The Sri Lankan government has decided to get rid of the Tamil version of its national anthem, local media reports say. The country anthem will only be sung in the majority Sinhala language at all Government events, while the Tamil version will not be played. In a move that could anger the Tamilians worldwide, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's cabinet has reportedly approved the decree last week. Tamil leaders have threatened to boycott the anthem all together.
The President reportedly argued that no one of the other countries in the World had national anthem 'in more than one language'. He also told the cabinet that the Tamil anthem is a limitation which undermines the unity amongst people in Sri Lanka.
He cited an instance where one time Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, had walked out of a function in the north where the national anthem was played in Tamil, a report in the country's Sunday Times said.
We must all think of Sri Lanka as one country, he reportedly said.
The Ministry of Public Administration is likely to issue a directive to all government departments in the next couple of days.
Tamil political parties in the country threatened that they would boycott the anthem all together if the decision is not revoked. The Tamil National Alliance sought a clarification from the government and alleged discrimination of its people.
The Sinhala version of the anthem 'Sri Lanka Matha' is widely used across the country while the Tamil version is popular in region to the North and the East. Ethnic Tamils represented by the Tamil Tiger rebels fought a 25-year-long battle demanding an independent country for the Tamil minorities.
Last year, the Sri Lankan armed forces however managed to crush down the resistance and regain important towns and villages from the rebel stronghold. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran was also killed in May last year in an offensive by the army.
Meanwhile, Tamil activists over the recent weeks calling for an international arrest warrant for Rajapaksa, blaming him for thousands of civilian deaths in the Sri Lankan civil war. The president's trip to the United Kingdom was marred by protests after a British television channel broadcasted video footage of alleged massacre of civilians by Sri Lankan army. resistance and regain important towns and villages from the rebelnkan Armed forces.