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Sri Lankan government complains to Nike over customised Tamil Eelam trainers

The Sri Lankan government has released a statement, revealing that it had complained to American sportswear corporation Nike, after a video clip of a pair of customised trainers drew the ire of officials in Colombo.

“Video of Counterfeit “NIKE” shoes with LTTE insignia circulating on social media,” said the statement from Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry.

The video clip, which has drawn angry comments from Sinhala social media users, shows a customised pair of Air Force 1 sneakers, emblazoned with a Tamil Eelam flag and a map of the Tamil homeland.

“The attention of this Ministry was drawn to a video circulating on social media of a pair of shoes, bearing the NIKE logo and LTTE insignia,” continued the official Sri Lankan statement. “On inquiry, NIKE, Inc. confirmed that the shoes depicted in the video have not been manufactured by NIKE. The NIKE, Inc. also informed that they would investigate to ascertain the abuse of intellectual property and conduct appropriate enforcement as per company practice.”

The complaint from the Sri Lankan state marks yet another occasion in which the government has expressed its outrage at perceived slights.

Last year, the Sri Lankan High Commission in London lashed out at The Guardian, accusing the paper of “a sinister attempt to propagate the ideology of a proscribed terrorist outfit” after it published a travel quiz on islands around the world.

In 2018, as the Tamil Eelam football team took part in the CONIFA World Football Cup in London, the High Commission once more lodged its protest, writing to the organisers and demanding the team be expelled. The team went on to play the opening game, with the tournament receiving widespread coverage in mainstream international media.

And in 2011, a London restaurant named the ‘Greedy Buddha’ was bombarded with abusive emails and letters, after the Sri Lankan High Commission lodged a complaint against its apparently offensive name. It had even conducted a summit with Thai, Myanmar and Nepal embassies in London to discuss the restaurant in question.

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