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‘For over 70 years Tamils have rejected a unitary state’ – Thousands protest in Jaffna

In a massive rally this morning, Eelam Tamils in Jaffna have come out to protest against the 13th amendment and have demanded recognition of Tamil nationhood and sovereignty through a federal structure.

In a public statement, the Tamil National People’s Front wrote that “even after a genocide in 2009, [Tamils] have handed consistent and unanimous mandates via democratic elections, rejecting a Unitary state, and demanding that their nationhood be recognized”.

They further added:

"Any solution that is imposed on us within the Unitary state (i.e 13A, or any other structure) instead of a federal structure that recognizes Tamil nationhood, its sovereignty, the Tamil homeland, and the right to self-determination betrays the mandates of the Tamil people."

The TNPF goes on to encourage parties who wish to impose the 13th Amendment, to “abandon these efforts”. This follows a letter from a number of Tamil political parties to India’s Prime Minister requesting pressure on Sri Lanka to fully implement the 13th Amendment which it has persistently failed to do.

During the demonstration protesters were seen chanting:

“We don’t want 13th amendment, release political prisoners!” and "repression is not new to us".

Commenting on relations with India, the TNPF note that:

“The Eelam Tamil nation is not opposed to India's attempt to strengthen its bonds with Sri Lanka, maintain its geopolitical interests, or maintaining its status as a regional power in South Asia […] We view India as a friendly power and appreciate it furthering its national interests. However, we ask that India must stop ignoring the aspirations of the Tamil people and scapegoating Tamil people to further its national interests."

The statement adds:

“We call on India & friendly nations to stress upon Sri Lanka to reach a federal solution fully encompassing recognition of Tamil nationhood, sovereignty & right to self-determination in a merged North-East Tamil homeland— a mandate handed by the Tamil nation for 70 years."

The TNPF also issued the following demands:

During the march, demonstrators visited Kittu park and paid respects at a memorial for Lt Col Thileepan. Thileepan was a political wing leader of the LTTE who fasted to death, in a protest appealing to the Indian government to honour pledges made to the Tamil people.

Read more here: Remembering Thileepan's sacrifice 33 years on

Read more here: Remembering Colonel Kittu


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