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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 June 2006

Sri Lanka: Socialists oppose the war

ON 15 June, two claymore mines exploded in Sri Lanka destroying a bus packed with farmers, workers and children. Over 60 were killed and another 40 injured.

Clare Doyle, CWI London

This incident, the worst for many years, took place in Kebithigollewa, populated predominantly by Sinhalese. It comes after weeks when killings by the state and other paramilitary forces have been a daily occurrence. Minority Tamils are constantly hounded by the police and army in the capital, Colombo.

The Sri Lankan government's reaction to the bus explosion was to order immediate air strikes against strongholds of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who have de facto control over the North and parts of the East of the island.

Talks to save the ceasefire declared in 2002, which many hoped would end the 20-year-long war, have foundered. The last ones planned did not go ahead and this latest escalation of the situation could mark a return to full-scale armed conflict.

The LTTE itself denies responsibility for the Kebithigollewa bombing. Their leaders have made very war-like speeches about the "coming campaign", the "ultimate war". They have threatened a 'blitzkrieg' rather than the "inch by inch" approach to achieving control over the territory they see as their homeland.

But they say they don't target civilians and blame this atrocity on dissident LTTE elements working with the Sri Lankan army.

Heightened tension

WHOEVER IS responsible, the United Socialist Party (USP - the Socialist Party's Sri Lankan counterpart) condemns this terrible attack on ordinary working people. They report that fear and tension in the capital Colombo, and elsewhere in Sri Lanka, has dramatically heightened.

The USP, now seen as the country's main left force, has linked up with other left and minority parties who are opposed to the war and fighting all attacks on democratic rights. The party is also conducting an independent campaign of its own against war preparations on both sides.

They stress that it is the working people and poor farmers - both Sinhala and Tamil - who have to carry the main burden of war. Already, before the vast human and economic costs begin mounting again, prices of basic necessities have rocketed and people are ground down by poverty and crippling anxiety.

Only the working people can find a solution to the horrors of the national conflict. The USP continues to demand that the rights of all oppressed minorities be honoured, including the Tamil-speaking people's right to self-determination, with autonomous rights for the Muslim Tamil-speaking people in the East. It stands for a united struggle; against chauvinism and communalism, against terrorism and war, against the rule of the bosses and the landlords.

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