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‘If 13th Amendment were enough, why would we have lost so many lives?’

Tamil parliamentarians met in Colombo on Sunday, as they discussed the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution which calls for some devolution to the North-East, amidst renewed discussion over power sharing to the Tamil homeland.

Speaking in Jaffna on Saturday 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?”

இதைவிட தெளிவாக சொல்ல முடியாது@MASumanthiran pic.twitter.com/S11bT1mccD

— Visitharan (@Visitharan2) December 12, 2021

Meanwhile in Colombo, representatives from the TNA, Tamil Makkal Kootani (TMK), Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), Malaiyaha Tamils, and Tamil-speaking Muslims met on Sunday to discuss the still to be implemented 13th Amendment.

The amendment, which has been in place since the Indo-Lanka Accord if 1987 but still has not been implemented, calls for the devolution of land and police powers to a merged North-East.

Though the Sri Lankan government has repeatedly stated it would “go beyond” the 13th Amendment “that has not happened so far,” said TNA leader R Sampanthan. “There is now talk of a new Constitution, but simultaneously we see the government’s efforts such as ‘One Country One Law’,” he added.

“We have gathered today from different political parties to discuss the situation. We exchanged our views on the subject, and will be taking this discussion forward,” Sampanthan told reporters.

“While we don’t see the Amendment as a permanent solution, we recognise its importance in the interim, until there is an acceptable permanent solution,” said former Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister and TMK leader CV Wigneswaran. “India will be able to intervene only as long as the 13th Amendment is there.”

The group is reportedly preparing a “comprehensive document” by December 21st.

“We are challenging this government and asking them to fully implement what is already in our Constitution,” added TPA leader Mano Ganesan. “Nothing has changed in this country 12 years after the war ended. Our message is not only to the Sri Lankan leadership, but also to India, the international community and UN bodies.”

The Tamil National People’s Front, which currently has two Members of Parliament, was not a part of the discussions.

Read more from The Hindu here.

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