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Tamil parliamentarians call for 13th Amendment as a starting point to federal solution

Writing to Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK), and Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) amongst others urged India to ensure that Sri Lanka abides by its commitments under the 13th Amendment and devolve power to the Tamil provinces as a starting point "towards a federal structure". 

The letter stressed the role India has played since the 1980s in shaping a federal framework for Sri Lanka which culminated in the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987. This accord laid out provisions for devolution including the merging of the Northern and Eastern provinces and led to the passage of the 13th Amendment in Sri Lankan parliament. 

In the letter to Modi, the Tamil representatives said that successive Sri Lankan governments have been reluctant to implement the devolutionary clauses and have also been “unilaterally reacquiring powers” from the provinces. 

They also expressed concern that Sri Lanka has been intensively grabbing the land of Tamils in an attempt to alter the demography of the North-East. “This must be halted immediately, or else the provisions of the Indo-Lanka Accord will be rendered nugatory,” they warned. 

The Tamil politicians requested the Indian Prime Minister to urge Sri Lanka to “fully implement the provisions” of the 13th Amendment and guarantee other commitments made by successive governments since 1987. 

The 13th Amendment has been a subject of much debate in Tamil polity ever since it came into force. The Tamil National People's Front has slammed the modest proposals it set out maintaining that it was not even a starting point to Tamil political aspirations of nationhood and self-determination”. The TNPF maintain the need to go beyond these proposals and abide by the "hallowed Tamil National principles of nationhood and self-determination”.

Read more here: TNPF demands self-determination and opposes 13th Amendment

In a recent interview, TNA MP Sumanthiran adumbrated his party’s stance on the 13th Amendment. “So, 13A as a framework we welcome, but it is fitted into a system that is unitary in character and doesn’t enable it to actually reach a meaningful scheme of devolution,” he said. 

Read the full letter here

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