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Hindi but no Tamil for Sri Lanka's police

Sri Lankan police officers have begun learning Hindi, courtesy of the Indian government, despite ongoing discrimination against the Tamil language across the island.

A ‘Hindi Proficiency Course’ for Sri Lanka police personnel was launched by the High Commission of India this week at an event attended by 70 senior Police officers and officials.

Tamils have frequently complained about the lack of official Tamil language services in Sri Lanka, despite claims by the government that Tamil is recognised as an official language. Across the Tamil homeland, Sri Lankan police stations are manned mostly by Sinhala officers with difficulty in accessing Tamil language services.

The issue was highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, who visited Sri Lanka last year.

“Despite the fact that Sinhala and Tamil are official languages of Sri Lanka, I have been informed that Tamil workers are often not able to report instances of abuses to the authorities such as the Police, as many Police officers only speak Sinhala and force them to file complaints in Sinhala,” said Tomoya Obokata. “This has been reported from various parts of the country."

Meanwhile, at the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre in Colombo, students concluded the event with a cultural program and musical performance.

They sang in Hindi and Sinhala only.

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