APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY-Siritunga Jayasuriya

 click here to find out wht you can do – Not a rupee, not a bullet for the war-mongering Rajapakse regime!

It is a human tragedy that is now unfolding in the Wanni region of Sri Lanka. The Rajapaksa government claims it has captured all the land and driven the last of the Liberation ‘Tiger’ cadres into a 20 sq. km. stretch declared as a “no fire zone”. The numbers of civilians caught in this conflict vary with the Sri Lankan Army’s Commander putting the numbers at 60,000 while international agencies estimate around 130,000 to 150,000 civilians in there.

It is said by United Nations agencies and by other international agencies that around 50 to 70 persons get killed every day in this conflict. The UN agencies have accepted over 2,000 have already died in the conflict during the last few months. Over 40,000 civilians who crossed over to government controlled areas have been caged behind barbed wire, with no access to relatives and friends and with no right to leave the barbed wired camps strictly controlled by the Sri Lankan military.

Within these camps, life is a nightmare with paramilitary groups given access to pick out “would-be Tiger infiltrators”. Though unconfirmed, due to no civilians in these camps wanting to testify for fear of their lives, there are many reports of youth being taken away and disappearing and young women being raped. The human catastrophe unfolding in the Wanni is on a far greater scale even than the Israeli slaughter in Gaza.

As the whole world knows, the government of President Rajapaksa, that took control of the Sinhala state after the 2005 November presidential elections, aborted every possibility of negotiating a democratic solution to the Tamil people’s struggle. For decades they had asked only for the right to share power and determine their own future but Rajapaksa’s victory led to the rise of this brutally repressive regime that’s waging this barbaric war against the Tamil people.

This war to end the “terrorism” of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as defined by the Rajapaksa regime, was clearly an extension of George W. Bush Junior’s call for “global war against terrorism” after the 9/11 debacle in New York. It gave the Rajapaksa regime the license to label any one who opposed his brutal war as “a traitor” or as a “terrorist supporter or sympathizer” just the way Bush called his opponents a “threat to the national security of the USA”.

The war against “Tamil terrorists” was helped by a Sinhala racist call, raised high and loud, to give the military a free hand in pushing the war towards LTTE strongholds. It allowed this Rajapaksa regime to go on a wild spree of abducting, arbitrarily arresting, resorting to extra judicial killings and forcing disappearances of not only Tamil youth but also Sinhala and Muslim citizens who chose to oppose their repressive war. This has left over 19 journalists abducted and over 9 killed during the last 2 years. Sri Lanka is ranked 04th among the most dangerous countries for journalists to work in. Not much needs to be said about media freedom and the right for freedom of expression in Sri Lanka thereafter.

Worst is this government’s track record of economic management. Undoubtedly the most corrupt regime after independence in 1948, it has established a family power over the elected government. It is also the most inept regime; it does not even understand the rules under capitalism of financial management and national development. Having heavily criticised international financial institutions, the Rajapaksa government is now seeking a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Its closest ally, China, is now going down with the global melt-down and refusing to maintain its credit line to Sri Lanka.

This financial crisis, made worse by this Rajapaksa regime would hit the working class and the rural poor with escalating prices and cuts on existing social subsidies. Already the government is planning to prune down the public sector by effecting administrative regulations to remove government sector employees on the ground of inefficiency. More than 300,000 employees out of a total workforce of 6.1 million employed in the private sector have lost their jobs, with more than 50,000 being dismissed during the past three months. More than 50 companies and factories have been closed due to the present crisis situation and the Labour Ministry has done little to protect the employees who have lost their jobs.

It is within this economic and social crisis of capitalism that the government of Rajapaksa continues to wage war against the Tamil people, destroying the democratic life of all Sri Lankan people. Having terrorized the trade unions and silenced all opposition, the Rajapaksa regime has now taken the war into the Wanni, at the cost of human lives, silently supported by all the super-powers that did not oppose the war, but only wanted civilian casualties minimized.

Yet all indications are that, with the military declaring it has captured all the territory and have pushed the Tiger cadres into the “no fire zone” where civilians have been asked to move in, the next few days will be tragic in terms of thousands of innocent human lives. It is clear that the Rajapaksa government is waiting to celebrate the so-called war victory with the Sri Lankan New Year around the 13th of this month and to win another provincial council election in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, on 25th April.

It has now become the responsibility of the world’s working class and concerned organisations to rally against this Rajapaksa government and its inhumane allies, in demanding an end to the human carnage in the Wanni area that will be let loose in the name of eliminating “terrorism”.

We therefore call upon all who condemn war in a civilized world, to raise your voice against the Rajapaksa regime.

Let’s rally in front of Indian and Sri Lankan High Commissions and Embassies in our cities on Wednesday the 8th of April.

Let’s do it in the name of humanity, for genuine democracy and against war.

Siritunga Jayasuriya
Chair of Civil Monitoring Commission
Secretary of United Socialist Party
Sri Lankan Coordinator of the ‘Stop the Slaughter of Tamils’ campaign.