Ahead of Sri Lanka’s 75th Independence Day, Tamil National People’s Front leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, has written and met with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, and stressed the need for a federal solution.
“One of the main causes of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has been the Unitary State structure. Ever since the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka was introduced, the Tamils have rejected it on the grounds that for as long as the structure of the State remains Unitary, no meaningful autonomy and self-government can be achieved” Ponnambalam writes.
In his letter, he highlights that whilst the US has pushed Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendment successive rulings on the amendment by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has
“There are over 30 judicial judgments from the highest courts of the country that have held that for as long as the State structure remains Unitary the Government in Colombo will be the sole repository of all power and have specifically held against devolution”.
He further warns that if Tamils accept the 13th amendment as a starting point, it runs “the very real risk of the Sri Lankan State taking up the legal position that since the Tamils have accepted the Unitary constitution by accepting the 13th amendment, there no longer remains an ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
The letter further stressed the need for accountability to ensure the nonrecurrence of human rights abuses against the Tamils. Whilst applauding the US’s efforts at the UN Human Rights Council, Ponnambalam notes that the UNHRC remains an ineffective forum.
“The Sri Lankan State will never deliver on accountability willingly, which makes the UNHRC an ineffective forum. It is our considered view that if ever accountability is to become a reality, it will have to be through a referral of Sri Lanka to the ICJ, the ICC, or the setting up of an international ad hoc criminal tribunal”.
The TNPF leader has similarly urged India’s foreign minister to push for a federal solution ahead of his 2-day visit to Sri Lanka.
Read the full TNPF letter here.
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