Protests outside embassies and consulates.
Previous report: Government blamed for violent attack on anti-war rally organisers and a report from Ireland.
International protests follow vicious attack at anti-war rally
- End attacks on anti-war fighters!
- Fight for democratic freedoms!
- Support the struggle of workers and poor people in the face of rampant inflation!
Since the vicious attack on the anti-war rally at Nugegoda, Colombo on January 9 protests at embassies and consulates have been held in London, Berlin, Bonn, Dublin, and Melbourne. Further pickets are being held this week including in Sweden, Britain, France and Belgium.
Hundreds of signatures have been collected for the protest resolution carried on our web-site of 15 January.
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (Member of Parliament) heads the list and three MPs in Britain have added their names – Dai Davies, Alan Simpson and John McDonnell. John, who is standing for leadership of the Labour Party, has put down an ‘Early Day Motion’ to the British parliament complaining about the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka.
In Sweden, ‘Left’ and ‘Green’ MPs who are members of the Riksdagen’s (Swedish parliament´s) foreign policy committee – Hans Linde and Kalle Larsson – are planning to support the campaign by means of raising a “simple question” to the Swedish Foreign Secretary, Carl Bildt. Another, Ulf Holm, is signing an ‘open letter’ or ‘debate article’ for use in the Swedish press.
Progress is being made in canvassing the support of parliamentarians close to the Foreign Ministry in Norway which is extremely important, given the role of Norwegian diplomats as ‘arbitrators’ in the ‘peace process’ between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. They say they are “well updated” on the attack on the UPM rally, but are grateful for our information in English. Next week they are going through all human rights violations before meeting the Sri Lankan Government for talks. Contact is also being made with members of the European Parliament and this can be tried in every European Union country.
Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne, Members of the Scottish Parliament responded without hesitation to appeals for their backing. They know of the huge risks being taken by Siritunga Jayasuriya in standing out as the main left and anti-chauvinist spokesperson. He is featured on a number of death lists circulating on the internet and elsewhere. (One of them, with 22 colour photos of ‘traitors’ to the motherland who should be eliminated includes Siri prominently – surrounded by anti-war figures – film stars, opposition leaders and leaders of small left parties.)
The voice of Siri and the United Socialist Party is one of the very few being raised against the government at the present time and on behalf of the working and poor people of the island, faced with dire inflation and, in the North where roads are blocked, starvation. This voice must not be silenced! Socialists and activists world-wide must step up the action to prevent Siri or any of his comrades and colleagues being arrested or worse.
An article on the situation in Sri Lanka, stressing the danger to activists and media personnel, is being carried in the Swedish Journalists’ Newspaper. The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Jeremy Deer, is backing the campaign in Britain. So are prominent members of trade unions like the PCS (including the Chair and Assistant Secretary), Unison, National Union of Teachers, Communication Workers’ Union, the Lecturers’ Union (UCU), the Rail and Maritime Union, Amicus, NAPO, etc.
Shop stewards and elected workers’ representatives in numerous workplaces, when they hear what is happening in Sri Lanka, get angry and are keen to sign the letters of protest. Socialist Party Regional Secretaries are devoting time to the campaign as well as adding their signatures.
Alec Thraves, Regional Secretary for the Socialist Party in Wales wrote to the Sri Lankan Consulate:
“I represent 20,000 trade unionists in the City of Swansea in the UK and was alarmed to learn of the attempted murder of comrade Siritunga Jayasuriya and other United People’s Movement supporters on January 9th by an armed gang of thugs led by one of your Deputy Ministers.
Many of our members have a close affinity to the working class of Sri Lanka which was shown in the amount of cash we raised to support the victims of the tsunami.
In particular many of our trade union members have had a long and close relationship with Siri(tunga J.) and supported him over 25 years in his numerous campaigns attempting to unite the working class of Sri Lanka and to oppose the terrorist methods of the Tigers.
We demand you take immediate action to stop theses attacks on anti-war activists and socialists. I will be informing our trade union affiliates of these outrageous developments and urge them to protest and keep a close eye on events in your country.
If any harm comes to Siri or any of his comrades then we will denounce yourself and your government throughout the Labour and Trade Union movement in the UK. Act now and stop these murderous thugs!
Sincerely, Alec Thraves
Executive Member, Swansea Trades Union Council, Wales, UK.
The CWI’s elected councillors around the world – in Sweden, Germany, England and Wales, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia – are signing the protest letter. Forceful letters from two of the Socialist Party’s councillors in southern Ireland are carried in a separate report. In Australia, Greens Senator Kerrie Nettle and Democrat leader, Lyn Alison have given support and Yarraa Councillor Steve Jolly wrote:
Dear President Mahinda Rajapakse
I write to protest the behaviour of a Deputy Minister of your government, Marvin da Silva. The BBC and many other media sources have reported on his leadership of a group of thugs who disrupted a public rally in Colombo earlier this month and injured many innocent people in the process.
I am also concerned about threats made to the life of United Socialist Party leader, Siritunga Jayasuriya, by Mr da Silva and his cronies. Siri undertook a successful speaking tour visit of Australia several years ago. Many Australians are deeply concerned about such threats to Siri’s well being and will act decisively if anything happens to him.
My party, the Socialist Party, will be undertaking further actions and lobbying during the next few days on this issue.
I ask you to reply to this correspondence and to ensure Siri and his co-thinkers are protected.
Councillor Stephen Jolly
Many union branch secretaries and shop stewards in different countries are backing the Sri Lanka protests and the Cypriot-Kurdish Friendship Association and the Youth against Nationalism in Cyprus have written to the Sri Lankan president with their protests. In England and Wales, the national coordinators of the International Socialist Resistance, Youth against Racism and Socialist Students sent off protests as did Choo Chon Kai for the International Bureau of the Socialist Party of Malaysia.
News of more forms of protest and of the mounting support for the campaign will be carried regularly on socialistworld.net.