Two weeks after I had interviewed Prof. Tissa Vitharana on, among other things, the full implementation of the 13th Amendment, I spoke with the Leader of the JVP Somawansa Amarasinghe for his take on constitutional reform.
During the course of our interview, Mr. Amarasinghe came out strongly in favour of the rights of all minorities, the need to meaningfully look into the well-being of Tamils interned in IDP camps and the importance of a secular State. Recalling the violent history of the JVP, he suggested that it was government that pushed the JVP to violence, yet saw little parallel between this violence and that of militant Tamil nationalism. Acknowledging that inequality, the marginalisation of Tamil youth and the denial of some of their rights led to the rise of violent conflict, Mr. Amarasinghe said the JVP accepted the historic repression of Tamil youth, but that this was justification for the violence to establish Eelam.
On the other hand, he said that he was very concerned that history could repeat itself if legitimate grievances of the Tamil were not addressed after the end of the war, and came out strongly against the continuing and constitutionally enshrined language discrimination in Sri Lanka.
When I asked him about internal self-determination, he said that the JVP was strongly opposed to it. He was also strident in his opposition to the 13th Amendment, stating that it was an ill-drafted piece of legislation imposed by force after India’s invasion of Sri Lanka. He went on to clearly note that power sharing within a unitary state was impossible.
Acknowledging that most of the voters were with the President, Mr. Amarasinghe nevertheless said that many had been misled about the activities of the JVP and that anyone outside of government was today branded as a supporter of the LTTE.
I asked how this was different to the rhetoric of the JVP. For his answer and for the JVP’s vision for the future of Sri Lanka, please watch the interview in full.