Socialist Party of Malaysia condemns Sri Lanka's slaughter of Tamils

Tamils demand national self-determination on May 1, 2009. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM)

May 27, 2009 -- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared victory over Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as the last LTTE strongpoints crumbled. The victory is for no one but only the chauvinistic nationalist Sinhalese government led by Rajapaksa, which had launched a brutal, merciless and cold-blooded military offensive against the Tamil population for several months, inflicting nothing but death, destruction and misery. The victory proclaimed by Rajapaksa will not put an end to the conflict that has lasted for several decades, but signals a new assault on working people in Sri Lanka -- Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim.

The 26-year protracted civil war was not to eradicate “terrorism” as claimed by the Sri Lankan government but to defend the power and privileges of the ruling Sinhalese elites. While the LTTE’s separatist program, which included attacks on Sinhalese civilians and ruthless suppression of Tamil opponents certainly deepened the communal divide and played into the hands of the most reactionary elements of the Colombo establishment, the responsibility for the war rests squarely on successive Sri Lankan governments, which exploited anti-Tamil chauvinism to divide and rule the working population on the island-nation.

Since the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948, the Tamil minority has suffered systematic discrimination linguistically, culturally and economically. Until 1970s, the Tamils of the north and the east of the island repeatedly demanded respect of their culture and fundamental rights, but all were unsuccessful because of the chauvinist attitude of Colombo establishment. This has led to political radicalisation of Tamils and the emergence of a militant armed struggle and finally escalated into a civil war.

While we condemn any terrorist attack on civilians, we must also denounce all kinds of state terrorism like what Sri Lankan government has carried out over the last 26 years in the protracted civil war. State terrorism fuels individual terrorism, when a class-based revolutionary movement is absent.

Like all other oppressed ethnic minorities around the world, the Tamils in Sri Lanka have every right to self-determination, and the struggle for the respect for Tamil rights and culture are pertinent. There will be no real democracy and sustained peace if there is no respect for the rights of ethnic minorities.

For the last 26 years, the war in Sri Lanka has caused significant hardship for the population, environment and economy of the country, with over 80,000 people officially listed as killed during its course. The Colombo regime had ruthlessly bombarded Tamil rebels and civilians. In the first five months of 2009, it was estimated 7000-8000 civilians were killed.

Hundreds of thousands of the Tamil population were forcibly moved and placed in detention camps where they were not allowed to leave. Even after the “end” of the war, the Colombo government has refused to provide unrestricted access to its detention camps where at least 280,000 Tamil civilians are now being held in appalling conditions.

The so-called “war against terrorism” against the LTTE has served as a pretext to the chauvinist Rajapaksa regime to trample democratic freedoms, not only for the ethnic minorities of the country but of all citizens. There has been massive discrimination, racialisation of everything, massive censorship, the murder of journalists in the south and anybody else who speaks up against Colombo’s war policy.

The genocidal crimes committed by chauvinist government against Tamil population have been condoned and supported by Western imperialist powers like the United States and United Kingdom, as well as regional powers like India and China, all of them interested in gainimg more influence and control over the Indian Ocean.

The US has provided the Sri Lankan government with direct military aid through International Military Education and Training Program (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF), as well as financial aid that enabled the Sri Lankan government to increase its military budget. The US government also provided intelligence services to the Sri Lankan government in order to fight the so-called “war on terrorism”.

India has been assisting the chauvinist Colombo regime in suppressing Tamil rebels and civilians all the while. China also served as an accomplice in the crimes against humanity committed by chauvinist Colombo government, by becoming its largest arm supplier. The Chinese government even gave Rajapaksa’s government six Jian-7 jet fighters “free of charge”, to use in the cold-blooded assault against the Tamil population. Beijing and Moscow repeatedly blocked discussion or any binding motion in the UN Security Council over Sri Lanka, just like Washington did on Palestine. China and Russia also have tabled a counter-resolution in praising Colombo for winning a war against a “terrorist group” and calling for international funding for Sri Lanka.

It has shown again that all the imperialist powers and pro-capitalist governments care more about the interest and profit of the ruling class than the lives of ordinary people like the Tamils in Sri Lanka. They are only interested in keeping the “stability” at the expense of the lives and democratic freedoms of ordinary people.

Only the people's movement from below can reverse such policies in all these countries and put an end to the genocidal violence committed by chauvinist governments like the one in Sri Lanka.

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) calls for:

  • The immediate withdrawal of all Sri Lankan troops from the north and the east of Sri Lank.
  • Unrestricted access to all detention camps of Tamil, and that Tamil refugees be allowed to return to their homes in the north and the east.
  • Respect the right to self-determination of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
  • All governments, especially the US, UK, Indian and Chinese government, to stop providing military aid to the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Only with the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Tamil people, can there be a possible lasting solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka.

The PSM extends its solidarity to the Tamils in Sri Lanka as well as all the oppressed working people in Sri Lanka in their struggle against chauvinistic nationalist regime.

Released by Choo Chon Kai, International Bureau, Socialist Party of Malaysia/Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).