18th Amendment becomes law in Sri Lanka

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Demonstrators in London in June last year condemn the slaughter of thousands of Tamils by the Sri Lankan army
Demonstrators in London in June last year condemn the slaughter of thousands of Tamils by the Sri Lankan army

THE Eighteenth Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution has become law with effect from Thursday, reports TamilNet.

This was after the certification by the Speaker Chamal Rajapakse, brother of the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapakse. The amendment removes the two-term limit of the Executive Presidency and the appointment of a five-member Parliamentary Council that replaced the seventeenth amendment to the constitution.

Speaker Chamal Rajapakse announced in Parliament that the 18th Amendment has become law and its provisions will now become operational.

The 18th Amendment Bill presented to Parliament seeking approval for the removal of the term limits of the Presidency and appointment of Commissions was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority 8 September.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights law clinic at the Washington DC-based American University, in a report released to the media on Friday, proposed that the United Nations should establish a War Crimes Tribunal for Sri Lanka.

‘The Tamil community’s need for truth, justice, and redress will continue to be marginalised without outside intervention.

‘Marginalisation and impunity for human rights violations may once again lead to unrest in the country and will impede justice and accountability,’ the report said.

Noting that, ‘There is indisputable evidence that Sri Lankan security forces are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against ethnic Tamil civilian population,’ the report said, ‘rather than fostering justice and accountability after the civil war, the Sri Lankan Government has continuously impeded efforts to hold human rights violators accountable.

‘As for its specious efforts, the Sri Lanka Government has demonstrated an interest only in prosecuting members of the LTTE, while failing to express any interest in holding its own security forces responsible for wilful and targeted killing of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians,’ the report added.

The Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) does not provide any of the requisite safeguards to ensure a fair tribunal resulting in a system that heavily favours the Sri Lankan military officials while marginalising the rights of the Tamil population, the report added.

On the UN’s advisory panel, the report said: ‘Early reports suggest that the UN panel has been forced to operate from a compromised position, far removed from the locus of their study making it harder for the truth to be unearthed,’ pointing out also that Colombo has ‘prevented the panel from carrying out its duties’.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Red Party deputy leader Bjørnar Moxnes, has declared that Norway wrongs the Tamil people by cooperating with the Colombo regime.

He stated: ‘The Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is naive if he believes normalisation of relations with Colombo will lay the basis for reconciliation.

‘It is wrong to normalise relations with a regime that uses the army to expel Tamils from their land and settle Sinhalese there.

‘Before normalising diplomatic ties Stoltenberg should demand that Rajapakse accept UN investigation,’ Moxnes said on Wednesday.

He was responding to media reports that Stoltenberg is the first Western head of government to meet Rajapakse with a cooperation agenda after the civil war.

Meanwhile, Mr Majoran Vivekananthan, managing editor of Utrop, said, ‘It is unwise to let Norwegian Development Minister, Solheim set the terms for Norway’s relationship with Sri Lanka until a thorough evaluation of Norwegian and Solheim’s role in the failed peace process is carried out.’

The Norwegian Prime Minister and development minister Mr Erik Solheim, met Mahinda Rajapakse in New York on Tuesday.

Solheim maintains that partnership with Rajapakse is the only possibility, reported Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten, on Wednesday, titling its feature ‘Have to cooperate with Rajapakse’.

Solheim was harping on promoting tourism development, business development and reconciliation.

‘So far, the domination of personalities related to development agencies in the foreign policy approaches has failed the peace process in the island,’ said Majoran Vivekananthan, managing editor of the Norwegian multicultural biweekly Utrop.

‘In its historic responsibility to the peoples of the island and of humanity, the Norwegian foreign ministry may do better by fresh personalities conceiving fresh approaches in saving development concepts degenerating the dignity of the peace negotiators into that of appeasers,’ Vivekananthan said.

‘There are signals that Norwegian development funds are used as a tool to get Tamil organisations and politics subservient to the war-winner. This is a dangerous conflation of politics and development assistance.’

‘The most unfortunate move by Norway is that the parties are pressured into collaboration before there is a political solution to the ethnic issue. The underlying causes for the war are not resolved, and Norway failed completely in the process. On the contrary, Norway is now contributing to strengthening the Sri Lankan president’s grip on Tamils by offering cooperation,’ Vivekananthan further said.

Erik Solheim in New York, when contacted by Aftenposten after his meeting with Rajapakse, had said, ‘If we are to help the Tamils in Sri Lanka, we have to build a good partnership. I have received inquiries from several Tamils who have just encouraged such a commitment.’

Responding, Dr Panchakulasingam Kandaiah, president of the democratically elected Norwegian Council of Eezham Tamils, asked whether Mr Solheim could prove a majority opinion on this at least among the Eezham Tamils in Norway. He cautioned against some Tamils being used as alleged ‘collaborators’.

The Norwegian Red Party statement on Wednesday saw a rough colonisation policy of Colombo in Tamil land in the island in progress.

While Colombo was clearly showing signs of a multifaceted genocidal agenda, the phrase ‘post-war reconciliation’ first came out from the US State Department, immediately after the war.

Mahinda Rajapakse, on the same day of receiving Stoltenberg and Erik Solheim, also met the Iranian President.

While Mahinda Rajapakse was on his way to New York, his brother and Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse met the top Chinese military commander in Beijing to deepen military ties between the two governments.

After crushing the military strength of Eezham Tamils, aided and abetted by all powers, and while receiving so many gestures of ‘cooperation’, against whom does the Rajapakse regime hurriedly and intensively build military establishments in the Tamil north and east?

Tamils are convinced that Iran and China are aiding in a colonisation process in the north of the island.