On Independence Day, Lanka lifts unofficial ban on Tamil national anthem

COLOMBO (TIP): Lifting an unofficial ban, Sri Lanka’s national anthem was on Thursday sung in Tamil at a ceremony here to mark the the country’s independence day, in an effort to achieve reconciliation with the ethnic minority community.

School children rendered the Sinhala and Tamil versions of the national anthem at a celebration to mark the 68th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence from Britain. The move, despite opposition from some quarters, is being seen as an effort by the government to reach out to the Tamil minority after the nearly 26-year war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that ended in 2009. About 100,000 people were killed during the civil war.

“A new journey begins by reinstating the singing of the national anthem in Tamil,” said deputy minister for public enterprise development Eran Wickramaratne.

Deputy foreign minister Harsha de Silva in a Facebook post said: “A first in my lifetime. After many years the Independence Day celebrations came to a close with the national anthem sung in Tamil.” President Maithripala Sirisena since becoming President in 2015 has begun several actions to win back the Tamils in the reconciliation process.

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