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'India was assured of solution to Tamil National Question' - Sumanthiran tells Sri Lankan parliament

TNA parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran warned that the island may step “into naked majoritarianism” unless the equal status of all peoples on the island was respected, pointing out that repeated assurances had been made to India to the Tamil people that a political solution would be found to the ethnic conflict.

“President Rajapaksa’s government repeatedly assured India and the rest of the international community that the Tamil National Question would be politically resolved after the war by means of greater devolution,” Sumathiran told Sri Lanka’s parliament last week. 

“The assurance given to India on at least 3 occasions was to ‘implement the Thirteenth Amendment in full and build upon it so as to achieve meaningful devolution.’ This includes the full implementation of Tamil as an Official Language.”

However the TNA MP said that despite those assurances Sri Lanka’s current president Gotabaya Rajapaksa had a “regressive” position in pledging not to devolve powers.

“The equal status of each of these peoples is not dependent on their respective numerical strength,” Sumanthiran stated. “This principle must be acknowledged if our democracy is to survive and indeed flourish, and not regress into naked majoritarianism. Regretfully, in his address to Parliament on 3 January 2020, the President has articulated such a regressive position. It was this kind of regressive mindset on the part of the leaders of this country that gave rise to a conflict which resulted in armed hostilities that raged for more than three decades.”

See more from FT.lk here.

Sumanthiran’s speech came after Gotabaya Rajapaksa had vowed to “protect and nurture the Buddha Sasana” in an address to parliament this morning, where he called for changes to be made to the Sri Lankan constitution in order to safeguard “security, sovereignty, stability and integrity”. “We must always respect the aspirations of the majority of the people,” he continued. “It is only then that the sovereignty of the people will be safeguarded.”


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