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Outrage over racist Sri Lankan stamps

Outrage has erupted over social media after images of recently issued stamps in Sri Lanka with a racist depiction of Tamils surfaced.

The recently issued stamps were designed under the theme of “Daha Ata Sanniya’, which roughly translates to the "dance of demons" or "diseases". The 18 stamps showcase a variety of different diseases which are represented through demons wearing masks. Listed alongside demons causing various ailments, including the demon of madness and demon of vomiting, is the demon of Tamil or “Demala sanniya”

The stamp depicts a dark-skinned, moustached man, with  Vibhuti - Hindu sacred ash - on his forehead, dressed in traditional Tamil clothes.

The bottom of the stamp reads “traditional Sinhalese exoticism ritual”.

“This depiction of Tamils as “demons” or something that needs to be exorcised, on an official Sri Lankan postal stamp is not an outlier, said Mario Arulthas, advocacy director of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL). Commenting on the stamp, he added, "It is reflective of a more fundamental view amongst the Sinhala Buddhist majority of the Tamil people, one that is deprecating and fuelled by racist mythology and tradition”.

On twitter he further said;

"Racism runs deeeeep in Sinhala culture. “Demala Saniya” means “Tamil demon”. Also note the skin tone, the vibuthi and turban. This is Sri Lanka"

Images of the stamps have been shared across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, generating thousands of reactions.

See a selection of tweets about the stamp below.

KarthiyaT tweeted:

This is one of the new stamps released by Sri Lanka with different ‘diseases’ on them. Apparently being Tamil is one of them. ‘Demala Sanniya’ means ‘Demon of Tamil’ in Sinhala. Disgusting! The world needs to hear about this!

Together Against Genocide tweeted:

Apparently SriLanka has issued a postage stamp depicting a Hindu Tamil as a demon, 1 among many demons in sinhala tradition that causes 'diseases'. Goes to explaining the genocide.

Read more on the stamps from FT.lk here.

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