South Asia tags:
Support needed for socialists in Sri Lanka
SRI LANKA'S president Mahinda Rajapakse has called a presidential election for 26 January. At one of the most decisive moments since Sri Lanka's independence 62 years ago, the country's unity, the people's democratic rights and the young generation's future are all at stake.
Srinath Perera, USP election campaign committee
The two main capitalist candidates offer ordinary people no choice. With few specific policies, they ignore the Tamil people in the north, Muslims in the east and the plantation workers in the hill country and compete to win over the Sinhalese in the south at any cost.
Government leaders boast about their military victory over the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and say there is no danger from attacks such as bombs. However, the frightening situation arising from state terrorism continues unabated.
Under the Rajapakse regime, journalists, lawyers, trade union activists, human rights activists and opposition political figures have been intimidated and murdered. Now the regime has failed to put forward even a nominal solution to the national question of the Tamil-speaking people through the so-called "all party representative committee". The two main capitalist parties in the south are incapable of solving Sri Lanka's national question.
Many people in the North are imprisoned in so-called relief villages. Their future is uncertain. Only the socialists are committed to solving the national question on the basis of accepting the Tamil people's right to self-determination. The United Socialist Party (USP, the Socialist Party's sister party in Sri Lanka) is in the forefront of the struggle against chauvinism and capitalism. The USP fights to build a society where Tamils and Muslims can live with the majority Sinhala population as equal citizens with their freedom and national liberation guaranteed.
Rajapakse's main opponent, General Sarath Fonseka, is a pawn of warmonger chauvinists and neoliberal capitalists. This former army commander participated in the crimes perpetrated by the Rajapakse government. His break with them is not on any policy difference. Voting for either would be equally disastrous.
The Sri Lankan people need to create a social order which opposes the blood-drenched neoliberal capitalist economic policies of both the UNP and the ruling SLFP coalition governments since 1977. The USP will fight to abolish the repressive 'anti-terrorism' laws and emergency rule to create an environment where workers, peasants, students, and our children in the north as well as the south can live without fear.
The most urgent tasks today are solving the national question through a political solution which ensures the basic rights of the Tamil-speaking people in the North, East, and hill country, building a society devoid of exploitation, ensuring the equal distribution of national resources and wealth, and eliminating corruption.
This can only be done by creating a political order where politicians are held accountable directly and constantly to the people. The USP is committed to fight for these tasks as the first steps in a programme towards building a socialist society.
Siritunga Jayasuriya, the USP's presidential candidate, chaired the Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) which spearheaded the struggle to stop the state terror where mainly Tamil people have been abducted, murdered, or made to disappear.
Together with other left and democratic forces, Siri led the struggles against state terror and repression, which the regime launched through suppressing the trade unions' actions and the assault and killing of journalists and media workers.
Siri has dedicated his life to the struggles of the oppressed poor people. Because of his militant working class politics, he and the USP achieved third place in the last presidential election in 2005, despite small campaign funds. Hailing from a working class family in Thimbirigasyaya, Colombo, he stands in this presidential election to fight for the same objectives.
After the USP's strenuous efforts to build genuine unity among left forces based on a programme for real working class unity fell through, there was no other option for Siri but to stand independently in this election. He is the only candidate who can address working class and poor farmers, on an equal footing, whether Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim.