India Thursday urged Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendment to its constitution that is aimed at reconciliation with the country’s Tamil minority, even as New Delhi said it supports its neighbour’s “unity and territorial integrity”.
At the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Indra Mani Pandey, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said India remains committed to “aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity”.
“We call upon Sri Lanka to take necessary steps for addressing such aspirations, including through the process of reconciliation and full implementation of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka,” Pandey said.
The 13th amendment became part of the Sri Lankan constitution as a direct result of the Indian intervention in 1987, under the countries’ accord. It proposed the establishment of a provincial council system and devolution of power for nine provinces in Sri Lanka. However, successive governments in Sri Lanka have not implemented it.
India has been urging Sri Lanka to implement and enforce the amendment ever since the country’s war with Tamil separatists ended in 2009. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also taken up the issue with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he came to India on a bilateral visit in 2019.
Sri Lanka’s request
India’s statement comes after Sri Lanka requested the UNHRC to reject a draft resolution that calls for punitive measures against it for the alleged war crimes committed in the decades-long civil war between its Sri Lankan security forces and the separatist Tamil Tigers.
Thousands are estimated to have been killed and displaced during the war. The bloodshed mostly happened towards the end of the war, when President Gotabaya’s older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa