Kilinochchi & the 13th Amendment
| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( June 10, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Current Post War Situation In The Kilinochchi District’ by Robinhood. I write also in the consciousness of the essence of the message from the Friday Forum (Press Release dated 09 June 2013) which concludes with the following message: ‘The Friday Forum urges all political parties and groups to oppose any move to dilute the 13thAmendment, and to make every effort to ensure that a fair and free election to the Northern Provincial Council takes place under the present constitutional scheme.’
In essence the two publications state the One need – at different different levels. In terms of Land rights for example, Robinhood says about Land issues in Kilinochchi District:
‘Before the war began and during administration of the LTTE 70% - 80% of the people in the Kilinochchi district were staying in permit lands given by the government. Some residents had permits and some people stood for many years in those lands without any certified permits and deeds but only a letter given by the then Grama Sevaka of the DS division. During the war some people lost their deeds and documents certifying their lands. When people were evicted from the Menik farm camp to their original places people who had deeds went to their original houses but many people were prevented access to their lands and properties due to non availability of documents.
During 80’s some people left Kilinochchi to other countries and to Jaffna due to war. These vacated lands were later occupied by people who came to Kilinochchi from Kandy and Badulla during 1980’s. Now these people has pre occupied these lands nearly for 20 years. When the war ended in 2009 people who left, started to claim their lands. Due to this the people who were presently living were intimidated by the first owners to leave their properties. Due to this some people were forced to live in temporary shelters.’
This applies not only to the People of Kilinochchi but also to various parts of North and East and indeed as per my direct experience - to Colombo also. Given that voting rights are based on the place of our residence, Land Rights is an important issue in relation to Devolution of Power and therefore the 13th Amendment.
An elected Government confirms the majority culture of an area. Through my own direct experience, and as confirmed by Professor Naachiar Selvanayagam of University of Jaffna I believe that Time & Place carry Universal Powers as per the Truth manifested thereat. The Truth that manifested at a place becomes belief of those to whom that place is ‘home’. This could be due to physical residence like in purchase of shares in a company and/or due to contribution to the forces that are contained at that place through Truth that manifested at that place. Local residents of Kilinochchi are the visible shareholders whereas others including Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese of Kilinochchi origin but not limited to them but including all who contributed to the manifestation of Truth in Kilinochchi and regulated it through ‘rights and wrongs’, are deeper shareholders who have the power to influence future manifestations in that area – for better or for worse.
The Friday Forum states in relation to this ‘At present, if the Centre wishes to pass a law on a matter in the Provincial Council List, the Bill must be referred to all Provincial Councils for them to express their views. If all Provincial Councils agree, the Bill may be passed by a simple majority. If one or more Councils do not agree, a two-thirds majority is needed to make the law applicable to the Councils that did not agree, but if passed only by a simple majority, the law will apply only in the provinces that agreed. This is a safeguard against interference by the Centre and many Provincial Councils outside the North and East too have disagreed with such Bills and asserted their independence.’
Laws help us regulate our thoughts and naturally bring together the minds of those who practice the same law. It is like the thinking of those who are of the same religion. The above provision as per the 13th Amendment provides for the primary power to rest with the Provinces. To be effective, the Governments of these Provinces need to be ‘elected’ and not appointed – (including self – appointed as was the case with the LTTE). The closer it gets to Central Government – the greater the need to use global laws that give us the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ticks. Had the Sri Lankan Central Government used the laws/principles of Equal Opportunity in managing the racial conflict – it would have saved itself the wrong ticks from Western Governments – especially using war related evidence – which led to the release of ‘Sri Lanka Killing Fields’. To the extent the Sri Lankan soldiers who eliminated Tamils believed that they were eliminating Terrorism – they contributed to the positive forces in that place. Similarly to the extent Tamils (including civilians) who eliminated their opposition and / or died in the belief that they were protecting their Homeland - they also contributed to the positive forces in that place. If the LTTE were truly freedom fighters they would not have eliminated their parallels on the ‘other’ side – except through Due Process and/or through direct face to face fighting. Likewise, the Government soldiers in terms of the LTTE and indeed resident Tamils who at first sight are taken as LTTE supporters.
Where we are of One culture – the People are divided into two sides. Where we are of different cultures – the Value is divided into two sides. In this instance the two sides are (1) those who fight to protect their Homeland and (2) those who fight to ‘invade’ and occupy others’ homes. To the extent the LTTE forcefully occupied the homes of other Tamils – we as a Community have earned occupation by whoever is in Governance at that place.
Landowners of Kilinochchi – who fail to actively use that land now – are contributing to negligence of hoarded property. If they are Tamils they need to take over direct responsibility to ‘show’ their ownership and/or delegate that authority to a local person in need of land rights. Many members of the Tamil Diaspora are as guilty as the Government in this regard. Keeping land idle when there is need within the Community to work that land – is worse than occupying by force. The latter is a visible opposition such as racism is in Sri Lanka whereas the former is a sleeping enemy due to selfish hoarding – which develops dog in the manger attitude.
Tamils need to delegate within themselves at Community level to naturally earn the right to Devolution at National level. Without such earnings we would be hoarding Devolved Powers also.