Sri Lanka lifts unofficial ban on Tamil national anthem

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- A Tamil-language version of Sri Lanka's national anthem was performed at the country's independence ceremony on Thursday, lifting an unofficial ban in another step toward post-civil war ethnic reconciliation.

See Full Article

Schoolchildren sang the national anthem in Sinhalese, from the ethnic majority group, and the minority Tamil language at the ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of independence from Britain.

The move, despite opposition from Sinhalese nationalists, is an effort to reach out to the Tamils who fought a nearly 26-year war for a separate homeland until the rebels were crushed in 2009.

President Maithripala Sirisena says he will unite the nation, a process which has not been given prominence since independence. Sirisena's hard-line predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa was accused of further alienating the Tamil community by his post-war triumphalism. He had imposed an unofficial ban on the Tamil version of the national anthem.

In his speech Thursday, Sirisena said his political opponents were trying to create fear among the armed forces that fought the war that they will be penalized for rights abuses. He pledged to promote ethnic reconciliation while safeguarding the country's sovereignty and respect of the military.

"Our aim is to turn the armed forces into a world recognized one," he said.

The government was accused of indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence, while Tamil Tiger rebels of child recruitment and killing civilians.

Last year's report from UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said that the patterns of violations strongly indicated war crimes and crimes against humanity were likely committed by both sides. Zeid is scheduled to visit Saturday.

Sirisena said his government would face UN recommendations, which are opposed by some opposition parties and nationalist Sinhala Buddhist groups.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • In wake of Barcelona attack, Toronto's CNE reassures visitors event is safe

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Canadian National Exhibition is reassuring visitors the Toronto event is safe in the wake of yesterday's attack in Barcelona. The event's CEO says the multi-day fair enhanced its security plan within the last year, following several terrorist attacks in London and Paris. Source
  • Over 250 sex traffickers and buyers arrested in Texas: Cops

    World News Toronto Sun
    HOUSTON — More than 250 sex buyers and traffickers have been arrested in the Houston area during a monthlong sting operation, authorities said Friday. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the arrests by his agency and Houston police accounted for about 25 per cent of more than 1,000 arrests made by a coalition of 37 law enforcement agencies in 17 states. Source
  • 66 cats rescued from foreclosed Pennsylvania home

    World News Toronto Sun
    SNYDERSVILLE, Pa. — A group of volunteers rescued more than 60 animals from the same home where humane officials found 122 cats two years ago. Volunteers from Camp Papillion animal shelter and the Animal Welfare Society of Monroe took 66 cats and one dog from the home. Source
  • Neo-Nazis get permission for Berlin march but with restrictions

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- Given Germany's grim history as the home of National Socialism and the efforts it has made since then to atone for its genocidal past, it might seem surprising that far-right extremists who glorify a dead Nazi official are allowed to march in his honour this weekend. Source
  • Montreal amusement park yanks carousel horse with Indigenous man's severed head

    Canada News CTV News
    Montreal's La Ronde amusement park says it has removed a carousel horse depicting an Indigenous man's severed head in a bag. A resident of the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve near Montreal said she'd heard about its existence and saw it during a visit to the park Wednesday. Source
  • Police prepare for clashing protests in North Carolina

    World News CBC News
    Hundreds of anti-racist demonstrators marched through the streets of a North Carolina city on Friday in response to rumours of a white supremacist march. The sheriff in Durham, N.C., had issued a statement that he was investigating the rumours, but no gathering of white supremacists was apparent by midafternoon. Source
  • Barcelona terror attack: Calgary woman hid behind lamp post to avoid being trampled [Photos] [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Just moments after a van barrelled through Las Ramblas in Barcelona, leaving at least 13 dead and injuring dozens, Calgarian traveler Sofia Gruchalla-Wesierski was caught in the chaos and forced to hide behind a lamp post to avoid being trampled. Source
  • Police tell Cape Dorset residents to stop providing supplies to help wanted man

    Canada News CTV News
    CAPE DORSET, Nunavut -- Mounties are urging residents of a community in Nunavut to stop helping a wanted man avoid arrest. Police say David Mikkigak of Cape Dorset is a suspect in several crimes, including assault, forcible confinement and firearms-related offences. Source
  • Two dead after multiple stabbings in Turku, Finland [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    COPENHAGEN — A man stabbed several people in Finland's western city of Turku before police shot him in a leg and detained him Friday, police said, adding that authorities were looking for more potential suspects. Finnish broadcaster YLE says several people were seen lying on the ground in Puutori square in central Turku. Source
  • Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon leaving White House post

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump’s White House, is leaving. Trump accepted Bannon’s resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president’s administration in turmoil. Source