The Indo-Lanka 13A

by Eelapalan blog, October 12, 2014

There is an uptick on the TNA pronouncements lately about India and her role in the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution.  A series of events perhaps contributed this: TNA delegation’s meeting with the new Indian prime minister and now the NPC Chief Minister’s letter to the Sri Lankan President invoking India’s role as a guarantor of Tamil interests.

Important to analyze Justice C.V.Wigneswaran’s letter to the Sri lankan president because it is a calculated step. It fits within the strategies outlined by TNA leadership in public. That is to show the world that 13A is not sufficient and then ask for help in correcting it.  But unfortunately TNA leadership’s worldview has shrunk just to Delhi.  A frog-in-the-well world view.

The Chief Minister deserves credit for calling out the 13A for what it is. Impotent and hollow.  Better late than never.  He builds his case in the letter by highlighting “intransigence and the lack of political will and commitment on the part of the executive and the central government.”. As The Hindu was eager to highlight, he also seeks India’s active role.

There are two aspects, if one were to look deeper, that are troubling.

The letter essentially targets the Sri lankan president Rajapakse as the stumbling block. The letter does not include the historical facts of the similar issues faced by his predecessor and the well established pattern of Sri Lanka neglecting at will any democratic and legitimate wishes of the Tamil people.  The intransigence and lack of political will are not just a Rajapakse problem.  It is a Sinhala Sri lanka problem.  Rajapakse is just another manifestation.  Varatharajah Perumal made his views known while the Indian military was still on the ground and even went as far as unilaterally declaring Independence. It is important to make this distinction between the current president and the state very clear.  He is only a tool. So as not to confuse the Deputy  with the Sheriff.  To quote from that post a year ago,

“The farce that is 13A is unravelling as expected.  and the Sinhala hardliners have drawn their redlines.  If TNA is unable to make progress, it may take the path of supporting a regime change agenda that is underway in some quarters.  It is a shifting of the problem. It is confusing the Sherif to a deputy as Bob Marley would say. “

The letter should not be the alibi for TNA’s support for regime change early next year.  It will certainly come up.  Even if you replace a Rajapakse with a Ranil, nothing will change.

As said in another post last year on the eve of the NPC election results, is TNA being loud enough ?

“But the Sinhala Buddhist state has no reason to listen. It has no obligation to act. It never feels accountable, in any way, to the Tamils.

It will be no different this time. But despite the structural genocide against them, Tamil people have spoken loudly and clearly.

Can TNA now speak as loudly and clearly as the people who voted for them?

So loudly that it reaches the ears of the powers that pushed for the election. Scream so they are unable to go back to sleep on the Tamil issue as they did in 2009.”

How loud and clear is the Chief Minister being when he calls on India “ as a guarantor of  Tamil rights” to “actively participate and contribute in the negotiation process”?

There is no denying that India is indispensable when it comes to resolving the Tamil national question.  But thinking that she is inherently supportive of Tamil rights and is motivated to see a Thirteenth Amendment Plus through is only wishful thinking.

The conflation of the Indo-Lanka Accord with the Tamils’ interests is a dishonest act.  The Indo-Lanka Accord has India’s interests, and the 13A has Sri Lanka’s interests. Neither has the Tamils’ interests. More often than not, Eelam Tamils’ interests and India’s interests don’t align.  Please see this post under the India’s regional policy section for India’s view of the 13th Amendment.  TCSF’s Guruparan’s interview in Tamil here is a good listen on India’s view as well

13A is a consequence of the Indo – Lanka Accord.  That is the one and only relationship.  India only has a moral obligation, if any, to see the 13A through.  What matters to India the most is the exchange of letters that preceded the accord.  An account by the then Indian ambassador JN.Dixit captures the importance of the letters.

“I pointed out that India’s co-operation with Sri Lanka to solve the ethnic problem was predicated on Sri Lanka giving positive responses on these important concerns of India.”

And the Indo-Lanka Accord technically binds India with more obligations and with little room for it to intervene if the Accord is not faithfully implemented by Sri Lanka. And India has consistently and faithfully kept to its part of the obligations under the accord. Namely:

1.1 Desiring to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka:

1.5 Conscious of the necessity of strengthening the forces contributing to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, and preserving its character as a multi ethnic, multi lingual and multi religious plural society in which all citizens can live in equality, safety and harmony, and prosper and fulfill their aspirations:

This language is still pervasive in all Indian official communications.  That all citizens live in equality, blah, blah.

The binding resolutions of the Accord only focus on the formation of the Provincial Councils for the Northern and Eastern provinces and the eventual referendum. There is nothing in there about its smooth functioning or if it functions at all.

If India had cared about the intent of the 13A, it would have intervened when the Sri lankan Supreme Court said the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces was null and void.  But it did not.

On the contrary, the Indian establishment has demonstrated multiple times that not going beyond 13A is even a higher policy priority than seeing the full implementation of the 13A.  India worked to undermine any possible opening to such an eventuality through a UN process. It diluted the resolutions against Sri Lanka and then voted against the International Independent Investigations ensuring such a path stays shut for the Tamils.

As the previous post showed through Dr. Destradi’s work that India knew the Norwegian effort would not succeed as well.

Sri Lanka has a much better read of the Indian position than the TNA leadership does. Or  is it that the TNA leadership is afraid to spell out the real truth to the people?

Mavai and the CM continuing to pick on the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) members who are trying to move the UN process towards investigation of Genocide are actually reflecting the Indian worry more than anything else. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed far reaching resolutions on the Tamil genocide, sanctions against Sri lanka and on the referendum. Rather than rallying the people behind those initiatives and welcoming the NPC resolutions, as the UN team itself did  in September, the TNA leadership is busy worrying about not making Delhi upset.  With this TNA trajectory, Eelam Tamils are unfortunately stuck behind the agendas of regime change and fighting for the full implementation of the 13A.  Not much more.


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No Responses to “The Indo-Lanka 13A”

  1. P.Selvaratnam

    NPC had been powerless for more than one year. It has been well-known that the 13A takes away with its left hand what it gives with its right hand:
    22 yrs of Provincial Councils, Institute of Constitutional Studies2010
    TNA has waited for more than a reasonable time for the Sri Lankan govt and India to act. Now it should raise the issue with the rest of the International Community without the slightest delay.

  2. Sengodan. M

    We should know our strengths and our weaknesses. Grandstanding will serve no purpose other than serving rhetoric. In the present dire context, we can only hope to improve inch by inch. The TNA is surely aware of the limitations of 13A and also of the limit to which India could help further our cause. We have to work with every possible ally, even the smallest one to help move forward.
    We have to align with the forces in the South that are for greater democratisation, because devolution is essentially a part of democratisation. The next election MAY pave the way to halt the current decline in the country towards more and more despotism and familial rule which is dangerous to all the people and more so to the Tamils and other minorities. It is not simply a matter of regime change. So let us think carefully and act cautiously!

    Sengodan. M