A home grown Solution for Unity, or to implement 13 Amendment to perpetrate ethnic difference.
Posted on June 12th, 2009

By Charles.S.Perera

The President of Sri Lanka wants home made solutions to build our nation afresh from the ashes of the past. In his most significant speech to the Parliament after elimination of terrorism from the country, he said that our Nation has no minorities.

 In the light of those assertions why is it necessary to implement the 13 Amendment to the Constitution which had been imposed on us at a time Sri Lanka was both militarily and politically weak. The government had the courage to withdraw from the CFA which had no legal value as it was not formulated by the government at the time and discussed and adopted as a legal document by the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

 If the Government had not withdrawn from the CFA, we would have more interference by the pro-terrorist foreign elements and the elimination of terrorism would have been delayed or ended in failure.

 The 13 Amendment was perhaps adopted by a Parliament where the opposition had no effective voice, when for the First time we had an all powerful executive President. It may perhaps be appropriate now to place the 13 Amendment before the Parliament to bring in Amendments to it to make it a more acceptable document in the context of the present situation, or rescind it altogether.. But, the implementation of the 13 Amendment as it is, is not appropriate as it may lead to political instability in the future.

 During the Military Operations against terrorism the Military hierarchy often repeated that the terrorism should be eliminated without leaving it for the future generation. In the same way the 13 Amendment should not be implemented to avoid passing on to a generation after political dissention and attempts to set up separatist Regional Parliaments.

 In seeking home made solutions for the development of Sri Lanka as it was asserted by the President, implementation of the 13 Amendment which was prepared in India, and adopted hastily in the Parliament, without giving sufficient time to discuss it leisurely and bring in amendments to it, would put into question the President’s assertion of home made solutions to political problems in Sri Lanka.

 The major impediments for ethnic unity such as the language, education, employment opportunities , and legislative parity in the Island are being attended to by the government. Therefore the adoption of the 13 Amendment which would probably cause future political instability in the country is meaningless. The elimination of terrorism necessitates unity of the different Communities. The centralised control of Regions as it now exists is of utmost importance to avoid ever again a situation that we have stopped after 30 years of suffering , thousands of lives lost, at an immense financial cost.

 Despite the storms of terrorism we had weathered with so much of loss of life and material the political leaders representing Tamil Community do not seem to be ready to speak the language of unity. The Sinhala political leadership has extended its arms of friendship , burying even the vestiges of often mentioned supremacism of the majority, to accept all communities under the umbrella of a united Sri Lankan Nation. But yet, as always, it is the Tamil political leaders who dilly dally not wanting to finish with their Tamilness to broach the difference and keep the communities apart, perhaps still hoping for a Tamil Homeland.

 Anandasangaree the UNESCO laureate , the winner of the Madanjeet Singh prize for the promotion of tolerance and non violence, prefers to stand apart as the representative of the Tamils, critical of the IDP camps and the government.

 It would have been more in keeping with Anadasangaree’s crowning achievement of international recognition of his tolerance, if he had shown an example to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, by making a gesture of unity with the Sinhala and the Muslims people to build a single united Nation of Sri Lankans,

 In that respect what an appropriate gesture it would have been, if he joined a non-communal political party like the UPFA or UNP to contest the PC elections in Jaffna.

 Douglas Devananda, who had been a Minister of the present government, has also missed an opportunity to seal the bond of unity between the Tamil Community on one side, and the Sinhala and Muslim Communities on the other , by deciding to contest the Jaffna PC Elections independently.

 It is only Karuna Amman or Muralitharan who joined the SLFP. He showed his sincere attachment for the call of unity . This would have been an occasion for Anandasangaree as a elderly liberal minded Tamil politician to give an example to all Tamils to bury their ethnic differences to come together as Sri Lankans. But he seems to be still dreaming of a separate Tamil Region with its own Parliament under a Federal Constitution.

 India at the time of putting forward the 13 Amendment, to help Sri Lanka to end terrorism by sending IPK Force would have had the ulterior motive of helping Prabhakaran to set up a Tamil Homeland. But Prabhakaran who was bright in thinking out plans to kill, maim and think of strategies to defeat the Government Forces was not very intelligent in other matters. A Tamil Homeland as a political end may have been the furthest from his imagination.

 He was more an egoist who thought of himself living the life of a Thalaivar with lots of slaves paying obeisance to him and carrying out his orders, a King of sorts. If not, instead of fighting with the IPKForce he could have worked with them to set up the Tamil Homeland.

 In demanding the implementation of the 13 Amendment India was contributing to keep the two Communities the Tamils and the Sinhala Majority apart. India probably wanted the perpetuation of the Tamil and Sinhala difference. Therefore the 13 Amendment would have been proposed as a stepping stone to the Tamil Homeland concept. That was India’s gift to Prabhakaran. But, Prbhakaran the fool he was, without any political acumen did not understand the possibility that had been placed before him by India.

 What Sri Lanka wants now is not to continue this Sinhala Tamil difference. But to bring the two Communities together and along with the other Communities form a united Sri Lanka. For that the 13 Amendment as worked out by India, will certainly be an obstacle.

 The implementation of the 13 Amendment will keep North and East separated from the rest of the Country. Further more the 13 Amendment requires the North and East merged into one region, not demerged as two provinces. Therefore, the Implementation of the 13 Amendment will bring up the question of merging the two regions into one.

 In any further political developments the Tamil Expatriates who had defended the cause of the terrorists should be kept out, unless they give up their support for the “dead cause” of separatism.

 Taking all these into consideration the Government should re-examine the wisdom of the implementation of the 13 Amendment.

One Response to “A home grown Solution for Unity, or to implement 13 Amendment to perpetrate ethnic difference.”

  1. cassandra Says:

    It is indeed appropriate that we re-visit the matter of the 13th Amendment, in light of various factors.
    – The 13th Amendment was forced on SL by India. It was agreed to under duress and is therefore voidable.
    – It has not been implemented after more than 20 years and surely lapsed
    – Circumstances since 1983 have changed significantly and therefore the underlying considerations for the Amendment are no longer valid
    – It was part of a larger agreement which included the LTTE laying down arms. That did not happen.
    – The 13th Amendment will arguably confer on the Tamils living in the North and the East more rights than other citizens of the country
    It is also interesting to note that measures proposed to deal with ‘Tamil grievances’ have always sought to go beyond redressing those grievances. The Satyagraha in the 1950s was in protest at the Sinhala Only Act which made Sinhalese the sole official language. But the B-C pact (later abrogated) which was entered into to bring that protest to an end, went way beyond giving Tamil parity of status with Sinhalese. The pact went on to deal with District Councils and colonisation etc. So did the Dudley-Chelvanayagam agreement. So does the 13th Amendment. The grievance of the Tamils has been alleged discrimination on the basis of language. The answer to that grievance needs to be proportionate to that grievance – no more.
    With the defeat of the LTTE, we are living in a totally different world. We need a solution that reflects those changed circumstances and one that is appropriate to Sri Lanka, not a duplication of something valid and relevant to other countries.

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