By Dharisha Bastians
High officials in the Government yesterday expressed shock at the distortion of the National Flag by pro-Rajapaksa protestors demonstrating in front of the Bribery Commission on Thursday.
Crowds of protestors opposing a Bribery Commission investigation against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday, carried lion flags that were conspicuous by the absence of the orange and green stripes used to represent minority communities in the National Flag.
“It’s bad enough that these were thieves supporting other thieves. They are also racist thieves,” Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera told journalists at a news conference yesterday.
Deputy Minister Perera said Thursday was not the first time pro-Rajapaksa supporters had waved this particular brand of the lion flag.
“We saw this a month or so ago in Kandy as well. We call upon the Police and the Attorney General to exercise the law against those who distort the country’s National Flag, and incite racial tensions in the country,” Perera charged.
The Deputy Minister noted that it was bad enough that the National Flag was being taken to a protest at which protestors were standing against the enforcement of the country’s laws. “Action must be taken against those who gave leadership to this protest,” he said.
Former Ministers Bandula Gunewardane and Dulles Allahapperuma were in attendance at Thursday’s protest.
The Deputy Minister said that the Supreme Court in its recent ruling on the 19th Amendment, had noted that the National Flag was a symbol of unity in Sri Lanka.
Bribery Commission protest: MPs summoned for contempt of court
Several senior UPFA MPs have been summoned by the Colombo Chief Magistrate on charges of contempt of court, after they demonstrated at the Bribery Commission on Thursday in violation of a court imposed ban.
Former ruling party MPs Bandula Gunewardane, Dulles Alahapperuma, Gamini Lokuge, Janaka Ketagoda and Sarath Weerasekera, who led the protests when ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was summoned before the Commission this week, have been issued notice by the courts.
UPFA Provincial Councillors Prasanna Ranatunga and Udaya Gammanpila have also been issued summons.
The organisers have been noticed to appear in court on 8 May.
Dulles apologises for use of doctored lion flag
Amid controversy and a proposed Police inquiry into the distortion of the National Flag at the demonstration outside the Bribery Commission on Thursday, SLFP strongman and former Minister Dulles Alahapperuma apologised for omitting the two stripes on the flags carried at the protest.
“This version of the flag was not distributed by organisers of the protest,” Alhapperuma told reporters at a media conference yesterday.
Alahapperuma said the organisers regretted the use of the flag at the demonstration.
“We would like to make a public apology. It should not have happened. We are sorry if it has caused pain to any persons or groups,” the former Minister noted.