The York University Tamil Students’ Association (YUTSA) has passed a motion to use the Tamil Eelam flag to represent the organization in the future and during the university’s Multicultural Week.
Despite the flag’s close affiliation with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), YUTSA, as well as representatives of the York administration, have ruled against the notion that it is associated with the nationally recognized terrorist group. Marty Williams, assistant director for the Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (SC&LD), admitted the school sought legal counsel.
“We have checked with our legal advisors and security services and found that the flag is not illegal to fly." Williams insisted the distinction between the LTTE flag and the one used by YUTSA is the inclusion of the letters “LTTE,” which are not present on the group’s Tamil Eelam flag. “The flag does not have the LTTE initials on it. They have firmly asserted that they fly the flag to represent the Tamil people,” Williams said in an email.
“The Tamil students at York University will use the flag of Tamil Eelam to represent the organization. This in turn will represent all the Tamil people who join the Tamil students at York University,” stated the YUTSA club minutes regarding the motion.
The use of Eezham Tamil national flag did not contravene any law in Canada, according to a report by CBC News which cited Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash. Citing the ban on the LTTE, some representatives of the Sri Lankan government, who have been over-sensitive to any demonstration of overwhelming Tamil diaspora support to Tamil nationalism, have been demanding a ban on the national flag of the Eezham Tamils, seeing it an opportunity of dismembering Tamil nationalism.
On Tuesday, the city's police force said its legal department was looking into whether the flags violated Canadian laws. But police spokesman Mark Pugash said the force's lawyers deemed there was "nothing illegal" about displaying the group's insignia.
"The best advice that we have from our lawyers is that it does not contravene any law," Pugash said.
There is nothing wrong in the Tamil nation raising its national flag. The Tamil national flag is not the Tigers’ flag but it is the Tamil people’s flag. Hoisting it is not against peace. Many who shout against it are silent over the recent killings. It is very deplorable that such murders are committed even amidst the great human tragedy caused by the Tsunami. These killings are provocations to war", said Mannar Bishop Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, addressing a rally in Mannar town Tuesday to condemn the killing of LTTE political leader, Mr. Kousalyan, the bombing of LTTE’s political office and sexual assault of a student by Police.
The Sinhala Lion flag did not find acceptance amongst the Tamil people and Senator Nadesan moved a motion in the Senate on 19 January 1948 in the following terms.
Nonetheless, the Sinhala Lion Flag was used as the National Flag on Independence Day on 4 February 1948 and on the occasion of the opening of the first Parliament of independent Ceylon on February 19th, 1948. Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake unfurled the Lion Flag at the Octagon (Pattirippuwa) during the independence celebration held in Kandy on February 12th, 1948.
Senator S.Nadesan, an Independent Tamil Senator, dissented from the majority view. In his dissent dated 15 February 1950, he said: "I regret that I am unable to agree with the majority decision of the National Flag Committee. In my view a national flag apart from giving an honoured place to all communities, must also be a symbol of national unity.”
In 1951, Senator Nadesan reiterates his opposition to the Lion flag as the national flag of the country: "In my view, this design if adopted far from being a symbol of national unity will be symbol of our disunity."
Source: Senator Nadesan, Dissent, Parliamentary Select Committee Report, 1951