Times 2

13th Amendment: Time to knock it off

By Gunadasa Amarasekera

The Agreement Prof. GL Pieris signed with India on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government has once again brought up the issue of the 13th Amendment to the fore and created a situation wherein we will have to decide whether we are to implement it fully, amend it, or repeal it totally. We seem to have reached a crisis situation with very little chance to play around. No hedging or prevarication appears to be feasible.
It may now be useful to understand briefly how we reached this crisis situation.

In 1987,when the Indo-Sri Lankan accord was signed paving the way for the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Councils’ Bill, what motivated India to do so was very clear. No better proof of it is needed than the statement made by Rajiv Gandhi in Chennai on his way here to sign that accord. “Sri Lanka like Bhutan will be within our orbit,” was what he told the Tamil Nadu MPs. Indira Gandhi selected Prabhakaran to achieve this aim taking him to be a puppet that could be manipulated.

Minister Peiris with Indian Prime Minister during his recent visit to New Delhi

Little did she realize that he was no puppet, but a man with a mind of his own, and a vision of his own, with a dream of a greater Eelam a Dravidasthan at a future date. He was not prepared to toe the Indian line. That sad realization with the passage of time, coupled with the failure of the IPKF, and the dissolution of the Provincial government of Vardharaja Perumal made India realize it should lie low, neither helping, nor hindering us to destroy Prabhakaran. That non interference in the last stage was in self interest.

No sooner was Prabhakaran removed from the scene than India started its old game. Before the lapse of even two days and even before rigor mortis had set in upon Prabhakaran, an Indian emissary was sent here to remind us about the 13th Amendment. That was in May 2009. Since then all those politicians who came here had only one thing to say- implement the 13th Amendment.

However their demand was not heeded by President Rajapaksa. One year passed; there was all talk and promises but no action. By May 2010 India was becoming desperate. So were those new found allies, Ban Ki moon and his masters. Probably they all realized this was the last chance. Mahinda Rajapksa was all out to develop the North and the East and was fast winning over the hearts and minds of those poor Tamil masses, leaving no room to the separatists, and their backers.

Time was ripe for a new modus operandi. Moon had quietly initiated the first step in that direction, unnoticed by those erstwhile advisors and pundits. In the bonhomie following his visit just three days after the defeat of the terrorist outfit, Moon saw to it that Mahinda Rajapaksa puts his signature to an agreement to initiate an accountability process for addressing violations of Human Rights. How this had been twisted to suit Ban Ki moon’s agenda has been pointed out by Parakrama Karunratne, in his article ‘Moon Panel Report and some aspects’. The Sri Lankan Government cannot be pardoned for both agreeing to such a proposal as well as for appointing the LLRC, which was interpreted by our enemies to their advantage, as an admission of guilt on our part.

One more year was granted to carry out the wishes of India and the western powers which over the years had become identical. They had to be identical since they had come together to face a common enemy-China, towards whom we were perceived to be tilting. By June 2010 both camps were becoming desperate and restless.

In 1987 when the NGO cabal was crying from rooftops going all out to prove that Prabhakaran’s terrorism was ethnic in origin-a result of ethnic discrimination, and the government was going after peace talks, I brought out a collection of essays (Ganadura Mediyama which I understand had been translated by the Indian High Commission) where I pointed out that it had nothing to do with a so called ethnic problem, but was the outcome of a conspiracy by the western powers, and a counter conspiracy by India. What I pointed out at that time has to be revised. The word ‘counter’ will have to be replaced by ‘joint.’ By now it is clear as daylight, that it is a conspiracy hatched together and executed severally and jointly by India and the West. Izeth Hussein,a perceptive political analyst has seen through this. Of course with his penchant for devolution he comes out with his pet solution-implement the 13th Amendment.

Moon’s expert panel was the contribution made by the west- Britain, Europe to this joint conspiracy. Moon selected the right people, friends of the Tigers, and enemies of Sri Lanka to come out with a report- a highly imaginative piece of fiction which deserves the Booker Prize or even the Nobel Prize -if we are to go by the quality of the works that have been selected for it in recent years.

Well, it has served its purpose. It has provided the necessary ammunition to our enemies to intimidate us, with threats of hauling our President and others before the International Criminal Court. While the Western powers are threatening in this manner, India making no mention of this report, neither endorsing it, nor rejecting it provides us with a safety valve- the 13th Amendment. The Brahmins of Indian diplomacy, as pointed out by Izeth Hussein are certainly a clever lot. They have never pointed out their insistence to implement the 13th Amendment as having anything to do with Moon’s report. These are two independent phenomena with nothing in common but have become coterminous due to sheer fortuitous circumstances!

What surprises me is how we have over the years, come to accept it without a whimper, how we accept the canard that its legality should not be challenged, how it has come to be sacrosanct in the eyes of the people. We have since then acted like the proverbial villager, who cries ‘kanawo,kanawo’ after having got a cobra in his sarong. With the passage of time the cries have become less loud, and we have come to live with the cobra. However now with GL Pieris’ obeisance to the creators of this cobra, it looks that it is ready for a final fatal attack. There seems to be very little chance of escape. We will have either to kill the cobra, or get killed by it.

The Sunday Island of May 22 carried an article by a special correspondent-“ India must stop interfering in our affairs in her own interest”-which is very relevant to the situation we are facing at the moment. It’s one of those few sensible articles to have appeared in the recent past. What he says needs to be taken seriously.

‘We must amend or repeal the 13th Amendment, whatever India and the Sambandans say. It must be amended now, without further excuses or delay. The government has the majority to do so, and should make the transfer of power to the people at village .division, district and provincial level an absolute reality; the principle of subsidiarity.”

The President was bestowed absolute power, not once but twice. It was not meant for indulging in political cunning but to take the necessary measures, such as holding a referendum with a view to getting rid of this disgraceful amendment. That should have been the first act. I think the time has come for us to take up this matter, which should be an all out cleansing process with no repetition of amendments-amendment to the 13th Amendment etc. The basis for the diabolical devolution doctrine must be destroyed once and for all.

It is for the patriotic forces to rise up and get the government to hold a referendum immediately, to get the people’s approval to discard this abominable piece of legislation. It is a matter of restoring the dignity and honour of the nation. No more prevarication or political cunning is to be tolerated.
The time has come to knock the bottom off.

The writer is the President, Patriotic National Movement

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