Dozens of British Tamils gathered in Downing Street this weekend to protest against the 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka – a provision within the constitution of Sri Lanka agreed with India that calls for limited devolution of powers – and instead, call for a complete end to the occupation of the Tamil homeland.
The protest comes as Tamil politicians have been engaged in discussions over the 13th Amendment and devolution of powers in recent weeks. A joint letter is reportedly being prepared to be sent to the Indian government, outlining Tamil demands.
Protestors in London gathered with Tamil Eelam flags and denounced the 13th Amendment, stating that only an independent state free from Sri Lankan rule would be acceptable to the Tamil people.
“No to Unitary State,” read one banner. “End occupation. Free Tamil Eelam.”
The 13th Amendment was established in 1987 as part of the Indo-Lanka accords and created the system of Provincial Council and promised greater devolution of land and police powers to a merged North-East. However, despite its passage, Sri Lanka has failed to implement its accord despite repeated calls from Tamil politicians and the Indian government.
In a public statement this month, the Tamil National People's Front slammed the 13th Amendment and maintained their steadfast commitment to “the hallowed Tamil National principles of nationhood and self-determination”.
Speaking in Jaffna last month, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M A Sumanthiran told an audience,
“If 13th Amendment were enough, why would we have lost so many lives? Lakhs of our people died after it came into effect... The Amendment is not a meaningful way of devolving power. Even [PM and former President] Mahinda Rajapaksa has acknowledged that in the past. Why are we now asking for something that is not meaningful?”