Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s future pathway: demand for political autonomy

Colombo

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to make his first official visit to India this week. Before travelling to India, Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold a meeting with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Parliament on Tuesday. It is being told by quoting sources that in this meeting a decision can be taken on the demand of long pending political autonomy of Tamil minorities.

The TNA is an alliance of regional Tamil parties in the north and east of Sri Lanka. The TNA and Wickremesinghe have been in talks since last December on the demand for political autonomy for Tamils. Wickremesinghe is considered fully implementing the India-backed 13th Amendment. However, it is being opposed by Sri Lanka’s powerful Buddhist priestly class. Tamils will get many rights under the 13th Amendment. India is also putting pressure on Sri Lanka this. In the year 1987, under the India-Sri Lanka agreement, Sri Lanka had to implement the 13A amendment.

Tamil parties also demand that their private lands taken for military purposes be freed, Tamil political prisoners be released and conflict compensation be paid. Along with TNA, several Tamil militant leaders have also written to the PM, Modi to pressurize Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendment. The Tamils demand that the central government provides land and police power to the Northern Provincial Council. Also, elections should be held, which are being postponed since 2018.

However, Sri Lanka has a long history of failure to negotiate with the Tamils. In Sri Lanka, the LTTE waged a prolonged military struggle demanding a separate country for Tamils. However, the military conflict ended in 2009 with the death of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in a battle with the Sri Lankan army. About 20 thousand people are missing in this struggle which lasted for almost 30 years. International human rights organizations claim that 40,000 Sri Lankan Tamils were killed in this conflict. However, the Sri Lankan government has been rejecting these claims.