The four-year long cease-fire in Sri Lanka’s civil war is on the verge of collapse.
In the past seven weeks more than 100 people have been killed, most of them members of Sri Lanka’s armed forces. But last weekend, in the most serious development yet, according to unconfirmed reports, 28 cadres of the LTTE (Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam) were killed in a bomb attack deep inside Tiger held territory.
On Monday, when two key figures for renewing peace talks were arriving in the capital, Colombo, three more soldiers were killed and two injured by a claymore mine on a road near Batticaloa in the East. This week could now prove decisive as to whether full-scale war is resumed. It is inherent in the escalating tensions and hostilities that have followed the election last November of Mahinda Rajapakse as president.
Rajapakse was backed by Sinhala chauvinist forces. They want no talks to take place that even consider granting an element of autonomy to the North and East of the island, let alone self-determination. They have opposed the demand of the LTTE for talks to take place in Europe and oppose the role of Norway’s development minister, Erik Solheim, as an intermediary to get the talks re-started. But now both Solheim and the veteran LTTE leader, Anton Balasingham, who lives in London, have arrived in the country for talks later in the week.
"One good sign in an otherwise grim situation," said Siritunga Jayasuriya of the United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka),"Is that Balasingham was given a Sri Lankan government helicopter and a Norwegian escort to the North on his way to visit the LTTE headquarters in the Vanni jungle. Big pressure has been put on Rajapakse by Sri Lanka’s ‘sponsors’. US imperialism and other capitalist governments want peace here so that they can carry on their trade and business at our expense."
When Siritunga Jayasuriya for the USP came third in the presidential election, he had the chance of speaking on live television immediately after the new president. He warned Rajapakse about the forces he had unleashed which threaten the lives and security of the island’s Tamil-speaking people. He vowed that, once workers and young people saw that Rajapakse had broken his promises of a better future, the USP would be mobilising them onto the streets in mass protests against his government.
Since the election, Tamil-speaking people in Colombo and elsewhere, have been subjected to daily police round-ups and detentions. Thousands have been fleeing their homes for areas beyond the control of the Sri Lankan state. Thousands have joined a new exodus to India for safety, knowing that a renewal of the fighting will lead to very heavy loss of life and destruction in the LTTE held areas of the North and East. The USP has been supporting all demonstrations of Tamil-speaking people against harassment and have got wide publicity for their stand.
A broad movement against the resumption of the war is developing and the USP is fully involved. "We are calling for the trade unions and all left forces to come together to create one single voice of protest", said Siritunga Jayasuriya today. "We will pursue the struggle with utmost vigour for a socialist alternative to capitalism, war and national oppression."