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Sri Lanka

Tamil MP killed for speaking out

www.socialistworld.net, 12/11/2006
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

High profile assassination demands massive response

socialistworld.net

On Friday morning, 10 November, a prominent Tamil MP in Sri Lanka, Nadarajah Raviraj, was killed . He was shot outside his home in Colombo soon after he had appeared on a breakfast-time TV programme. One of his four bodyguards was also killed. The assassins arrived in a three-wheeler ‘taxi’, fired the fatal shots as the MP was getting into his car and left on a motorbike.

Nadarajah Raviraj was a well-known human rights lawyer, politically close to the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam and had been Mayor of the northern city of Jaffna. He was involved in the Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC) which has been investigating the recent spate of brutal kidnappings and killings of Tamils. (See previous articles on the CWI web-site). In this campaign he was working closely with other Tamil politicians and left leaders in Sri Lanka.

The Chairperson and chief spokesperson of the CMC is Siritunga Jayasuriya, secretary of the United Socialist Party (CWI, Sri Lanka). One of the Sri Lankan papers carried an article last week saying that Siritunga himself is a prime target for the killers.

He is constantly receiving death threats. Friday’s outrageous and provocative high profile killing is obviously aimed at silencing those who speak out against the government and in defence of the Tamil minority.

In an interview given to the London-based Tamil journal, Thesam, in October Nadarajah Raviraj was highly critical of the government for waging war on the Tamil minority and cultivating paramilitary groups which have worked in collusion with the Sri Lankan Army. He also accused the Sinhala chauvinist JVP (People’s Liberation Front) of having blood on their hands.

Those who continue to fight for the rights of the Tamil-speaking population are risking their lives.

Out-and-out communalist sectarian forces are behind the death squads, hoping to restart a full-scale civil war. They are against any peace deal being signed with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. As Siritunga explained on the morning of Raviraj’s killing, "They are trying to destroy the bridges between the North and the South".

No to killings, kidnappings and war!

Recent peace talks in Geneva broke up without any agreement and the three year-old cease-fire has all but broken down. Last Wednesday, Sri Lankan forces shelled a refugee camp in the East, killing 45 Tamil civilians and badly injuring 60 more. (The day before he died, Raviraj was on a protest against this atrocity.) On Thursday and Friday, there were heavy casualties on both sides in fierce sea battles.

Since 1983 the civil war has cost more than 60,000 lives and is draining the country’s economy. The people of Sri Lanka are suffering crippling price rises on basic goods and fuel. In the North, the Tamil population is literally starving because of a block on the supply route from the South.

The mourning ceremony in Colombo for the Tamil National Alliance MP was due to take place next Wednesday. At the request of his family, it has been brought forward to Monday 13 November. A gathering on Friday of the Civil Monitoring Committee and other anti-war activists, agreed to the suggestion from Siritunga of the ceremony in Sri Lanka’s capital taking the form of a mass protest.

A call has gone out for all political parties to attend the ceremony, except the government parties. An appeal is being made for shops, offices and markets to close and approaches are being made to trade unions to organise walk-outs and go to the rally demanding action against the murderers. Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims who participate will be united in saying the situation has gone too far. With this latest killing, the mood is mounting for a united stance against the war as well as against the kidnappings and killings.

The USP will be campaigning even more vigorously, and with great courage in these circumstances, for an end to the government cover-ups, for an end to the war and for the right of Tamil-speaking people to self-determination to be honoured. It will step up the struggle to get the needs of the working and poor people of Sri Lanka - Sinhala and Tamil – fulfilled and to build a socialist force capable of ending capitalism and war.

The Committee for a Workers’ International is urging maximum solidarity to be shown with the USP and the CMC. Massive international pressure is needed to get the Sri Lankan government to take action against the death squads. We carry below the full text of an international appeal made by the broad-based campaigning body known as Citizens for Federal Lanka and also a message of protest sent by New Socialist Alternative, CWI, India.

The country’s president, Mahinda Rajapakse, has spoken against the murder of Raviraj but his government is still shielding the terror gangs. We are calling for an avalanche of protests at the latest outrage to be made world-wide.

If you can telephone directly to his office, please do.

The number is ++ 9411 25429 38 (up to 41).

The e-mail addresse is:

gosl@presidentsl.org

The fax number is:

++94 11 2321404 

Otherwise, bombard your Sri Lankan embassy or consulate with letters, faxes and e-mails.

(Copies or reports of conversations to the USP and the CWI by e-mail if possible: usp@sltnet.lk and cwi@worldsoc.co.uk)

Additional pressure can be exerted by getting articles into newspapers, especially in Sri Lankan communities, and holding public meetings publicising the atrocious situation in the country.

Over the next few days, pickets and protests will be held at consulates and embassies in countries across the globe. Contact the CWI in your country or via our office in London to find out details.

If you can make a donation towards the courageous work of the USP at this time, it would be extremely welcome.

This can be done via ‘Campaign Sri Lanka’ at: Lloyds TSB, Leytonstone Branch, Sort code: 309503 Account number: 00023293.

Appeal from Sri Lanka

Appeal from Sri Lanka. International Protests and Solidarity vitally needed

Dear All,

As you know, there is growing chaos here in Sri Lanka since the advent of the present regime in November 2005, that shows no interest in negotiating a peaceful settlement in concluding the war. The latest victim of this escalating conflict is Jaffna district MP, Nadaraja Raviraj, who was gunned down last Friday. His brutal killing on a highway in Colombo comes after a string of abductions, extra judicial killings, involuntary disappearances and extortions in and around Colombo during the last few months.  

All killings in the high security Colombo city indicate there is complicity between government security forces and paramilitary groups, the government is reluctant to disarm, under the still existing Cease-fire Agreement.  

Therefore there is concern of more brutal killings, abductions and involuntary disappearances of those who campaign in the "South" for a negotiated peace, in time to come.  

We therefore call upon all you comrades, friends and colleagues of Sri Lanka to lodge your strongest protest with HE the President, Mahinda Rajapakse,  

against the brutal killing of MP Nadarajah Raviraj and insist for a totally independent, international investigation into the killing, as there had been absolutely no outcome of any previous investigations on similar killings

against continued free movements of paramilitary groups, despite the fact that the arrest of such a cadre while attempting to collect a ransom from a relative of a businessman in Kotahena, Colombo, proves involvement of paramilitary groups in killings abductions and disappearances. It also proves the government is not concerned about such brutality as the suspect had been released thrice before, after being arrested, due to "pressure from above" and this time on bail

You may lodge your protest with HE the President through

 Fax - ++94 11 2321404         

Phone - ++94 11 25429 38 up to 41 (Temple Trees)

Mobile /handy - ++ 94 777 539955

E-mail: gosl@presidentsl.org  

Do please copy your protest to Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickramasinghe

through his Media Secretary – e-mail – saman4media@sltnet.lk and also

Siritunga Jayasuriya, Chairman, Civil Monitoring Committee on abductions, extra judicial killings and involuntary disappearances – e-mail – usp@sltnet.lk  and to us as well.

If you lodge your protest over the phone/mobile, please do copy a short script of the conversation to all e-mail accounts given above.

Thank you

Citizens for Federal Lanka

Letter of condemnation from New Socialist Alternative, (CWI) India.

The killing of Nadarajah Raviraj the former mayor of Jaffna is a despicable act of cowardice to be condemned by one and all who reject and stand against communalist divisions.

Nadarajah Raviraj was a sitting MP and was known for his views on the ethnic/national question of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. He was accessible to many Southern political activists and fighters for various working people’s struggles and issues. To those who campaign and build for genuine workers’ unity in the Island, he was an honest fighter for the cause that he believed in.

In recent weeks Nadarajah Raviraj was active in the Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC) - a popular initiative organised by the left forces in Sri Lanka against Abductions and Killings which are increasing by the day. The CMC is headed by Siritunga Jayasuriya of the United Socialist Party. This mass initiative threatens many in the establishment and the gangsters they support, because the issue is being taken up on class lines rather than the conspiratorial methods that these gangs themselves adopt.

Being the dominant political question in the island of Sri Lanka, the Tamil National Question and the debate and disasters that surround it, draw in all genuine fighters for change – Sinhala or Tamil. There are brave Sinhala activists that are castigated for their work on campaigns like the CMC by the rightwing Sri Lankan media as ‘Sinhala Tigers’, trying to portray them as terrorists by linking them with the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam and encourage the assassins to target them.

The communalist sectarians are allowed to carry out their murderous campaigns without hindrance. The killing of the likes of Raviraj and other political figures is a ploy, as Siritunga has said, to “destroy the bridges between the South and the North”. They are aimed at silencing opposition to war and to frustrate the initiative of genuine peace with dignity to all.

We condemn the assassination of Nadarajah Raviraj. We demand action to stop any further such killings. We condemn the inaction of the government and its failure to rein in the sectarian chauvinist communalist forces in Sri Lanka. We vehemently protest against the protection by the government of the gangsters who commit these heinous acts of cowardice.

We will continue to support all mobilizations in Sri Lanka with the slogans: Stop the killings! End the war! No to sectarianism! For workers’ unity and socialism!



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NEWS

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CWI Comment and Analysis

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