Sri Lanka’s (and India’s) search for a political solution long antedates the Rajapaksa presidency. There was a political settlement since 1987 in the form of the 13th amendment, but the TNA in its earlier avatar failed to endorse it. When the Mangala Moonesinghe Committee of the early 1990s proposed Indian model federalism in exchange for the “demerger” of the North and East, the TULF rejected it. When Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga placed quasi-federalism on the table in 1995, 1997 and 2000, the TULF failed to support it. The Rajapaksas’ aversion to the 13th amendment cannot logically explain the TNA’s confirmation at the 2012 convention that “this…does not mean that we consider the 13th Amendment to be an acceptable solution.”

The TNA has failed to criticise Prabhakaran and the Tigers for murdering its own leaders such as Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran, his widow Sarojini, and Neelan Tiruchelvam, while producing by contrast a rousing 70 page critique of the enlightened, reformist Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report. Insistence on an international inquiry on accountability ignores the lesson of Guatemala, Bangladesh, Argentina and Uruguay, that accountability is indeed achievable but only as the result of domestic processes and a social consensus which takes decades to mature.

(Dayan Jayatilleka was Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. in Geneva from 2007-09, and until recently, Ambassador to France. He is the author of Long War, Cold Peace: Conflict and Crisis in Sri Lanka, Vijitha Yapa Publishers, 2013.)

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