DSP reiterates support for the right of self-determination for the Tamil people

Democratic Socialist Perspective (Australia) statement in response to the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka

June 12, 2009 -- The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) -- a Marxist organisation affiliated to the Socialist Alliance of Australia -- supports the right of Tamils to self-determination. We have campaigned in solidarity with the Tamil people for several decades. For example, at the time of the 1983 massacre the DSP worked with the Tamil community in Australia to organise protests. This year too, the DSP, Socialist Alliance and Resistance worked closely with Tamil communities, including helping organise rallies, to highlight the calls for a ceasefire and for self-determination.

We support the right of Tamils to form a separate state or pursue other solutions, as they so choose, that guarantee complete and genuine equality. The Tamil people must freely decide which path to follow.
We condemn the racist and repressive policies of successive Sri Lankan governments as the main source of ethnic conflict. State terrorism is the main source of violence in Sri Lanka. We support the Tamils’ right to take up arms in self-defence. However, the over-reliance by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on a militaristic strategy, which has included violence and repression against non-Tamil civilians and other Tamil groups, has alienated potential allies among Sinhalese workers and peasants, and among the Muslim population. It has also contributed to the international isolation of the LTTE and the Tamil struggle.

Following the LTTE’s military defeat, an interesting discussion around tactics and strategy is opening up, which includes looking at successful national liberation struggles that have used a range of non-military tactics to build broad alliances against national oppression.

The ongoing solidarity campaign with the Tamil people is now focusing on immediate demands, such as freeing the displaced people from imprisonment in the government-camps. They must be allowed to leave the camps if they wish and return to their homes. Access to adequate food, medical care and housing must be guaranteed.

UN Human Rights Council resolution on "Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights"

On May 26, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on "Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights". This resolution condemned the LTTE for "attacks ... on the civilian population", while making no mention of the tens of thousands of Tamil civilians killed by the Sri Lankan government forces this year alone.

The resolution welcomed the "liberation by the government of Sri Lanka of tens of thousands of its citizens that were kept by the LTTE against their will as hostages", an unproven claim when in fact the Sri Lankan government has trapped the surviving Tamils in concentration camps surrounded by barbed wire.

The resolution was passed by the HRC with a margin of 29 votes to 12, with six abstentions.  Most of the Third World countries that are members of the HRC voted in favour. Most of the imperialist countries voted against, supporting instead a resolution moved by Switzerland. The latter condemned the LTTE, but it also called on the Sri Lankan government to allow freedom of movement for the internally displaced people and to cooperate fully with humanitarian organisations. 

The Swiss resolution also called on the Sri Lankan government to "investigate" allegations of human rights abuses and to prosecute those responsible. Given that the government is the main abuser of human rights in Sri Lanka, this amounted to a call for the government to investigate and prosecute itself.
The imperialist powers' supposed concern for human rights is hypocritical, given that they have for many years been supporting the Sri Lankan government in its war on the Tamils.

The Sri Lankan government portrayed itself as a victim of Western governments and the "Western dominated world media". This was ridiculous given the aid that Sri Lanka receives from the West, and the hostility of the Western media to the "terrorist" LTTE.

Nevertheless, most Third World governments supported Sri Lanka in the HRC. This included right-wing governments such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but also left-wing governments such as Cuba and Bolivia.

Why did Cuba and its allies take the position they did?

There are several reasons:

1. They distrust the human rights rhetoric of the imperialist powers, which often use concern over human rights as a pretext for condemning, pressuring and even attempting to overthrow Third World governments.

2. They at times oppose movements such as the LTTE that attempt to break up existing Third World states. They tend to suspect that such movements are encouraged by the imperialists in order to weaken Third World countries.

In some cases this is true. For example, the CIA-backed Katanga secessionist movement was aimed at weakening and overthrowing the progressive government of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo in the early 1960s. This experience, which occurred shortly after the Castro government came to power, probably had a lasting impact on Cuban attitudes towards secessionist movements in general.

Similarly the US-backed secessionist movement in eastern Bolivia is aimed at weakening and eventually overthrowing the Evo Morales government. But it is a mistake to over-generalise from these examples. Many movements that aim to break up an existing state are a response to real national oppression. This is certainly the case with the Tamils.

3. Cuba's diplomacy aims to build friendly relations with as many governments as possible and especially Third World nations regardless of the nature of these governments.  This is both a survival strategy for Cuba in the face of the US blockade, and a way of winning support for some progressive ideas in the United Nations and other international forums. It is also a way to seek to build a bloc among Third World nations to strengthen the position of oppressed nations in relation to the imperialist countries.

The success of Cuban diplomacy is reflected in the nearly unanimous votes at the United Nations condemning the United States’ blockade of Cuba. But the down side is that Cuba often refrains from criticising Third World governments for their repression of their own people.

International solidarity from ordinary people for Cuba's revolution is partly inspired by Cuba's generally principled internationalist position that seeks to aid the oppressed around the world: from Cuba's armed assistance in Angola that paved the way for the defeat of the South African apartheid regime, to its current practice of sending volunteer doctors to treat the poor in dozens of countries. Positions such as the one it has taken on Sri Lanka risks undermining such support.

The DSP does not agree with or support the UN HRC resolution on "Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights". The DSP will continue to campaign for the goal of self-determination for the Tamil people and encourages the broader Australian community and other groups to show their solidarity with the oppressed Tamil people of Sri Lanka.

Submitted by amarantha (not verified) on Fri, 06/12/2009 - 23:43


We, Latin American Friendship Association of Tamilnadu, India is happy to see DSP's support for the self-determination of Tamils of Lanka when entire world watched silently the genocidal killings of Tamils.

We were terribly upset over the uncritical support of Cuba to Sri Lanka in the UNHCR. It is heartening to see DSP's disagreement with the stand taken by Cuba.

We once again attach the letter sent By Amarantha on behalf of LAFA expressing our disgust over the anti-Tamil stand taken by Latin American countries especially socialist Cuba.

Latin American friendship Association(LAFA) No.176/10, Vaigai Veedhi, Municipal Colony Salai, Veerappan Chatram Post, Erode-638004.

Contact Phone: +91-9443307681, +91-9445125379. Dated: 25.05.2009. Maniyarasan Kurinji Kochadai Thiagu K. Venkataraman Aranga Gunasekaran P. Thirunavukkarasu A.J. Khan Amarantha Natarajan Paamayan

Dear Comrade,

It is a great shock for the People of Tamil Nadu to find that Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia among other countries have supported the Sri Lanka Government in annihilating the Tamil Population in the Island nation. I am disheartened and depressed both as a Tamilian and as an admirer and supporter of the Liberation Movements of the Latin American Countries. I have spent more than Twenty-Five years in Translating and writing on and about the heroic Cuban and Nicaraguan Revolutions, the Social-Democratic movements of Chile, Venezuela and Bolivia. I have published more than ten books translated by me and have been instrumental in the publication of several books on the various steps being taken now in Latin America under the guidance of Cuba & Venezuela. We, the friends of Latin America, have been watching the happenings in this part of the world like the formation of the ALBA, BANCO DE SUR & PSUV with great expectations for a socialist transformation of the entire region. My friends – both writers and others used to make fun of me saying that though I have been born in Tamil Nadu, India, my heart and soul are permanently wandering in Cuba and Venezuela. But now, with this act of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia signing against the right of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, I find that I have no ground to stand… It is unbelievable that these countries could sign in support of the Sri Lanka Government (henceforth SLG) in this genocide of Tamils. How could Raul Castro, Daniel Ortega and Evo Morales from the Land of Marti, Sandino and Bolivar favour the crushing of a Liberation Movement? Is this not equivalent to calling the July 26th Movement as a Terrorist outfit? Is this not something like calling the Sandinista movement a Terrorist outfit? Will it be proper to call the people of Bolivia who fought the Water Wars in 2001 as Terrorists? Will it be acceptable to call as Terrorists the Venezuelan people who gathered outside the Presidential Palace in 2002 against the stooges of the U.S. to Save Chavez ? Have all of us forgotton that Jose Mariategui, the Latin American Marxist thinker declared that “every land will decide upon the nature of the freedom struggle as suited to its soil” ? How could it be so conveniently concluded that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam be called as Terrorists? How could a Terrorist outfit fight relentlessly for more than a quarter century? It was an Organisation which had been making all out efforts to strike a balance with the Sri Lankan Government but in vain. Guerilla warfare was their last resort and they were a nightmare for the Sri Lankan Army till recently. Now that India, China and Pakistan have supplied shiploads of arms to the Sri Lankan army, it was possible for them to annihilate the Tamil race from their Homeland. They do it with an eye on the Trincomalee Port for expansion of their trade and for geo political reasons. But why do the Latin American countries support them? Is it because China has now become the provider of Latin America? But this is equivalent to selling eyes to buy Paintings. WE here in Tamil Nadu celebrated the 80th Birthday of Comrade Fidel by releasing 8 books on Cuba’s achievements in various fields, its contribution in the fields of education, health care and human rights. Now, we, the Friends of Latin America are in the midst of our preparation for the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution and Evaluation of the Consolidation of Latin American Countries under ALBA, Banco de Sur & PSUV, with the release of about 10 books. Now that we have received news of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia (Brazil abstaining) (Chile and Argentina opposing) signing the Resolution of the U.N. Human Rights Council in support of the genocide of the Tamil Race in Sri Lanka, how could we go ahead with this programme with a sharp poisoned knife stuck in our hearts? We are struck dumb and rendered disheartened and disillusioned by this act by those countries of Latin America on which we have pinned our hopes for the future – Socialism of the 21st Century. Why do these countries wish for wiping off the Tamils from the Sri Lankan Soil, where they rightfully belong? What are the sources of information for these Latin American Countries to decide against the Tamils and in favour of the Racist Sri Lankan Government in the UN Human Rights Council? Here are 6.5 Crore Tamilians in Tamil Nadu – Come to us to know the truth. Yes… The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) in the name of ‘hunting’ the LTTE had killed and injured treacherously thousands of Tamil civilians. The SLA has also used chemical weapons and cluster bombs to kill Tamils in the so-called “no-war zone” where 3.2 lakh Tamil people were held captive in barbed-wire camps. This apart, hundreds of Tamils in these killing zones died without food and medicine. International organizations like the Red Cross, International Human Rights Organisations, International observers, Media persons and even elected Members of Parliament were never allowed inside the no-war zone. Genocidal killing of Tamils was thus done without witnesses. From Jan 1, 2009 to April 11, 2009 alone, 15,000 civilians were killed and 10,000 were wounded. There are about 10 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils living all over the world as refugees. We the Tamil people here in Tamil Nadu are under deep depression and now more than ever do we feel the absence of Che Guevara the True Internationalist, who laid down his life for the oppressed people of the world.

Amarantha, Latin American Friendship Association, Tamil Nadu, India.