Sri Lanka: “Thirteenth (13th) Amendment no solution to our problem”

by our London Correspondent

( January 30, 2017, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) JVP MP Vijitha Herath visiting London on invitation for a Workshop of Westminster Foundation for Democracy, also met the Tamil and Muslim diaspora on 27 January 2017 at Trinity Community Hall, East Ham, London E12 6SG. He stated that the 13th Amendment was no solution to the problem in Sri Lanka.

Both the Tamils and the Sinhala people should have equal economic rights. Both Languages are state languages, but there is no implementation of the Tamil language in many areas and as seen particularly in Police stations. As far as national unity is concerned, the JVP has always stood for united and not a divided country.

Our political stance all long has been to strengthen against separatism. We demand full devolution of power to all people, of whatever ethnicity or religion whether they are Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim.

By comparison he mentioned in the UK there were people of all national diversities, many backgrounds, but had equal rights before the law and lived together. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, we in the JVP categorically said in 1987 there was no need for giving any group of people separate status, that our experience after 38 years has shown that the 13th amendment was no solution. That is the reality.

The basis of power in society is the economic power of the people and to achieve this objective we had to build national unity. The JVP has all along fought for the economic rights of all people of Sri Lanka. We want to give equal rights to all our people. It is important how to practically achieve it.

“We promoted our solution one month after the end of the war in 2009 to create the basic steps to reduce difference. It was to build up the North and the East of Sri Lanka. It was to change working practices. It was to give equal status to Sinhala and Tamil language as State Languages as well as to the medium of communication in the English language. The current government did not do that. There is small change”.

“We suggested other rights for the State Plantation workers’ rights. Children belonged and were classed as Indian Tamils. We wanted it changed to Tamil not classed as Indian Tamil as a first step. The CWC leaders were opposed to this for their own reasons”.

“We maintained that there should be established civil administration in the North and East provinces. As is seen, there is some change”.

“Our starting proposal was if we can take thorough steps in our society, there was no need to change the Constitution. We maintained that the new government must fulfil the main economic and social action of our society, take basic steps immediately, then the people won’t demand separate areas for Tamils and Muslims”.

He went on to state: “A separate State for any group of people, it can never happen.

We need to give equal rights on basis of economics and if we go beyond that there will be a problem.”

“We propose the giving of practical self government, give economic and political rights to the individual in the first instance. We’ve had so many talks about a change of systems. It is not the fault of the JVP in principle or programme. It is the fault of the present and past governments.”

During a question and answer session, Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said that the JVP was not a nationalist party; we are opposed to separatism of any kind. We are opposed to separatist movements. During the 1998 insurrection we never took up arms against any Tamil or Muslim.

In answer to a further comment, he maintained that the JVP was never a racist party We are for individual rights and not for community rights per se. Community power must however, be protected, but we speak for all the people of Sri Lanka.

Comment

Members of Parliament of Sri Lanka are often invited to attend conferences in London, but of the eight recent visitors from various parties attending the Workshop at Westminster during 23 -27 January 2017, it appears the JVP representative was willing  to brave the wintry weather to meet with the Tamils and Muslim diaspora, along with the Sinhala group. There perhaps could be an easing if not an amelioration in the stand taken by both camps, with regard to the national question, in view of the current situation in Sri Lanka.