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Minority parties to write to India

13 Dec 2021

  • Set of common proposals to be submitted
  • Special focus on 13A
By F. Aslam The seven main political parties representing Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking population, led by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader R. Sampanthan, plans to send a document with a set of common proposals to India and the international community by 21 December, with a special focus on the removal of the 13th Amendment by the proposed new Constitution. This was decided at a discussion between the political party leaders yesterday (12). Speaking at a press conference held following the meeting, Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Parliamentarian and Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) Leader Mano Ganesan explained the reasons for turning to India. “India also has a responsibility towards the 13th Amendment. Do not criticise us by saying that we are taking Sri Lankan problems to the international community. It was Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who first took Sri Lankan problems to the international community in 1989. Yes, we need a united Sri Lanka, but we also need a diverse Sri Lanka,” he said. Speaking to The Morning after the meeting, Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK) Leader and Parliamentarian C.V. Wigneswaran said that it was unanimously decided to submit this common proposal document to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21 December, protesting against the removal of the 13th Amendment by the proposed new Constitution. He added that such a removal would invalidate the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord signed in 1987 and that it would prevent India from being able to intervene in the issues of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. The document and the accompanying letter would be co-signed by the TNA, the Tamil People’s National Front (TPNA), the TPA, the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), and the Tamil National Party. Ganesan further demanded that the Government immediately hold provincial council elections and spoke on the need for the devolution of power that goes beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. “Our hope is to live equally in a united Sri Lanka. We must stop the division and extremism in Sri Lanka. In today’s discussion, we focussed on the 13th Amendment. But the 13th Amendment is not our final hope. It is a constitutional right and it is not a new thing. We demand the Government to enact the 13th Amendment and challenge them to win the hearts of the Tamil-speaking people,” he said at the press conference. He added that the discussion between the leaders also focussed on the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, the issue of land-grabbing faced by Tamil-speaking minorities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, and prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979, as well as the land, housing, and political rights of plantation workers. SJB Parliamentarian and Sri Lanka Muslim Council (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem, speaking at the same press conference, also stressed the importance of going beyond the 13th Amendment in pursuit of the meaningful devolution of power. Furthermore, Hakeem condemned the actions of various Presidential Task Forces (PTFs) in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and added: “They are interfering in the Northern and Eastern populations. We condemn these actions.” Yesterday (12) marked the second round of discussions held between the main minority parties. Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) Parliamentarian Selvam Adaikkalanthan and a number of other parliamentarians were also present at the discussion in addition to the party leaders.

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