The campaign against repression and war in Sri Lanka has gathered even more momentum.
In the few days before Siritunga Jayasuriya successfully returned to Sri Lanka, many protests were made.
From Malaysia and Nigeria
Last Friday the Socialist Party of Malaysia sent an official protest to the Sri Lankan government under the heading: ‘Stop Chauvinist Attacks against Anti-war Activists!’
It condemned “the recent racist mob attack against United People’s Movement (UPM), led by Mervin da Silva, Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Labour…on 9 January 2007 at Super Market Square in Nugegoda, when Mervin and his armed thugs disturbed a public event organized by UPM, and assaulted journalists who were present at the site to cover the event…”
The letter, signed by Choo Chon Kai of the PSM’s International Bureau finished by underlining that the Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapakse, “Must hold responsibility for displacement over 200 000 people by war in a year, denial of basic human requirement of 600 000 people from the minorities, nearly 5000 who have been killed within a year and nearly 2000 who have been made to disappear. Only a just, democratic and peaceful resolution, can put an end to this on-going genocidal war.”
The Democratic Socialist Movement of Nigeria has also sent an angry letter to President Rajapakse, making reference to the death threats accompanying a gallery of 22 portraits of activists and well known opposition personalities, Siritunga of the USP (CWI Sri Lanka) central among them. The letter signed by the General Secretary, Segun Sango, calls on the government to, “Leash its mad dogs!” and finishes by saying: “Here in Nigeria, we have resolved to embark on a consistent campaign against the repressive laws and actions of the Sri Lankan government and its henchmen, against the poverty inflicted upon the poor people of Sri Lanka and in support of the call for working class unity across all the ethnic and religious divides, and an end to the civil war.”
Austria and Israel
The Sozialistische Links Partei (CWI, Austria) was able to get a 30 min radio programme concerning Sri Lanka on an alternative radio channel last Friday evening (26 January). On 30 January, they handed in to the first secretary of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Vienna, Ransiri Perera, a protest resolution with a good number of signatures on it. “He still tried to be friendly,” writes SLP’s secretary, Sonja Grusch, “But he was much less so than last time. He tried to convince us that we should have a ‘more balanced’ point of View! He said he has no information about the involvement of da Silva in the attacks (on the rally at Nugegoda, reported on socialistworld.net on 10 January). But he said if it is true then this has to be criticised.”
CWI comrades in Israel wrote to say that they will have special activities on this issue all next week, in which they will be offering people a “ready-made” protest letter. They will also have a protest in front of the Sri Lanka embassy in Tel-Aviv.
Other important news
From Sweden we have received a translation of the Riksdag (parliamentary) question from the Green MP, Ulf Holm, to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. It is not clear yet what day it will be debated in the Riksdag but it reads:
To Foreign Minister Carl Bildt
Peace activists in Sri Lanka death threatened
The situation in Sri Lanka has worsened again. In 2006 at least 3,800 persons were killed and tens of thousands are fleeing their homes. Several attempts to mediate have been made during the now 35 year old conflict, also internationally, and initiatives have been taken by among others peace activists in the country to establish peace. Not only soldiers but also many civilians and peace activists have been murdered. Siritunga Jayasuriya, who is the chairperson of the Civic Monitoring Committee, of which a Tamil MP in the committee has been murdered, and the new United Peoples Movement, including strong Singhalese and Tamil activists and MPs aiming to mobilise broadly against the threat of war, has received more than 20 threats to his life and been listed on a death list together with several others recently. The situation seems to be stepped up and Sri Lanka faces a big civil war if nothing is done.
I therefore want to ask the Foreign Minister which initiative the minister will take against the background of death threats against peace activists and escalating conflicts in Sri Lanka?
Ulf Holm, Green Party
To date, two members of the German parliament have agreed to send protest letters. Four members of the National Executive of the WASG, along with many activists and supporters of SAV (CWI, Germany) have already done so.
“We have organised lobbies outside the embassy or consulate in three cities – Berlin, Bonn and Leipzig (see report below). We have received 170 Euros in donations so far and got one article in a national newspaper (Neues Deutschland).
“Today, February 1st, the foreign minister of Sri Lanka is visiting Berlin. We were able to get the mobile phone number of the German foreign minister who is attending the visit the whole time (so our comrades are phoning her all the time!)
“We are still asking everyone, including the WASG NEC meeting this weekend, to continue with letters, phone calls etc.”
Protest lobby at Consulate in Leipzig, Germany
On January 31, we met in front of the consulate of Sri Lanka in Leipzig. We were protesting against the war against the Tamil people, the repression and attacks on Tamil and socialist opposition and the constant threats against leaders of the opposition like Siritunga Jayasuriya, chairman of the United People’s Movement. We kept our banner and plackards with us – saying "Stop the war and terror of the government!", "Sinhalese and Tamils together against war and poverty!", "For workers’ unity and socialism worldwide!" or "Hands off UPM and Siritunga Jayasuriya!".
The consulate is situated at the edge of town. Nevertheless, the people working in the business centre where the consulate is located followed our slogans and short speeches from the windows. Moreover, we were really noisy!
At the end of our lobby the Honorary Consul, Dr. Dirk Lutz Büscher, came out. We handed him in our demands and our protest letter with 63 supporting signatures. Dr. Büscher told us that the situation is really difficult and that one would have to analyse the situation carefully. We were very displeased with these commonplaces. We asked him concretely about the attack on the UPM rally of January 9th. We demanded the immediate sacking of Mervyn Silva, deputy minister of the government who lead the raid against this demonstration. We put it very clearly that the government of president Rajapakse is responsible for any further attacks.
Dr. Büscher did not deny the attacks, but said he has not been fully informed. He promised to hand in the protest letter and the signatures to the state secretary of Sri Lanka who will be on a visit in Germany for the next two days.
We promised to keep a close look on the situation in Sri Lanka. If necessary we will be back and organise even stronger solidarity actions. Long live international solidarity!
Ingmar, SAV, Leipzig
Sri Lanka Solidarity Campaigners in Leipzig
A report of the London lobbies is carried separately and a report of the Belgian protest, being translated for this site, can be seen, with pictures, on the LSP/MAS web-site: http://www.lsp-mas.be/lsp .