The United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka) has responded with great courage to the attack on their motor cycle march on Saturday. (See report). Below is film carried in the media in Sri Lanka. It is in the Sinhala language but gives a graphic idea of what happened.
USP secretary, Siritunga Jayasuriya, reported that he and his comrades were standing their ground. “Suddenly a policeman came up to us and said ‘thugs are coming, get out of their way!’. Then I saw the monks arriving in three-wheelers and running towards us. We stopped still and I tried to speak to one of them, addressing him as ‘Father’ – as is accepted in this country. He simply started shouting: ‘Where were you at the time of the war? We won the war! etc.’ We said that while they were hiding, ’we were on the streets - fighting for peace and against the war’. Then they started slapping and hitting us. Our comrade Dhammika was hit, and Piyaratna and the lawyer comrade, Srinath Perera…”.
Some comrades of the USP had to be treated in hospital. Fortunately, the injuries were relatively minor compared with what might have happened, given the nature of the thugs who attacked. The police themselves were very friendly to the USP leaders but apologised that they were not able to stop the attack. They undoubtedly had orders from higher authorities – the clique in the Rajapakse government who spawn these communalist forces for their own protection.
The USP comrades said that the response along the way from local onlookers was extremely warm. Led by a traditional Tamil drummer and horn-player, they were greeted with garlands, food and drink. Before the march, the USP had received hundreds of thousands of rupees in donations from well-wishers.
Far from retreating in the face of this violent attack, with the support of other organisations and individuals, the USP will step up their campaigning work.
They have received high praise and solidarity from other left organisations like the Frontline Socialist Party and the Nava Sama Samaja Party and its leader, Vikramabahu Karunaratne. The USP comrades are still receiving hundreds of phone calls giving praise and support. One such was from Vasudeva Nanayakkara, a member of the current UPFA government who expressed concern for the injuries and damage sustained by the comrades of the USP. He commented that the party had “reached a new high point in Sri Lankan politics for its courage in fighting racism”.
The USP press statement is carried below.
From the Committee for a Workers’ International
We condemn the vicious physical attack on the ’Socialist Peace March against Racism and Communalism’ last Saturday, 26 July, as it attempted to proceed along the road past the Stupa and Buddhist temple at Kalutara.
We believe your government is responsible for allowing the forces who organised this attack to act with impunity. We demand that you end your promotion and support for any form of communalism and racism against all Tamil-speaking people and Muslims in Sri Lanka. We also demand that you ensure adequate legal and material compensation to those who suffered injury and loss in this attack.
We will continue to support those forces around the United Socialist Party who are fighting for an end to dictatorship and poverty in your country – ironically known as the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
We are for an end to all forms of communalism and for the right of all sections of society to exercise full democratic rights without fear of discrimination, attack or persecution.
The USP needs considerable help with lawyers, with repairs to vehicles damaged in the attack and with financing their vital campaigning work. The party’s three-wheeler vehicle - the symbol of the USP in elections and essential to its work – had to be towed back to Colombo and will require considerable expenditure to get it back on the road. Owners of the many motor bikes on the ‘march’ will need help with some repairs. The party is also forced to take additional measures to defend its premises and its full-timers as they continue their work in fighting for political and democratic freedoms and for basic socialist ideas.
Financial contributions can be sent via this web-site. They should be clearly marked ‘Motor Cycle March Attack’. The amounts and names of donors will be communicated to the USP immediately.
Many thanks in advance on behalf of the comrades of the USP.
Press Statement from United Socialist Party
28 July 2014
Build a Left and Trade Union Platform against Racism
Siritunga Jayasuriya, General Secretary, United Socialist Party
The United Socialist Party wishes to thank all those Left Parties, Trade Unions and individuals who extended solidarity to us at the time of the launch of our initiative ’Socialist Peace March against Racism and Communalism’. We also thank all left parties who organised the press conference to condemn the brutal attack on the USP motor cycle march on 26th July. And USP is grateful to all those who showed sympathy and support to us after we were attacked and ambushed by the ‘Sinhala Rawaya’ and other extremist thugs in Buddhist religious robes.
The march organised by the USP was to highlight the growing tendency of racism and religious fundamentalism in our country. The communalists who advocate majoritarianism are hounding the religious and ethnic minorities, causing enormous damage to the unity of the people in this country. The USP, through this initiative of a peace march, was attempting to spread the message of unity against oppression across the country including in the villages
We the Socialists and Left forces, irrespective of the party flag and identities, stand for a society where all religions, languages and ethnic minorities can live in harmony with full dignity as equals. Hence to decry the growing attacks both physical and ideological on these values of our society, we the USP launched the initiative - marching against racism through a Motor Cycle Rally to Aluthgama-Dharga town from Colombo-Narahenpita.
Though it was symbolic, we wanted to send a message of confidence to the most vulnerable sections in our society that there are forces in this country to defend their interests. But the communalists and racists such as Bodu Bala Sena, Ravan Balaya and others cannot stomach this move for unity. They want to play the cancerous politics of sectarianism, and further push this country towards a bloodbath by their murderous activities.
We condemn the gruesome attack on the initiative of the ’Socialist Peace March against Racism and Communalism’. We feel it is a challenge that has to be met by all of us on the left. ’An Injury to One is an Injury to All’ and we are calling upon the left in general, Trade Unions, Socialist Parties, Groups (big and small), to come together along with other progressive campaigning organisations in our society to form a united platform under the banner of ’Lefts and Socialists against Racism in Sri Lanka’. In this way we can take on the challenge posed by the communalists and religious fundamentalists in this country.