28 October, 2020

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Devolution, Sri Lanka’s Defence And Security

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

Prof G.H. Peiris in his latest response (‘The Case against the Thirteenth Amendment’, The Island Midweek Review, May 22-23, 2013) to my article in The Island of 15th May 2013, argues that the distribution of ethnicity renders the district rather than the province the more suitable unit of devolution if empowering the minorities is the name of the game. My counterarguments are threefold: domestic geopolitics, politics, and regional geopolitics. Or, to reduce it a single factor, the realities of the balance of power and the island’s strategic vulnerability.

Firstly, it is not merely the Jaffna district or any single district in the North, but the Northern Province that has a Tamil majority. The Tamils of that province have evolved and crystallised a collective identity that the Sri Lankan state must accommodate, institutionally and structurally, if it is to remain as a single overarching entity over the very long duration. Military dominance alone cannot ensure this and in any case such dominance is both prohibitively expensive to sustain and easily neutralised by far stronger players over the horizon. I recall Prof Peiris’ distinguished colleague Prof KM de Silva writing that the matter ultimately boils down to the Northern Province and conceding that the case for devolution to that province is a rather strong one, unlike that for a merged North-East or even for the Eastern province.

Secondly, it takes two to tango; this is all about dialogue and negotiation, and no administration has been able to persuade a Tamil party of any significance to accept the district as the main unit of devolution.  It is a non-starter and GoSL would have no representative Tamil partner for a process of political dialogue and reconciliation.

Thirdly, the vital strategic and security realities: the sophisticated and increasingly influential Tamil secessionist network (of which the Tigers are only a component), are attempting to widen the contradictions between Sri Lanka and India, Sri Lanka and the US, and Sri Lanka and the Indo-US axis. Watching with pride the V-day march past on TV, I was seized by the crucial importance of protecting our superbly honed (and hopefully, not corrosively over-politicised) military machine from the trap that the Tamil secessionists are setting for it, namely to place it in the line of fire of Indian kinetic power, backstopped diplomatically and strategically by the US.

As a student of comparative politics I am keenly aware that the unravelling of Yugoslavia – whose fine army, steeped in guerrilla fighting traditions had long deterred Stalin’s Russia — commenced precisely with the abolition of the autonomous status of the province of Kosovo. That unravelling was the result of political lobbying and argumentation by Serbian ultranationalists, along exactly the lines that Prof Gerry Peiris and his co-thinkers (such as the Bodu Bala Sena, oxymoron though it be) that are engaging in today.

The usually well-informed political column of the Sunday Times (Colombo) reported that “…These sources said India’s External Affairs Minister Khurshid “politely told” Peiris that any such measures by the Government of Sri Lanka would be “at its own risk” and would force the New Delhi Government to react with “firm measures.” He has also cautioned that Sri Lanka would be isolating itself in the international community.” (‘Storm Clouds Still Over CHOGM’ May 19th 2013) That report (which pertained to 13A, as distinct from the one about the acquisition of 6,000 acres) has not been contradicted so far, by GoSL. My collection of back issues of the Lanka Guardian is replete with such statements made in the years leading to the intervention of 1987 – accompanied by the accurate editorial reading of those (Indian) tea leaves.

It is not that intervention is already planned. However, the atmosphere, diplomatic (Geneva, New York), conceptual (retroactive R2P) and world opinion, is building up – or being created—which is not unpropitious for such intervention and in which any intervention would be readily endorsed. It certainly went uncontested in 1987. The last time, Sri Lanka was able to roll back that intervention because the LTTE took on the IPKF, generating collective cognitive dissonance in Tamil Nadu which in turn led to VP Singh making and fulfilling an electoral promise to withdraw Indian troops. In any future scenario of intervention, this factor will not operate. There will be no Tamil army fighting the Indians or anyone else who may come along. There will also be no foreign troops in the Sinhala areas, and therefore no possibility of a heroic, protracted, patriotic guerrilla war of national liberation against them. The Sri Lankan armed forces, being almost totally Sinhala, will find it impossible to wage guerrilla war in Tamil areas, with restive Tamil civilians in its rear, against a foreign interventionist force, which is in any case able to neutralise our most significant military assets not just in the North but all over the island, in a single strike wave. There will be an overwhelming force projection which cuts off the Tamil areas and imposes punitive strikes (as happened to Serbia) in case of massive Tamil civilian casualties due to reactive ‘ethnic cleansing’ ( real or perceived) in the South.

Any lucid strategic thinking does not proceed from intention but capacity, and plans for worst case scenarios, not best case ones. Sri Lanka must make note of its security environment and its strategic vulnerabilities. Changes in that environment are , in all probability, not aimed at Sri Lanka and have nothing to do with us, but can also be used against us in a worst-case scenario. It is the stance of an ostrich to assume that Indian and US planners do not have Hambantota on their maps and have planned for neutralisation of a possible asset of their Asian rival. The dispositions that result from such planning can be used for other contingencies.

I would draw attention not only to the speculation about US military arrangements with the Maldives, but far more importantly, the supplementing of the existing Indian naval air base in the South (which has the longest airstrip in the region) with the brand new airbase in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, to which India plans to transfer its top-of-the line Sukhoi SU30MKI warplanes. One notes that neither China nor Pakistan lie to the south of India. Sri Lanka does lie within the operational arc (and the intersecting Indo-US arcs) of such arrangements. Therefore, large security zones and military dispositions provide no real security beyond a limited point and may indeed prove excessively vulnerable (especially to stand-off weaponry).

The bottom line is that if Sri Lanka’s costly military victory which has given us back our natural borders, is to be made permanent; if Sri Lanka’s fine military is to be ‘ target hardened’; if Sri Lanka’s security is to be truly assured, it cannot be done purely or primarily by hard power alone, but by restoring our soft power. Provincial devolution in the form of the 13th amendment (perhaps with mutually agreed upon swaps in the concurrent list), is a political solution which lies at the cusp of acceptance, however grudging, by both Sinhalese and Tamils communities. It will help us to strategically re-stabilise our relations with India which (as Geneva 2012 and 2013 have shown) have deteriorated since 2009 and seem to be on a slippery slope. Moderate, prudently centripetal provincial devolution is an indispensable part of our national defence shield.

It is rather sad that Prof GH Peiris sees fit to distort what I said in order to say what he must. He writes that “My response to Dr. DJ’s article (The Island of 15 May) was restricted almost entirely to his attempt to persuade the reader that the Thirteenth Amendment was essentially a product of indigenous political thought and strategy, and not a consequence of India’s coercive intervention in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.”

I had said no such thing and even the most cursory re-reading would demonstrate that Prof Peiris is engaging in sleight of hand by substituting ‘the 13th amendment’ for ‘province based devolution’. My point had been that the case for province–based devolution had long, non-Indian (and non-Tiger) antecedents; that the case had issued from intelligent reflections on the problem of political relations between Sinhalese and Tamils in 20th century Ceylon/Sri Lanka. I argued that the specific form that provincial devolution eventually took– that of coercive Indian diplomacy and the 13th amendment– was due precisely to the decades-long delay in implementing such devolution domestically. I proceed to caution that just as the blockage of a domestic process of devolution to the provinces resulted in or provided the opening for external intervention, an ethnically unilateral abolition or disembowelling of existing arrangements for devolution is likely to revive such external interference and intrusion, and do so in an external environment that is at least as unpropitious as that of the 1980s and arguably even more so. I observe that this may dovetail with the strategic designs of the global Tamil separatist network and result in jeopardising Sri Lanka’s military achievement and our strategic assets. I therefore conclude that though the implementation of provincial level devolution in the form of the existing 13th amendment constitutes a risk, a significantly greater risk, on balance, would be posed to our sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity by the unilateral scrapping or permanent freezing of such devolution. I would withdraw my argument if a grand bargain could be struck with the predominant parliamentary party of the Tamils in which provincial devolution is replaced by devolution to the district in exchange for a more equal citizenship–which I have called the ‘Soulbury Plus’ scenario.

Prof Peiris refers to my contention ( and no, it wasn’t my “central contention”) that “… had the agreements announced at the PPC (Political Parties Conference) of mid-1986 or at the APC (All Parties Conference) of 1984, which were primarily domestic processes, been implemented, there would have been no opening for Indian intervention in mid-1987”. He proceeds to ask “Does such a “central contention” even deserve a response?” I’m afraid so. I repeat, had the domestic deliberations for devolution been successful and been implemented, starting with the B-C Pact of 1957 right up to the June 1986 PPC proposals, would India have felt the compulsion or had the politico-diplomatic opening it did, to intervene?  This is not idle speculation. It has very considerable current relevance. As Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam and I have separately yet consistently cautioned, the case is being built up that Sri Lanka either has no will or capacity to undertake domestic reform including in the realm of political dialogue and reconciliation with the Tamils, and that this case is the foundation for escalation to greater levels of external interventionism, conceivably culminating in the most intrusive and dangerous.

Prof Peiris queries “Wasn’t the PPC of 1986 very largely a dialogue between a segment of the UNP leadership and representatives of the TULF?” Well, frankly, no, because the TULF did not attend the conference (though Mr Amirthalingam returned to Sri Lanka briefly and observed the deliberations at some remove).

He goes onto to assert that “From 1936, as the leader of the Sinhala Maha Sabha, until his electoral victory 20 years later, SWRD remained one of the most ardent exponents of the unitary nation-state of Sri Lanka. To Dr DJ, these are inconsequential.”

Of what conceivable relevance is this, when SWRD Bandaranaike negotiated the pact for provincial devolution (regional councils with amalgamation even across provincial boundaries) one year after his victory in 1956 and the passage of Sinhala Only? And what pray has SWRD’s or anyone’s support for the unitary nation state of Sri Lanka to do with devolution within precisely such a unitary state, which was the case with the B-C Pact and the autonomy arrangements in a great many unitary political systems throughout the world?

Prof Peiris queries whether “as evidence, do these tiny bits of thrash picked up as it were from the “dust bin of history” represent the early stages of a vibrant domestic process that culminated in province-based devolution in 1987?” Perhaps not, but then again, I never said that it was a ‘vibrant domestic process’, merely that the political idea had been around for quite some time, including in the serious manifestation of the B-C Pact, and that it was the failure to make the transition from an overly centralised unitary state to one with sufficient devolution of power so as to bring it line with domestic geopolitical realities that “culminated in province based devolution in 1987” through coercive external intervention.

Seeking to combat my contention about the B-C Pact and the tragedy that resulted from its non-implementation at the time, Prof Peiris says that “anything might have happened if it was actually implemented. To go by Indian experiences, it could have intensified Sinhalese ultra-nationalism which could have… intensified rather than defused Sinhalese-Tamil hostilities to a level which, especially in the period during which the “Uncrowned Empress” held sway over India, could have resulted in an Indian military intervention in Sri Lanka, and a “liberation” not only of the claimed ‘traditional homeland’ but an area embracing “Malainadu” as well where more than a million stateless Indian Tamils were present. Such a scenario, to my mind, is substantially more realistic that what the ‘realist’ Dayan has said about the possible outcome of pre-emptive provincial devolution in 1986 or early ‘87.”

Well, let the reader judge the lucid realism of that scenario, bearing in mind however, that “to go by Indian experience” as Prof Peiris says we should, nowhere has a region seceded because an agreement for autonomy was arrived at and implemented. On the contrary every serious scholar agrees that it is precisely the flexible accommodation of regional (sub) nationalisms that has permitted the vastly diverse India to stay together.   This is not to say that Sri Lanka should seek to imitate India’s arrangements, only to learn from them as from other places.

Prof Peiris then contests my argument that “had the Thirteenth Amendment preceded the ‘Operation Liberation’ of mid-1987, there would have been no Indian intervention.” His counterargument is to quote from my 1995 book on Sri Lanka with regard to the provocative conduct of the EPRLF led North Eastern Provincial Council. Prof Peiris is oblivious to the irony that he is proving my case. The EPRLF was both tempted and capable of engaging in that kind of militia based adventurism precisely because of the presence of the IPKF, which would not have been on Sri Lankan soil had we legislated devolution through a domestic process before the launch of Operation Liberation and as a preparation for it. The commitment of President Kumaratunga to a political solution (however imprudently over-generous those packages were) and the promise to implement 13A repeatedly made by President Rajapaksa and his troika of top representatives (who included two of his siblings) to New Delhi, constituted an important factor , apart from the murder of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE—in keeping India ‘on side’, when the army under CBK liberated Jaffna and when President Rajapaksa finally crushed the LTTE despite Western moves for a ceasefire and Indian elections including in Tamil Nadu. This last factor explains why President Rajapaksa saw fit to reiterate the commitment to implement fully the 13th amendment, in two summit level communiqués, issued just days AFTER the conclusion of the war, on May 21 and 23rd .This tends to prove my point that Indian intervention could have been avoided had devolution been in place at least on paper, in 1987.

Prof Peiris contrasts Sri Lanka with India in terms of size and concludes that federalism is an absurdity. Firstly, size has very little to do with it: both the young SWRD and the mature Leonard Woolf regarded Switzerland (hardly a vast landmass) as a possible model for Ceylon. Secondly, and more importantly, where does the issue of federalism come in? While the Tamil nationalists may have it on their wish list it, the debate today, and certainly between Prof Peiris and me, pertains to provincial level devolution within a unitary state.

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    India has already delivered the message and given some warning of its intentions. Sampur is back on track. The ultra nationalist headed by JHU and BBS have now stepped in to make it a matter of patriotism and more specifically anti-Indianism to repeal 13A. Our other minor patriots are also falling in line.

    Where were these knights in armour all these years, when they themselves even contested the PC elections in the other provinces? Is this selective abhorrence of 13A only reserved for the NPC and Tamils? 13A has been the signature tune of MR for the last many years as a palliative for the ethnic problem. He went on even to promise 13A+. Now the India and the International Community are holding him to his word. Will he pass the buck and face the repercussions?

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    “and certainly between Prof Peiris and me, pertains to provincial level devolution within a unitary state.” – will not work in a muti-ethnic country. Federalism combined with unitary features as that of India would have solved many problems of Srilanka if adopted at a right time.

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    again i will say – DJ who secretly inserted a clause without the consent of the President does not deserve to be a citizen of this country

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    “..apart from the murder of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE…” – who killed Rajiv Gandhi [Edited out]

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    Dayan, kicked Out of govt.job this guy sees many crocodiles in a Tea cup, a couple of weeks ago (01 May 2013) he was delivering a speech at Premadasa the idiot’s commemoration who died as his domestic aide ( a LTTE suicide bomber)exploded himself, no doubt in few months time this guy would be in mental hospital.
    Did this man ever saw any such crocodiles in his Tea Cup during last 08 years as Govt. employee as an ambassador ? All those are baby Crocodiles ? fitting in to a Tea Cup ?

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    What a load of meaningless arguments Dayan.

    Lets accept there are ethnic divisions in the country? So what should we do? Cement those differences with devolution? No. Dismantle those differences with assimilation!

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      මතක තියා ගන්න බලය බෙදීම ලංකාවේ ඉදිරි අනාගතයට ඉතා අවශ්ය යි. දයාන් ගේ මේ ලිපිය කියවලා වත් ඔයාට ඒක තේරෙන්නේ නැත්තම් කතා කරලා වැඩක් නෑ.

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    Can somebody shed some light on much talked about Police and land powers of a PC?

    This seems to be the biggest problem for Sinhalese nationalists and others.

    Is that really a stepping stone for separation in the hands of groups such as the TNA, who are not trusted by a vast majority of Sri Lankans at all?

    Can somebody analyse this matter objectively? Would be grateful.

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    John-DJ has written well,pointed to the present and its future possible repercussions in a article for the general public so why do you see it fit and necessary to attack him personally?

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    Rightly or wrongly we have a constitution and 13th amendment is an integral part of it. Let us prove to the Nation and to the World that Sri Lanka is a country which believes in the rule of law and law of the land. So without tinkering any further lets implement all that is written in the constitution to date. If we find that some clauses need changes, then the Government has the majority to make those changes. But there is not point to tinker with the constitution at this point of time and prove to the world that the Government and Rajapakses do not adhere to the laws of the country.

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    All DJs writing is history. It is now Gota-affis reign – the War-warrior
    cum US citizen and Sinhala Hero! Who will dare to confront him – even on the telephone and DJ speaks of India and its aeroplanes!!!
    (GLP might have shivered to disclose what Indian FM stated last, in
    the guise of an old Fishermen rescue story)

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    There is a difference in 1987 and 2013 in that in the intervening period of 25 years china has grown into an economy of 12 trillion USD on a purchasing power parity basis whereas India is 5 trillion only.So can India ignore china and do what it did in 1987,that is the million dollar question.If as Dr.dayan says a cyprus style intervention by India may be on the cards,then the question arises what will be China’s response to that,given that china has shown such a great interest in Srilanka?Will india take on the risk of antagonising china by invading Srilanka or will it cancel such a plan considering it too risky because of China?Or will it think it is better to make a preemptive move and strike and take control of Srilanka before China permanently moves in to its backyard and becomes a threat to it from the south,while it is already a threat from the north through the common border it shares with it.china is already becoming a threat on the east of india through mayanmar and bangladesh and also a threat to india from the west through pakistan.India must be feeling encircled by the string of pearls policy of China.

    I think everything will depend on the US and EU.If they tell India to go ahead and that they will take care of China,then India will go ahead because it can kill two birds with one stone and solve the tamil problem and also teach China a lesson once and for all not to try its encircling policy.Unlike in 1987,today there is an aggressive china that that is encircling india and will India timidly accept it or decide to lash out and break out of the encirclement.If it does invade srilanka and partitions the north and east the way turkey did in Cyprus that will give a message to bangladesh and myanmar too not to give port and military facilities to china.

    The million dollar question is whether the EU and US are willing to take on China.There combined economic power is 30 trillion USD on a PPP basis,so it is 2.5 times that of china.In an economic war between these two sides china will be worse off and will be reluctant to have a showdown at the moment.Ultimately i think it is economics that will decide all this.Whenever there is tension in the world the big powers try to sort it out diplomatically without exarberating the situation because they know that all their economies are interlinked and everyone is going to be worse off if the gloves are off and they go at each others throats.That is why the US and EU are trying to be patient with srilanka and India is also restrained in its approach and even china might apply the pressure on Srilanka for a political solution.

    However we can’t take all that for granted and if Srilanka is really stubborn like Prabha and tells everyone to go fly a kite then it will probably bring upon itself an indian intervention and that is what Dr.Dayan seems to be warning about.Mr.Kurshids recent statement to GL Peiris about serious consequences is an eye opener in the backdrop of all this and normally diplomats don’t use such language in public unless their mind has been made up on a particular course of action.

    I also think that china will have to reverse its string of pearls policy because i can’t see how India can tolerate getting encircles by it and Srilanka may just become a scapegoat for india to use the tamils excuse to invade and send a clear message to bangladesh,myanmar and pakistan once and for all that it is not going to to allow that,because its national security is involved and it is prepared to take drastic action to protect itself.Instead of aiming at China the arrows from India will be pointed at its neighbours to ask them to tell China to tell china that they are not interested in the string of pearls policy as it is creating problems with their giant neighbour.

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    A very fine incisive and fact-based response.The crux of the Tamil cause is nicely encapsulated in DJ’s lines:

    “Firstly, it is not merely the Jaffna district or any single district in the North, but the Northern Province that has a Tamil majority. The Tamils of that province have evolved and crystallised a collective identity that the Sri Lankan state must accommodate, institutionally and structurally, if it is to remain as a single overarching entity over the very long duration”
    It is not the indefensible claim of “tradtional homelands” or the primordiality of the settlement in the North or the timeline of the Tamil civilization in Sri Lanka that is important.Rather,AS THINGS STAND NOW,the Tamils are there NOW and they are a substantial majority in the province and therefore some machinery must be devised to accomodate their intersts within a unitary state.
    Challenging this by resorting to shop-worn statementa from the past and irrelvant allusions and a selective historization of the conflict is utterly specious.Further,the paranoia about India bespeaks minds immersed in histories of centuries ago and the Myths of the Mahavamsa.
    Further, that the 13th Amendment was conceived and executed by a past Indian regime does NOT necessarily invaldidate it.After all,Sri Lanka has taken so much from India over the centuries!The only question to ask about the 13 amendment is a practical one:IS IT GOING TO BE REASONABLY EFFICIENT IN ITS WORKABILTY AND IS IT GOING TO BE EFFECTIVE IN MEETING SOME OF THE DEMANDS OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE.

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    Dayan Jayathilake is trying to prove that ideology is correct. but, it is possible to prove that Dayan Jayathilake is also wrong.

    I am pretty sure he is one of those who said that LTTE can not be defeated.

    India is interested in Sri Lanka and keep on pressing Sri Lanka because India does not want china to have upper hand on Sri Lanka. It is the same with the western bloc particularly USA.

    It is Mahinda Rajapakse’s job to balance every thing and do what should be done.

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      Jim Softly,you may be referring to his article”a diagnostic scan of the conflict” which was in the asian tribune in aug 2006 wherein he says,i quote

      [3. There is no purely military solution to the problem. The Tigers cannot be eradicated on their home ground by purely military means. We do not have the manpower to take, hold and keep secure (police) the North-East against a powerful guerrilla force that is more native to the area (certainly the Northern Province) than we are. These tasks can be achieved only if we have (a) ‘force multipliers’ i.e. weapons systems which will greatly augment our firepower and (b) a sufficiently large and effective *indigenous *i.e. Tamil force as allies/auxiliaries. Both require a political reform package which can secure us military assistance internationally while empowering the anti-Tiger Tamil organisations.]

      He was right about the fact that the manpower was not there at that time,but gota and fonseks fixed that up with a massive recruitment drive.Dayan correctly identified the problem but did not give the solution,whereas the practical blokes gota and fonseka found it.

      dayan also goes onto say,I quote

      [4. The international community including India will not permit massive civilian casualties to be inflicted upon the Tamil community in a no-holds-barred Total War waged by the mobilisation of the whole Sinhala nation (as the JHU wishes).]

      Here too he was dead wrong,with the malayalee mafia sout bloc handling everything at india’s end they could not care a shit about the tamil civilian casualties,and allowed upto 40000 to die according to the UN Darusman report.What dayan failed to grasp was the historical enmities between the malayalees and tamils in India.The whole foreign policy and security establishment in India was totally in the grasp of malayalees due to Sonia being very fond of them and even her personal staff was full of them from kerala,drivers cooks etc.I think prabha’s father too was a malayalee from kerala,but calls himself a tamil after coming to velvetithurai,when it suits them they will change like the chameleon and become tamils.Jaffna must be full of them because of the amount of coconut they use which is kerala and not tamilnadu habit.

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    DJ is a patriot. He watched the V-Day parade with pride.
    Recent posts by DJ declare that MR is a good man, an astute and charismatic polititian. No other Sri Lankan polititian even comes close.
    DJ is full of admiration and gratitude to the Sri Lankan armed forces. But DJ argues forcefully and in authoritative detail that the motherland’s territorial integrity is in immediate and present danger from overwhelming external forces, spearheaded by India. He makes it abundantly clear that military resistance would be futile. Bold and nimble diplomacy must be deployed immediately to save the beloved motherland.
    DJ is too modest to allude (in this post) to his proven track record as a daughty and successful fighter on the diplomatic
    front.
    Would it not be extreme dereliction of responsibility on the part of MR if he does not immediately draft DJ into service and give him full authority to commence battle on the diplomatic front? After all, DJ’s patriotism, his devotion to the armed forces and his personal esteem for MR are now beyond question.

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    Every time the Government in power wishes to consider ‘giving’ the minorities some rights for them to lead a dignified life in this country, the ultra nationalist oppose such move. history is replete with many examples. There is nothing to ‘give’ to the minorities. It is the responsibilities of the President and the Government to devolve power through the PC. By doing this the external powers like India and USA and the Europe are getting involved in the domestic affairs. Tamils and Muslims too are human beings and citizen of this country. Let them live peacefully in this country. Shun your fear psychosis. Trust the minorities. They will not take over the country. What they want is to lead a peaceful live under any Government, with full citizenship rights.
    Any problems in giving them. Do not abolish the PC’s, that is the only tool which can help the minorities.

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    I just read an article written by DBS Jeyaraj in his blog where he very correctly says that “the 13th amendment and its creation the Provincial council have many flaws but it is the only political arrangement that addresses Tamil concerns reasonably in 65 years of post-independence politics in Sri Lanka.” No one could dispute Jeyaraj’s assertion that the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 “remains the best possible settlement to the Tamil national question ever made so far”(dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/21528#more-21528).

    India has repeatedly been telling Sri Lankan President that he should implement in full the 13th amendment. With the Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, Sonia Gandhi and the Manmohan Singh Government very strongly feel the need to do something about the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Moves are now being made to get the consensus of the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders and if possible the Tamil diaspora to agree that the best option for the Tamils now is the full implementation of the 13th amendment. Of course, few adjustments will be needed. The adjustments required include the pruning of the powers of the Governor and the re-merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces. Indian Foreign Minister has made it clear that New Delhi will not be kind to Sri Lanka if it does anything to tinker with the 13th amendment. New Delhi’s message to Colombo has come loud and clear.

    The moves to remove the 13th amendment will only invite the inevitable Indian intervention again. As the late TULF leader Amirthalingam has reportedly told Jeyaraj that “Sinhala state will never accept our rights without outside intervention. We need India to help us.” Jeyaraj says he belatedly realised the wisdom of those views of the late Tamil leader. Sooner or later that Indian help will materialise again.

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      Naga,you say,quote” best option for the Tamils now is the full implementation of the 13th amendment. Of course, few adjustments will be needed. The adjustments required include the pruning of the powers of the Governor and the re-merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces.”

      I agree with you except for the remerger that you mention.The Indo lanka accord has a clause which states that a referendum should be held in the east to determine whether the east should be demerged or not.The government should have held this referendum but it went and stupidly demerged it using the courts.If the referendum was held in the east the people in the east would have rejected the merger because the sinhalese and muslims outnumber the tamils thre and would not like to be a part of a tamil dominated north east provincial council.

      Anyway which ever way it has been done now,whether through the courts or through a referndum,the east would have formed a seperate provincial council as it is now.so there is no need to remerge this again as it will be going aginst the indo lanka accord which specifically wanted the eastern province people to have a vote in their future and decide whether they want to be amalgamated or not.

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