Protest letters continue to bombard the office of the president of Sri Lanka following the brutal gangster attack on an anti-war meeting in Colombo.
World-wide protest at government’s thug methods
The man who led that attack – deputy minister, Mervyn da Silva – was also seen, less than two weeks later, provocatively organising a counter-demonstration against journalists, again accompanied by more than 100 gangsters.
In the last few days, in cities as far a-field as Melbourne and Stockholm, protesters at Sri Lankan consulates have been demanding the sacking of this minister. They have been given the line that government changes taking place at the moment will transform the political situation in the country. But not a mention of disciplinary action or removal from office of Deputy Minister da Silva!
Nineteen opposition MPs have crossed the floor of parliament to take positions in the government. This could give the green light to president Rajapakse to pursue full-scale war. Ironically, the pro-war, Sinhala chauvinist JVP (People’s Liberation Front) has come out against the government and will hold a 24 hour protest general strike this Friday (2 February). If the recent breaking up of workers’ demonstrations and the banning of many strikes are anything to go by, things could get violent on that day.
Campaigns to stop the war-mongering must be stepped up. A new ‘Human Rights Watch’ report repeats the allegations made by a UN mission last year that the government is involved in the recruitment of child soldiers with the aid of a ‘renegade leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Colonel ‘Karuna’. (See press reports of 26 January, 2007).
These practices must be stopped and the daily kidnappings, killings and harassment of Tamils in the North and in the South. The campaigning work – nationally and internationally – must reach a new level for the abolition of the repressive dictatorial powers taken on by the president and his clique under the guise of the ‘Prevention of Terrorism’.
Pickets and protests
On Saturday 27 January, around 15 Socialist Party members and supporters gathered at the home of the Sri Lankan consular representative, Rodney Arambewela, in Melbourne to demonstrate against the assassination threats to Siri Jayasuriya. Rodney is of course also a staunch supporter of the Sri Lankan Government.
While SP members were putting up posters in the street and ‘letter-boxing’ all the houses nearby, informing them of what their neighbour is doing, Rodney himself arrived home from a game of tennis. He was greeted at his driveway by Councillor Stephen Jolly who informed him why we were there and appealed to him to add his voice to condemn the threats facing Siritunga and the USP. Stephen informed him of the phone calls that Siri had received from Australian numbers informing him that he would be assassinated if he continued to fight against war in Sri Lanka and to fight for the right to self-determination for the Tamil minority.
As expected, Rodney returned into his home and called the police. One officer pretended to be interested in discussing the situation – by disappearing inside Rodney’s home and then leaving!
SP members made speeches and let it be known that if the threats continued we would also continue to protest at the Consul’s house and at other places which represent the Sri Lankan Government.
"Stop the violence in Sri Lanka"
Protest outside embassy in Stockholm.
"Sri Lanka – Stop the war!". That was one of the chants outside the Sri Lankan embassy in Stockholm on 29 January. The protest was organised as part of the international campaign against threats against peace activists and socialists in Sri Lanka.
Two representatives of the protest went inside the embassy to stress our concern. For the second time in a few months, we met with Sunil Premaratna, second secretary of the embassy. As a sign of a possible change in Sri Lanka, he told us about three new parties joining the government today – the UNP, the Muslim League and a Tamil Plantation workers’ leader. He declined to answer whether this would weaken the influence of the JVP and the JHU on the government. Instead, he said the both those parties were still in negotiations for ministerial posts.
On the minister organising the mob attacking the peace rally 9 January, Mervyn da Silva, the embassy’s spokesperson said that no action has been taken, but an investigation is still going on.
The staff at the embassy was particularly stressing that they did not like our protest outside the building, but we told them we’ll be back soon if the danger’s to our comrades’ lives continue.
Outside the Stokholm embassy
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