The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in his Heroes’ Day speech, has warned of an end to the cease-fire and of the ‘Tigers’ renewing their demand for independence.
The Sri Lankan prime minister has made a call for talks to be renewed. The situation remains extremely tense. The people of the north of the island are suffering from acute shortages of food and essential supplies. Every day, killings are taking place, mostly in the North and East, but they are still going on in the south and the capital city, Colombo.
The United Socialist Party has been conducting a widespread protest poster campaign. In big letters they declare that so much is being spent in the government’s budget on war preparations, while everyday commodities are beyond the reach of the majority of the population, that they must be expecting the people to eat bullets!
Last week, the Civil Monitoring Committee issued a statement carried below and reports of the world-wide protests are still coming in.
Pickets, phone calls and protest messages
In Dublin, on the same day as protests were held in seven other capital cities, a picket was held at the house of the Sri Lankan consul. Cillian reports:
“On Wednesday 15 November, fifteen members of the Socialist Party held a protest outside the consulate of the ‘Democratic Socialist Republic’ of Sri Lanka in Dublin. The pouring rain did not deter us from registering our opposition to the recent murder of prominent Tamil MP, Nadarajah Raviraj and the recent threats against CWI member Siri Jayasuriya. At the end of the protest we handed in a letter of protest on behalf of Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins.
“Members of the Socialist Party have been energetically raising the case of the murder of Nadarajah Raviraj within the wider labour movement in Ireland. Last week Denis Farrell, deputy general secretary of BATU (Building & Allied Trade Union), the main union representing building workers in Ireland, sent a letter of protest to the Sri Lankan government. Both he and Joe Higgins received a reply from the consulate in Dublin telling them that their communication had been referred to the Embassy in London.
“The Socialist Party will continue to mount political pressure on the Sri Lankan government to end all sectarian attacks and killings of activists in Sri Lanka.”
In Australia, Socialist Party members, including Yarra City Councillor, Steve Jolly, telephoned and wrote to the Australian High Commissioner. In response they got nothing but vacuous comments and pages of official propaganda from a Mr.Asoka Girihagama, Deputy High Commissioner. Just one paragraph indicates the exclusive and bureaucratic measures being taken by the government, not to expose but to cover up the murders and killings taking place.
“An International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) will also be appointed by the President to observe the investigations and inquiries conducted by the Commission of Inquiry, with the view to satisfying interested parties including the next-of-kin and the international community that such investigations and inquiries of the Commission are being conducted in a transparent manner and in accordance with internationally recognized norms and standards….etc. etc…”
In Sweden, a reply was sent to an Umea RS member, Advis, after his phone call to the Sri Lankan ambassy in Stockholm. It shows that they are feeling the pressure and that they have to respond. In this case they simply referred Advis to an article on the web-site: www.peaceinsrilanka.org headed “Scotland Yard to Investigate on Jaffna MP’s Killing”. The article carries the following quite amazing paragraph:
“The President (Rajapakse) said that this assassination of Mr.Raviraj shows every indication of being a deliberate and well planned attempt to bring the country and the Government in to disrepute; it was also a serious move to create obstacles to the efforts being made to bring about better understanding among the different communities in the country, in the search for peace and harmony.”
Protests from Kashmir and Portugal
Toqeer Gilani, on behalf of CWI-Kashmir sent a stong protest to the Sri Lankan president saying: “The brutal killing of former mayor of Jaffna and Tamil MP Nadarjah Raviraj is a condemnable act. It shows how unsafe is the life of common people and of those who want an end to decades-long terrorism and human rights violations if a well known politician and MP is not safe in Sri Lanka. He was a prominent voice of down-trodden and violated people in Sri Lanka. He was an honest and brave fighter who spent his life for the cause of workers, poor masses and a man who was really busy to find solution of the national question of Tamils…
“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!”
Another angry protest was sent by Francisco Raposo, a leader of the Lisbon Council Workers’ Union, Portugal and member of the National Table of the Left Bloc, in a personal capacity. “…Apparently, death squads are free in Sri Lanka to kidnap and kill. They already killed a countless number of Tamils, activists and those who reject a civil war that only brings more poverty for all the people in Sri Lanka, be they Tamil or others…
“It’s urgent that an independent investigation is set up into the murders of Raviraj and other activists and civilians.
“It’s urgent to stop the free movement of paramilitary groups in Sri Lanka.
”It’s urgent to stop the abuses against the Tamil-minority. The Tamil people have a right to food, housing, healthcare, electricity, water, and other items necessary for a decent life.
“People have the right to self-determination, to determine the social, economic, and political aspects of their lives. The Tamil people have the right to determine who politically represents them. Since your government has refused to take action against these sectarian death squads, I believe it should be held responsible for the death of Nadarajah Raviraj. I will campaign for this among Portuguese Unions and working class.”
Keep up the pressure!
Please follow these examples and continue to contact the numbers and e-mails given in previous articles on this site. If you can reach Sri Lankan workers and young people in your country, please raise this issue with them. Meetings can be organised and fund-raising pursued in order to build support for the United Socialist Party in its courageous and unstinting campaigning work.
Joint Media Release
Threats on lives of those with dissenting voices – a responsibility of government
His Excellency the President has been revelling in celebrations on the first anniversary of his being sworn in as President of Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile death threats are made against two political colleagues of the murdered Jaffna district Tamil National Alliance MP, Nadarajah Raviraj who worked with him in the Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC) on abductions, extra–judicial killings, involuntary disappearances and extortions. They are the Chairman of the CMC, Siritunga Jayasuriya, who was the presidential candidate last year for the USP and Colombo District MP, Mano Ganesan, who is leader of the Western People’s Front.
Mano Ganesan was informed of threats to his life by Deputy Inspector General of police Pujitha Jayasundara and later felt compelled to seek temporary refuge in India. Thereafter media reports confirmed death threats on Shakthi television journalist, J. Sri Ranga, for having taken up the issue of MP Raviraj’s killing in his weekly “Minnal” programme. Again it had been the D.I.G., Pujitha Jayasundara, who had passed on the information.
It is most unfortunate that this government of President Rajapakse could live with such anarchy after promising the people it would bring about an honourable peace for one and all. Raviraj’s death is not just one accident, but one in a spate of selected killings by armed men who could move about quite freely. This was the case even in high security Colombo and its suburbs. They enjoy this privilege since the new president ascended to power on Sinhala racist emotions.
There are serious allegations of complicity between the government security forces operating in the East and a notorious para-military group. The arrest of a para-military cadre in Kotahena, on charges of abductions and extortions, provided direct evidence that pointed to such complicity. In fact it was revealed he was either linked to, or was operating from, a safe house in Battaramulla area. Also, this same cadre had been released twice before on “orders from above”, as the catch-phrase goes.
This is the background to MP Raviraj’s death and the threats to the lives of other selected persons who work towards peace and human rights. Siritunga Jayasuriya, Mano Ganesan and journalist Ranga Shri Lal may not be the only targets of this sinister political under world. Thus it is shocking to hear, a top police officer passing information and warning about death threats to persons as if he is doing a personal favour. It is good to have information, but it is another to know that the government does nothing, unless the person concerned approaches the highest political authorities.
Providing security to those whose lives are threatened becomes a source of extortion, with intermediaries facilitating contacts. It is due to this irresponsible attitude and behaviour of the government that MP Raviraj had to die and MP Ganesan had to leave the country.
We clearly say the government should take total responsibility for all abductions, involuntary disappearances and killings to date and for all that may happen in the future. We also demand that the government seriously intervene in stopping all these tragedies, and that we take no excuses for their inability.
We also say this is a very uncertain situation which is being deliberately engineered. We call upon all serious political and human rights campaigners to demand a stop to all abductions, extra–judicial killings, involuntary disappearances and extortions. Demand loud and clear that all para-military groups be disbanded immediately and call upon the government to direct its one-man Commission on Abductions to sit with all human rights, peace and other citizens’ groups to insure information is given on the outcome of its investigations.