Repealing the 13th amendment and listening to the Patriotic Nationalists

By Shenali Waduge

Patriotic nationalism is the basis on which a nation state rests. These nationalists do not betray their nation and they do not go against their own citizens. Without them a nation state cannot last long, cannot foster peace, cannot encourage national sacrifice, cannot fight external enemies and cannot save itself from collapsing. A country needs nationalists and they need to be listened to. They say the 13th amendment must be repealed. Lack of majority in Parliament was the earlier excuse. The present scenario demands the Government take action in the interest of Sri Lanka’ future as a sovereign nation.  We have only 3 choices vis a vis the 13th amendment – implement it fully, amend it, or repeal it. What does the Sri Lankan Government propose to do? The 13th amendment was presented directly to Parliament bypassing the Supreme Court and signed following the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord in July 1987. Alongside the 13th amendment was the Provincial Councils Bill. India wants Sri Lanka to grant police and land powers to the Provincial Councils. India is also insisting on removing emergency laws. Sri Lanka being such a small country does it make sense to have so many police forces? Devolving land powers would drastically affect water flowing from the Mahaweli River (Bangladesh and India’s handling of the Ganges is a good example). The question of devolving police powers is equivalent to creating a few countries within Sri Lanka. Can India say its devolving police powers has better affects today? Do we tell India want to do inside India?

 Governments have unnecessarily dilly dallied with the 13th amendment and the country should no longer remain silent and a similar effort made to demerge the North and East must take place now.

 The world does not need to be repeatedly told how India fostered LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka. Pretending to be Sri Lanka’s friend while arming, training and providing financial support to a terrorist organization can India be surprised if Sri Lanka is angry? The US did the same with Osama and India thought it could do the same with Prabakaran. Ultimately both Osama and Prabakaran went against its creator. Lesson to be learnt is that terrorists can never be manipulated all the time and terrorists are no puppets.  What India and the world needs to realize is that Sri Lanka is not bound to protect any country’s sovereignty at the cost of its own.

To understand the Sri Lankan crisis we cannot detach the Indian interest and it is the Indian interest that has been a barrier to all of the attempts to usher peace. In fact all these attempts were merely to hoodwink the masses of both nations. India’s interest vis a vis Sri Lanka defers with octopus type plans. Initial support for the LTTE was to export the freedom struggle calls away from South India to have them watch it take shape in Sri Lanka. Any deviation from this main objective was to ensure Sri Lanka remained destabilized to enable India to tap into its strategic location and secure its natural harbor of Trincomalee.

Today India has trapped Sri Lanka constitutionally with the 13th amendment, economically with Indian projects that are tied to Indian labor, Indian trade agreements that benefits India, geographically with Indian ferry links to Sri Lanka and countless other agreements that may see the light of day in days to come. Annexing Sri Lanka by the current manner that Indians are allowed to freely move, work and reside in Sri Lanka is already taking place while the Government seems to be asleep. With India already engulfing Sri Lanka it makes practical sense to decide to eliminate the factor that would disturb this that being the LTTE.

Enveloping Sri Lanka thus is going to be detrimental to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and Sri Lanka’s Government needs to wake up to the ground realities and do something to ensure Sri Lanka’s sovereign status is not compromised even if its Ministers think they have any right to allot Sri Lanka as they please.  

It must be reiterated again and again that we cannot fault Indian officials for pressurizing Sri Lanka for they are doing so for the benefit of India.

President Rajapaksa is certainly different from his predecessors. Within his limits he has done exceptionally well. He has managed to scuttle the implementation of aspects of the 13th amendment while spearheading massive development projects in the North and East in an aim to get the Tamil people to give him the backing he needs. A folly India is doing is to merely concentrate on providing development aid to the North and East alone where the populace is well short of 500,000.

We are well aware how the UN is being manipulated by powerful nations. Today it is an entity that is being used to legitimize the rights of these nations to walk over smaller countries. Labeling Sri Lanka’s conflict as “ethnic” based was a joint plan by both India and the West with different objectives for both yet detrimental to Sri Lanka’s sovereign status.

Our faux pas was to think proposals made by Moon and co can be easily brushed aside or forgotten. Thus the present panel report. Our logic should have remained simple. We either committed war crimes or we didn’t. This does not mean people don’t die in battle…the “we didn’t commit war crimes” is solely on the premise that no orders were given to kill civilians. Why would we need to send emissaries to India or any other country to beg for their support? We were protecting our nation against terrorists – simple as that. Geneva Conventions are not meant to protect terrorists; or are they?

To be cont. tomorrow

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