Mullivaikal 2012: Workers’ unity against Rajapaksa regime

Manny Thain, secretary, Tamil Solidarity

Thousands of Tamils will mark the third anniversary of Mullivaikal, the end of the war in Sri Lanka, with a commemorative rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 19 May. It will be an emotional occasion but it will also draw people together to renew the struggle for the rights of Tamil-speaking people.

At long last, the sheer brutality of the Sri Lankan armed forces as they overran the north and east is being recognised more widely.

After the shock at the scale of the defeat, the movement for Tamil rights is on the rise again. There are many issues to be taken up. As members of Britain’s political establishment queue up to speak at the Trafalgar Square event – the sizeable Tamil community holds significant voting power – one of the key questions is: who are the natural allies of the Tamil-speaking people? Not the British establishment which has invited Sri Lanka’s despotic president Rajapaksa to the Queen’s jubilee celebrations!

As a grassroots campaign, Tamil Solidarity identifies the Tamil people’s allies as the organised working class in Britain, and workers and oppressed people internationally.

Tamil Solidarity raises the demands to withdraw the troops from the north and east, to stop the settlement programme and shut down the prison camps. We also call for an end to the deportation of Tamils from Britain to Sri Lanka – returning Tamil-speaking people face immediate persecution.

Tamil Solidarity calls for a full, independent inquiry into all war crimes allegations. Such an inquiry should be made up of representatives from working class communities, on which international trade union and human rights groups could play an advisory role. This would be an antidote to the sham inquiry set up by Sri Lanka’s president Rajapaksa to get him and his military command off the hook.

Predictably, the promise of his regime that the end of the war would usher in a period of peace and prosperity has been exposed as a bare-faced lie. Military expenditure has actually increased to pay for the occupation of Tamil areas. The price of basic commodities has soared. The prevention of terrorism act continues to be used to try to silence journalists and to round up trade union and left-wing activists.

Rajapaksa and his cronies rest on the support of the Sinhala majority. Yet, their policies attack the living standards of the vast majority of Sri Lanka’s people, regardless of their ethnic/religious identity. Taking up all the class issues can help to break the divide-and-rule policies of the Rajapaksa regime, and take forward the call for the right of Tamil-speaking people to determine their future for themselves.

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