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Is India party to Sri Lanka’s refusal of power to the Tamils

Is India party to Sri Lanka’s refusal of power to the Tamils

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Published by: Thavam on Jun 24, 2013
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 Jun 24, 2013
The bitter voices against the provincial council election in the North of Sri Lanka, which is home tomajority of the country’s Tamils, betray yet another treacherous design of the Mahinda Rajapaksagovernment to further marginalise Tamils and homogenise the country into a Sinhala Buddhistnation.These voices, most of which appear to be state-sponsored, are also a ploy to renege on the Rajapaksagovernment’s promise to the world that it would devolve power to Tamils as part of the 13thamendment that it had agreed with India under the 
.Ironically, the implementation of the 13th amendment has been a promise that President Rajapaksahas been brandishing since 2006, particularly to redeem some respectability for his blood-stainedgovernment after the end of the war in 2009. He had promised among others, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that implementation of the 13th amendment was part of the political solutionhis government planned.This claim was repeated several times in several parts of the world, including Delhi.But, when it comes to actual implementation, Rajapaksa changes colour, which curiously coincides with a sudden upsurge of acrimony, primarily from his own camp and his proxy-reserves. The mostoutrageous was from his defence-secretary brother and the principal war-triumphalist Gotabhaya
Rajapaksa.Gotabhaya said the 
to the nation because the TamilNational Alliance (TNA) is likely to win. The TNA is a political party that is considered to be a vestige of the LTTE. So in effect he didn’t want a democratic election because a party that he doesn’tlike will certainly win.Minister and leader of the National Freedom Front Wimal Weerawansa, another hardliner, made anequally bizarre demand – take the police and land powers from the provincial council before holdingelections. His reasoning was equally strange – according to him, other provincial councils are run by national parties and they haven’t claimed these powers.Here again, the grouse is against the devolution to an area, which the 1987 Accord clearly mentionsas “historical habitation of Tamil speaking people”. And that is not all.The government also wants the 13th amendment to be diluted
a 19th amendment tothe constitution. The secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said that the 13th Amendment was imposed by India and Sri Lanka accepted it in the “face of an invasion.He said the country’s administrative process had changed and hence there had to be another look atthe provincial council system. “President Rajapaksa always gives clear directives to us to close downestablishments which do not provide the expected services to the people,” he said hinting that there was no place for a provincial council in the government’s scheme of things. The majority of SriLanka’s nationalist political commentators have also aired similar views, which range from anabsolute no to provincial councils in Tamil areas, to advocating a highly truncated version, whichcan be puppetered from Colombo.So, the summary of the story is that Sri Lanka doesn’t want to implement its long-held promise of devolution of power to the Tamils or accept the cultural and ethnical identity of the North and theEast. They are also worried that the North and the East will decide to merge, a move that willeffectively then account for 30 percent of the country.Since the war-triumph, the government has been trying to force a demographic transition to makethe North less Tamil – by settling Sinhalese, acquiring large tracts of land, militarising the area etc. Activists allege that even the exodus of Tamils to countries such as Australia is state-engineered because it is aided by smugglers with support from the government.The fact is that even the death of about 40,000, a large number of displaced and the fact that many people are continuing to leave the country is not enough to change the demography of the North because it is the homeland of Tamils. That is precisely what the Rajapaksa government and hisagents cannot seem to stomach.The elections to the provincial council also appeared to be a pre-condition to the heads of commonwealth nations agreeing to meet in Colombo in November. Human rights groups across the world had warned them that Sri Lanka would misuse the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) summit to whitewash its war crimes and rights violations.

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