at Trincomalee in 1951:
Resolution No. 6 passed at the First National Convention of the Ilankai Tamil Arasuk Katchi held on the 13th, 14th and 15th of April 1951 at Trincomalee.
The convention rejects the official flag of Ceylon as an insult to the Tamil-speaking people.
The First National Convention of the ITAK rejects the official flag of Ceylon as constituting a gratuitous insult to the Tamil speaking people in this Island, inasmuch as they are assigned two narrow stripes which are placed as extraneous accretions outside the inner vertical border of the Sinhalese Lion Flag which is sacrosanctly preserved in its entirety as the all important part of the flag. This convention points out that this official flag of Ceylon correctly symbolises the present humiliating status of the Tamil speaking people of Ceylon, who are placed in the position of out castes in the body-politic.
This convention reiterates its resolve to win freedom and redeem the self respect of the Tamil-speaking people; and declares that the union flag of Federal Ceylon will be framed on non-communal principles and designed on the highest ideals of the present age.
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After turning the symbolic contents of the flag into realties through a genocidal war, the Sri Lankan state, which is virtually a Sinhala State, is now using the flag and the Sinhala ‘national’ anthem as tools for psychological subjugation of even little school children.
After complicity with genocide, agenda-setters nowadays take an orchestrated interest in popularising the flag and phrases like ‘Sri Lankan Tamil’, ‘Sri Lankan diaspora’ etc.
A media like The Hindu in India on Wednesday went to the extent of even terming the repatriated Up-Country Tamils of Indian origin and of Ceylon legacy, who had been already given with Indian citizenship, as “Sri Lankan Tamils.” Such is the intensity of the obsession with ‘Sri Lanka’. Would they dare to call the Tibetan refugees in India as Chinese, asked the activists in London.
Welcoming the vigilance and initiative of the New Malden local community, especially the interest shown by fellow South Asians, the London activists said that the diaspora Tamils should delete the word Sri Lanka from their vocabulary and consciously stop using it in their conversations.
The activists also pointed to the mischief of some diaspora businesspersons and media that come out with the Lion Flag and the word Sri Lanka even in Tamil renderings (when there is an officially accepted Tamil term Ilangkai is available).
The HSBC, New Malden could always argue that what was wrong in their flag display when the diaspora subscribe and watch such media showing the Lion Flag in advertisements every few minutes.