Letters of strong protest from two of Ireland’s Socialist Party councillors:
Back to main report: International protests follow vicious attack at anti-war rally
Ireland – Socialists demand action against thugs
Mick Murphy, South Dublin County Councillor:
I was appalled to learn that over 100 thugs lead by a Minister in your Government (Mervyn da Silva), were involved with breaking up a protest (Nazi style) that was due to start from Nugegoda junction in Colombo on January 9th.
As a Politician who comes from a Country that has been racked by sectarian violence for decades, I am acutely aware that rallies that bring people together from the different groups is the way to avoid further bloodshed and eventually lead to a solution.
Only people who want to carry on the division and violence want to see Rally’s such as this stopped.
It is also clear that had this mob got their hands on some of the leaders, they would have killed them.
As someone who is a member of a Party who sent funds to Sri Lanka after the Tsunami and who has a genuine interest in the development of that Country, I cannot express enough my disgust at hearing of this event.
I will be paying close attention to developments and will support in any way I can efforts to ensure that Protests Events such as this are both supported and carried out safely in the future and that its leaders are safe.
Mick Barry, Cork city councillor, wrote:
I am a Socialist Party councillor in Cork city, the second city in the Republic of Ireland.
I have learned with disgust that a Minister in your Government (Deputy Minister of Labour Mervyn Silva) led a gang of more than 100 thugs in attacking a peaceful protest at Nugegoda Super Market Square, Colombo, on January 9 last.
I am aware of the fact that this peaceful protest was organised by the United Peoples Movement against war, repressive laws and poverty; that this movement has nothing to do with organisations that support terror tactics; and that this peaceful gathering was due to be addressed by parliamentarians.
President Rajapakse – are you prepared to defend this disgraceful action? If not, then you must remove this man from your Government immediately.
Furthermore, your Government must stop its attacks on the civil rights of Sri Lankan citizens and stop the death threats which are being made to anti-Government campaigners.
In this regard I must especially mention Mr Siri Jayasuriya, a man much respected by many activists in the Irish labour movement. If any harm comes to this man your Government will be held responsible and will face loud and sustained accusations and protests right around the world.
Last Wednesday members of the Socialist Party once again picketed the Sri Lankan consulate in Dublin to protest against the repression of socialists and anti-sectarian activists in Sri Lanka. We handed in the following letter to the consulate to register our opposition. Members of the Socialist Party in Ireland will continue to highlight this disgraceful attack on the democratic rights of these activists through the position of our public representatives and within the wider labour movement.
Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka to Ireland, Aelred Samarakoon
On behalf of the Socialist Party and Member of Parliament (TD) Joe Higgins, we wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued harassment of anti-communalist and anti-war activists in Sri Lanka. Last November, members of the Socialist Party handed in a letter addressed to you at the Sri Lankan Consulate condemning the murder of Tamil National Alliance MP Nadarajah Raviraj. We are greatly angered that, because of the actions of Deputy Minister of Labour Mervyn da Silva we are forced to repeat our protests.
Last week, this minister – a minister in President Rajapakse’s government – led a group of 100 hundred armed thugs to attack a peaceful rally organised by the newly formed United Peoples’ Movement. To our knowledge, journalists and activists were brutally assaulted and United Socialist Party general secretary Siritunga Jayasuriya barely escaped with his life, having been identified by Da Silva’s thugs. We once again demand that your government ends its harassment of socialist, anti-war and human rights activists and ask you to relay our protests in the strongest possible manner to President Rajapakse. We call for an end to the repression of the Tamil-speaking minority and demand that Da Silva the thug is removed from his position.
We are not prepared to sit idly by and allow brave and principled activists like Siritunga Jayasuriya be threatened and repressed by your government. We intend now to raise this issue in the Irish trade union movement and in the Irish media to publicise what the Sri Lankan state is sponsoring in these recent attacks. We also intend to pressurise the Irish government to raise this issue in the wider international community.
On behalf of the Socialist Party