The ghastly slaughter of Tamils in Sri Lanka continues daily and an official ‘end’ to the war will not mean an end to this nightmare. It is said by United Nations agencies and by other international agencies that around 50 to 70 persons get killed every day in this conflict. The UN reports 6,500 civilian deaths since February. However the destruction of the Tigers as a fighting force, at such a heavy civilian cost, will only mark the beginning of a new and ugly phase of civil repression. Over 40,000 civilians who crossed over to government controlled areas have been caged behind barbed wire, with no access to relatives and friends and with no right to leave the barbed wired camps strictly controlled by the Sri Lankan military. Within these camps, life is a nightmare with paramilitary groups given access to pick out “would-be Tiger infiltrators”. There are many reports of youth being taken away and disappearing and young women being raped.
The United Socialist Party (USP, affiliated, like the Socialist Party in England and Wales, to the Committee for a Workers’ International) continues to campaign for the rights of Tamil and working people, for a united struggle of Tamil and Sinhala workers to end war, mass poverty and dictatorship. It fights for a socialist alternative to capitalism and imperialism. Campaigning in provincial elections to take place on 25 April, USP activists have been told by Sinhala chauvinists that their party secretary, Siritunga Jayasuriya, should be hanged for the statements he has made criticising the Rajapakse government.
Stop the Slaughter of Tamils (SST) is a broad, international campaign, launched in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, and is drawing an enthusiastic response. As well as campaigning to end the slaughter and to demand basic human rights for Tamils in the north, SST fights for democratic rights throughout Sri Lanka. Sinhala workers and poor are severely oppressed. Living standards are worsening by the day as prices of necessities rocket and basic services are cut. The SST calls for a mass struggle amongst all the workers of Sri Lanka. Supporters include Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy, longstanding activist Dr Brian Senewiratne, Joe Higgins Former member of the Irish Parliment and Honorary President of SST and John McDonnell Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and Chairman of the socialist Labour Representation Committee.
The following is a call for solidarity by Siritunga Jayasuriya Chair of Civil Monitoring Commission, Secretary of United Socialist Party (CWI) and Sri Lankan Coordinator of the ‘Stop the Slaughter of Tamils’ campaign.
“As the whole world knows, the government of President Rajapakse, that took control of the Sinhala state after the 2005 November presidential elections, aborted every possibility of negotiating a democratic solution to the Tamil people’s struggle. For decades they had asked only for the right to share power and determine their own future but Rajapaksa’s victory led to the rise of this brutally repressive regime that’s waging this barbaric war against the Tamil people.
“This war to end the “terrorism” of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as defined by the Rajapaksa regime, was clearly an extension of George W. Bush Junior’s call for “global war against terrorism” after the 9/11 debacle in New York. It gave the Rajapaksa regime the license to label any one who opposed his brutal war as “a traitor” or as a “terrorist supporter or sympathizer” just the way Bush called his opponents a “threat to the national security of the USA”.
“The war against “Tamil terrorists” was helped by a Sinhala racist call, raised high and loud, to give the military a free hand in pushing the war towards LTTE strongholds. It allowed this Rajapaksa regime to go on a wild spree of abducting, arbitrarily arresting, resorting to extra judicial killings and forcing disappearances of not only Tamil youth but also Sinhala and Muslim citizens who oppose their repressive war.
“Worst is this government’s track record of economic management. Undoubtedly the most corrupt regime after independence in 1948, it has established a family power over the elected government. The Rajapaksa government is now seeking a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Its closest ally, China, is suffering with the global melt-down and refusing to maintain its credit line to Sri Lanka.
“This financial crisis, made worse by this Rajapaksa regime is hitting the working class and the rural poor with escalating prices and cuts on existing social subsidies. Already the government is planning to prune down the public sector by effecting administrative regulations to remove government sector employees on the ground of inefficiency. More than 300,000 employees out of a total workforce of 6.1 million employed in the private sector have lost their jobs, with more than 50,000 being dismissed during the past three months. More than 50 companies and factories have been closed due to the present crisis situation and the Labour Ministry has done little to protect the employees who have lost their jobs.
“It is within this economic and social crisis of capitalism that the government continues to wage war against the Tamil people, destroying the democratic life of all Sri Lankan people. Having terrorized the trade unions and silenced all opposition, the Rajapaksa regime has now taken the war into the Wanni, at the cost of human lives, silently supported by all the super-powers that did not oppose the war, but only wanted civilian casualties minimized.
“We therefore call upon all who condemn war in a civilized world, to raise your voice against the Rajapaksa regime! Let’s do it in the name of humanity, for genuine democracy and against war!”
SST has been liaising with student protesters. Although still very new, the SST has proved to be a very positive addition to the existing Tamil campaigns.
Visit www.stoptheslaughteroftamils.org and www.socialistworld.net for details of the campaign, including trade union appeal letters and details of future protests, in the UK and around the world.
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This post was written by Elizabeth Clarke