Thirteen Amendment and so-called ‘Solutions’

 

(06.06.2014 – Email)

Responding to Ranil Wickremsinghe who raised a question on the reports which said the Indian Prime Minister had told President Rajapaksa to work towards implementing a ‘solution’ by devolving powers beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, External Affairs Minister Prof GL Peiris has told Parliament that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had conveyed Indian PM that Sri Lanka couldn’t devolve police powers under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

The message said to have been passed onto to Indian government is an evident that there is a tremendous pressure from India to stick onto the Indian ‘solution’ due to their own regional, economic and political interests.

The above statement of the Minister Peiris is a confirmation that the President has agreed to go ahead with the 13th Amendment without police powers. Since the government is also talking about the PSC (Parliamentary Select Committee) to formulate so-called ‘solutions’, it appears that the 13A without police powers is the basis of the of the SLFP solution to initiate further negotiation with other political parties and TNA (if attend) at the PSC.

It is well clear that the UNP is for the full implementation of 13A and even to go beyond since its leaders were responsible for introducing 13A and even agreeing with the so-called ‘co-chairs’, once, to have a full federal system as a ‘solution’. JHU has already withdrawn from the PSC saying that the party has no faith on it. It would be interesting to see the outcome of the PSC (if move ahead) since all the other parties, with the exception of JNP (Jathika Nidahas Permuna) and MEP, are also ardent supporters of devolving powers beyond 13A. Thus the frustration of the JHU and the JNP today is well understandable.

On the other hand, according to another report, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has said that India has no right to dictate what kind of devolution system we must have. ‘Neither India nor any other country has the right to tell Sri Lanka what kind of devolution system it must have. It is for Parliament of Sri Lanka to decide and the appropriate forum to debate the issue is the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).

As the Minister de Silva pointed out, India should not advice Sri Lanka what powers it should give its provinces, just as Sri Lanka does not advice India on what powers it should devolve to its states questioning the legitimacy of the 13 Amendment saying that it was imposed by India in 1987 as part of the Rajiv – JR Pact.

Mr Nimal Siripalada de Silva, as per the media report, went on to say that the SLFP, then in opposition, had agitated against the Accord in July 1987.

Unfortunately, most of the SLFP politicians including its current leaders have forgotten the fact that the SLFP under the leadership of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike, not only agitated against the Rajiv – JR Pact, but boycotted the first Provincial Council elections too.

When Rajiv – JR Pact was signed amidst curfew, the function was boycotted even by some ministers of the UNP government including its Prime Minister R. Premadasa. Those UNP parliamentarians who opposed the Rajiv – JR Pact, which paved the way for the 13th Amendment, had no alternative but to vote for it since JR had already taken them ‘political hostage’ by keeping undated resignation letters signed by MPs in his pocket. The only UNP parliamentarian who had the courage to leave the party and the cabinet opposing the 13th Amendment was Mr Gamini Jayasuriya. The extent of the country’s opposition to the treacherous agreement was notable when a sailor attacked the Indian PM while the latter was receiving the guard of honour.

Failure of India to disarm the separatist groups and to restore peace, unilateral declaration of Independence by Chief Minister Vartharaja Perumal of the very first North-East Provincial Council in November 1989 and utter failure of the existing PCs in the South (apart from becoming white elephants to the entire nation) are clear examples of the futility of the Indian solutions based on the Rajiv-JR Pact.

The validity of the enforcement of any solutions proposed under such a Pact is highly questionable, under the present circumstances, since the India has failed to fulfil its main obligation vis-à-vis disarming the separatist groups. The people of Sri Lanka have completely rejected the treacherous Pacts signed by J.R. Jayewardene (with India) and later by his nephew Ranil Wickremasinghe (with Velupillai Prabhakaran) during subsequent elections. The political party led by them is in disarray today with no chance of winning popularity due to its past and current failures.

The recent humiliated electoral defeat of the Congress Party of India may directly connect to its domestic policies than its international policies. However the Congress party with a history of abetting Tamil separatist groups to destabilise its neighbouring country and went all out to coerce into submission by invading the air space challenging the sovereignty while almost forcing the country’s democratically elected leader to sign a hurriedly prepared document (called ‘Agreement’) endorsed by the same Tamil separatist groups, has been given the right place (at last, by the Indian people) due to its failed policies through decades. The chances of returning to power again depend entirely upon the performance of the current ‘Modi’ regime.

Hence, what moral right is there to force Sri Lanka to stick onto the so-called ‘solutions’ of the said Pact, after the Sri Lankan security forces managed to eradicate the terrorist outfit when India’s intervention proved to be an utter failure and at a time both parties responsible for signing the so-called ‘Agreement’ have been rejected by the people of both countries?

One claim for separatism is the existence of a (mythical) traditional Tamil homeland. If there was any evidence of such a homeland, Tamils would have made their ‘claim for a separate state’ from British rulers, who favoured minorities (in several ways) as a part of their ‘divide and rule’ policy, prior to independence. Although there were claims for 50 to 50 representation in the legislature from Tamil leaders to maintain their ‘gained superiority complex’ under the Colonial masters, there was no mention of traditional homeland claims from the Tamil representation. Traditional homeland theory was not existed at that time, because they had no time to destroy all historical evidence of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilisation in the north and east of Sri Lanka and to rewrite/interpret the history in their favour.

In fact, page 773 of the Oxford Dictionary published in 1924 identifies ‘Sinhalese’ as, 1. Adj. Of Ceylon 2. N (pl. the same). A S. native, the S. language while page 1133 identifies ‘Tamill as, n. Member, Language of a non-Aryan race of S-E India [Native]. According to the definitions of the same words in the Oxford Dictionary published since 1990, ‘Sinhalese are migrants from North India now forming the majority of population in Sri Lanka whereas Tamils are inhabitants of South India and Sri Lanka’.

It is not the intention here to write at length on this issue since there are several books and articles written by eminent writers on the above subject of mythical Tamil homeland.

Another claim as sighted by the propaganda machinery of the separatists is ‘marginalization by majority ethnic Sinhalese’

As Foxwatch in The Sunday Island of September, 10th 2006 correctly identified, before rushing headlong in to irrevocable constitutional change which may not work, we must be sure what the problem is, before blindly formulating a solution. The Maha Sangha brought up this basic issue in a Resolution on the devolution proposals of the time, on March 5, 1996 Clause 3 read:

“Whereas the government declares that the constitutional amendment are aimed to solve the Tamil problem and to correct the historical injustices caused to the Tamil, this conference of the Maha Sangha demands that the government declares in what ways the Tamils have suffered any injustices purely because they have been members of that community and in what ways and in what ways the Sinhalese who constitute 74% of the population have special privileges by virtue of being Sinhalese….”

What is really happening in Sri Lanka today is that the political wings of the militarily eliminated LTTE, TNA and GTF with the moral backing of their counterparts (MDMK, DMK and AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu are now exploring every possible political avenues, to achieve what the LTTE failed to gain, with an intention of carving out a mono-ethnic separate state. Unfortunately our power hungry politicians do whatever possible, either to hang-on to power or to come to power, without considering the long-term consequences of what they today.

The entire Sinhalese and the Muslims population who lived in the Northern area for centuries were either killed or chased away completely by the extremist racist group. The Tamil political parties formed on racial basis, as their name implies, are opposing the resettlement of displaced Sinhala people who lived in the Jaffna district and had to leave as a result of ethnic cleansing of the racist groups. According to available statistics, approximately 21,000 Sinhala people lived in the Jaffna District alone in 1971. Today, the Sinhala population is only 674. It is interesting to note that many thousands of Tamils are living in the southern parts of the country in peace with the other communities. In Colombo city alone, the figure is around 2, 59,000 including leaders of TNA.

As the Foxwatch stated in his article, the above request made by the Maha Sangha remains as valid today as when it was made more than eighteen years ago. The question raised should be answered by those who are responsible for implementing solutions, both for public information and to serve as the basis for an enduring solution. If we leapfrog this essential step our “solution” may only create bigger problems down the road.

– S. Akurugoda

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