Saturday, 21 January 2012
No ! not again . We have had enough of the 13th Amendment .
What is the necessity to broach the 13 th Amendment once again, when people are beginning to forget about it, and begun to live as a free people without Indian interference into their well earned peace ?
It all began again with the visit of the Indian External Minister Mr.S.M.Krishna, who our External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L.Pieries paying him a homage raised him to the status of a relative of the people of Sri Lanka.
The Minister Pr. G.L.Peries has said of the visit of the Indian Minister of External Affairs Mr.S.M.Krishna that the « ......the spontaneous attendance by …….. S M Krishna soon after his arrival in Colombo at the Thaipongal ceremony on the invitation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasized that the relations between the two countries is not just a relationship among friends but among close relatives which was exemplified vividly on this occasion. »
It is very good to accept Indians as our relatives, even if the relationship is not reciprocated by the Indians with the same sincerity with which it has been offered. But it is a blow to the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka to adopt now the obsolete 13 Amendment in any form. The President Mahinda Rajapakse owes it to the people of Sri Lanka to remove the 13 th Amendment completely from the Constitution once and for all, without continuing to add insult to injury by talking not just about implementing Amendment 13, but Amendment 13 plus.
The President’s offer to implement 13th Amendment plus is incoherent. It was a mere agreement accepted to facilitate a situation that existed 25 years ago. Apart from it having been enforced on us against the popular wish of the people it has no legal right to be included in the Constitution. Prof. G.L.Pieris is a constitutional lawyer and he should know.
The 13th Amendment was accepted to allow the Indian Government to send a IPKF to defeat the aim of the terrorists to divide and set up a separate homeland in the North and East of Sri Lanka. It was also for the convenience of the IPKF to move freely in the North and East . The Amendment had no other interest other than to keep the terrorists at bay, without becoming a force beyond the control of the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka.
Now it is nearly twenty five years since entering into the India -Sri Lanka Agreement and accepting the 13th Amendment. The Terrorism has been removed by the valiant Armed Forces of Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi who forced the 13th Amendment on us was assassinated by the very terrorists he was trying to help, and the President JR Jayawardhana who was forced to accept it under the then prevailing condition is now dead. IPKF was never able to defeat the terrorist. The mission of the IPKF in Sri Lanka was an utter failure.
Is there, therefore, any reason why we should hold on to the absurd 13th Amendment to please India, and to satisfy the hate mongering TNA ?
Amendment 13 plus will not be the same as Amendment 13, therefore it is far better to abrogate it, and go ahead with reconciliation of the Communities, by creating understanding and trust among them. If there are Tamils Groups like the TNA and the Tamil diaspora who would never want to trust the Sinhala, it is better they are left with their dissatisfactions, and communal hatred, and the Government should instead go ahead with the development of the country for the greater good of the rest of the people.
However, now that the President Mahinda Rajapakse has promised a 13th Amendment plus, let us see what is the 13th Amendment ? What were the reasons for its initial introduction ? Was it accepted by the people or the acceptance of it by the then President of Sri Lanka approved by the people ? Why is adopting of it would be an insult to the people of Sri Lanka, and the Soldiers who sacrificed their blood, limbs and lives to eliminate terrorism from Sri Lanka ?
The Key Provisions of the 13th Amendment are :
• In addition to Sinhala, Tamil 'shall also be an official language' of Sri Lanka, with English as a 'link language'
• The north and east to be merged into one province, subject to a referendum
• Provincial councils to be elected every five years
• A governor with executive powers to be appointed by the president in each province
• Provincial high courts to be established
• 'Reserved' and 'Provincial' lists detail powers of the centre and the provinces respectively. A 'Concurrent' list outlines shared powers, though ultimate authority for these issues remains with Parliament
• Financial provision for the provinces to be directed by Parliament
• Provincial councils can be over-ruled by regulations promulgated by the president under the Public Security Ordinance.
The circumstances under which India made the Government of Sri Lanka accept the 13th Amendment will remain a shameful episode of India’s arm twisting of the President of Sri Lanka who was in a helpless situation, where his friends in the West had abandoned him and the terrorists had an upper hand.
It was imposed on the President JR Jayawardhana of Sri Lanka when Sri Lanka was Militarily weak and without defence
« It is clear that the Sri Lankan government was pressured by India into signing the accord. Once it had signed, however, the government rammed the 13th amendment through Parliament despite strong opposition from inside and outside the ruling United National Party (UNP). »
Under those circumstances, and what followed thereafter, should we consider the relationship with India more than a friendship , a relationship between close relatives as Prof. GL Pieries had said ?
« Indian cargo planes invaded Sri Lanka’s air space challenging the sovereignty of our country, and almost forced former president JR Jayawardena (JR) to ‘invite’ Rajiv Gandhi to Sri Lanka to sign the agreement and to accept the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). Sri Lanka had no alternative but to ‘surrender’ to India’s demands and sign a hurriedly prepared document endorsed by the Tamil separatist groups including the LTTE. »
( http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2009/06/08/is-13th-amendment-to-the-constitution-practicable/ )
There is no reason for the Government of Sri Lanka to continue with this shameful 13th Amendment. It is more so now after the elimination of terrorism, because it was forced on Sri Lanka when terrorists were sieged in Jaffna which they had occupied by the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. In June,1987, the Sri Lanka Armed Forces were about to defeat the terrorist forces and liberate Jaffna, when our “ friend” India, intervened :
« The BBC correspondent Mark Tully quoted the army command at Palaly having hopes of taking Jaffna within the next 48 hours. It was at this stage that Indian Government intervened directly and decisively. Arguing that the embargo on supplies and the army offensive had rendered the people of Jaffna totally destitute, India decided to send in humanitarian relief.
The convoy of fishing vessels carrying relief supplies was sent on 3 June 1987. The flotilla was refused entry by the Sri Lankan navy. The much publicized airdrop of food packets and relief supplies over Jaffna by the Indian Air Force AN-32 transports escorted by Mirage fighters on 5 June 1987 announced the open India intervention quite dramatically. The relief mission, code-named "Operation Eagle", violating the air space of Sri Lanka was calculated to convey to the Sinhalese chauvinists India's determination to act decisively in favour of the beleaguered Tamil minority.
Although not intended, this operation was eloquent and arrogant enough to confirm India's earlier covert involvement in affording sanctuary and logistic help for the militants and, more than that, to confirm that the apprehension of the island nation about India's hegemonic ambitions was not unreasonable. »
“The direct Indian intervention that started with the air-drop of food and essential supplies on 5 June 1987 culminated in the signing of the India-Sri Lank Agreement on 29 July. The Agreement signed between Rajiv Gandhi and J. R. Jayewardene in Colombo was essentially a rehashed version of the "December 19th Proposals". It underscored the need to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, which was acknowledged as a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual plural society consisting inter alia, of Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims (Moors) and Burghers. The Agreement recognized the need to nurture the distinct cultural and linguistic identity of each ethnic group. The Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka had been identified as "areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil-speaking peoples who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethic groups".
( http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/1314/9/09_chapter%204.pdf )
That was how India forced its Military Force on us in support of the terrorists.
From the beginning India had been working against Sri Lanka. It was the Indian RAW that built camps in the Forests of India to provide training for the Sri Lanka Terrorist Group led by Prabhakaran.
« It was when late Major General Janaka Perera was the Commander of Jaffna, that 40,000 soldiers were stranded in Jaffna at the mercy of a possible terrorist attack due to lack of transport. The Indian Government with whom the then President of Sri Lanka negotiated for ships to transport the stranded army, refused to provide the requested means of transport. The army however, with the support provided by the Government of Pakistan halted the terrorist march towards Jaffna. (http://charlesperera.blogspot.com/2008/07/gotabhaya-rajapakse-janaka-perera-and.html)
As far as assistance from India is concerned, President Kumaratunga's interview to an Indian Daily (The Hindu, May 24, 2000) indicates that Sri Lanka had asked for some urgent military assistance which India had refused.*
( http://www.idsa-india.org/an-jul-800.html )
During the crucial military operations against the terrorists when the Armed Forces were running short of offensive weapons, the Government of Sri Lanka requested India to sell the urgent arms requirements. India not only refused to sell the arms and ammunitions but also warned Sri Lanka against purchasing arms from China or Russia.
Even the Radar equipment which India installed later was inadequate and could not detect the low flying « terrorist » planes, which bombed once the Airport and once the Colombo town.
That was how India helped Sri Lanka as far as we the people know . What secret pacts the Government of India and Sri Lanka had despite the apparent « hypocrisy » of India we do not know.
Now that all conflicts are over . The terrorism has been removed from the soil of Sri Lanka. India walks in as the benefactor, friend and relative. Providing houses to IDPs in the North, and constructing a Cultural Hall in Jaffna. And demands the government to implement the now obsolete 13th Amendment.
The External Affairs Minister of India Mr.S.M.Krishna has told reporters accompanying him,
« I think it goes without saying that Article 13 plus (should) be implemented in a very visible manner. So, till then, naturally we will keep looking forward to the implementation of the assurances given to the people of Sri Lanka and during the talks we have had, » and added, « On the whole I have a sense of satisfaction that all the programs that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced are being pursued vigorously in Sri Lanka, »
With all these Thaipongal events that took place at the TempleTrees, with the honourable presence of the External Minister of India and his pronouncements, one wonders who holds the reins of Sri Lanka.