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Without changes to the ‘letter or spirit’- Tamil Nadu’s BJP leaders demand implementation of 13th Amendment

Meeting with India’s Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar, in New Delhi, several BJP officials from Tamil Nadu, including the President of Tamil Nadu’s BJP branch, K. Annamalai, have urged India to press for the full implementation of the 13th amendment in Sri Lanka without change to the letter or spirit.

The meeting comes in advance of Sri Lanka’s 75th independence anniversary which many Eelam Tamils will mark with a day of protest by carrying black flags and demanding a solution to the ethnic conflict that bedevils the island.

During the All-Party Parliamentary Committee, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe maintained that a middle ground on the 13th amendment was no longer tenable and stressed that it must either be implemented or abolished. These calls have been met with a backlash from Sinhala Buddhist clergy with the Chief Prelates of the Three Chapters slamming Sri Lanka’s president for confusing the nation and alleging that the 13th amendment has given rise to concerns over national security, territorial integrity, and independence.

The president’s statement has been met with trepidation on behalf of Eelam Tamils. Tamil National Alliance MP, MA Sumanthiran, whilst welcoming the implementation of the 13th amendment cast doubt over the sincerity of the president’s stated ambition. This follows the break of negotiations with the TNA and the Sri Lankan government due to a lack of progress in meeting Tamil demands. On Twitter, Sumanthiran commented on the 13th amendment stating.

“Sri Lanka’s failure to fully implement the amendment is a reminder of the Sinhalese establishment’s apparent insecurity over sharing power”.

On the hand, the leader of the Tamil National People’s Front Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam has rejected the 13th amendment as a starting point to meet Tamil demands as he has maintained that successive rulings by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court have moved against devolution and towards centralising control within Colombo. In letters to India’s Foreign Minister and the US Under Secretary of State, he urged for the implementation of a federal solution in Sri Lanka.

The BJP letter petition strikes an interesting note as it urges for the full implementation of the amendment by letter and spirit. The product of the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord, which did not receive input from Tamil representatives, the 13th amendment pledged to devolve power to a merged North-East. However, the Tamil majority provinces of the North and East provinces were separated following a 2007 decision by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court and the established provincial councils have remained largely toothless. Despite continued protests from Tamils, Sri Lanka Supreme Court has not reversed its 2007 decision which bifurcated the Eelam Tamil nation.

Read more here.


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