Call for united action now
Since the so-called peace process collapsed this year, heavy fighting has resumed between the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and the Sri Lankan Army. An air attack on 22 October on Anurathapura air base by the LTTE was hailed in the North. Similarly, the 2 November killing of a leading LTTE member, Tamilchelvan, was celebrated by the Singala chauvinist government as a major victory.
“We condemn both,” said Siritunga Jayasuria, secretary of the United Socialist Party – the CWI section in Sri Lanka in an interview given to us on 5 November. “We call upon Tamils to unite with the left forces to fight against the communal Sri Lankan government”.
The USP has called for an immediate return to peace negotiations. For socialists having elected representatives of working and poor people at the talks is vital to achieve a lasting solution.
Siri is also chairman of the Civil Monitoring Committee, set up to counter a wave of killings and kidnappings of mostly Tamil people that have been a feature of the latest stage in the twenty year civil war.
“War cannot bring victory,” said Siri. He condemned the recent killings and the celebration of killings on either side, emphasising the urgent need for peace. “What the poor masses and workers of Sri Lanka want now is peace. We cannot bring about peace by killing each other. Peace is essential for the working class, for the poor farmers and fishermen of the country. War cannot bring victory for anyone.”
“The Sri Lankan government is targeting Pirabakaran, the LTTE leader, arguing that killing him will solve the problem. Killing one or two people or leaders is not going to solve the problem. The Sri Lankan government does not understand this. In the past, Sri Lankan President Premadasa and Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi were killed and it brought no solution to anyone”.
In the run-up to Pirabakaran’s Martyrs’ Day speech, to be delivered on 27 November, the Sri Lankan government has increased its security. “The country looks like the army has taken over control! Check-posts and security everywhere”, Siri reported.
“The government is also trying to attack democratic rights and the free press,” said Siri. “On 29 October this year the government introduced a new order or Gazette notification banning the publication of information about the war, details of the occupied territory or details of weapons purchases. This notification was signed by the president.”
“On the very next day we had a meeting to organise a countrywide campaign against it”, said Siri. “Having seen the opposition mounting, the government withdrew its notification. It is only a temporary withdrawal. The Sri Lankan government is waiting for the right time to reintroduce it. However there has been a clampdown on the free press already. This year alone, at least twelve journalists have been killed, three newspapers have been closed and five radio channels have been banned.”
Siri pointed out, “It’s the Tamil journalists who suffer most. Among the five radio stations shut down, two of them were major Tamil radio stations. Tamil journalists get arrested and held overnight on a regular basis. On 4th of November, two reporters on the Tamil paper, Veerakesary, were arrested and released next day morning. The editor of a new website, Ethalaya.com, was shot and wounded recently. The government of Sri Lanka has intensified its intimidation on the press and trade unions. They have taken big steps towards further undermining the democracy of the country”.
“Meanwhile the situation in the east of the country has not changed. If anything it is worse. One significant feature of the recent violence has been the alliance with the government of the dissident LTTE split-off, the Karuna group. This has strengthened the Sri Lankan government. Now, regardless of the news of Karuna’s arrest in London, allegedly for travelling with a false passport, the faction is continuing its activities as normal in the east. They are now virtually in control. Tamils who go to a police station in the east have been sent to the Karuna faction’s offices. They have nowhere else to go,” said Siri.
The capitalist governments that keep coming to power in the south will not solve any problem. They make the life of the Tamil and poor Singala masses a misery. The only way to end the continuing destruction is for the Tamil and Singala working class and poor people to fight alongside each other against the bosses, the landowners and the bankers. Changing society along socialist lines, with democratic planning and control by elected workers’ and poor people’s representatives, and a linking up across borders, would see the end of chauvinism, national oppression and war for ever.