Plus - Letter to the editor

Language issue calls for urgent action

Language parity issues in Sri Lanka go back more than half a century, and still there are no immediate solutions in sight. Notwithstanding the 13th and 16th Amendments to the Constitution, the state has still not fully honoured its commitments under the Official Languages Policy. As a result, the Tamil-speaking people of this country continue to face great difficulties.

True, much has been done in recent years in the form of government directives and circulars to safeguard the language rights of the minorities. However, it is the general opinion of the Tamil community that much more needs to done.

As members of Concerned Citizens Groups on Language Rights (CCG) in the districts of Nuwara Eliya, Mannar, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Badulla, Puttalam, Colombo and Kandy; we give below a list of issues (identified by our members) and their impact on the Tamil-speaking population:

  1. Inaccurate / incorrect personal Identification documents are very often issued to Tamil-speaking persons;
  2. There is a dearth of Tamil-literate police officers at Police stations;
  3. There is a dearth of Tamil-speaking doctors and medical staff in the health sector;
  4. The education sector is not doing enough to promote the Official Languages Policy in the form of second language education programmes;
  5. Government circulars, notices and meetings are for the most part in Sinhala;
  6. Insufficient numbers of Official Translators in the Administrative Service;
  7. The Official Languages Commission needs to be expanded into the Districts;
  8. There are 29 Bi-lingual Divisional Secretariat Divisions in Sri Lanka, but this number is insufficient.

We call on the President to address the issue of language rights violations – the result of a failure to properly implement the Official Languages Policy.

The language issue has been identified as a factor in the bloody civil war that ravaged our nation for close on three decades. Addressing this issue is crucial to ensuring that such a dark era does not befall our nation again.

Concerned citizens groups on language rights

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