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.
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