Wednesday, 3 December 2008


K Kabilan and S Pathmawathy | Dec 2, Malaysiakini

A Singhala politician has claimed that it is time to put an amicable and peaceful end to the bloody civil war taking place in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamils fighting for a separate nation.

And Siritunga Jayasuriya, the general secretary of the United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka), is willing to play the role of mediator in achieving peace in the island which has been ravaged by civil unrest since 1983.

He told Malaysiakini in a recent interview that his party would definitely play a significant role "if we are invited".

"We say the Sri Lankan's left movement should take part in the peace process. We have been saying that," he said.

However he was quite sceptical of such a peace talk ever happening, especially with the robust stand undertaken by the Sri Lankan government, headed by president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"I don't think there is a possibility as the Sri Lankan government is mad about winning this war," he said.

Presently, the Sri Lankan army is on a major onslaught in the northern part of the country in their attempt to finish off Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which is spearheading the call for a separate Tamil state.

Jayasuriya also said that the Tamil diaspora and the LTTE were wrong in relying on western governments to help solve the problem in Sri Lanka.

"I don't think the Tamil diaspora or the LTTE really understand the real problem.

"The mistake of the LTTE or the Tamil diaspora is that they are trying to convince the United Nations, the British government, the French government, the German government, the Swedish government, the Norwegian government or the Indian government - but why should these governments support their cause, they never support any struggle," he said.

"They should appeal to the ordinary people of this planet, this is not just the question of Tamils, this is a question of humanity, all human beings should get together."

Ruling class blamed

And true to his Marxist leaning, Siritunga blamed the "capitalist ruling class" for the ongoing situation in Sri Lanka.

"The Singhala and Tamil people were living together for many years and this problem was originated by the capitalist ruling class, their failure created this problem.

"And it has been the tradition and policy that Sri Lankan governments and the Singhalese top brass have been making promises, which have never been fulfilled.

"I mean, the capitalist ruling class of Sri Lanka has been betraying the Tamils. At the beginning, the old left (the old communist parties) didn't go far enough to accept the right to self determination, but they defended the rights of the Tamil speaking people.

"However, once they entered the capitalist government in 1971, the socialist party and the communist party shared power and allowed the government to reform the new constitution, which put the Buddhist religion as the first religion. What a kind of a betrayal was it?" he asked.

Jayasuriya, who contested in the last presidential election and was returned third, said that his party promoted a working-class socialist platform.

"For the first time in Sri Lankan history, I stood for such platform as an opposition candidate. So, as socialists, our stand is very clear.

"We advocated the acceptance of the Tamil speaking peoples' right to self-determination.

"That is a very clear policy and that is in writing. It is in my election leaflet ... I said, 'if I come to power, we don't need Norwegians or any outsiders, not even the Indians'. Why do we need a third party?

"Neither the Tamils, nor the LTTE nor the Singhalese government trust each other. But we strongly believe that if we come to power, we can jointly talk to the Tamils and say we are prepared to hear their grievances," he said.

He said that his party's stand was that it supported the Sri Lankan Tamils' stand in wanting a separate state.

"But, at the same time, we would argue with them that creating a small state is not the answer. We would urge them to go towards unity," he said.

230,000 driven out of their homes

He also urged the Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa to stop the current onslaught against the LTTE, which has caused so much of misery for the Tamils.

"Stop the war and start the negotiations," he said.

The government's offensive against the LTTE intensified in recent months. Over the weekend, Sri Lankan troops moved further into LTTE areas destroying bunkers to capture Kilinochchi, the de facto political capital of the Tamil Tigers.

The LTTE has been fighting for an independent state in northern Sri Lanka since 1972. However, open warfare only started in 1983.

Tamil aid officials have estimated that more than 230,000 people have been driven from their homes in the last few months of fighting.

In January, the Sri Lankan government unilaterally pulled out of a ceasefire in effect since 2002. The government has rejected LTTE calls for a new ceasefire.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 73,000 Sri Lankans, most of them Tamils, are now refugees in Tamil Nadu.

Approximately 74 percent of the population is Sinhalese, and 18 percent Tamil.

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