The Socialist 12 February 2020 |
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Building a working-class movement for Tamil rights
4 February protest - black day for Tamils of Sri Lanka
Ketheswaran S, Tamil Solidarity and East London Socialist Party
On 4 February, Tamil Solidarity called a protest outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London. This protest marked a black day for Tamils.
The current Sri Lankan president was defence minister during the 2009 massacre. He has now declared that 20,000 people who disappeared since the war are dead. This is little comfort or explanation to the families of the missing.
These families deserve justice - to actually know what happened to missing loved ones. Tamil Solidarity calls for the releasing of all information held by the Sri Lankan government about the civil war.
We demand an investigation into these war crimes, under the democratic control of ordinary people and their representative organisations including the trade unions, community groups and the bereaved.
Tamils and other minorities have been systematically refused their national democratic rights since Sri Lankan independence from Britain in 1948. We called out the hypocrisy of celebrating independence while secret camps still operate, political prisoners languish behind bars, families of the victims have not received any sort of explanation, and Tamil-owned land has not been given back.
When the Sri Lankan government was organising a celebration inside the warm building, hundreds protested in the cold weather outside. We mourned the thousands who perished at the hands of the Sri Lankan government and demanded justice for those who are still suffering.
The Socialist Party brought solidarity, calling for the right of self-determination. We sold over 10 copies of the Socialist and 36 copies of Ethir, a Tamil and English language paper produced by Tamil Solidarity.
The Sri Lankan officials were rattled and their natural reaction was to photograph and video protesters once again. The Sri Lankan government had called in the help of British police - wasting taxpayers' money - to provide 'security'. But the protest was peaceful despite anger, sadness and disgust
We do not believe that the Sri Lankan government - that shamelessly continues to justify killing tens of thousands - will deliver justice. But the demand for freedom - recognition of right to self-determination for the Tamil-speaking masses - is stronger than ever.
Packed meeting about Keenie Meenie
- British mercenaries who got away with war crimes
Isai Priya, Tamil Solidarity and Waltham Forest Socialist Party
Despite Storm Ciara, 150 people attended the book launch meeting that Tamil Solidarity co-organised on 9 February. The book - Keenie Meenie: The British mercenaries who got away with war crimes - highlights in detail how these mercenaries created immense profits for their company, Keenie Meenie Services
The mercenaries were protected and defended by the British government, politicians and foreign authorities. They were paid several million pounds to go to Sri Lanka to kill people and train the Sri Lankan army on how to commit mass murder.
Keenie Meenie Services were in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. This was a period of neoliberal offensive to privatise, deregulate and drive down conditions to increase profit -spearheaded by US President Ronald Reagan and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
The then Sri Lankan president, JR Jeyawardene, opened up the economy for sale. He became the favourite ally of neoliberalism in South Asia.
The imperialist powers were prepared to do anything to protect this situation. Keenie Meenie was used to strengthen right-wing governments around the world, and to suppress any left-wing government or potential uprising.
Tamil Solidarity organised this meeting to bring out the political significance of the book for the struggle for the rights of the Tamil-speaking people. I spoke for Tamil Solidarity and Helen Pattison for the Socialist Party.
We highlighted the need to link the Tamil struggle with other oppressed communities - the working class, trade unionists, socialists and young people. These are our natural allies.
The general strike in India, for example, gives a glimpse of the potential power of working-class people to fight all their oppressors. Tamil Solidarity and the Socialist Party also emphasised the need to get active here - in the worker and community struggles that are taking place for better living conditions - against the Tory government's right-wing policies.
The Socialist Party puts forward a socialist programme needed to get rid of imperialist war, oppression, capitalist austerity governments and poverty.