Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels are soliciting ideas for an anthem to highlight the aspirations of the Tamil people, a rebel spokesman and a pro-rebel Web site reported Friday, amid the separatists' demand for greater autonomy in the areas they control.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, will accept suggestions until Nov. 27, which coincides with Martyrs Remembrance Day, when rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran pays homage to his fallen fighters.
"We have requested all Tamil people to come up with ideas and poems for our own national anthem," rebel spokesman Daya Master said by telephone from the rebel capital of Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka. The participants should be "Tamil bards and minstrels with patriotic fervor," TamilNet Web site reported, adding that the anthem should have a maximum of 18 stanzas written in the Tamil language. TamilNet said the lyrics should "symbolize the history of our struggle," extol the "virtues of those who sacrificed their lives ... and manifest the resoluteness, dedication and the aspirations of the Tamil People for freedom and dignity."
Daya Master declined to comment on whether the anthem was another step toward the rebels' goal of self-rule in Sri Lanka's north and east _ areas where most of Sri Lanka's 3.2 million Tamils live. The rebels already have their own flag, as well as a flower, the Gloriosa Lily; and an emblem, the Tiger.
The LTTE began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority, claiming discrimination at the hands of the country's majority Sinhalese. Nearly 65,000 people died before a Norwegian-brokered cease-fire was signed in February 2002, reports the AP. I.L.