In a significant political move, seven political parties mainly representing the Sri Lankan Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces have written a joint letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his help to fully implement the provisions of the 13th amendment to the Constitution. As is well known the Provincial Councils scheme was a consequence of the 13th Constitutional Amendment. The 13 A itself came into being due to the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 29th 1987.
Salient paragraphs from the joint letter pertaining to the specific request made to the Indain Prime Minister are as follows – “It is clear that the Government of Sri Lanka has on multiple occasions promised to fully implement the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. But it did not stop there. The promise also included the very specific undertaking to “build upon the 13th Amendment so as to achieve meaningful devolution.” Even though the Tamil speaking people do not expect a proper and full-fledged devolution under a unitary constitution yet such promises have mostly been given to India, quite appropriately, since it is with India that Sri Lanka has signed an international bilateral agreement, the Indo-Lanka Accord, in which these ideals were set out.”
“However, successive Sri Lankan governments have not only failed in full implementation of the provisions in the Constitution with regard to devolution and parity of status to the Tamil language, but have unilaterally reacquired powers and institutions from the provinces, which continues to date. In addition, lands belonging to the Tamil speaking peoples are continuing to be grabbed by the State under various pretexts, with a view to radically alter the demography of the North and East. This must be halted immediately, or else the provisions of the Indo-Lanka Accord will be rendered nugatory. In this regard, we enclose hereto the list of matters of serious concerns to our peoples namely North and East Tamils and Up Country Tamils for your Excellency’s information.”
“In this situation, we appeal to Your Excellency to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to keep its promises to:(i) fully implement the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution
(ii) implement the clear commitments made by all sections of government from 1987 onwards and enable the Tamil speaking peoples to live with dignity, self-respect, peace and security in the areas of their historic habitation, exercising their right to self-determination within the framework of a united, undivided country.”