Sixth Amendment threat looms over peace talks
[TamilNet, Friday, 06 September 2002, 19:08 GMT]
(Newsfeature) President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s People’s Alliance
and the Sinhala nationalist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna
(JVP) vowed Friday to fight the United National Front
government for lifting of the ban on the Liberation
Tigers. The spokesman for the People’s Alliance Dr.
Sarath Amunugama said the party will take legal action
and start mass protests against the de-proscription. He was addressing a press conference at the opposition
leader’s office in Colombo Friday.
The PA and several
Sinhala nationalist groups say they intend to oppose
the de-proscription legally by having recourse to the
provisions of the sixth amendment to Sri Lanka’s
constitution under which any organisation espousing
separatism within the island’s territory can be
proscribed by the Supreme Court.
“We have appointed a committee to take legal action
against the de-banning of the LTTE,” Dr. Sarath
Amunugama said. He lashed out at the government,
saying it had cheated the public by claiming the ban
was only temporary move.
“But the gazette notification
on the de-proscription does not say it is temporary”,
The PA and the JVP were irked that the lifting of the
ban was sprung on them before the date on which they
expected the UNF to make the politically sensitive
move. The parties had planned massive protests in the
Sinhala majority districts on the said date. The
midnight announcement on Wednesday caught them off
Meanwhile, the JVP’s powerful propaganda secretary,
Mr. Wimal Weerawanse, addressing a press conference at
the Nippon Hotel in downtown Colombo Friday, said his
party was discussing a common strategy with other
opposition parties and groups to oust Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government. The party failed
to capture state power through bloody armed
insurrections in 1971 and 1988.
Thousands of Sinhala youth were killed in the
insurrections to establish a Stalinist state in Sri
Lanka. The JVP subscribes to a rigid Stalinist brand
of Marxism although it has emerged as the leading
Sinhala nationalist force in Sri Lanka in recent
A political analyst with a popular Sinhala weekly said
that the peace negotiations would face a serious
challenge if the PA and Sinhala nationalist groups
that are currently rallying behind President Chandrika
Kumaratunga resort to invoking the provisions of the
Sixth Amendment against the LTTE.
The leader of the extremist Sinhala nationalist group,
Mr. Tilak Karunaratna told local media Thursday that
he would take legal action under Article 157 A of the
Constitution (Sixth Amendment).
According to the provisions of the amendment:
Article 157 A (1) No person shall, directly or
indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse,
promote, finance, encourage or advocate the
establishment of a separate state within the territory
of Sri Lanka.
(2) No political party or other association or
organisation shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate state within
the territory of Sri Lanka.”
Under this law - 157 A (4) - any person may make an
application to the Supreme Court for a declaration
against an organisation espousing the cause of
establishing a separate state in the island. Upon such declaration by the SC that the organisation
has violated Article 157 A (2), then that organisation
“shall be deemed, for all purposes to be proscribed”. Any member of such an organisation shall cease to be a
member of Parliament. Any person who is a member of such an organisation
after the date of the SC declaration “shall be guilty
of an offence and shall, upon conviction by the Court
of Appeal” would be stripped of his or her civic
rights for a period not exceeding seven years; and his
or her movable and immovable property would be seized.
The Sixth Amendment was introduced on the heels of the
1983 July anti Tamil pogrom in which thousands of
Tamils were killed and maimed by state backed Sinhala
mobs in Colombo and the Sinhala majority districts of
The Amendment saw the Tamil United Liberation Front
giving up its seats in Parliament and going into exile
in India. The TULF was elected to Parliament in 1977
from the on an overwhelming mandate from the Tamils of
the island’s northeast for establishing a separate
state for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
A committee of legal experts appointed by the PA when
it came to power in 1994 to inquire into reforming
media laws recommended that the sixth amendment be
reviewed as it is a major stricture on the freedom of
expression in Sri Lanka.
05.09.02 Sri Lanka's Defence Minister de-proscribes LTTE