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At UN, India calls for Sri Lanka’s immediate action on Tamil issue

Geneva: Voicing concern over the lack of “measurable progress” by Sri Lanka on its commitments of a political solution to the ethnic issue, India on Monday called for “immediate and credible action” for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment and holding of Provincial Council elections at the earliest in the crisis-hit island nation.

During an Interactive Dialogue on the report of OHCHR on promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka at the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, India said it has always believed in the responsibility of States for promotion and protection of human rights and constructive international dialogue and cooperation guided by the principles of the UN Charter.

Speaking at the dialogue, an Indian representative noted with concern the lack of “measurable progress” by the Sri Lankan government on their commitments of a political solution to the ethnic issue- through full implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, delegation of powers to Provincial Councils and holding of Provincial Council elections at the earliest.

“India’s consistent view on peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka has been for a political settlement within the framework of an united Sri Lanka, ensuring justice, peace, equality and dignity for the Tamils of Sri Lanka,” the Indian diplomat said.

The current crisis in Sri Lanka has demonstrated the limitations of debt driven economy and the impact it has on the standard of living, the official said.

“It is in Sri Lanka’s best interests to build the capacity of its citizens and work towards their empowerment, for which devolution of power to the grassroots level is a prerequisite,” the Indian diplomat said.

In this connection, operationalisation of Provincial Councils through early conduct of elections will enable all citizens of Sri Lanka to achieve their aspirations for a prosperous future.

“We therefore urge Sri Lanka to take immediate and credible action,” the official added.

The 13th Amendment provides for devolution of power to the minority Tamil community. India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987.

The Sinhala majority hardliners of the ruling Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) have been advocating a total abolition of the island’s provincial council system established in 1987.