Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

‘Sinhala only’ flags raised in Kandy ahead of Sri Lankan swearing in ceremony

'Sinhala only' lion flags were pictured flying alongside Buddhist flags in Kandy today, as the town prepares for the swearing-in of Sri Lanka’s newly appointed ministers at the ‘Temple of the Tooth’, in what looks set to be another Sinhala Buddhist ceremony.

The flags, Sri Lankan lion flags which have had the token representation stripes for Tamils and Muslims removed, have long been associated with racist Sinhalese movements. 

Their hoisting, alongside Buddhist flags, was captured by Yazh News, as the town prepares for the ceremony at the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic. Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited the temple last week, where he spoke of the tooth relic as ”a symbol of status denoting the right to ascend the throne” and claimed, “99% of [Sri Lanka’s] relics are of Buddhist heritage”.

In recent years the flags have been flown several times by extremist Sinhala groups, including those behind the ‘Sinha Le’ or ‘Lion’s Blood’ movement and other organisations accused of hate speech.

Sri Lanka's national flag, is dominated by a lion, the Sinhala national symbol, holding a sword facing two small strips, which were added to represent the Tamil and Muslim communities. In 1972, the government added four leaves of the Bo tree, a holy Buddhist tree, to the flag. Tamils have long rejected Sri Lanka’s flag and other national symbols, with many raising black flags as a sign of protest instead on Sri Lankan Independence Day.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.