La bandera nacional de Sri Lanka ¿símbolo permanente de división?

Este artículo reflexiona sobre el simbolismo de la bandera de Sri Lanka, y cómo el hecho de que sus colores representen a distintos grupos étnicos puede ser un obstáculo para la unidad del país.

National flag of Sri Lanka: symbolic perpetuation of divisions?

The national flag of Sri Lanka is based on a design that was adopted in 1950, to which some modifications were added in 1953 and 1972. Although the areas depicted by different colours may have been somewhat innocuous at the time, some of the connotations that may surface today appear to be irrelevant in a few cases, and downright insidious and dangerous in others.

When one looks at the relative sizes of the areas depicted by the different colours, the largest is the one shown in crimson, which forms the backdrop to the lion image. Ironically, this colour represents the minor religions and ethnic groups, the Portuguese/Dutch Burghers, although this category constitutes less than 0.7% of the population at present. The crimson additionally is supposed to signify the rich colonial heritage of Sri Lanka. However, at a time when a few of those who inherited the reins from our last colonial masters never seem to get tired of interfering in Sri Lanka’s affairs, it is a moot point today whether such links deserve pride of place in the national flag.

In front of the lion’s right paw are the saffron and green vertical stripes, to represent the Tamil and Moor ethnic groups. The two stripes stand clear of the rest of the flag, in an area reserved for these colours. Is it possible that this placement was a harbinger to the ‘traditional homeland’ that LTTE claimed and nearly received on a platter and the rumblings that used to be heard from some groups in the Eastern Province for a Muslim homeland? Isn’t the depiction of the different ethnic groups in separate areas of the flag in this manner a perpetuation of division and a move that gives credence to ‘homelands’ and mono-ethnic enclaves, when in fact the need of the day is to project unity and co-existence?

The President of Sri Lanka had mentioned time and again that there are no minorities in Sri Lanka: the country is the homeland of all Sri Lankans who love it. It is time for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and other institutions within whose purview the matter of the national flag comes to appoint a committee of knowledgeable persons to review its design. Let us do away with the symbolism of separate and discrete identities.

Gamini Premadasa

The Island (imagen: Flags of the World)

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