Talks between Modi and Mahinda - 2020

Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe

We observe that the statement after the bilateral talks between Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka and India was smartly worded to hoodwink Tamil people.  

The most controversial sentence in the statement is as follows.

Translations by Creative Content Consultants

“Prime Minister Modi called on the Government of Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka will work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups including Tamils, by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the Constitutional provisions.”

According to the above text, Prime Minister Modi has requested to:

  • implement the 13th amendment of the constitution,
  • continue the reconciliation process, and
  • to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka.

What does Mahinda Rajapakse declare?

  • The mandate of people of Sri Lanka (is an important matter)
  • achieving reconciliation (subject to the above-mentioned mandate)
  • Sri Lanka will work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups including Tamils

When translating this statement into Sri Lanka’s majority people’s Sinhala language, the translator, not unwittingly gave prominence to the latter part of the sentence.

The translation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s part of the statement goes as follows:

By achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the Constitutional provisions,Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka will work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups including Tamils, 

ශ්රී ලංකාවේ ජනතාවගේ වරම අනුව පෝෂණය වූ ප්රතිසන්ධානය සාක්ෂාත් කර ගැනීම හා ව්යවස්ථාමය විධිවිධාන ක්රියාත්මක කිරීම තුළින් දෙමළ ජාතිකයන් ඇතුළු සියලු ජනවාර්ගික කණ්ඩායම්වල අපේක්ෂාවන් සාක්ෂාත් කර ගැනීම සඳහා ශ්‍රී ලංකාව කටයුතු කරනු ඇතැයි අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මැතිතුමා විශ්වාසය පළ කළේය.

Same can be translated into Sinhala language as follows too but the translator did not do so. දෙමළ ජාතිකයන් ඇතුළු සියලු ජනවාර්ගික කණ්ඩායම්වල අපේක්ෂාවන් සාක්ෂාත් කර ගැනීම සඳහා ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ජනතාවගේ වරම අනුව පෝෂණය වූ ප්‍රතිසන්ධානය සාක්ෂාත් කර ගැනීම හා ව්‍යවස්ථාමය විධිවිධාන ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීම තුළින් ශ්‍රී ලංකාව කටයුතු කරනු ඇතැයි අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මැතිතුමා විශ්වාසය පළ කළේය.

An argument can be raised that Gotabhaya Rajapakse has a mandate from the majority of the Sinhalese for which the contribution of Muslim and Tamil communities is minimal. The leaders in the second tier of the government were continuously advocating for abolishing of the 13th amendment to the constitution to gain popularity among the majority Sinhala Buddhist community.

This statement is carefully worded to cheat Tamil people. Prime Minister Modi cannot exclude the Tamil issue during bilateral talks. He copied and pasted the same statement all the Indian premiers have made after all bilateral talks between India and Sri Lanka. For example, this issue was taken up during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Gotabhaya Rajapakse in November 2019. Then too, the Indian Prime Minister made the following statement.

“We have discussed openly the reconciliation process of Sri Lanka. I believe that the Sri Lankan government will continue the reconciliation process to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect. The implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Sri Lanka is included thereto.”

Mahinda Rajapakse government continuously postponed any sustainable solution for the ethnic issue after the war victory in 2009. President Gotabhaya Rajapakse also seems to continue the same policy.

Currently, the Tamil struggle for equality in the state has been diluted both locally and internationally. Also, the issue is important for the central government of India only when they deal with Tamil Nadu, which in turn take this issue only during elections.

This is the right time for the Sri Lankan government to abolish the 13th amendment. However, as we have observed through behaviour, Gotabhaya Rajapakse government too will continue the policy of killing time. Nor we will see any progress regarding power devolution or sharing.

Translations

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