Sri Lankan socialist expresses solidarity with Tamil people, criticises India's role

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August 21, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leader of the Nawa Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) of Sri Lanka, Dr Vickramabahu "Bahu" Karunaratne (picture above), was invited to address the Tamil Eelam Solidarity Organisation (TESO)  conference in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, on August 12, 2012. The conference was organised by parties in Tamil Nadu sympathetic to rights of the the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. At first Bahu was denied a visa by the Indian government but after widespread protests he was issued a visa.  The NSSP leader's speech is reproduced below.

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I am very thankful to the organisers of the Tamil Eelam Solidarity Organisation (TESO), in particular to Mr. Radhakrishna, for giving this opportunity to participate in this event and to explain the sufferings in my country. They had to under go many difficulties fight hard and over come many obstacles to organise this meeting. I also faced difficulties to come here. Though many Tamil National Alliance MPs were willing to come, they could not cross the barriers.

However this is a victory and we must go forward. This huge crowd before me reminds me of the remembrance meeting that I addressed in London few years back. At that time we were emerging from a defeat. That meeting gave strength to go forward. I am sure this meeting will increase our courage to go forward to win freedom for the Tamils in Elam home land in  our country.

Many speakers said the war was a disaster. The genocidal war of President Mahinda brought misery to not only to the Elam Tamils but also to the southern masses too. It destroyed the entire Vanni civilisation. Over 100,000 are unaccounted for and there are 90,000 widows in the Elam region. Still there is military rule there, and even Tamil MPs are unable to do politics freely. Resources in the area land, earth resources and mineral resources, are grabbed and given to alien forces mainly multinational corporations, without any consultation with Elam Tamils.

Sinhala-nisation is also a problem. Mahinda concentrated power through the 18th amendment and terrorised the southern masses too. Even the global masters who supported the war had to intervene and say that something has to be done. Under all these pressures Mahinda regime came out with the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and its report was accepted by the UN and President Mahinda agreed to implement it. Though this report was made by a committee appointed by Mahinda, it contains very important recommendations which are very similar to the resolutions approved by TESO. Also it goes further to propose devolution beyond the 13th amendment, with power over law and order, land and taxes. Thus it spells out a devolution that could go towards an accepted solution.

However Mahinda has not done anything to implement the recommendations, particularly those that are politically important. He promised India's leaders several times that the LLRC recommendations will be implemented. But those are broken promises.

Still the Indian government supports Mahinda regime. Why? It supported and gave every help to conduct the war. So much so, at that time President Mahinda said that he is conducting the war of India against the LTTE. Mahinda has signed agreements with global powers too and he is surviving while attacking workers, peasants, fishers and students who are fighting against rising prices, cuts in social welfare and elimination of subsidies. Not only the working people but also industrialists and merchants are turning against the government.

We of the Nava Sama Samaja Party and other left parties have joined hand with the other oppositional parties to press the government to implement the LLRC recommendations. It is a successful many-sided campaign which is going on.

Mahinda says he is implementing them, but is obstructed by the chauvinists within the government. He has become a prisoner of this chauvinist warmongers. Our campaign has exposed the internal divisions within the ruling regime.

We believe that TESO campaign here will be a parallel to what we are doing there. TESO could become an international campaign in addition to becoming an all-India movement for justice for Elam Tamils; with justice to live in a united Lanka. Already there was a suggestion in the morning to have a TESO campaign in Argentina. That shows the interest that is growing among those who are sympathetic to the suffering masses in my country.

Let us get together and go forward.