New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday expressed dismay at reports from Sri Lanka that the Colombo government was planning to dilute provisions of an amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution that provides for greater political autonomy to the minority Sri Lankan Tamils.
Singh conveyed his views to a delegation from Sri Lanka’s Tamil Nationalist Alliance (TNA) that is visiting New Delhi. The TNA consists of Tamil parties once seen as proxy for the Tamil Tiger rebel militants who waged war against the government in Colombo demanding a separate state carved out of the island’s north and east for the minority Tamils. The three-decade-old civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009 with the death of Tamil Tiger rebel chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran.
India has been leaning on Sri Lanka to integrate the minority Tamils into the political mainstream and to ensure their grievances are addressed. India has also voted against Sri Lanka at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission in Geneva along with the US and other western countries to express its concern at the slow pace of Tamil reintegration.
“The Prime Minister conveyed to the TNA delegation that he was dismayed by reports suggesting that the government of Sri Lanka planned to dilute certain key provisions of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution ahead of elections to the Northern Provincial Council” later this year, a statement from the ministry of external affairs said. “It was noted that the proposed changes raised doubts about the commitments made by the Sri Lankan government to India and the international community, including the UN, on a political settlement in Sri Lanka that would go beyond the 13th Amendment,” the statement said.
“The changes would also be incompatible with the recommendation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), set up by the government of Sri Lanka, calling for a political settlement based on the devolution of power to the provinces,” the statement added referring to a commission modelled on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in the 1990s.
“The Prime Minister stated that he was deeply concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. He stressed on the expectation that the Sri Lankan Tamil community would lead a life of dignity, as equal citizens, and reiterated that India would make every effort to ensure the achievement of a future for the community marked by equality, justice and self-respect,” the statement said.