20 October, 2020

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The 13th Amendment

By Saro Kadirgamar

The Daily Mirror has been conducting a public opinion poll on the above subject to feel the pulse of the people. 53.1% for abrogation, 33.3% for retention and 10.3% for retention with amendments. It is interesting and heartening for those who wish for justice and reconciliation that the results do not reflect the ethnic and religious percentages of the population.

The current President and his party at no time rejected it, and indeed he promised 13+ | AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

Devolution or power sharing is a tried alternative to secession and has been successfully implemented in countries large and small. The call for devolution by the Tamils who have enjoyed a historic presence in the country pre-dates the 13th Amendment and the war.

Had the power sharing arrangements agreed to by the previous Governments been honestly implemented, we could have averted an ethnic war. It is imperative that the Tamil and Muslim people of this country be acknowledged as stakeholders in the development of this multi racial, multi religious and multi cultural country and their identities preserved. It is a lack of understanding by the majority that led to the cry for separation. It is conveniently forgotten that Tamils rejected the cry for separation by Mr. Suntharalingam and his Eelam party at the polls in 1962. What went wrong since then?

All these extremists who call for dumping he 13th Amendment should keep in mind that in their next birth they may not be born into the same comfort zone but they may be reborn as a member of a minority community.

Whilst the 13th Amendment was introduced during a UNP regime under unfortunate circumstances, the current President and his party at no time rejected it, and indeed he promised 13+. There are many safeguards which could be introduced to prevent secession, the most important being inclusiveness extended to minorities.

A spurious argument put forward in support of abrogating the 13th Amendment is “emotional blackmail” in that it would be a betrayal of our gallant forces and the sacrifices made by them. The forces fought to  put down terrorism and not to deny minority rights and support majoritarianism. This is why Sri Lanka gained international support during the war.

Therefore this Wesak season, let the President address this problem in accordance with Buddhist principles of justice, free of ethnic considerations.

The way the President  decides and acts will certainly reflect on his personal integrity and credibility both within the country and internationally.

For Truth and Reconciliation

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Latest comments

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    Full implementation of the 13th amendment is what the Tamils would accept today as the minimum. 13th amendment would not lead to division of the country. There are certain shortcomings in the 13th amendment which will have to be remedied. One major flaw is the power exercised by the Governor. The purse strings of the provincial council are in the hands of the Governor and a politically motivated Governor will frustrate the elected councillors in a provincial council.

    President Mahinda Rajapakse not only agreed to implement the 13th amendment but promised India that he will go further and give 13 plus. For the past four years he did nothing and lost the goodwill. The time has now come to fully implement the 13th amendment with all the powers enumerated under that amendment.

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      “Full implementation of the 13th amendment is what the Tamils would accept today as the minimum”
      Don’t you think it would be helpful if you spell out the what would be the maximum acceptable to you! But no one including the TNA is mum on that.
      “13th amendment would not lead to division of the country”
      can you give us proof of that please ,our experience is that one CM of the once NEPC unilatereally declaired indidipendence!

      Yes,the President promised 13+ and now he should resign if he cannot keep his promise and he can always see if the majority of this country approve of his action!

      Saro K
      yes, there is a pickle called Muli this and multi that, the problem however is there is also a rock called a vast majority and what ever this and that multi does, it must not hurt the rock

  • 0
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    Thank you Saro Kadirgamar
    “All these extremists who call for dumping he 13th Amendment should keep in mind that in their next birth they may not be born into the same comfort zone but they may be reborn as a member of a minority community.”
    These extremists are probably Atheists who do not believe in Kamma, or that their Actions will bear fruit in this Very Life, if not in the Next! Maybe their nearest and dearest will become a part of a minority family by marriage.

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    The Daily Mirror has been publishing the same public opinion poll result for the past 3 or 4 weeks. It looks as though the paper has decided to take a strong stand against devolution and 13th amendment. The series of articles that are now appearing in the middle pages are all against the 13th amendment and the danger that awaits the country if the NPC elections are held. Well it is the right of that paper to do so if it so wishes. But a more balanced coverage could have been given by publishing a few pro – devolution articles as well.

    • 0
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      It appears that only Vareeswaran is in the dark that DM is pro-centralization and pro JHU and war!

  • 0
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    I wish you sir for your political life.first person in a country is the one who represent a country.we might have different religious but we are living in one country as one nation.you are a great leader.

  • 0
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    Saro
    Short and smart piece.

  • 0
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    the greatest leader in a country that i saw ever.though there is so many types of nationalities we are sri lankan.you save the nation, SRI LANKAN NATION.as humans all ones have faults and do faults,that’s the nature.no one can toe for another one because all ones have faults.president MR did more things for the country.we have to be thankfu them.

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      shirantha

      “president MR did more things for the country”

      Such as…………?

  • 0
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    Saro Kadirgamar

    “For Truth and Reconciliation”

    Is this concluding remark aimed at war crime deniers?

    Watch out “War Crime Deniers”.

  • 0
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    After getting the 1961 satyagraha crushed by the armed forces, Mrs Bandaranaike put a fullstop to recruiting Tamils into the armed forces.

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    President’s integrity:
    He appointed two PR firms(Sunday Times, 7 April 2013) in the US to work with the US government and the Houses of Representatives and businessmen before announcing in the parliament(Daily Mirror, 9 April 2013 that he doesn’t concur with the US-sponsored UNHRC resolution.

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      Integrity of a leader:

      ‘’The umpteenth Indian delegation (Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, National Security Advisor Shiva Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar) went back empty handed: President Rajapakse handed them a flat ‘Nyet’ and for once in a lifetime he spoke the truth. “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.” The government’s parliamentary group met the evening before the esteemed visitors arrived and decided; ‘Let’s tell them the truth straight from the shoulder and upfront; let’s tell them, if we do it we are dead meat’’ – Sri Lanka: Indian Delegates go Home Empty Handed, Kumar David, 15 June 2011, http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers46%5Cpaper4558.html

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    If media balance and honesty is to be projected by the Mirror, they should spend a bit of time to conduct an opinion poll within the Tamil speaking people whether they will go with the 13th Amendment or go for a separate State to protect their future, their fundamental rights and identity in their ancestral land of Tamil Eelam. This public opinion you present has no meaning or validity.

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    The majority Singhalese and the Governments of SL were given enough time and opportunity to fully implement the 13A since 1987.

    Now 4 years after the Mullaivaikkal War, resulting in more than 70,000 killed, including women, children, elderly, freedom fighters, and many died of thirst, many bled to dead, without medicine or medication.

    The war has resulted in more than 89,000 widows, 60,000 orphans, still 50,000 refused entry into their own homes, and lands, 146,000 are still unaccounted for, either dead, missing or in custody.

    All agreements, amendments, and accords are now null and void.

    Terror, torture, murder, land grabs, colonisation, and singhalasation is the order of the day.

    What the Tamils would accept today as the minimum, for peace and reconciliation is not a survey by a few, but a UN conducted referendum for the Tamils in the North & East, for the Tamil Diaspora to decide their future destiny.

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    13th amendment thrust upon us by India at gum point. It is not what Srilankan people wish, demand or request. JRJ at that time thrust upon it on parliament to approve it ,because he was under the threat from India by possible invasion.

    Provincial council’s are white elephant’s and more than 60% of the funds wasted on paying salaries and maintenance. This system was yet another plan to manipulate state funds and resources by minor politicians.

    This system must abolish. TNA only praise it because they planning to object or delay whatever development government carrying on in North.

    If anybody wants to keep it, it must get the approval from Supreme court in Srilanka first and then the approval from Srilankan’s by a referendum. That’s the proper democratic way.

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      Rana,It is too late for referendum etc that you mention.The Indo lanka accord is an international agreement between two countries,not like the banda chelva pact or dudley chelva pact etc that were torn up.Now they are trying to do that also to the rajiv JR pact but finding it difficult to do so because can’t play out india the way they played out the tamils.As for referendums why don’t you ask India to also have one for kachativu and for the sirima shastri pact.I ‘am sure the Indian public will approve the two in the democratic way that you mention.

      As for your contention that the Indo lanka pact was signed at gunpoint,there is something called duress in law.If you sighned something under duress then what you signed has no legal validity,but to do this you have to go to court and prove that you sighned under duress.No point in going to the national court as the JHU is currently doing,but you have to go to a court that is internationaly recognised.

      So the most simple thing that JRJ could have done is to publicly state he does not like what he is going to sign,but he has to do it because yu mention that he was worried about an invasion by India.IF he had said that then it would have been on public record that he signed it under duress.Or in another circumstance let us say he was reluctant to sign it and then India said that there would be consequences if he does not sign,then to a reasonable person it could be inferred that he signed it under duress and even our local courts could have ppointed it out and abrogated the accord unilaterally.

      Both these circumstances i mentioned were not done by JRJ or India.JRJ went ahead with the pact because he thought he could kill two birds with one stone by pitting India against the LTTE and it worked because the two young uneducated modayas rajiv and prabha were no match for the crafty wily old fox and went at each others throats as he foresaw.

      The only incident that Srilanka can use to claim that it was signed under duress is the parippu drop,but that too will be explained by India as a food drop to starving civilians.At least JRJ should have had the foresight not to stop food supplies as he did to the civilians,because does he expect India to just wait while they starve.

      The Rajapakshes are trying to clean up JRJ’s mess.He nourished and built up the LTTE with the 1983 riots and The rajapakshes have cleaned up that part of it by decimating its military arm but are still struggling with the international diaspora which is also another one of the products of the 1983 riots with the exodus abroad of the tamils.Now you want the Rajapakshes to go head on with India and make it an enemy too because you say they have to clean up the Indo lanka mess of JRJ too.Well,they have tried their best to wriggle out of that but since India is adamant that an agreement with it has to be honoured,You are asking too much from them to keep on cleaning all the shit that the UNP put in the 17 years that they were in power.

      It is best to leave the Indo lanka accord as it is without making it worse for srilanka internationaly by trying to unilaterally abrogate it and making an enemy out of India.We need not have India as a friend but we can ill afford to have it as an enemy because it is only 18 nautical miles away.It would be be disastrous to clash with India over a niggledy piggledy thing like the 13th amendment which anyway does not satisfy tamil aspirations because it is just giving the minimum amount of devolution only,that too with an all powerful governor who can veto everything that the chief minister wants to do.Pillayan said he can’t even move a chair because of the governor.Let the tamil leaders one day clash with india over it just like prabha did with rajiv.It is only a matter of time before they say it is useless and go after india to get rid of it or to modify it to suit there requirements.Then the srilanka government can be firm and say no more than this and India too can save face too as the original agreement is intact and they are not beholden to the tamils to go further than that.

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    Shankar, No country in this world can sign agreement which affect another country’s sovereignity,territorial integrity or which against the will of the people of that country. Even if political leaders sign that kind of agreement it is null and void. A big country can threaten a small country and can force to sign agreements. But it is become a joke pretty soon. And that’s what happen to the 13th amendment today. If it is an agreement between India and Srilanka, it stay as it is in agreement papers and never become a reality.

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      Rana,you can’t always make decisions to satisfy the will of the people of the country as you claim.Sometimes you have to make the correct decisions based on what is best for the country and not what the people want.The masses are asses and just like SWRD listened to them and tore up the banda chelva pact which if implemented would have avoided all this mess and misery,we can’t always give what the masses/asses want.

      The indo lanka accord is good for the country because it makes us look at alternatives to centralisation of power and instead devolving it.Sometimes a child may refuse medicine or an elder might refuse an operation because they are not pleasant to have,but in both cases to have to coax them to do it for their own good because sometimes you have to suffer a bit today to have a better life tommorrow.

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    13 th amendment comes from Indian Army by mighty power of Indian hegemony, in 1987 Indo-Sri lanak accord.We as soveregenity nation of Sri lanka cannot accept at all.Is not best interest of people,nation and country.

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      It is time reader D. Nimal redid his understanding of recent history of the island. The Indian army came here “on invitation” to save the elected government under armed threat both in the South and the North.
      They complain they lost over a 1,000 jawans for the favour. Worst still, the very people – they complain – who they came to “save” armed the other side with Indian their own ammunition to kill these jawans.
      That is irony for you, good friend.

      Indian VVIP official Shankar Menon reminded us, not long ago, “the 13th Amendment is your legislation; not India’s” I believe he was not wrong if you look at it in perspective.

      Senguttuvan

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