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Lt. Gen. Dias urges Sangha to lead campaign against full implementation of 13A

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Jaffna civil activist recollects accountability on the part of India and groups other than LTTE

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Lt. Gen. Jagath Dias on Sunday (17) declared in Matara that full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution would lead to the creation of a federal structure at the expense of Sri Lanka’s unitary status.

That wouldn’t be acceptable under any circumstances, the Gajaba Regiment veteran said, urging the Maha Sangha to spearhead the campaign against the division of the country.

The appeal was made at Nupe, Matara, on behalf of the Coalition Against Partition of Sri Lanka at a meeting organized with the blessings of Ven Omare Kassapa Thera, Chairman of Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna.

The former General Officer Commanding (GoC) of 57 Division said that the country wouldn’t have been in the current predicament, if India allowed the Sri Lankan military to bring ‘Operation Liberation’ to a successful conclusion. Having recalled the enormous sacrifices made by the military over the years, up to the eradication of the LTTE’s conventional military capability on the Vanni east front, an irate Dias pointed out the Indian invasion of Sri Lanka, in the guise of a peacekeeping mission, in 1987.

The coalition put together by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) launched its effort to educate the public in the second week of August at Sri Sambuddhajayanthi Mandiraya.

Sunday’s meeting at Nupe, Matara was also addressed by Ven Kassapa Thera, Ven Manjukathissa, former Eastern Province Governor Anuradhada Yahampath, Attorney-at-Law Knishka Vitharana, Attorney-at-Law Kalyananda Thiranagama, Convenor of Jaffna civil society collective Arun Siddharthan, political activist Jehan Hameed, civil society activist Priyantha Dayaratne and journalist Shamindra Ferdinando.

Arun Siddharthan alleged that those demanding accountability on the part of the government of Sri Lanka were conveniently silent on the atrocities perpetrated by the LTTE and other Indian-sponsored terrorist groups TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF and ENDLF et al, during the time of the conflict that was brought to an end through military means. The LTTE sidekick Tamil National Alliance (TNA) later accommodated these groups, namely TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF, Siddharthan said, drawing attention to the crimes committed by the Indian military during its deployment here (July 1987-March 1990).

Siddharthan explained how those who had perpetrated heinous crimes against the Tamil-speaking people today pretended they were their saviours. The activist declared that India couldn’t absolve itself of the crimes perpetrated by her military here during the time groups, other than the LTTE, directly served New Delhi interests, Siddharthan said.

Ven. Kassapa lambasted the political parties that pursued dreadful agenda against the very people who elected them. Recalling the protests launched in July 1987 against the signing of the Indo-Lanka accord, the Ven. Thera warned parliamentarians not to support the full implementation of the 13th Amendment, under any circumstances.

Lawyer Vitharana explained how President Ranil Wickrenmesinghe manipulated the whole constitutional making process as he pushed hard to appease those who still pursued separatist agenda. Vitharana, who addressed the gathering first, alleged the President sought to implement constitutional proposals, unveiled during the Yahapalana administration, and if implemented would create a catastrophic situation on the ground. Both Vitharana and Thiranagama found fault with President Wickremesinghe’s approach. They alleged President Wickremesinghe was treacherously working against the national interests by going ahead with the full implementation of the 13th Amendment.

However, the gathering was also told Sri Lanka offered not only to fully implement the 13th Amendment but go beyond the controversial law enacted in Nov. 1987, in line with the July 29, 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord, three years after the conclusion of the war. The need to examine the circumstances under which that offer had been made in January 2012 and repeated in April same year was stressed while pointing out that the draft constitution prepared by a nine-member committee, headed by Romesh de Silva, PC, as requested by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, disclosed that all political parties, represented in the current Parliament, requested that the country continued with the Provincial Council system.

The gathering was reminded that the draft Constitution, in spite of being handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and even the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government subsequently, the public hadn’t been informed of its contents.

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