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Is Thirteenth Amendment plus the best solution?

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By Victor Ivan

Implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution with its attendant powers is held to be the best solution for the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka, particularly by India, Western powers, Tamil leaders as well as various critics who are interested in the devolution of power as a measure of a political solution.

However, the ethnic problem being only one aspect of the minority issues, any solution proposed for this problem should be one that will preserve the respect of all ethnic groups falling within the classification of minorities.

The solution, apart from solving their problems should be capable of raising the confidence and trust of all minority groups.

It is also important that the proposed solution will raise the confidence and sense of respect of the majority Sinhalese as well.

The 13th amendment is not an inclusive solution which has taken into account the problems of all minority groups living in the country. Instead, it has been formulated based on the ethnic issue that only the Tamil people living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces are faced with.

The minority issues cannot be defined only in terms of ethnic sense; it should also take into account the religious, caste and other allied factors which have a significant bearing on the minority issues.

In the circumstance, the 13thamendment cannot be expected to win the confidence of other minority groups which are based on religious and caste differences. The most important concern here is whether the proposed solution will meet with the acceptance of the majority Sinhalese people. Their reminiscences of the 13thamendment are not pleasant.

The Sinhalese intellectuals are of the view that it was something imposed on them. This is a fact that both Tamil leaders and India should take into serious consideration in insisting upon implementation of the 13thamendment. Whatever may be the solution found for this problem, if it is to be successful and sustainable, it must be capable of raising the confidence of both Tamil and Sinhalese people.

13th Amendment & the Myth of Tamil Homeland

The 13th amendment has been formulated based on a conceptual myth that states that the Northern and the Eastern Provinces are Tamil homelands. It is on this mythical belief that the geographical territory of devolution is decided upon and the assertion is made that the power to rule this territory should be vested to a certain degree if not fully to the Tamil people.

The Tamil leaders put forward several arguments to support this claim which were closely connected to each other. One argument was that the Northern and the Eastern provinces remained under a Tamil rule until Jaffna kingdom was conquered by the Portuguese.

Both Portuguese and the Dutch maintained a separate administration in these areas as they were inhabited only by Tamil people. Later, this system of administration was changed by the British and both provinces were brought under a central rule.

The British, upon conferring independence ignored the need for allowing a separate rule for Tamils who constituted a separate ethnic group living under an independent Tamil rule in the past and bestowed the entire authority to Sinhala leaders.

Since independence, the Sinhala leaders changed the composition of population in the Tamil homeland through colonization schemes under which thousands of Sinhalese people were settled down in the Tamil regions. Under the circumstance, they claim that the best solution for the Tamil issue would be to establish a separate rule in areas coming under the Tamil homeland.

However, India did not agree with their claim for a separate state, but strongly believed in the need for offering a solution short of a separate state enabling Tamil people address their issues and fulfill their aspirations. The solution that India felt ideal was to amalgamate the areas that the Tamil leaders claimed to be their homeland and create a unit of regional rule which is somewhat analogous to Indian states.

In this process, India obviously did not make a reasonable attempt to verify the authenticity of the homeland concept. There was also no time for such verification. Apparently, India had acted upon the premise that conferring the power to rule the area they claimed as their homeland would probably help persuade Prabhakaran to agree to a solution short of a separate state.

Although President JR Jayewardene had signed the Indo Lanka Peace Accord, he was totally against the Tamil homeland concept. He vehemently opposed the amalgamation of the two provinces as well. J.N.Dixit and Professor K.M.de Silva, based on the discussions held in this respect have clearly explained in their writings the stand taken by JR. However, owing to the violent and aggressive atmosphere that was building up in the country he was compelled to agree to both these ideas namely the 13th amendment and the homeland issue which he vehemently opposed.

At the end he did not have any other alternative but to comply with the Indian move. In that sense, the Indo Lanka Peace Accord can be termed an artificial and arbitrary agreement forced on Sri Lanka

At the end, not only Sinhalese people, but also Prabhakaran refused to accept the Indian solution. One unfortunate outcome of this agreement was that Rajiv Gandhi, an illustrious leader produced by modern India and the pioneer of this solution became a victim of ruthless Tamil terrorism.

Despite twenty four years have lapsed since setting up of Provincial Council System in Sri Lanka , it has miserably failed to inspire confidence in the people in the system as an effective system of governanance; instead it had become an object of wide spread ridicule. It is perceived to be a white elephant and cannot be considered a successful experiment of two tier system of governanance.

Reality behind Homeland Concept

The homeland concept which can be deemed to be the most important factor that influenced the introduction of the 13th amendment is not a subject that had been studied properly with factual evidence. Even if there were any orthodox studies, they were made public only after signing of the Indo Lanka Peace Accord. Of the studies made on this subject, there are two important publications which are of excellent quality and worthy of attention. One is by Gerald Pieris, the Professor of Geography at University of Peradeniya.

The other is by K.M.de Silva, the Professor of History of the same university. Both these studies have been published by the International Center for Ethnic Studies. The study made by Professor Gerald Pieris was published in 1991 under the title “An Appraisal of the concept of a Traditional Tamil Home Land in Sri Lanka” while that of Professor K.M.de Silva is titled “Separatist Ideology in Sri Lanka: A Historical Appraisal” and was released in 1987 with it’s second revision being published in 1994.

Also a Sinhalese translation of this book by Professor K.N.O.Dharmadasa has been released in 2007 by Visidunu Publishers. Gerald Pieris has focused his attention mainly on the changes that have come over the ethnic composition in the Eastern Province due to colonization schemes. Apart from that he has assessed the conditions prevailed prior to the initiation of the colonization schemes.

Based on the census data of 1921, he has presented three maps depicting the distribution of population by ethnic groups in three districts namely Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee in the Eastern Province.

According to these data, both Tamil and Muslim population of these areas exceeded that of Sinhalese. Tamil and Muslim population was primarily concentrated in the coastal areas. The population density too, was relatively high compared to the areas inhabited by Sinhalese. The old villages in which the Sinhalese population dwelled were located in the hinterland. Although the numbers of Sinhalese population lived there were small and sparsely spread, the land area occupied by them remained comparatively larger.

Traditionally, the Sinhalese had the ownership of the land they occupied. Moreover, He has made a deep analysis of the Gal Oya colonization scheme in this study. He has amply proved that the Eastern Province has never been a homeland confined to a particular ethnic group living in Sri Lanka.

Professor K.M.de Silva, in his thesis has made a deep review of the claim made by the Tamil leaders for a Tamil homeland. He, in his capacity as a historian has reviewed all major arguments put forward by Tamil academics and Tamil political leaders from the beginning of the Federal Party up to the point of signing the Indo Lanka Peace Accord in justifying their claim for a separate homeland. Professor K.M.de Silva has proved the falsity of the Tamil homeland concept and demolished all arguments put forward by those who attempted to defend it in a manner that any one can understand it easily.

It is important to note that the facts enumerated in these two studies have so far not been disproved by any scholar who has defended the Tamil homeland concept. Nor can there be a capacity for them to do so. The facts presented in both these studies are not only correct but also logical.

Anyone who reads these two studies cannot resist the impression that the Tamil politicians and the academics that appear for the Tamil homeland concept have painted a false picture based on unrealistic facts to persuade India to support their agenda of divisional politics.

Adopting a policy of implementing the 13th amendment ignoring these facts will no doubt create the impression in the minds of the people someday that they had been cheated. Rectification of such a situation and avoidance of its repercussions may not be easy.

Not only the Tamil leaders but also India and the all international forces that are concerned and interested in this question should take serious cognizance of this situation. It does not imply that Tamil people have no issues to be settled through a political solution. It is true that Tamil people are subject to suffering, pain and various pressures.

Obviously, there should be a sustainable solution for their grievances. Yet, 13th amendment cannot be considered the best solution for that. We must go for a better and more creative solution which apart from satisfying the aspirations of Tamil people should be capable of ensuring the approbation of all other communities as well.

In my opinion, first of all, the Sinhala leaders must make an apology to the Tamil people for the wrongdoings and injustices they have done towards them. Similarly, the Tamil leaders too, should make an apology to Sinhala people for the ruthless responses that the Tamils have made which are not in proportion to the mistakes committed by the former.

Formulation of a Creative Solution

A system of federal states which is appropriate for a country like India is by no means suitable for a small country like Sri Lanka. Yet, it would be possible for us to emulate India and adopt a creative system of devolution of our own.

Gamsabah (Village Council)

The root of almost all problems of the country lies in the village. In fact, the formal system of governance should originate from the village level. It is a unique unit that should be empowered and made the basis of self-government. It is from the village level that we should begin the process of reconciliation of the divisions based on the ethnic, religious, caste and class differences. India went back to the old Panchayath system.

A substantial power has been vested in the Panchayath. It has contributed immensely in making a discernible progress in India. Similarly, we can revert to the old Gamsabah (Village Council) system thereby deviating from the current Provincial Council system. The powers to carry on the administrative and development functions of the area can be transferred to the Village Councils(VC).

A system of electing the Chairman of the VC and the committee members by the vote of the people of the village can be adopted. Chairman of the village council, who is the chief executive of the village, could be remunerated with a financial grant and other facilities given to a representative of the present Pradeshiya Sabah.

The village council can be vested with the powers to maintain law and order of the village, provision of amenities such as education and health facilities, maintenance of infrastructure facilities, formulation of the village development plan and the budget, the census of the village population and formulation and maintenance of the lands register and above all the power to collect rates and taxes.

Regional Consortium of Village Councils

A Regional Consortium of village councils could be formed with the representation of all village council chairmen coming under a Pradesheeya Sabah area. The president of that consortium may be appointed the chief executive of the respective area. Further, the authority to formulate the Overall Village Development Plan based on the individual plans prepared by each village council, implementation of same and progress review of activities of village councils may be vested in the Regional Consortium.

District Councils

A District Council System can be implemented in respect of each district consisting of representatives elected by the people on a ward system. The chairman of the District Council shall be the chief political executive. The Councilors of the District Council can be remunerated with an appropriate salary and a special allowance.

It is possible that adequate powers will be vested in the District Council so that it may carry out the district administration and development work without hindrance.

Provincial Councils

With the approval of the people, it is also possible to grant authority to District Councils to form themselves into a Provincial Council consisting of two or more District Councils in the area. The Provincial Council can be given more powers than District Councils. Moreover, two or more Provincial Councils, subject to people’s approval may be formed into a Regional Council having more powers than the Provincial Councils.

The proposed system of administration may lead to the presumption that at the initial stage of its likely implementation, the Northern province will readily go for the Provincial Council system while the rest of the country will decide to set up District Councils in respective areas; and the Tamils will hold the majority power of District Councils in Batticaloa and Nuwaraeliya while Muslims will form the majority force in the Ampara District Council. All other District Councils will have the majority or higher share of the power being held by the Sinhalese community.

If we are to overcome the incongruous and prejudicial elements in the present system of governanance, it is essential that an overall change is made in the political system as well. If an Executive Presidential system is preferred, a better model of it which does not interfere with the rule of law can be chosen instead of continuing with the present system which is inconsistent and unpleasant.

The parliamentary system too, has to change to match the new system. If the Executive Presidential system is to be changed, it can be replaced with a new parliamentary system which is different from the present system. The functions of the Parliament may be restricted only to formulation of national policies thereby reducing the size of the representation therein. A bicameral constitutional assembly may be introduced by setting up a Senate.

A system can be introduced in which a leading post in the government sector is specifically designated to an applicant of a minority group as a gesture of recognition of people belonging to minority religions and castes.

It is also possible to adopt a Covenant of Human Rights .The right to access for information can be legalized. The law of assets and liabilities can be amended to suit the current needs and ensure its proper and effective implementation. A national policy framework can be adopted in respect of all important matters of national importance.

The present election commission which is warp and distorted can be replaced with a strong Election Commission probably in line with the system adopted in India and confer wide and varied powers to it to maintain an independent and just system of elections and safeguard democratic values.

It is also possible to set up a commission of prevention of bribery and corruptions to arrest the rampant wave of corruption that prevails throughout.

The system adopted by the Hong Kong government can be emulated in this regard. It is also necessary to adopt a judicial system which is free from external interferences and committed to maintain the independence of judiciary and mete out justice impartially.

It is important to take into serious account the degenerated level the police service of the country has plunged into at present. If the political leaders, intellectuals and the people are genuinely interested they can together reshape the country in a new model. It should be the responsibility of all of us to make use of the historical occasion that is in our hands to build an excellent country.

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30 Comments

  1. Victor Ivan, good analysis as it looks good in paper but i doubt a solution is realistic. What our country need at the moment is developments, heavy developments that can create jobs for youngsters. Unemployed makes things worse as their intentions are not so well. Majority of the majority feel there is absolutely no need for a unwanted solution forced on us by outsiders but what we are in need is some good learning mechanism and jobs. I think our president is leading us in the right path with iron fist. Keep in mind Sri Lanka is still a 3rd world country and marching towards a better future for younger generations. Time will heal the wound, as per owing apology…..there is no need as it has to come from both end, that make things even. I think majority of Sri Lanka has a clear vision, i just hope unfortunate ones join the mainstream to become fortunate ones or for the betterment of their future. If that mentaliy still doesn’t arise in them even now, then expect no sympathy from us. Hoping the past mistakes definitely taught them a lesson.

  2. In any event, the amendment is to the constitution, with no subsequent amendment nullifying it. Therefore it is the law of the land!. First we have to show that we are capable of following our own laws. Then we have to show that we are capable of doing what we say we are going to do (promises to Krishna, Sushma and countless others). Then we should all read this article!

  3. A system of federal states which is appropriate for a country like India is by no means suitable for a small country like Sri Lanka. Why ? Federal system is not based on the size of the land or population, it is based on diversity of people and their demography, culture, resources. Even a smaller country than Sri Lanka with or without diversity may go for federal system to empower her citizens equally. Victor Ivan superficial statement provincial council doesn’t perform well is questionable, Eastern province chief minister publicly stated that provincial councils doesn’t have any power to move even a chair. We are not talking for a solution to build lanes and cooperative societies to issue ration.

  4. The 13th amendment may not be the best solution but since the Sinhala leadership could not come with any soultion, they need to be guided to this minimal solution. The author going around in circular argumets which is not new. The writer says the 13th amendment clssifies the ethnic groups,in the counter argument he himself classifying the ethinic groups. 13th ammendment in the original form at least solve part of the problem and it needs to be reinfoced with other mechanisms to solve other issues such as upcountry Tamils, Muslims and rural Sinhalese.

  5. What a Vesak festival sermon by Victor I ! He has winner takes it all message too by saying or by echoing other experts cum diplomats used to advocate vide “It is also important that the proposed solution will raise the confidence and sense of respect of the majority Sinhalese as well.” What was started in 1956 is being consolidated with the help of Asian powers and the International community making use of the geo plotical ideologies of the world order that are being imposed on smaller nations.

    The Britsh empire is being replaced by other empires and again the minorities are the pawns of the majoritarian power and ownership through divide and rule.

    The failure of the rebel groups to compromise in time also has given advantage to the Victor to occupy and rule like in the ancient Kalinga

  6. The Sri Lankan government wants to live with the Tamils as long as they can keep the Tamils at their feet. This is not something new; it has been going since 1948. I believe the time has come to do the right thing for sake of Tamils and Sinhalese. I want the Tamils and Sinhalese to move forward and prosper. Let’s ask the Tamils how they want to live, whether they want to live with the Sinhalese or separately. The idea of a referendum makes sense. The eighty million Tamils around the world must do everything to give an opportunity to the Lankan Tamils to have their say. Let’s ask the UN to make a way for a referendum. Let’s not wait for the Indian central government; because the Indian government is only concern about India’s security, it is not concern about the Tamils’ dignity or welfare. Therefore, the eighty million Tamils around the world must act. The Tamils in Tamil Nadu must push the Indian central government towards referendum and the diaspora must push the world towards referendum.

  7. This is old wine in new bottle. All the Sinhala supporters only talk in this manner.

    There seems to be no political solution in the offering.

    By the way the Indo – Lanka agreement tells that the North and the East are the traditional homelands of the Tamils and not the Historical homelands.

    How long are you going to talk, talk and talk.

    You yourselves say that the Tamils were a majority in the Eastern provinces along with the Muslims. And the Sinhalese were occupying villages and were in a minority.

    In effect you are talking about the rights of the Sinhalese as a minority in the Eastern province and you are not talking about the rights of the Tamils as a majority community in those province.

    It only means that you will talk about the rights of the Sinhalese only no matter their status, minority or the majority.

    What will you have to say that split the east in the tehsil level.

    The authors only suggestion to the resolution of this problem seems to be to offering apologies by both the Sinhala and the Tamil leaderships.

  8. Muthu,

    What Victor has written is not rubbish. That is what most people in the country want. The federal/Provincial system is needed only by a handful of people to rule 1/3rd of the country. Sinhala people will never agree to 13th amendment.

    West is are angry with the sinhala people now for not listening. So try to get what ever through the western man.
    First get India on your side. This won’t be easy as an influential segment of malayali people are supposed to be backing Mahinda…

  9. 13th Amendment says

    (3) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding visions of this Article,
    Parliament may by, or under, any law provide for two or three adjoining Provinces
    to form one administrative unit with one elected Provincial Council, one
    Governor, one Chief Minister and one Board of Ministers and for the manner of
    determining whether. Provinces should continue to be administered as one
    administrative unit or whether each such Province should constitute a separate
    administrative unit with its own Provincial Council, and a separate Governor,
    Chief Minister and Board of Ministers.

    It does not mention merger of North and East. It refers to all provinces. It provides a good basis for devolving limited powers to pheriphery and streamlining the governence of the country. It will help do away with this jumbo cabinet and huge administrative machine at the center. It will help curb the powers of the Excecutive.

    Most of the setup is in place and the only delay in implemetation is the reluctance of the center to lose its control and hegomony. It is the only viable solution available having been made law of the land and should be implemented without delay. All the other solutions proposed are pure speculation with a big IF attached.

  10. The 13th amendment is the ONLY attempt so far to devolve power to the regions and local level from a over-centralized state structure and should be built upon incrementally. It is not perfect and no one claims it is. It is merely the best there is at this time given need to enable local governance – not just in the north and east. The JVP has benefited form the 13th and entered mainstream politics.
    This article is based on a false premise. It fails to point our that it is the 18th Amendment and not the 13th Amendement that is the problem and it is the 18th amendment that needs to be done away with since it further concentrates power in the President.
    Obviously no one says that the 13th is the BEST solution – it is merely the BEGINNING of a solution. Victor Ivan has avoided naming the main problem here which is the Rajapakse Brothers who love power and have concentrated it in their hands. To them the 13th is a threat and hence they have joined with the JHU and have whipped up the Sinhala masses to oppose it. The SInhala ‘intellectual’s that you quote are part of the problem of Sinhala nationalism just as are many LTTE supporters and intellectuals part of the problem of tamil naitonalism.
    Any attempt to de-concentrate power from the Rajapaksa regime will need to be incremental. The TNA has been collossally stupid not to push for the Northern Provincial Council elections and work to help the people that they claim to represent. Sampanthan et al love grandstanding rather than actually working for the people who vote for them.

  11. One cannot deny Ivan’s argument that the concept of Tamil Homeland for North East is based on shaky grounds. In the 1921 census Tamils in the two provinces were the majority and comparatively only few Sinhalese lived in the hinterlands of the East. The demography of North East was changed by successive Sinahalese dominated Sri Lankan governments by planned colonisations like Gal Oya and Kantalai Schemes. Looking back at the history,there were Tamil Kingdoms only in Jaffna and Vanni. East never came under the rule of the Jaffna or Vanni Kings. Prior to the entry of Portugese, East was under the overall lordship of the Kandyan King with local Tamil chieftains controlling pockets of power in Batticaloa. Coastal areas of Batticaloa (Eluvankarai) which extended up to Thiukovil and Panamai came under the control of Kurukula chiefs and the western hinterlands (Paduvankarai) came under the control of Mukkuwa chieftains. The fact that Kukurkula caste landlords owned vast acres of paddy fields in coastal Karavaku Pattu in the present Ampara district just prior to the 1958 Land Ceiling Act is proof that Tamil chieftains controlled the Batticaloa coastal areas. Muslim tenant farmers cultivated these lands until the passage of the 1958 Land Ceiling Act which transferred ownership of these paddy lands from the absent Tamil landlords from Araipattai, Navatkudah and Kallady to the Muslim tenant farmers of the Ampara district.

    Ivans proposals for Village Councils, District Councils and even limited cases of Provincial Councils look good on paper. But the problem is what powers should these councils should have if there is to be any meaningful devolution of powers. Who will be responsible for police powers,and land alienation powers? These are two contested areas in which the present government would not like to give in. The problem is not with the unit of devolution but the powers that would be devolved to these units.

  12. Dear Victor,

    It is time the 13th amendment and how the Provincial Councils were formulated, are re-evaluated. You have also discussed the alternate possibilities. I find the PC system a big eye-wash and a political charade. It is fraudulent. It pretends to give, what it does not. It is both a political and legal sleight of hand. It is a failure, because it was intended to be so.

    It is men like you who have to call this bluff and explain the structural faults in the system to the people.

    What I find disppointing is that even the TNA and other Tamil political formations are refusing to call the bluff. The Chief Minister of the Eastern Province has said that he has no power to move even a chair! Varadarajaperumal, rebelled against this situation, in his tenure as Chief Minister. The Chief Ministers of other provinces may have the power to move chairs thanks to the Governor’s and Presidents grace! But all those in the PC system, no doubt have the avenues to make a buck on the side open to them!

    Please let us first end the PC system charade once and for all and think of alternatives in a pragmatic, practical and honest manner. Devolution should benefit all the peoples in Sri Lanka and should not be something that is offered as a sop- a very diluted soup- to the Tamils. It should be designed to be effective, efficient and capable of responding to the ground needs of the people, where ever they live and be designed as an efficient management tool for the whole country. It is better to have no devolution, if we cannot make it effective and workable. If done done prperly, it will breed more rancour and disaffection.

    If we as a nation are unwilling to take the devolution path at the present point in time, we should be honest and brave to tackle the deficiencies in the present system of governance from the centre and concentration of power in the Chief executive. The devaluation of the constitution, parliament, judiciary, law enforcement mechanisms and the public services, should receive our attention now. I think at the present point in time, this aspect should receive priority over devolution. This would serve all the peoples in Sri Lanka, including the minorities better and have a greater impact on their lives.

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

  13. Naga,

    “The demography of North East was changed by successive Sinahalese dominated Sri Lankan governments by planned colonisations like Gal Oya and Kantalai Schemes.”

    Sinhala people were resettled in those sparsely populated sinhala villages in the hinterland. The ownership of these lands were always with the sinhala people. Colonisation is planting people in somebody elses lands. Sinhala people were resettled in their own lands not on Tamil Lands. The shaky grounds on which the Tamil homeland concet is based is one of the reasons why the Eelam concept could not be sold to the IC. Startegic interest by West/ Inda could see a division of Sri lanka. That is the only reason by which you could break Sri Lanka. But the IC is unlikely to do anything against the wishes of India at this point in time. Keep Trying…

  14. Mahesh,

    Indo Lanka accord talks of North and East being areas of historical habitation, not traditional homeland.
    About Eastern Province.. what Victor is saying i thatthe tamil claim to the east based on numbers in 1921 is incorrect. This is beacuase the large part of the east was sinhala occupied, it is the creation of the east from the Kandyan Kingdom that created the illusion.

    As for sharing the east.. Then wht not the Western Prtovince, the central province etc.. There won’t be an end to it. So lets us take the historical facts and the numbers as at present into consideration and arrive at a solution.

    As far the sinhala people being all talk and no solution, the sinhala politicians will not be able to do anything without the support of the sinhala people. This due tpo the fact that most sinhala people believe the owners of this country
    are sinhalese…

  15. Simplify. We are top heavy.
    Basically, the demographics of the North & the East need to chage in accordance to development & population composition of the Country.

    There no longer can be Tamil or Singala areas. 1921 history has changed.

    Tamils can not called for a eelam in the North but will be able to call for it in Colombo in the future.
    Therefore let forget the eelam calls or areas on ethnic basis.

    Either we have a Provincial system with one Executive President for the country and a Policy formulating committee comprising of a representative from each province under the president. it will form the Cabinet as well & transfer planning & development powers to be the provincial responsibility with approval from the centre.
    Land/police & Immigration powers managed by the centre.

    What is Victor Ivan love affair with Hong Kong ? Is it with Hong Kong or with AHRC’s basil f’do ??

  16. Human history is not static and it is transient in nature, any decision should not be made only on historical facts but also on the ground reality and foreseeable future should be taken into account, on the contrary to what Victor Ivan says, Sinhala leadership and Buddhist institutions misled the Sinhala community to believe that this island is their sole property, the home land concept emerged as a defense to safeguard the Tamil heritage against Sinhala Buddhist aggression similar to that was against Portuguese, home land concept is not an exclusive one but an inclusive, an autonomous unit embedded for Muslims in the east and unlike the southern leadership the early Tamil leadership neither against Sinhalese nor Buddhism except the government sponsored colonization. There wont be any peace in this island unless Sinhalese don’t realize part of this island specially northern and eastern cost belongs to people different from them with different set of values, don’t you look at remaining density of cultural symbol of ancient Hindu temples in north and east, Thiru Kooneshwaram, Thiru Ketheeswaram, Naguleshwaram (probably the only remaining naga temple in the island), Nallur Kandasamy temple and many other temples goes back to thousands of year in antiquity and it is no fiction as any one travels to north and east. The south Indian history of dynastic triumvirates and Saivasm chronicles clearly reveals these facts, so India made no mistake in identifying north and east as Tamil homeland or land of Tamil inhabitants. Apart from Jaffna Kingdom any one who studies the origin of caste system in north and east in depth not only to be a critic of the discriminatory practices but also to understand the society will be able to grasp their claim of land rights, heritage, migration pattern and the emergence of well established pre colonial Tamil ethnic group. We all know that Tera Vada Buddhism flourished in this island including eastern hinterlands and we are not in denial of that but we can’t allow it to swallow us.

    Thanks for victor Ivan for shed some light on this old model that we heard only the murmuring in the past, It is true a system build up from grass root level will be accessible to all participants and an appropriate model for localized functions, but how this system where provincial councils acting as a coordinating body going to help Tamils ambition to become a vibrant society in terms of economic, socio political. The system should be two way bottomup-topdowm, higher authority (provincial council) must be constitutional not just a mere extension of village councils or an arbitrary arrangement and PC’s should be able to exercise decision making, project a vision and accomplish it, like Tamil Nadu, auto mobile hub for south Asia, have independent powers in Education, Health, Commerce, Agriculture, Heritage and culture, transport, economic development and etc, to enable effective function creation of independent institution such as police, judiciary, chamber of commerce, Land commission, etc are imperative, it is also important matters of national interest like security, infrastructure, services of excellence handled by center to the advantage of all and to avoid discrepancies and disparity.

    Look at Indian federal leaders fly to wealthy capitals to lure investors, upgrade education, create job opportunities, they are in competition with other states and this tendency helps India in a big way. The tier system Victor Ivan is talking can be developed to suit needs of tamils while addressing the problems of other minorities however again it will bang itself at the same point where 13th amendment struck. 13th amendment may not be the best solution it gives powers by one hand and takes away by the other hand however that is the only constitutional provision available and shall form the base on which a solution can be build upon which can address grievances, fears and ambition of Tamils, Muslims, and Sinhalese in north and east. At the end of the day what ever the model we need is good governance that makes every one irrespective of religion, ethnicity, cast and creed to feel secured, confident, belongs.

  17. 13th Amendment plus is not a solution to Tamil crisis. If you wanted a united SL, then draft a new constitution giving equal power to tamil in SL otherwise forger about a united SL. Do not waste every one time telling 13 or 13 plus or implimenting any solution. Even Federal consecpt is too late only way forward is making Tamils equal partners. Furhter for any reconsiliation or solution then accountability and punishing those who committed crimes agaist humanity. Accountability and making equal partners are essential for a united SL otherwise forget about it

  18. Rav Perera says:

    “The ownership of these lands were always with the sinhala people. Colonisation is planting people in somebody elses lands. Sinhala people were resettled in their own lands not on Tamil Lands.”

    Since when did the Sinhalese and Tamils become the owners of my ancestral land? How did they come to own it?

    Both the Tamils and Sinhalese were and are the colonisers of my ancestral land. Never ever dare claim ownership to the island. Both people are Kallathonies and both people will remain so. You can however enjoy the land as leaseholders and not as freeholders. When the lease expires you will leave without further ado. My people may consider renewing your lease depending on your good behaviour. This applies to both stupid people.

  19. Hi Native,

    Tell me you are a Tamil guy right. Well well Vedda lets make Vannia Aththo the president of Sri Lanka. What Do you think ??

  20. ..we have made to believe the basic bulshit history that King Parakramabahu ruled the entire country. ..when king Buwanekabahu was in Kotte….king Mayadunne and later his son Rajasinha was in Seethawaka or Malwana….just 20 miles away…There had been the Rajasingha II in Senkadagala or Kandy …just 75 miles away…then King Kelanitisssa ruled Kelaniya….when king Kawantissa was in Magama..just 200 miles away …king Dutugemunu from Magama waged War against King Elara in Anuradhapura….just 250 miles away…. This reality had been common all over the World…..The true nature of Human beings….to dominate the other……

    Sri Lanka should be divided in to 3 parts… RUHUNU RATA- Western/ Southern/ Sabaragamuwa Provinces MAYA RATA -North Western / Central / Eastern Provinces….PIHITI RATA- Northern /North Central /Wanni Provinces…..appoint 3 Representatives of the President being the Head of the Country and the Central Government to head these Provinces….3 Provincial Police that will come under the Control of the Provincial Government… which should be placed under a Central Investigating Unit under the President who also heads the Military/Airforce/Navy….3 Provincial Tax Depts supervised by the Central Bank..3 Provincial Judiciary System…grant freedom to the Provinces to negotiate foreign investment and to decide on other issues related to the provinces….

    Term of the Provincial Government and the Central Government will be 4 years…This will turn undesirous Regimes faster….freedom of choice….all 3 Heads of the Provincial Govts are eligible to contest to be the President of the Country at an election…anyone who loses will disqualify himself to represent even the Provincial Govt…..

    As the power is devolved Central Govt will have only 30 members of Parliament from each Province that will make 90 members and 15 members will be appointed . …there should be only 30 all powerful Ministers of the Central Govt with 30 deputies….
    No changes should be made in the existing Demography but freedom to people to live at their desired place or province…..

    All 3 heads of the Provinicial Govts will have to muster the support of all the communities to get appointed and the President need the support of all these heads to Govern but not to Rule the Country…

    In this manner even a Muslim/Tamil/Sinhalese have the opportunity to be the President of the Country some day without any division of the Country……..look did anyone think that a Black man can be a President of USA..
    We have to be realistic of the changes in the world without being dogmatic of a Stale yet stinking history of the Country called Ceylon /Sri Lanka or Sihaley……THE HISTORIANS SHOULD EXPLAIN WHY THIS COUNTRY WAS CALLED THUN SINHALAYA ….HELAYA…SIHALEY…..

    It is only a Pragmatic Leader who could improve on what is being suggested if he or she loves the Country not the Family or kith & kin……we need to forget the past…move forward…..President Rajapaksa with whatever serious shortcomings has the ability to proceed on these lines…or lead the Country into ruination….Beacuse he is an arrogant tough shit…..that kind of attitude is needed to make this country to a better place for all …without making it a hell hole……besides see how he got the 18th amendment approved by the Parliament…for his very ambitious survival…..likewise he could change the course of the stinking history of this country and prove to be the only pragmatic leader of this country after the Late JRJ…he could be life time President….

    IN THIS COUNTRY ALL ARE KINGS ….OKKOMA RAJAWARU….THEREFORE ONLY A ..KING CAN CANGE IT FOR A BETTER PLACE…it is President Mahinda Rajapkse and he alone…..

  21. The TNA and the other leaders of the Tamil People must decide what is it they want. They can not go on while hoping for an elusive Eelam but say do this and do that. They reject 13A and LLRC but insist on implementing them.

    It is not only people like Victor that should call for the annulment of the 13A but people like Dr.Narendran and the TNA + other Tamil political parties. Then the rest of the country will join them.

    Most TN Tamils who clamour for 13A and 13+ in these forums are not doing so for the benefit of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, but because that is what they want.

  22. Antany says ‘Let’s ask the Tamils how they want to live, whether they want to live with the Sinhalese or separately. The idea of a referendum makes sense’.

    Or does it really? what would be the next? A referendum among Govt servants on a fully paid two-day work week or one among Bogambara prisoners on having daily access to free narcotics?

    This grand idea of a ‘referendum among Tamils’ must have come up as a joke, but some people do take it seriously. No one would be objecting to the one’s desire for living separately, but spliting the house would not be popular for sure. Isn’t it a basic rule for any referendum to include all affected parties, the whole population of the country if the part of the reference is spliting the country, not just the Tamils? Why would you spend your(or someone else’s) hard earned cash to hold an inter-galactic referendum, which has zilch value?

  23. Athula says, ‘Suggest 13th Amendment (less Land & Police)…’

    Fully agree. Forget about the north. Many wouldn’t trust some of the clowns who run the PC’s in the south with Polic/Land powers.

  24. Mr. Victor Ivan,
    Please read reference books to understand that Singhalese people lived in North and east when Portuguese took over Sri Lanka. Lt Commander (RTD) PBS Hemachandra.
    This paragraph from ‘The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon’ by Father Fernao de Queyroz, a much quoted contemporary Portuguese historian confirms that North of Sri Lanka was captured from the Singhalese Emperor, which states that “when we first came to that island it was divided into five kingdoms, that of Cota, Emperor, to which all the others were tributory acknowledging that king as that of Raygam and of Seytavaca (Sitavaka) states which he of Cota divided with his brothers; that of Candea and that of Jafanapatao” (de Queyroz bk. I,p.32). The following account given in the ‘A true and exact description of the great island of Ceylon’ by Phillipus Baldaeus, a Dutch predikant who lived in Jaffna for about 9 years, also confirms the statement of de Queyroz. “It remained under the Portugezen sway for upwards of 40 years, wrested from the Emperor by Philippo d’Olivero when he defeated the Cingalezen forces near Achiavelli (Achuvely) by the great pagoda” and further states confirm that official language was Singhalese when Portuguese took control “These terms written in the Portuguese and Chingala languages were signed and authenticated.” (Queyroz p.371).
    It is also recorded in ‘A true and exact description of the great island of Ceylon’ by Phillipus Baldaeus’ that king Senarat of Kandy towards the end of his reign summoned all his subordinate rulers in the island for a council meeting for the purpose of selecting a successor to the throne of Kandy after him. Baldaeus has given the names of all those rulers who attended this council meeting and a faithful account of its proceedings. He has also given a translation of the proclamation that was issued by the king after the meeting. According to Baldaeus a representative of the contemporary ruler of Jaffna also attended this council meeting. King Senarat is referred to as the Emperor of Sri Lanka, The king of Kandy, Sitavaka, Trincomalee, and Jaffna etc., in the preamble of this proclamation, which proves that northern and eastern region was under Emperor of Sri Lanka.
    ‘An Historical Relation of Ceylon’ by Robert Knox’s had confirmed that authority of Singhalese King in Kottiar bay in Trincomalee in east of Sri Lanka where he says that he and his companions were taken into custody by men of Singhalese King. ( pp.189-192).
    This is what Dr Indrapalan a Tamil professor of History in Jaffna University submitted to the University of London in 1962 (Unpublished S.O. 15.1. 84) said about Tamil invasion of Singhalese area in North, which they claim to be their homeland. “We refer to the toponymic evidence, which unmistakably points to the presence of Sinhala settlers in the peninsula before Tamils settled there. In an area of only about nine hundred square miles covered by this peninsula, there occur over a thousand Sinhalese place names, which have survived in a Tamil garb.” (page 270) Further he said that “But monumental remains of a different type attest to the destruction wrought by the invaders and the conversion of Buddhist institutions into places of saiva (Tamil) worship, effected by the new settlers, thus confirming the statements in the Sinhala sources. The many scattered ruins of Buddhist monasteries and temples all over the vanni region preserve the memory of the Sinhalese Buddhist settlements that once covered these parts. Several of the pilimages (image houses) attached to the monasteries in places like Kovilkadu, Malikai, Omantai, Kanakarayan-kulam, Iracentiran-kulam, Cinnappuvaracankulam and Madukanda were converted into Saiva temples, often dedicated to Ganesa. Buddha images or inscribed slabs from the Buddhist structures were used to make the Ganesa statues” I have seen some of these places.
    This is what Captain Robert Percival wrote about the people who lived in Jaffna as late as 1805 A.D. in his book entitled an ‘An Account of the Island of Ceylon’ (1805). Even as late as 1805 A.D. the Tamils and the other minority communities who had settled in the Jaffna peninsula have been referred to as ‘foreigners’. While giving an account of the population of Jaffna he states that the inhabitants of Jaffna consist of a collection of various races. The greatest number are Malabars of Moorish extraction, and are divided into several tribes known by the names of Lubbahs, Belalas, Mopleys, Chittys, Choliars and a few Brahmins; they are distinguished by wearing a little round cap on their close shaven heads. There is also a race of Malabars found here somewhat differing in their appearance from those of the continent. These different tribes of foreign settlers greatly exceed in number the native Ceylonese in the District of Jaffna (pp. 71).
    These extracts are from page 382 of a well-biased “Ancient Jaffna” by Mudaliyar C Rasanayagam (1926). “those who were unable to do so became the slaves of the Tamil chieftains and are now known as ‘Kovia’, a corruption of the Sinhalese word ‘ Goviya’ or ‘Goiya’ and that their original status was equal to that of the Vellalas can be inferred from customs which are still in Vogue in Jaffna. The ‘Tanakaras’ and the ‘Nalavas’ of Jaffna should also be considered Sinhalese remnants in spite of the fanciful derivation of the word ‘Nalava’ given by the author of the Vaipava Malai. The Nalavas were perhaps originally the Sinhalese climbers and received the Tamil name on account of their peculiar way of climbing trees. They too became the slaves of the Tamil chieftains. The Tanakaras were the ancient elephant keepers and those who supplied the necessary fodder to the stables of the king. ( Sinhalese: Tana=grass). They perhaps on account of the service rendered by them were not expelled from the country and later became inseparably mixed with the Tamils among whom they had to remain………the fact that the Kovias, Tanakaras and Nalavas were originally Sinhalese can be seen from the peculiar dress of their women who wear the inner end of their cloth over the shoulders in a manner quite strange to the genuine Tamils.”
    I have quoted only Portugues, Dutch, English and Tamil historians and not mahawansa.

  25. It is high time that we all go beyond the solutions which are normally conceived within the confines of the Westphalian nation state concept. The question is not much about a merger of provinces, claims of homelands. The main issue is about government and the governed working together to ensure fundamental human rights equitablly to both the Sinhalese and the Tamils. this would entail strengthening democratic institutions to enable them as duty bearers to fulfill the rights obligations they have towards people. If not what is the point of having a devolution in which politicians can manipulate the electoral process and go on plundering in situations where fundamental rights and rule of just law is not respected. this is not primarily about devolution of powers but the dignity of both Tamils and Sinhalese as human beings.

  26. Victor Ivan pointing to the work by “Dr. Gerald Pieris & Dr. K.M.de Silva” to demolish the the North East Tamil homeland concept.

    “…Based on the census data of 1921… He has amply proved that the Eastern Province has never been a homeland confined to a particular ethnic group living in Sri Lanka…”

    “…from the beginning of the Federal Party up to the point of signing the Indo Lanka Peace Accord …K.M.de Silva has proved the falsity of the Tamil homeland concept and demolished all arguments put forward by those who attempted to defend it in a manner..”

    Also a follow reader Dr. Narandern commented earlier pointing to the work called Tamil culture in Ceylon by M.D.Raghavan, claiming that it demolishes Tamils traditional homeland claim limited to the north and east only.

    I have not read any of these three works thou I don’t know their hypothesis and the results and its validity.

    We can argue forever but the reality is the Island belongs to both Sinhala and Tamil (of course others too); because we both share the same root. Why Tamils are sticking (should stick) with North East instead of other parts?

    We are in the era of democracy. If the principal and structure behind a particular democratic system is not fair enough, that democracy become nothing but a single race/group dictatorship. Whether it is good or bad, in any democracy majority will always wins! If no fair system or principle in place, majority can ruin the minority in any democracy. Whether it is Sinhala vs. Tamils or Highcast Tamils vs. Lowcast Tamils! (Unlike in India, in the Island, high cast people are those with more in numbers and/or own more land/money.)

    North East Tamil homeland or Eelam concept was born results of the Sinhala government sponsored riots and pogroms against Tamils since the Independence. Every time there is a problem to Tamils in the Island, they automatically run to North East. Although Tamils have rights to all over the Island (and they are living in other parts) North East is where they feel that they can breath easy.

    If I claim Galle as Tamil’s village, you will laugh but if I say Anurathapuram was a Tamil Buddhist centre for Tamils or southern Kanchivaram, or Kathirgamam was Tamils holy village, what would be your reaction? In a decade later, if I say Puthalam, Cilapam, was Tamil villages what will you respond?

    Before LTTE, Sinhala government started to destroy Tamils and their identity in the Island even before LTTE was born. For last 30 years LTTE became the handicap reason for Sinhala government to further alienate the Tamils. Now LTTE gone, the Sinhala powers are still going on high gear on Sinhalanizing what ever left. If it continues, Tamils will start loosing their identity and left with nothing.

    At this juncture, 13 is the only accord that is accepted by an international country. Wheather it provide a meaningful solution to Tamils or not, it is the only tools Tamils got to keep their identiy persevered. The core of the 13 is recognizing North East as something close to Tamils’ homeland. It is not a smart move by Tamils to go far away from 13Amd at this particular time, as the future looks very cloudy for Tamils. In my opininon, Tamils should stick with North East as their traditional homeland concept and should not back away. This doesn’t mean sinhalease are not allowed to live in North East, but Tamils should not loose their will power or identity.

    Well, what is the alternative to North-East concept? What can relax Tamils? GOSL need to force and genuinely apply/practice Sinhala and Tamil as official language in SL at all the time. National anthem will be in both languages in all government ceremonies regardless of the location. All government announcements MUST be in both languages (for both vocal / press release). All government servants will be fluent in both languages; otherwise they will not be hired (and fired if not). More importantly all police officers and politicians will be fluent in both languages. Buddhism will share space with other religions, treated equally and will stay completely away from the political arena. I think these are some of the cornerstones need to be highly visual in order to think of alternative to devolution. Moreover if these cornerstones are there in practice, there may no need for alternative or devolution! Would government use its 2/3 on this?

    By the way Victor,
    “…Sinhala leaders must make an apology to the Tamil people …. Similarly, the Tamil leaders too, should make an apology to Sinhala people…” completely agree with this part of your statement, but following doesn’t look right at all “…for the ruthless responses that the Tamils have made which are not in proportion to the mistakes committed by the former….” It is other way around!!!

  27. [The 13th amendment has been formulated based on a conceptual myth that states that the Northern and the Eastern Provinces are Tamil homelands.]
    ————-
    Here we go again.Victor Ivan cannot or does not want to understand the definition of homeland so i give below to clarify matters.

    The definition of homeland is a state,region or territory that is closely identified with a particular people or ethnic group.

    Now nobody is going to dispute that the tamils are closely identified with the north and east of srilanka.So therfore the north and east are the homeland of the tamils of srilanka.

    —————————————————————–

    [The solution that India felt ideal was to amalgamate the areas that the Tamil leaders claimed to be their homeland and create a unit of regional rule which is somewhat analogous to Indian states.]
    ————
    Here again this man is misleading others.Te merger was only temporary.A referendum was to be held in the east after the merger to see whether the people in the east want to be merged with the north.
    ——————————————————————-

    [Although President JR Jayewardene had signed the Indo Lanka Peace Accord, he was totally against the Tamil homeland concept. He vehemently opposed the amalgamation of the two provinces as well.]
    ———
    How can he oppose the homeland concept when the definition of homeland states clearly that it is a region closely identified with a particular ethni group.Is he saying to the indians that the north and east is closely identified with the sinhalese people?

    As for the amalgamation being opposed by him,that is why the indians made provision in the 13th amendment to have a referendum in the east.

    So opposing the homeland concept was unjustifiable.
    Opposing the merger was justifiable and JR got what he wanted in the provision for a referendum in the east which would demerge the east.

    Now he realised that he could pit the two young idiots rajiv and prabha against each other and watch the fun and went ahead with it.
    —————————————————————-

    [At the end he did not have any other alternative but to comply with the Indian move. In that sense, the Indo Lanka Peace Accord can be termed an artificial and arbitrary agreement forced on Sri Lanka ]
    ————
    So how come it achieved what JR wanted,which was for the LTTE and the IPKF to bash each other up,but more importantly poison the relationship that the tamils had painstakingly built up with india.

    If the accord was indeed forced down the throat as victor ivan claims,boy it did achieve a lot for JR.Maybe it proves that you should force feed the sinhalese for their own good.In this case JR was not a sinhalese really,but a shrewd thambi from south india.

    The most important point is however,not a single public statement was made by him that pressure was being applied for him to sign.Surely you would expect a person who is signing something under duress to express his discomfiture with what he was signing and state to the whole world that he was doing it under duress.he had ample opportunities to do so,but did not,proving that he wanted to sign it.
    ——————————————————————

    [The homeland concept which can be deemed to be the most important factor that influenced the introduction of the 13th amendmen ]
    ———–
    How does victor ivan know that this was the most important factor that influenced the 13th amendment.Every person will have their own opinion on this.My opinion is that india wanted a change in the course direction that srilanka took since independence,which is a centralized system of governance and sinhala bhuddhist supremacy, that was diametrically opposite to the direction that india had taken which was decentralized administration and secularism.So india wanted both countries to come closer in their governance structures.The homeland concept that victor ivan is harping on para after para was really immaterial because india did not want only a northeast provincial council only ,but wanted councils for all 9 provinces.
    ——————————————————————

    [At the end, not only Sinhalese people, but also Prabhakaran refused to accept the Indian solution.]
    ————
    Prabhaharan was a selfish fellow who could not care a tuppence for the tamil people,but was only interested in retaining sole power.

    As for the sinhalese once the 13th amendment served the purpose of LTTE and IPKF bashing each other up,they lost interest in it.

    ———————————————————————

    [Despite twenty four years have lapsed since setting up of Provincial Council System in Sri Lanka , it has miserably failed to inspire confidence in the people in the system as an effective system of governanance; instead it had become an object of wide spread ridicule. It is perceived to be a white elephant and cannot be considered a successful experiment of two tier system of governanance.]
    ——————

    What is the point of of talking about its deficiencies when it has not been implemented.It is like talking about the faults of a car without even driving it.It could not be implemented because of the LTTE,but now it can because the LTTE is no more.lets drive and see.

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