Two Years after the Eelam War: The Flames of Liberation Continue to Expose the Oppressors and their Apologists!

Democratic Students Union (DSU)

Two years back, on 18 May 2009 the Sri Lankan army claimed to have killed Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of LTTE, along with hundreds of his comrades. The next day in the Sri Lankan parliament a jubilant Rajapakse declared victory in the Eelam War IV. This was the day, two years back, when the Eelam Tamils lost their hard-fought freedom at the hands of the fascist and expansionist Sri Lanka. This week the Tamils in Eelam and outside remember the heroic sacrifice of the sons and daughters of Eelam who laid down their lives fighting the armed forces of the chauvinist Sri Lankan ruling classes. Braving threats, intimidation and harassment from the Sri Lankan armed forces and intelligence, the people of Eelam paid homage to those who have fallen in the decades-long struggle for national liberation. They reiterated that it is the people of Tamil Eelam alone who have the mandate to chose their destiny, denouncing and warning against any ‘negotiated settlement’ of the issue which compromises with the historical realities. The people have stated that any secret deal or confidential talk with the Sri Lankan state by those who claim to represent the Eelam Tamils will not be acceptable. The ‘solution’ only lies in the recognition of the historical reality of Tamil Eelam, i.e., its right to exist as a free and independent national state.

The injustice, oppression and discrimination of the Eelam Tamils by the Sinhala chauvinist ruling classes of Sri Lanka has a long history that goes back many centuries. The genocidal murder of Tamils in the first five months of 2009 in the last phase of the war was one of the most extensive and brutal phases of this national oppression. In the last days of the war alone, more than 40,000 Tamils – including combatants and non-combatants – were slaughtered by the marauding Sri Lankan army and air force. As the ‘international community’ watched in silence, cluster bombs and chemical weapons were unleashed on the entire population. Houses, schools, hospitals, ambulances, civilian shelters, and even No Fire Zones were bombed with impunity. By the time the war was declared over, almost the entire Tamil population of the north and east was uprooted, their lives and property was destroyed, and were forcefully confined in concentration camps which the Sri Lankan state calls ‘refugee camps’. Even conservative estimates put the number of displaced people to be above 3.5 lakhs. A large part of them are still not allowed to return to their villages, most of which have been ravaged and ruined beyond recognition. Eelam has been transformed into a mammoth prison-house by the occupation army of the Sri Lankan state. Here any form of dissent and articulation of political demand is strictly prohibited. The aim is to enslave the entire nation, and to kill the very hope of a free homeland. By forcing them into utter misery, the Sri Lankan state expects the Eelam Tamils to give up their aspiration for liberation, to abandon their dream of Eelam as a mere illusion, and to accept the present condition as their immutable fate.

Living under the shadow of fascist repression, experiencing the terror unleashed by the Sri Lankan state, and deeply aware of the historic oppression of their nation, it is the Eelam Tamils more than anyone else who seek the punishment of the perpetrators – the Sri Lankan ruling classes and its mercenary army. They deserve the severest of reprisal and punishment for their crimes. The question however is, what should they be punished for? For ‘crimes against humanity’, ‘war crimes’, ‘international crimes’, ‘violation of human rights’, flouting the rules of ‘Geneva Convention’, etc.? Or, for trying to wipe out a whole nation fighting for their inalienable right to self determination and national liberation? Here lies the difference between the perspective of the peoples’ movements and that of the International Human Rights industry/NGOs promoted by the imperialist camp. It is in the name of humanism, humanitarian intervention, and the so-called crimes against humanity that imperialism and its faithful lackeys such as the comprador ruling classes of Sri Lanka commit national oppression. Not for nothing that the Sri Lankan state called its war on Eelam a ‘humanitarian war to liberate the people of the Northern Province’. This is how the warmongers sell their wars, and the international weapons industry, its wares. This is the language in which the ‘internationally recognised bodies’ like the United Nations (UN), NATO and the European Union wages war on peoples’ movements and organisations. No wonder the imperialist countries and their ‘recognised legal bodies’ like UN spends millions of dollars every year to promote the discourse of ‘human rights’ or ‘crimes against humanity’ by funding thousands of human rights organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations. In the ‘conflict zones’ they protect the interest of the forces of oppression by accusing and persecuting the oppressed people, their leaders and their organisations, who dare to rise up against imperialism and its lackeys, while silently or vocally approving the acts of the oppressors. In the name of ‘conflict resolution’, they seek to take away the oppressed peoples’ right to fight back.

Any talk of ‘humanity’ and ‘humanism’ in a world divided into oppressor and oppressed classes, or oppressor and oppressed nations, is nothing but a sham. It is not in the name of ‘humanism’ that oppressed nations demand the right to self-determination. It is not in the name of ‘human rights’ that oppressed people seek liberation. The right of every oppressed nation to self determination including secession from the oppressor nation is a political right. It is a genuine collective right of a nation or a people, which even the UN was forced to recognise under pressure from the tidal wave of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist liberation struggles in the twentieth century. It is this inalienable political and collective right that the Eelam Tamils and their organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fought for almost four decades without compromise. In the path of liberation they unflinchingly suffered, but have not surrendered. Even today, after undergoing such extreme forms of repression and near extinction, they have not given up the aspiration for liberation. Therefore, when some sections who claim to represent the Eelam Tamils or to be in solidarity with them talk of ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’ or ‘human rights violations’ in Sri Lanka without even acknowledging the right of a separate, sovereign and independent Tamil Eelam, stands accused of not only betraying this heroic struggle, but also of colluding with imperialism and its trusted executioners, the Sri Lankan and Indian ruling classes. They would do well to pay heed to the students of Jaffna University, who while remembering the martyrs of Eelam War this week, warned that it is the Eelam people alone that have the right to decide upon their destiny, and not those who compromise with the peoples’ aspirations in the name of tactics.

The Sri Lankan ruling classes responsible for centuries of oppression of the Tamil national minority must be punished so that the people of Eelam can win their freedom. But this punishment can only be in the form of overthrowing the repressive rule of the Sri Lankan state and through the liberation of Eelam, not by ‘demanding punishment’ for this or that member of the ruling classes. Let us not forget that the Rajapaksas –Mahinda, Basil, Gotabaya, or Sarath Fonseka etc. are mere instruments of class rule and national oppression – they are the puppets of imperialism. To howl for the punishment of such puppets without opposing Eelam’s continued occupation by the Sri Lankan state and its plunder by the imperialists is nothing but to legitimize this oppression and to backstab the Eelam liberation movement. Only the wolves in sheep’s skin are capable of such opportunism. The struggling people everywhere – including the Eelam Tamils – have seen too many of these chameleons to be fooled by their pretensions.

Who then will punish the ruling classes of Sri Lanka and bring them to justice, after all? Will it be United Nations, International Criminal Court, United States of America, India, the Sri Lankan state itself? Or the oppressed people of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka? Anyone who trusts the collective strength of oppressed people and believes in their unwavering determination to struggle against injustice knows the answer. However, those who are in the payroll of imperialism or benefits from oppression and status-quo, call upon the people to repose faith in their masters to ‘deliver justice’. This is the characteristic role of the imperialist-funded human rights industry and the NGO racket. What is the track record of imperialist agencies like the United Nations or the International Criminal Court (ICC) in ‘punishing’ despotic and authoritarian rulers complicit in mass murders? The worldwide operations of ICC, for example, are run by a consortium of international NGOs called ‘Coalition for the International Criminal Court’ which has over 2,500 NGO members in 150 different countries, most of which are directly funded by the imperialists. No surprise that ICC has prosecuted ruling-class members of six countries for ‘crimes against humanity’, all of which are from African countries. The latest target against whom ICC prosecution has begun is Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, his gravest crime being the opposition to imperialist intervention and the US-led war. As per the official rhetoric, however, he is to be tried for ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’! On the other hand, the biggest criminals in the world – George Bush Junior and Senior, Barack Obama, Tony Blair etc. are roaming free, some even managing to get Nobel ‘Peace Prizes’! Therefore, at a meeting of 30 African ICC member states in June 2009, several African countries called on African ICC members to withdraw from the Court in protest against the Court’s targeting of only Africa. The Commissioner of African Union, Ramtane Lamamra, said that the Prosecutor of the ICC was applying “a double standard in pursuing cases against some leaders while ignoring others”. Knowing all this, can anyone be so naïve to be ignorant of the politics of ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’, and the ‘justice’ system of “internationally recognised legal bodies”?

Is the real character and purpose of the UN any different? History proves that this ‘recognised legal body’ too has been a ‘powerful tool’ and a ‘strategic weapon’ in the hands of the imperialist powers and their surrogate regimes the world over. Just five years after its establishment, the UN –brainchild of US president Roosevelt – fought in favour of South Korea against Peoples’ Republic of Korea and revolutionary China under Mao in the Korean War (1950-53). From its inception till now the UN and its legal wing, the so-called International Court of Justice, has worked untiringly for establishing the New World Order under US imperialism. Its role during the ‘Cold War’ and thereafter needs no elaboration. In light of this dark history, to welcome the UN to be the arbiter of ‘international crime’ and ‘world peace’ is to invite imperialist intervention, to strengthen the forces of oppression and to deny any possibility of justice. Has the Libyan ‘rebels’ who invited UN bombardment in the name of ‘ousting Gaddafi’ and ‘liberating’ Libya opened doors for peace, justice and democracy? The people of Libya know that they are the lackeys of imperialism, no matter how much they try to convince the world about the ‘strategic’ need of using the UN-led war in Libya. For the Libyan people, the so-called rebels are nothing but imperialist collaborators and traitors.

The recent UN Expert Panel’s report on Sri Lanka exposes its real character to those who care to see. The so-called ‘major limitations’ of the UN report are nothing but the very basis of the report. Like any other imperialist agent, it does not recognise the right of Eelam Tamils for a separate and free homeland, instead offering a humiliating ‘common homeland’. It falsely accuses LTTE and its leadership, the force spearheading the decades-old liberation struggle, of using Eelam Tamils as ‘human shields’ and of even ‘point blank shooting of civilians’! In fact, while the UN Expert Panel finds five allegations of ‘potential serious violations’ against the Sri Lankan state ‘credible’, it held the LTTE guilty of six such ‘potential serious violations’, including the killing of its own people for whose defense and liberation it heroically fought for three decades! By accepting, welcoming and propagating the UN and its report, one tacitly accepts that the leaders and cadres of LTTE were also criminals, an opinion which is alien to the people of Tamil Eelam. The oppressed people of Tamil Eelam will never accept such a conclusion against the very organisation which they built and sustained with their blood and sweat. Nor would the LTTE or its leadership would accept such a verdict, no matter how much the report is ‘critical’ of the Sri Lankan genocidal state.

Sri Lanka’s ruling classes too have rejected the report, but for entirely different reasons. They know very well that the report and the threat of ‘prosecution’ in international courts will be used as a tool by the Western imperialist countries to wrest economic benefits, and hence is this rejection. Apart from outright imperialists, only those turncoats who see opportunities in the decimation of LTTE and the plight of the Tamils in Eelam can talk of ‘using the report as a strategic weapon’ in favour of Eelam Tamil and their political aspiration, after slyly declaring that “considering that the Lankan government claims that all the leaders of the Eelam movement have been eliminated, it can be presumed that the report shall apply only to those in state machinery who were responsible for war crimes”! We must thank them for exonerating the martyred sons and daughters of Eelam from being prosecuted for ‘war crimes’! But we have no right to anticipate whether the oppressed people of Tamil Eelam will be so merciful and benevolent as to exonerate the renegades for their crime of betraying the ongoing Eelam liberation struggle at one of its most critical junctures. Long live the struggle for free and independent Tamil Eelam!

A Public Meeting On “Tamil Eelam Movement: The Contemporary Crisis and Its Significance” (April 1, 2011)

Organized by Coordination Committee for Oppressed Nationalities (CCON)

Speakers: Prof. Bimol akoijam, CSSS/ JNU, Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, Santhosh, Visiting Faculty, SAA/JNU, Someetharan, Jaffna Based Documentary Film Maker.

Followed by Documentary Screening on Mullaitivu Saga, 45 min , a English Documentary on the ‘final’ brutal military operation of the Srilankan army and A Book Release of In the Name Of Peace: The IPKF Massacre of Tamils in Srilanka

Place: Committee Room, SSS I, JNU
Date: 01-04-2011, 2.30 Pm Onwards

Tamil Eelam Movement: The Contemporary Crisis and Its Significance

When the Sri Lankan Government declared on May 19th 2009 that the war against the Tamil Tigers is over, thereby claiming that the Eelam struggle was finished, it received compliments from a curious combination of international forces. India and Pakistan welcomed Sri Lanka’s victory against ‘terrorism’. Israel and Iran congratulated Rajapaksa for upholding democracy. The Turkish government expressed opinions signaling that the PKK would meet a similar fate like the LTTE while quite a few military analysts in India and Colombia considered the possibility of finishing off the armed struggles waged by the Maoists and the FARC respectively in a ‘Sri Lanka style’ solution. The big powers, USA, France, Russia and China also expressed their solidarity with the victorious Lankan government. The pro-US Colombian government and the supposedly anti-imperialist Cuba and Venezuela conveyed their admiration for Rajapaksa’s firmness in dealing with ‘seditionists.’ Most of the above mentioned countries have also directly and indirectly provided material support to Sri Lanka.

INTELLECTUALS AND THE WAR: Indeed, some of the intellectuals who support these so-called anti-US countries, considering them to be truly ‘revolutionary’, have even characterized the Eelam struggle as being funded by imperialist powers. This despite the fact that the LTTE was banned and continues to faces a ban in the US, Canada and the European Union and that quite some Tamils who have been suspected of aiding the Tigers have been arrested by these governments. This despite the fact that the US, Israel and many countries of the West have supplied the Sri Lankan government with economic and military aid. This despite the fact that none of those countries that had no qualms in going to war with undemocratic regimes in Iraq earlier and now in Libya raised a finger while over 50000 civilians were butchered by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces between January and May 2009. Media houses like The Hindu and NDTV that put up a sham liberal facade propagated this blatant lie of ‘terrorism promoted by foreign powers’, besides even positively projecting Sinhalese chauvinist-triumphalism after the massacre of the Tamils. Recent cables released by Wikileaks shows how the Indian Government opposed foreign powers preventing the Sri Lankan state’s war against the Tamils and also how the Sri Lankan government was desperately trying to get greater aid from the US in their war on the Tamils.

While the silence in intellectual circles on the genocide in Sri Lanka is grossly disproportionate to its intensity, the talks and debates on Sri Lanka in the mainstream Indian media and academia focuses on either peace or reconciliation or both. What is conveniently forgotten is the struggle of a people for freedom and justice. The ‘left’ intellectuals affiliated with the CPM and few other parliamentary left parties, who have no qualms in shouting their support for the Palestinian liberation struggle, are happy to denounce the equally genuine demands of the Eelam Tamil people and to distort the truth of their oppression. That they hold similar positions on the other national-liberation struggles in the subcontinent is testimonial to their commitment to the oppressed peoples. Even those who recognize the war-crimes of the Sri Lankan government are rather silent on the political demand for self-determination of the Eelam Tamils and slip into a human-rights discourse instead. The tragedy that befell the Tamils then becomes a ‘soft-story’ discussion for the NGO’s and status quo intellectuals.

The truth is this. The war in Sri Lanka is not about human rights violations alone. It is primarily about political rights of the Tamils as a nation to secede and form an independent state. Unless that is recognized, all appeals for peace and co-existence are just mere shams to cover the naked racist oppression that exists in Sri Lanka, the brutal face of Sinhala majoritarian chauvinism. The Lankan emperor is wearing no clothes – but why do so few have the courage to point that out?

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BLOOD: As soon as Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, it passed the Citizenship act, which in effect disenfranchised more than 10 lakh plantation Tamil workers in the island. Following the Sirimavo-Shastri pact of 1964, over 5 lakh of them were expatriated – the remaining were to get Sri Lankan citizenship only in 2003. In 1956, the notorious ‘Sinhala Only’ act, that made Sinhalese the sole official language was passed. Tamils staged peaceful protests and the response was state-sponsored riots which led to over a 150 deaths. Large scale riots against the Tamils occurred again in 1958, again as a response to non-violent protests of the Tamils. When the Federal Party declared civil disobedience, emergency was declared in many Tamil areas and the army was deployed to crush protests. Sinhalese academics in this period wrote ‘historical works’ that received official support which sought to obliterate the historical presence of the Tamils in the island. A sample – “The history of Sri Lanka is the history of the Sinhalese race… Buddhism is the golden thread running through the history of the Race and the Land…” (DC Wijewardena, The Revolt in the Temple)

Anti-Tamil riots occurred with varying frequencies in the 60’s and the 70’s. The Republican constitution of 1972, plucked away the few minority rights that the Tamils had. By officially privileging the faith of the majority, it made complete Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy a reality. The Tamils, deeply conscious of the oppression that they faced as a collective, realized that future in an united Sri Lanka would only spell doom for them. The Tamil United Liberation Front, which was formed on 1976, passed the Vaddukkodai resolution under the aegis of S.J.V. Chelvanayakam that year which stated that the struggle for “the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of Tamil Eelam, based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country.” The constitution promised a socialist-democratic state, committed to abolition of casteism and religious discrimination.

THE RISE OF ARMED STRUGGLE: The Tamil youth, who were the worst to be affected by the language policy of the government, and the rural populace who were under constant economic pressures, began losing faith in the peaceful methods of the TULF. The LTTE which was formed in 1976, gained popularity after the assassination of Jaffna mayor Alfred Duriappah. The burning of the Jaffna library, which contained numerous valuable historical manuscripts of the Tamils, by Sinhalese policemen in 1981 convinced the radical youth that the Sinhala chauvinist government was bent on erasing them totally and that armed struggle was the only way to secure justice. The horrible Black July riots of 1983 by Sinhalese mobs, policemen and the army, that was given a free hand by the state and which caused the deaths of over 4000 Tamils and the displacement of hundreds of thousands led to the intensification of Tamil armed resistance and its greater acceptance among the Tamil populace. The LTTE, with its programme for a Socialist Tamil Eelam, consciously promoted the involvement of women, dalits and backward castes in its ranks and reached out to a wider audience than the other parties.

INDIAN INVOLVEMENT: Other militant groups also emerged in this period. The TELO was openly favoured by the Indian government. After its decimation by the LTTE, the RAW chose the EPRLF, who were content to be happy stooges of India. Only the LTTE maintained its independent agenda and refused to be a junior partner of any power. Thus, when following the Indo-Sri Lanka accord the Indian Peace Keeping Force entered Sri Lanka, they launched their brutal assaults on the LTTE and the Tamil people. The IPKF also trained mercenary squads from the EPRLF in the name of ‘Tamil National Army’ to create terror among the local people. Yet, the Tigers were able to secure a decisive victory over the Indian army owing to their mass support and the usage of guerrilla warfare. After that defeat, India has supplied arms to Sri Lanka and also training to its armed forces, albeit covertly, mostly owing to fear of a backlash in Tamil Nadu.

CONSOLIDATION AND CRISIS: After a series of military successes, the LTTE consolidated its rule in the North and Eastern regions of Sri Lanka, having almost 15000 sq km under its control. When it entered into a Ceasefire agreement with Sri Lanka in 2002, it was functioning as a de facto state. It ran schools, hospitals, relief teams, judiciary and police. But by this time, various international powers starting stepping up their covert and overt support to Sri Lanka, especially after the media-generated paranoia on ‘terrorism’ after 9-11. The LTTE was banned in various countries and people suspected to be its members/sympathizers were arrested in India, the USA, France etc. While the movement of men and material for the LTTE was clamped down, the governments of China, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Libya and Iran gave extensive military support to Sri Lanka.

The defection of Karuna, the Eastern Commander of the LTTE, in 2004 which was partly engineered by the Lankan government came as a major blow to the Tigers. The December 2004 Tsunami also greatly damaged human resources and infrastructure in Tiger controlled areas. With Rajapaksa’s election in 2005 the ceasefire began to deteriorate. On July 2006, the Sri Lankan military started its full scale offensive against the Tamils with blessings from various international powers. Numerous atrocious acts like the Chencholai orphanage bombing of August 2006 which killed 61 Tamil children were committed by the Lankan armed forces with impunity.

Towards the last stages of the military operations in Mullaitivu, the Lankan armed forces violated all established conventions of war. Chemical weapons and cluster bombs were used on civilian populations. Non-combatants were subject to tortures and sexual abuse. Media freedom was curtailed and vigilante groups were propped to violently snuff out any democratic voices. The murders of journalists Taraki Sivaram, Lasantha Wickramatunga and P. Devakumaran are ghastly examples. When the Lankan government declared on May 19th that the war was over and that peace was ahead, it failed to mention the bloody trail that it had left behind.

POST-WAR SRI LANKA: The Permanent People’s Tribunal in a hearing on January 2010 found the Sri Lankan government guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Chomsky compared the Sri Lankan war on the Tamils to the atrocities in Rwanda. Despite claims to champion ‘peaceful co-existence’ the Sri Lankan government has been consistently pursuing militarization and colonization of Tamil areas since May 2009, especially in the absence of an organized resistance from the Tamils. Summary executions by mercenary gangs and the army, abductions, illegal detentions and rape are commonplace. Suicide rates among Tamils are one of the highest in the world and many suffer from psychological traumas.

Demographics of the region are changed by state supported Sinhalese settlements and establishment of army camps in Tamil areas. Many Tamil lands have now been used for foreign projects under the guise of government schemes. The assaults on the cultural level are also happening side by side. Besides wanton destruction of Tamil Churches and Temples, there are attempts to change the names of Tamil localities into Sinhala, thereby denying them their local history. Desecration of statues of Tamil martyrs has been accomplished with systematic efforts. In July 2010, the army demolished the Tamil war heroes cemetery in Thenmaradaachi, Jaffna, in order to build an army base over it. The purpose of this is two fold: one, to show the Tamils once and for all who their superiors are. Two, to erase all memories of resistance from the thoughts of the Tamils. Despite all this, dreams persist, words are spoken and stories are told.

CCON feels that at a stage where various national-liberation struggles are being brutally suppressed and are undergoing strategic and ideological changes, it is imperative for us to learn from various movements. And since the so-called ‘Sri Lanka solution is being upheld by various oppressor countries, we feel it is necessary to discuss how this ‘final solution’ turned out to be and what it signifies for the Tamils and other oppressed nationalities.

OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Mullivaikkal – Before and After

Thozhar Thiagu

“Mullivaikkal May 19 was a deluge in the history of Eelam Tamils. It has drowned everything. It has overturned all our old beliefs and ideals. We have no other option than to develop new viewpoints in accordance with the new situation.”

I heard an Eelam Tamil elder speak in these terms during my recent visit to North America. He did not even call himself an Eelam Tamil, but identified himself only as a Lankan Tamil.

Ideological Split

Not only this elder, but several others have come to the conclusion that such ideals as Tamil homeland, retrieval of sovereignty and Tamil Eelam liberation may altogether be forgotten and that it is enough we do our best to help the suffering people there. A section of the Tamil diaspora has discernibly changed to this new viewpoint. Though we cannot say whether they constitute a majority or not, sure they are not few.

There are still many who believe in the liberation of Tamil Eelam, and are doing their best for the cause. But even with them there is a lot to discuss.

The ideological split among the Eelam Tamil diaspora can also be seen to be reflected to some extent with the overseas Tamilnadu Tamils. No doubt Tamils living in Eelam would also be split along these lines. The extensive and intensive degree of disillusionment is, I fear, likely to be higher particularly among the Eelam Tamils languishing in prisons, barbed-wire concentration camps, and out there in open- air- prison-like circumstances under military watch. My fear was vindicated when I spoke with some who had recently been there.

Talk of setback as self-consolation

It must be accepted that the Sinhalese supremacists have not only succeeded in recklessly exterminating thousands of Tamils and crushing the Tamil Eelam liberation force, but rudely shaken the faith and conviction of the Eelam Tamils in particular and the world Tamils in general in the objective of Tamil Eelam liberation. If without grasping fully this significance of the Mullivaikkal holocaust we just seek self-consolation by describing it as “a small setback”, “a temporary setback”, etc., we shall not be able to take a single step towards emancipation.

If you can feel the distress of the Eelam Tamil people and the suffering they are still undergoing, you will understand that all those who say “no liberation, suffice it to be alive peacefully” cannot be brushed aside as cowards and traitors. Though there are of course a few cowards who fall at the feet of the enemy and traitors who betray the cause exploiting the difficult situation we are in, to dismiss everyone as such will not help. It must be seen that even some who in the past worked with dedication for the liberation of Tamil Eelam have now suffered a loss of faith.

While accepting the justification for the mental depression that all is over with May 19, is what is put forward as the new viewpoint correct? When I posed this question and provoked a discussion it turned out that none of these say they did not want Tamil Eelam, but have only concluded that it was no longer possible.

Cruelties continue

If all is over, what is it all that is over? Is Sinhalese supremacist chauvinism over? Are its national oppression and repression over? No. Not only have the high security zones established in Tamil areas not been dismantled, but new military camps are coming up. While more than one lakh Tamils are still held in concentration camps, most of those released from these camps are yet to be rehabilitated. Attempts are on to settle Sinhalese in Tamil homeland areas.

Many leading members of the liberation movement have been tortured to death after their surrender. Even those belonging to the art-and-literature wings have not been spared. The world knows what happened to Natesan and Pulithevan. The Sinhalese government is yet to respond to the question mark around the fate of Balakumaran, Pudhuvai Rathinadurai, Yogi and others. Apart from those killed, more than ten thousand young men and women are detained without any judicial trial. UN experts have confirmed the authenticity of the video pictures of Tamil youth, naked, blindfolded, hands tied, kicked down and shot dead. A TV channel of London has broadcast scenes of Tamil youth being brutally tortured to death.

The Permanent People’s Tribunal sitting at Dublin has ruled the Rajapkshe gang to be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity on the basis of incontrovertible evidence. Though the UNO failed to stop the 2009 May holocaust, its General Secretary has belatedly appointed a three-member committee to report to him on the war crimes in Sri Lanka. The indecent ways the Sinhalese Government resorted to against this committee showed that it will go to any extent to cover up its crimes. While justice has not yet been done for what happened, nor have the cruelties stopped, what is the meaning of telling Tamils that all is over? It can only be: “Quit the aspiration to live as rightful humans. Get used to live as slaves.”

Some have taken the stand that they would help the people of Tamil Eelam as far as possible without bothering about political rights, liberation and other such things. They have also established some organisations for this purpose. It can never be denied that everything should be done to help the suffering people. Only, it is incorrect to give up political efforts for this purpose. To provide help in a political vacuum is to seek to cook in a vessel with a hole in its bottom.

Man-made deluge

If it was a deluge it should have drowned everyone and everything. But the May 19 deluge was a disaster only for the Tamils! For the chauvinistic minded Sinhalese it was cause for joyful celebration! How then can it be compared with a natural deluge? If at all, it can be called a man-made deluge. It was a deluge created by the Sinhalese government with the collusion of the Government of India and the help of the governments of China and Pakistan in order to destroy the Tamils.

What are the lessons learnt by Tamils at the cost of losing the lives of many thousands of Tamils? In the first place, it is now too evident that in the island of Lanka under Sinhalese rule Tamils cannot exist, leave alone enjoy their rights. It is obvious enough that united Sri Lanka was the system that massacred Tamils.

The need for a separate state of Tamil Eelam has not lessened a wee bit, it has only increased. Secondly, the illusion of the people of Tamil Eelam in general about India is gone with a bang. The belief that the Government of India would protect Tamils has been belied. The Tamil race has been made painfully to realise that India would kill, not save.

Contradiction to be solved

The question that begs our answer is: how to solve the contradiction between the objective need of the Tamils for a separate state of Tamil Eelam and the subjective condition that many of them are disillusioned and dejected? Whether the dream of Tamil Eelam is going to be realised or not depends on solving this contradiction.

Some propose a simple solution. They say: The National Leader of Tamil Eelam is not dead, he is alive somewhere. He is devising some plan to resurrect the Eelam war. Very soon, after three months or three years, armed struggle will be resumed. Such slogans as “The leader will come and secure Tamil Eelam” and “Eelam War V coming soon” appear to be born of subjective wishes and emotions and not based on an objective assessment of real conditions.

Is the Leader alive? If yes, what is he doing? We are not in a position to answer these questions. To wish, to believe, to think it well and good that he be alive is quite different from asserting that he is alive. Likewise we are not in agreement with those who combine their inner desire with the ‘evidence’ released by the Sinhalese government to indulge in propaganda about the death and also the manner of death of Prabhakaran. We have already put forward our standpoint in this regard.

As far as we are concerned, whether Prabhakaran is alive or dead is not a question of opinion or faith. It is a question of fact, as to what happened or did not happen. This fact like so many other facts drowned in Mullivaikkal will one day come out fully. Let us until then put off this question and do our duties. Without playing the game of speculation on the basis of uncertain data, let us act with clarity on confirmed facts. Let us not fall a prey to the enemy’s scheme of engaging our and the world’s concentrated attention to the question of Prabhakaran’s fate with a view to obscuring a full view of the Mullivaikkal massacre.

It is interesting to note that Comrade Rudhrakumaran, the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, in response to a question whether the Leader was alive, said, “Time alone shall answer certain questions.”

Will Eelam War V break out?

But whether Eelam War V soon breaks out or not does not solely depend on the question whether the Leader is alive or not. If there be a historical necessity that the next stage of the Tamil Eelam national struggle should be in that form, it must happen so, must be made to happen so, irrespective of whether the Leader is there or not. If that cannot be the form of struggle, it will not happen that way even if the Leader is there. He himself would not try to make it happen so.

The central question is: are the main factors that prevailed in the first four phases of the Tamil Eelam liberation war – the preparedness of the people of Tamil Eelam with regard to their being and consciousness, the strength and cohesiveness of the liberation movement, the relative positions of friendly and hostile forces – still there without a basic change? In the present situation of the Tamil Eelam people a conventional or a guerrilla war relying upon them is unthinkable. As of now even peaceful and moralistic struggles are hardly possible.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which functioned cohesively for nearly thirty years, earned great and rare victories to make an indelible mark in history and rose high in glory to the admiration of the world thanks to the active support of the masses, the supreme sacrifice of thousands of martyrs, and the staunch and able guidance of the leadership – that LTTE, it cannot be denied, seems to have suddenly vanished.

The character of the LTTE

Why so? What were the subjective factors behind this? We do not have sufficient data clearly and categorically to answer these questions. But the objective factors – the world situation, the role of India and other foreign powers – are well-known. Whatever the cause the effect is obvious.

The LTTE is a military organisation with a political objective. Instead of a political party establishing a military wing for itself, here a military organisation established a political wing for itself. Why so? The brutal military repression by the Sinhalese supremacists is the answer.

Whether a military force builds a political movement, or a political movement builds a military force depends on the historical circumstances of the particular nation, not on the likes and dislikes of the leadership. In the Russian revolution the party came first. The Red Army was formed only after the triumph of the political revolution. In China a section of the Kuomintang army broke away and founded the Communist Party. In Ireland it was Irish Republican Army that established the political wing Sin Fein.

Command structure smashed

For any organisation of a military nature the command structure is very essential. The command structure of a liberation force is its heart, just as its political ideology is its brain. During the earlier phases of the Eelam War, whether the LTTE won or lost, its command structure remained more or less intact; it did not suffer a collapse or even a serious damage. But, the painful fact is, this time, the end of Eelam War IV has, in addition to causing a holocaust for the masses, totally smashed the command structure of the liberation force. This, of course, is our reading.

Not only from a military point of view, but even from a political one, the Sinhalese supremacists remain a potent force not just internally but at the South Asian and the international levels as well. The condition of the forces of Tamil Eelam liberation is quite the opposite. No need to panic at this reality. It is also true that it is not everlasting. But only by recognising this to be the present situation and grasping it can we fight for change.

The responsibility of Tamilnadu

Why could not the Mullivaikkal massacre be prevented? In a situation where the people of Tamil Eelam could not protect themselves the responsibility and the capability of protecting them belongs to the people of Tamilnadu. But as one understands it, either the people of Tamilnadu failed to carry out this responsibility, or they were unable to do it in spite of their best efforts.

If the population of world Tamils is ten crores, the Eelam Tamils are only less than half a crore. The Tamilnadu Tamils number more than six crores. Tamilnadu is the first and foremost homeland of Tamils. If Tamilnadu fails to save Tamil Eelam then who else will? In this sense the loss of Tamil Eelam is the loss of Tamilnadu. And why did Tamilnadu lose? Because it is itself a slave nation – this is the correct answer historically.

Tamilnadu sans sovereignty was unable to save the Eelam Tamil nationality. Though there are several factors, such as denial of linguistic rights and denial of riparian rights, to show the subjugation of the Tamil nation under Indian imperialism, it was our miserable inability to stop the war of genocide on Eelam Tamils that was the most telling reminder to us of our slavery.

Why did we lose?

But this should not be mechanically understood to mean that Tamilnadu can help Tamil Eelam only after its own liberation. Even when a nationality is in slavery it can grow strong and powerful and consolidate itself, by realising its slavery and fighting it. A people united and fighting for a just cause can achieve what even a state cannot.

What is the real status of the Tamil nationality that waged a passionate struggle to stop the war on Eelam Tamils. The social division of castes is an old fact. It was in spite of this that the Tamil people fought for their language in 1965, for Eelam now (2008-09). But they could not overcome their division into political parties. Though the treachery, fraud and betrayal of Karunanidhi have so blatantly come out in the open, there has been no rebellion in the DMK against his leadership! Or, the DMK has not broken up into pieces! It is possible to this day for Karunanidhi to enact dramas as if he is toiling for Eelam Tamils!

Jayalalitha, in order to turn the pro-Eelam mentality of the people of Tamilnadu into votes for her harvest, declaimed in her election campaign that Tamil Eelam was the only solution and promised to secure the same; but now she is conveniently looking the other way, busy with something else! She can aspire to take the hand bloodstained from its collusion in the massacre of Tamils! If Jayalalitha, as per her wish, can tomorrow carry the Congress on her shoulders, will the AIADMK disintegrate?

The bitter truth is: the election parties which came together in the Lankan Tamils Protection Movement subjected pro-Eelam politics to power-seeking politics instead of vice versa. Our experience shows that no power-seeking political party was prepared to forego office or boycott elections for the sake of Eelam people.
How in these circumstances can anyone mobilise the people of Tamilnadu for a militant mass struggle and paralyse the Government of India? No wonder the spontaneous struggles of students and lawyers beyond this party sphere, the self-immolation by Muthukumar and others, and the token struggles put up by Tamil nationalist forces failed to bite New Delhi.

The understanding of Tamil Eelam nationalists

Had the people of Tamilnadu rallied in a strong nationalist movement with the single objective of national liberation irrespective of party affiliations – just like the Kashmiri people now – it would have pulled back India from the Eelam massacre, and also created a situation in favour of the Eelam people on the world arena. The Tamil nationality has no sovereignty, nor has it been mobilised into a national movement towards sovereignty. Which is the main reason why Tamilnadu could not prevent the massacre of the Eelam people. The Tamilnadu Tamils and the Eelam Tamils must realise this truth.

Without learning and teaching this lesson written in Eelam Tamils’ blood on the wall of history, the Eelam dream will never be realised. In this respect it is the Tamil nationalist organisations organisations of Tamilnadu that have been very clear from the outset. This cannot be said, without qualification, about the Tamil nationalist organisations of Tamil Eelam. When in 1972 Selvanayagam, the father of Tamil Eelam, came to meet Thanthai Periyar, the latter said, “You say you have been enslaved? We Tamils are already mere slaves in India. What help can a slave render another?” The Tamil Eelam nationalists should then itself have understood the real status of Tamilnadu. Did they? Even if they did, did they work out an approach on that basis? The reply has mostly to be in the negative.

Both the leaders and the public of Tamil Eelam are used to see Tamilnadu as India and Tamils as Indians. Even the intellectuals of Tamil Eelam in general do not recognise the existence of Indian oppression to Tamils just as Sinhalese oppression to Tamils of Tamil Eelam.

The Tamil nationalism of Tamilnadu

The Tamil nationalism of Tamilnadu is older than that of Tamil Eelam. In 1925 Thanthai Periyar founded the Self-Respect Movement. In 1938 he raised the slogan: Tamilnadu for Tamils! Though Bharathiyar, V.O. Chidambaram, Thiru.V. Kalyanasundaram and others of the same kind were basically Indian nationalists, there were strong aspects of Tamil nationalism in their speeches and writings. The Naam Thamizhar party of C. Pa. Aadhithanar, the Thamizharasu Kazhagam of Ma. Po. Sivagnanam and the Thamizh Thesiya Katchi of E.V.K. Sampath contributed to the development of Tamil nationalism upto some extent unto some point. Even the Dravidian movement, before its degeneration due to power-seeking politics, took forward a more or less Tamil nationalism in content though in the perverted Dravidian form.

There is no big indication that the Tamil nationalist movement of Tamil Eelam acted with an awareness of such a long history of Tamil nationalism in Tamilnadu. A few like Poet Kasi Anandhan may have understood the correlation between Tamilnadu and Tamil Eelam due to their direct role in the Tamil nationalist movements here and there. But they are only exceptions.

Tigers’ understanding

Only because the Liberation Tigers and Leader Prabhakaran correctly understood Indian imperialism and its interest in preventing the emergence of Tamil Eelam, they could maintain vigilance against its machinations, and were able to break through the vicious net thrown by the Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement.

During a press meet in Jaffna, when asked about Karunanidhi and MGR, Prabhakaran replied to the effect: “We are well aware that the Government of Tamilnadu has no sovereignty. Also that the Chief Minister does not have the power to help us on his own accord. But we believe they have a moral responsibility to reflect the sentiments of the people of Tamilnadu.”

This is the correct view.

But did this view and the conclusions derived from it reach all levels of the movement? Especially the political essayists? We do not know. The public of Tamil Eelam were also groomed with illusions about India. There prevailed a narrow understanding of Tamilnadu politics as a Karunanidhi versus MGR affair. Even though a few of the Tamil nationalist leaders of Tamilnadu were popular in Eelam they were identified more as friends of Tamil Eelam than as Tamil nationalists.

The Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987, the subsequent invasion of the Indian army in the name of the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the atrocities it committed dealt a strong blow to the Eelam people’s illusion about India. The sacrifice of Thileepan, the death by cyanide of the twelve including Pulendhiran and Kumarappa, the fast unto death of Mother Bhoopathy … all these clearly showed India’s enmity.

The hostile attitude of India did not stop with the withdrawal of the IPKF. It continued to provide the Sinhalese government with armaments and military training. But even then the policy of appeasement towards India did continue. We need not of course say that we consider India an enemy state. But we need not have hesitated to say that the Government of India treats the Tamils as an inimical race.

Israel and Eelam

It is one thing to reassure that India need not be afraid of Eelam, but another to assure that Eelam will help India’s activities. The line separating these two approaches is clear though thin.

A bizarre consequence of the approach of committing Eelam to the intentions of the Indian state is the assurance that ‘Eelam would serve India as Israel serves the United States of America’. We know how Israel served and continues to serve the US. To bully the oil-rich Arab nations, and, more importantly, to frustrate the liberation of Palestine. In short, Israel is the West Asian henchman of the US.

If Eelam is going to serve India the same way, it means it would serve as India’s South Asian henchman. If Eelam is going to help contain those opposed to India, it means it would serve to oppress Kashmir, the north-eastern nationalities and the tribal people of Dhandakaranya.

To extend this logic to the end, it means it would help stop Tamilnadu’s national liberation. If Eelam is going to work out like this, will not the people of Tamilnadu ask: Why then should we support Eelam?

The correlation of the struggles for Tamilnadu and Tamil Eelam

We do not refute the historical differences between Sinhalese oppression and Indian oppression. Similarly we do take into consideration that the liberation struggles of Tamilnadu and Tamil Eelam are in different stages of development. But there is no justification for failing to understand, ignoring or not taking into account the need for the development of Tamil nationalism in Tamilnadu and its correlation to the liberation struggle of Tamil Eelam.

When as a rejoinder to the question, “What has Tamilnadu done for Tamil Eelam?” I asked, “What has Tamil Eelam done for Tamilnadu?” many of the Tamil Eelam friends were startled. I posed this question only in order to make them sharply understand that Tamil Eelam nationalists should be interested in the Tamil national struggle of Tamilnadu.

View of Tamilnadu politics

Post-Mullivaikkal, of course, Tamil Eelam people hate India. But this is not enough. They should understand the imperialist character of the Indian state, identify the forces fighting it and find solidarity with them. In particular they should come out of the myopic understanding of Tamilnadu politics merely as a Karunanidhi-Jayalalitha contest. Should not be spending their valuable time in trying to solve the riddle: who is going to be the next Chief Minister of Tamilnadu? Should not be yearning for some favourite of theirs to occupy the CM’s chair and deliver liberation by parcel!

Under the present Constitution of India, whoever may be the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, he can only be the Varadharajaperumal of Tamilndu – this should be understood by one and all. When we say that the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu failed to save the people of Tamil Eelam, we do not mean he could have done it by invoking the legal powers of a Chief Minister, but failed to do so. We only mean he failed to fight Delhi in reflection of the sentiments of the people of Tamilnadu. For instance, he could have thrown away his chief-ministership and come to the streets in protest against Delhi’s role in the massacre of Eelam Tamils. He could thus have pressurised Delhi, thereby stopping or curtailing its anti-Tamil attitude. What a Chief Minister can do at the most is to come forward to resign and fight. Without doing so Karunanidhi stuck to office and this was his betrayal. If the maximum utility of a post of office is just to resign, why so much anxiety about such a post?

Power-seeking politics

What is the use of the Members of Parliament resigning their posts? What is the use of Ministers in the Government of India quitting office? What is the use of pro-Eelam parties boycotting elections? All these questions were raised then itself. These steps would have aroused the masses and brought pressure to bear upon the Government of India.

Members of Parliament should have resigned as decided upon by the All-Party meeting on the 14th of October 2008. Even if some parties had backtracked other parties should have carried out the decision to resign. The Union ministers belonging to the DMK and the PMK should have resigned. It was unpardonable to stick to office till the last while at the same time claiming to oppose the war. If those political parties, which purportedly opposed the war of genocide, had boycotted the polls and declared elections to be unnecessary until the war is stopped, it would have isolated the Congress. At least the pro-Eelam parties should have taken this stance, even If the other parties were reluctant.

To shun this path and to insist that pro-eelam parties should have formed an alliance among themselves would lead us nowhere. The explanation offered by the leader of the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi, Thol. Thirumavalavan that only due the absence of such an alliance he had to join the Congress-DMK combo is unacceptable. Why did not his party reject all alliances and fight the elections independently? No convincing explanation from him. He could have simply boycotted the elections? Why not?

Why did not these political parties take such steps as mentioned supra? Because they follow power-seeking politics. The leaderships of these parties are not willing even to put off their power-seeking politics for a brief while for the sake of preventing the massacre of Eelam Tamils.

The composition itself of these political parties from top to bottom is of this kind. After carrying loads all along there cannot be a sudden metamorphosis into war-horses. A clear understanding of nationalism is needed not only for leading, but even for supporting, a national liberation movement. Tamil nationalist phrase-chanting such as homeland, sovereignty and self-rule at the same time as serving Indian nationalism in deeds would help neither Tamilnadu nor Tamil Eelam.

Two liberation struggles

Only when we grasp the dialectical correlation between the liberation struggles of Tamil Eelam and Tamilnadu, world Tamil unity becomes meaningful and useful. These two liberation struggles are distinctly separate, but closely connected; capable of objectively helping each other, but not conditional upon each other. We ought to see this correlation not as existing in a static situation, but as moving in constantly changing internal and external conditions. This understanding is essential in the first place for at least the leading fighting forces on the two fronts. Then this should sink into the collective consciousness of the world Tamils. Intellectuals on both sides should take the initiative for this.

Though both the liberation struggles of Tamil Eelam and of Tamilnadu are historical necessities, they are in different stages of development. Therefore the ways and forms of helping each other are also bound to differ.

Though the Tamil nationalist movement of Tamilnadu is older it has fallen behind. The Tamil nationalist movement of Tamil Eelam has overtaken it. In Tamilnadu we are fighting for making the masses of Tamil people realise the need for Tamil nationalism. Tamil nationalism will never be able to become a political force for liberation unless it is grasped by the masses. This does not mean that we are in the propaganda stage. Struggles for the demands of the Tamil people are the main means to make the masses realise the need for Tamil nationalism. The Tamil nationalist organisations should be built strong and solid in order to direct such struggles along the direction of the goal of Tamil national liberation. Tamil nationalist media should be strengthened to fulfil these tasks.

The Tamil Eelam national liberation struggle started as a moralistic one, developed as an armed struggle, transformed from a guerrilla war into a conventional war, and eventually met with a huge military defeat. The people of Tamil Eelam should rise again from this defeat and continue the struggle in new forms. In this the world Tamils should help them.

Isolating the Sinhalese state

How? The people of Tamil Eelam stand bereft of any space to fight by any means. If this space has to be created for them severe pressure has to be brought upon the Sinhalese state.

Arraign the criminal who committed genocide! Institute an enquiry through the UNO into the war of genocide against the Eelam people! Set free all the imprisoned militants! Release those still in the barbed-wire concentration camps! Dismantle the High Security Zones! Rehabilitate all the Tamil people! Return all their land, properties and industries! Compensate fully the losses suffered by the Tamil people due to war! Stop Sinhalese settlements in Tamil homeland areas! Secure the democratic rights of the Tamil people! For such demands should the Tamils of Tamilnadu and of the diaspora should fight for. Though this is only a moralistic and peaceful struggle, it should not be a mere token struggle.

If our struggle is to have an impact on the Sinhalese state, we should isolate Sri Lanka on a global scale. We should see to it that economic. Politico-diplomatic and cultural sanctions are imposed on Sri Lanka.

The United States Tamils Political Action Council (USTPAC) is already in the thick of the struggle for boycotting goods from Sri Lanka. Along with overseas Tamils from Tamilnadu and Eelam a Jewish woman Dr. Ellyn Sander is playing an active role in this movement. It is a welcome sign that the European Union is seeking to annul the GSP Plus trade concessions to Sri Lanka.

Hope and encouragement

The role played by the Tamil movie artists, the May 17 movement and Save Tamils in dampening the International Indian Film Festival Awards (IIFA) function in Colombo is encouraging. The campaign for boycotting the Tamil Writers’ Meet at Colombo has gained notable success. Though all these are encouraging they are not enough. We should intensively and extensively increase our efforts a hundred times. The slogan and the campaign BOYCOTT SRI LANKA should be very soon developed to a level where there is none to refute or oppose it. We can mobilise the active support of democratic forces all over India.

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) democratically elected by the Eelam Tamils at the world level is functioning well, uniting and coordinating various hues of Tamils and Tamil organisations behind the objective of a separate state of Tamil Eelam. The TGTE would hopefully fulfil the task of earning the recognition and support of the international community for the demand of a separate state of Tamil Eelam. The pro-Tamil Eelam forces of Tamilnadu should take the initiative in a planned manner to mobilise support for the TGTE and its endeavours in Tamilnadu and at the Indian level. We should help the Eelam Tamils living here as refugees play their role in the formation and activation of the TGTE.

The TGTE and the LTTE

To consider the TGTE as a reproduction or re-edition of the LTTE and comparing the two with the same yardstick are wrong. In this respect we should be very cautious.

The LTTE was born, grew up and did its duty in a historical stage of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle, a stage when armed struggle was the main form. In a new stage of struggle – a stage when political struggle, based on the transnational existence of the Tamil Eelam people and the international influence of Tamil nationalism, has emerged as the main form – the TGTE has been born to fulfil the tasks peculiar to this stage.

Separate Tamil Eelam is the objective of the LTTE; the same is the objective of the TGTE. It is in this sense that we can consider the TGTE to be a historical continuation of the LTTE. As the tasks to be fulfilled by them are basically different, they are bound to differ in all respects, namely the forms of organisation, the methods of struggle and the tactics. If we fail to understand this difference the result would be confusion confounded.

Impact on Sinhalese

The campaign to isolate and pressurise the Sinhalese supremacist state should make the Sinhalese people, the social base of Sinhalese chauvinism, think and rethink, and should seek to turn them around against their state, and help the growth of genuine democratic forces among the Sinhalese people. What is more, this would sharpen contradictions within the Sinhalese ruling class. Conflicts would break out. The ruling fascist clique would more and more be isolated. All these would combine to create and expand a democratic space for the Tamil people. The suppressed and repressed Tamil people would utilise this space to take the field.

Like the Intifada of the Palestinian people, like the present uprising of the Kashmiri people, the Eelam people would also rise up and fight. Will this struggle be sufficient to secure victory? Or will armed struggle be necessary once again? We cannot judge at once. Moreover it does not depend merely on the Eelam people or the liberation forces that lead them. One thing is certain: whatever may be the form, it would not be possible once again to brand that struggle as terrorist to isolate and crush it.

Future prospects

We think this may be the future path of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle. Even if it is different let us approach it with an open mind to grasp it and act. But let us be very clear about what is to be done at present. Let us extensively take forward the campaign to isolate the Sinhalese state!

Let Tamil Eelam understand Tamilnadu just as Taminadu understands Tamil Eelam. If the global Tamil community realises its historical responsibility and acts systematically, on earth will rise a Tamil state; then another. On the world stage will fly two Tamil flags. The contribution of the Tamil race to the progress of mankind will go two steps up.

The author is the General Secretary of the Tamil National Liberation Movement, Tamilnadu. Your comments may be mailed to thozharthiagu@gmail.com

Eva Golinger Misinterprets Solidarity: Support Tamils not Sri Lanka’s War Criminal Government

Ron Ridenour

Eva Golinger is known for her counter-intelligence analysis in the service of Venezuela’s peaceful revolution against the local oligarchy and the United States Empire. She is a noted author (“The Chavez Code: Cracking US intervention in Venezuela”). A dual citizen of the US and Venezuela, she is an attorney, and a personal friend of President Hugo Chavez, who dubbed her, La Novia de Venezuela (“the bride of Venezuela”). She is a frequent contributor to left-wing media around the world, and is the English editor of the Venezuela government newspaper, Correo del Orinoco.

Golinger is a name synonymous with solidarity and anti-imperialism. However, she recently inexplicably immersed herself into being a supporter for the most brutal, racist and genocidal government of Sri Lanka in a resoundingly irresponsible opinion piece printed in the Spanish daily version of Correo del Orinoco, May 15, and on May 21, published by the Caracas city government newspaper, Ciudad CCS. The piece was simply entitled, “Sri Lanka”. Printed in Spanish, I translate into English the major part of its content and analyze its errors with the goal of countering rumors she started, and in an effort to broaden support for a most maligned and oppressed ethnic group, the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Golinger wrote that, in 2005, Sri Lankan “presidential elections occurred for the first time in nearly 30 years. Mahinda Rajapakse obtained victory with more than 58% of votes. He was reelected, January 2010 with more than 60%.”

“Rajapakse, Buddhist leader, is supported by a coalition of leftist parties, among them the Communist Party. In May, 2009, Rajapaske finalized the civil war, defeating the armed organization, LTTE.

“The LTTE had close ties with the CIA, and Washington negotiated an accord with them for establishing a military base in the country, if they obtained power. Upon its defeat, the LTTE had established numerous organizations—fronts in different countries around the world, seeking to create `a government in exile´ and hoping to isolate the current government of Sri Lanka. Last week, representatives of one of its fronts, Canadian Hart, passed through Venezuela; it met with government functionaries seeking support in its intent to weaken the relationship between the two governments.

“Instead of relating to the illegitimate opposition in Sri Lanka, Venezuela should shake the hand of an ally that also suffers imperial aggressions.”

Golinger is factually incorrect

1. Mahinda Rajapakse is not the first president elected. In 1982, J.R. Jayawardane won the first presidential election with 52.9% of the vote. The United National Party (UNP)—a pro-western party of the comprador bourgeoisie—introduced a new constitution after its 1977 landslide victory. Before then, the office of prime minister was the highest, and Jayawardane won that post and the UNP took 80% of the parliamentary seats. In 1978, the new constitution renamed the country, “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”, but this had nothing to do with socialism. The economy then, as now, was a capitalist one with a neo-liberal orientation much like Chile after the 1973 coup d´etat.

According to the Government Department of Census and Statistics own figures (2006/2007), 82% of the rural population lives under the national poverty line while 65% of the urban population is not able to meet the minimum level of per capita daily calorie and protein intake recommended by the government Medical Research Institute. See official figures on the government website.

There can be nothing “democratic socialist” about discriminating against 15% of its population, the Tamil ethnic group, making them unequal by legally restricting their rights and privileges. Such has been the case since independence from Britain, in 1948. Even the U.S. Library of Congress studied Tamils as an “alienated” group. In 1988, it published, “Sri Lanka: a Country Study”:

”Moderate as well as militant Sri Lankan Tamils have regarded the policies of successive Sinhalese governments in Colombo with suspicion and resentment since at least the mid-1950s, when the `Sinhale Only´ language policy was adopted…”

2. Rajapakse won the fifth presidential elections and with the least majority of all presidents, 50.29%, not 58% as Golinger wrote. [Wikipedia ]

Rajapakse is the current leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), founded in 1951 to represent the Sinhalese bourgeoisie. In 1960 elections, Sirimavo R.D. Bandaranayake became the world’s first woman prime minister. The Moscow oriented Communist Party and the Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samja Party (LSSP) formed the “United Front” coalition with the SLFP, in 1970. Now with three minister posts, the “old left” betrayed the young. Many Sinhalese leftist youth became disillusioned with the “old left” and after the SLFP returned to government, they rebelled. The so-called “leftist” government, with the CP and LSSP, branded this upsurge a “Che Guevarist uprising” and crushed the rebellion by killing about 20,000 mainly rural Sinhala youth, in 1971. The next year, these “left” parties drafted the first republican constitution in which Sinhalese was codified as the only official language and Buddhism the only the official religion—Tamils are not Buddhists. This eroded whatever support the “old left” had among both leftist Sinhalese and all Tamils. Since then neither the CP nor the LSSP has managed to get a single seat in the parliament independently. They are always with the capitalist party, SLFP.

3. Rajapakse won the January 2010 elections with 57.88%, not 60%, over his former chief general, Sarath Fonsekla, in charge of liquidating the LTTE (Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam). Fonseka’s party, New Democratic Front, received 40.15% of the vote. In desperation, a few Tamils voted for General Fonseka knowing that he was the main army force in carrying out the president’s orders in liquidating the LTTE, and massacring tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. The one difference between the two war criminals was that Fonseka later promised that he would release the rest of the interned Tamils and return their possessions and land. Tamils are crushed for now and resort to seeking a bit of breathing space. (Wikipedia entry on United People’s Freedom Alliance).

The egomaniacal president was not satisfied with just defeating his former general in the ballot box, he had him arrested and beaten, on February 7, shortly after the elections, and charged him with plotting a coup, which General Fonseka denies. A purge of scores of top military officers has occurred; a dozen or more Sinhalese and Tamil Journlists have been arrested. In the four years of Rajapakse rule, at least 23 journalists critical of his regime have been murdered: See 1 and 2.

4. “The LTTE had close ties with the CIA, and Washington negotiated an accord with them for establishing a military base in the country…” That is an outrageous and unsubstantiated allegation. In my month-long research last autumn, I found nothing to indicate Golinger’s unsupported claim. Looking up in Google for “LTTE and CIA”, nothing exists. When searching for LTTE and CIA and LTTE ties to CIA without quotation marks, nothing exists that binds them. I looked up some 200 hits and only found reference to the Golinger claim, and this was cited by a most skeptical Patrick J. O´Donoghue, news editor for the English-language website www.Vheadline.com, in a May 23 commentary. He said: “I couldn’t believe what I read in the Caracas CC blatt!” We have no way of knowing if the LTTE even met with the CIA, but in war most anything is possible. What we can know is that the US, and its CIA and Pentagon, have long supported the genocidal Sinhalese governments, and most certainly that of Rajapaske, and it placed the LTTE on its Foreign Terrorist Organization hit list in 1997. I will delve into this farther on.

5. Golinger’s claim that Canadian Hart is a front for the LTTE is denied by several solidarity groups in Canada who know that organization for its humanitarian work. See their perspective, “Venezuela: Eva Golinger’s misinformation endangers exiled Tamils’ fight for freedom”, at: http://vheadline.com/

6. Golinger depicts the Sri Lankan capitalist and genocidal government as an “ally” of Venezuela, one that she recommends her revolutionary government to “shake the hand of an ally that also suffers imperial aggression.” This boggles the mind, or “beggars belief”, as O’Donoghue wrote. Instead of opposing the Yankee Empire, her position is allied with imperialist United States and its allies Zionist Israel, the United Kingdom and other former European colonialists, as well as the emerging superpower and worker-exploiter China. (See my pieces “ALBA Let Down Sri Lanka Tamils”, “Equal Rights or Self-Determination”, and “The Terrorists: International support for Sri Lanka racist discrimination”. See the entire five-part series at: Radical Notes). There is no shred of evidence that the United States aggresses against Sri Lanka governments, on the contrary.

US Supports Sri Lanka Genocide

The Indian Ocean is a vital waterway where half the world’s containerized cargo passes through. Its waters carry heavy traffic of petroleum products. Sri Lanka cooperation is vital to the US Empire’s global interests. A separated Tamil state would complicate cooperation requirements.

The United States of America has been arming and financing Sri Lanka for most of the civil war period. [www.cdi.org/PDFs/CSBillCharts.pdf ] From at least the 1990s, the US has provided military training, financing, logistic supplies and weapons sales worth millions annually. A Voice of America installation was set up in the northwestern part of the country.

The United States government praised Rajapaksa for restarting the war already in July 2006, and officially ending the ceasefire in 2008. The US embassy in Colombo issued this statement: “The United States does not advocate that the Government of Sri Lanka negotiate with the LTTE…” (See www.globalresearch.ca)

On May 26, 2002, the Colombo English-language Sunday Times wrote about a joint military pact between Sri Lanka and the U.S., a development taken soon after the CSA was signed.

“The Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement [ACSA]…will enable the United States to utilise Sri Lanka’s ports, airports and air space. As a prelude to the signing of the agreement scheduled for July, this year, United States Naval ships have been calling at the Colombo Port for bunkering as well as to enable sailors to go on shore leave.

“In return for the facilities offered, Sri Lanka is to receive military assistance from the United States including increased training facilities and equipment. The training, which will encompass joint exercises with United States Armed Forces, will focus on counter terrorism and related activity. The agreement will be worked out on the basis of the use of Sri Lanka’s ports, airports, and air space to be considered hire-charges that will be converted for military hardware.”

US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca was the key liaison person with the Sri Lankan government. [Rocca had been a CIA officer before joining the state department.] (See www.colombopage.com) The ACSA agreement was not finally signed until Rajapaksa came to power. It was U.S. citizen Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defense Minister, and brother to President Rajapaksa, who signed the agreement, on March 5, 2007. (Their younger brother, also a minister, is a US citizen as well.)

George W. Bush was especially glad for Sri Lanka’s state terrorism. In 2006, he encouraged the government to resume the civil war, which Bush financed with $2.9 million. The Pentagon provided counter-insurgency training, maritime radar, patrols of US warships and aircraft. This was a continuation of “Operation Balanced Style”, which uses U.S. Special Forces instructors since 1996.

At the end of Bush’s first term, the US was forced to cut back on aid given that it was bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq. That, coupled with critical public opinion, organized by the Diaspora, of state terrorism and systematic discrimination of Tamils, prompted congress to make noises about abuses of human rights by not only LTTE but possibly by paramilitary forces linked to the S.L. government. Thousands of Tamils blocked highways in Canada, camped outside British parliament for months, some committed suicide in front of government offices, while Indian Tamils conducted paralyzing strikes. Nevertheless, in 2008, the U.S. granted $1.45 million in military financing and training to the Sri Lanka government out of a total of $7.4 million in total aid. The US made noises about a ‘humanitarian crisis’ when the Sri Lankan army was about to finish the war but it never took affirmative action to bring the war to an end nor to condemn the army or government.

Even after leading international observers, and some of the mass media, especially in the U.K. and France, began to expose S.L. government and the army’s systematic atrocities against Tamil civilians, and captured LTTE soldiers, the US continued to back up the Sri Lankan government, in contradiction to Eva Golinger. In mid-April, 2010, the U.S. and Sri Lankan military forces conducted military exercises in Eastern Seas (Trincomalee) for the first time in 25 years.

Said Lt Col Larry Smith, the US defense attache: “The joint exercise helped members from our two militaries to exchange best practices on how to address complex humanitarian challenges.”

He added: “The US and Sri Lanka have a long tradition of cooperation. We hope this partnership can be expanded.” http://jdsrilanka.blogspot.com/

Documentary film-maker John Pilger compares Sri Lanka’s genocide to Israel

“The Sri Lankan government has learned an old lesson from, I suspect, a modern master: Israel. In order to conduct a slaughter, you ensure the pornography is unseen, illicit at best. You ban foreigners and their cameras from Tamil towns like Mulliavaikal, which was bombarded recently by the Sri Lankan army, and you lie that the 75 people killed in the hospital were blown up quite willfully by a Tamil suicide bomber.” “Distant Voices, Desperate Lives,” New Statesman, 13-5-09.

When the U.S. does not want to be seen on the frontlines in a war, it sends in surrogates and Israel is its main partner in this war crime. Israel was officially re-awarded diplomatic relations, in May 2000, after Sri Lanka had severed them in 1970, in protest at Israel’s continued illegal expansion into Palestinian territory. (www.dailymailnews.com/)

Nevertheless, Israel continued to operate inside S.L. out of a special interests office set up in the US embassy. Under the table, Sri Lanka’s successive regimes embraced Israel’s military advisors, a special commando unit in the police, and Mossad counter-intelligence agents—who sought to drive a wedge between Muslims and Tamils. Israel sent Sri Lanka16 of its supersonic Kfir fighter jets, some Dvora fast naval attack craft, and electronic and imagery surveillance equipment, plus advisors and technicians. Israel personnel took part in military attacks on Tamil units, and its pilots flew attack aircraft. Tigers shot down one Kfir. Just before the end of the war, Prime Minister Wickremanayake was in Israel to make bigger deals with Israeli arms supplies. (See 1 and 2)

Sri Lanka government war crimes

Golinger even ignores ample evidence of extreme war crimes committed by her choice for president, Mahinda Rajapakse, against the minority Tamils. They have a righteous claim for liberation because of being subject to systematic discrimination, oppression and genocide. (Ibid: “Equal Rights or Self-Determination”.) Sri Lanka’s first president, J.R.Jayewardene, expressed the essence of this genocide to the “Daily Telegraph”, on July 11, 1983. “Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”

In May 2009, Rajapakse had all the civilians who survived his gun fire placed into concentration camps, which he called “welfare villages”, much like those the Yankees concocted in Vietnam. In violation of United Nations international rules, as many as from 280,000 to one-half million people were forced interned. Today, one year later, 100,000 remain. Only two million S.L. Tamils remain in the country. Nearly one million have fled in the past three decades.

Even the U.S.’s choice for secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, was displeased with these camps when he made a brief visit to one shortly after the war’s end.

“I have traveled around the world and visited similar places, but this is by far the most appalling scenes I have seen…I sympathize fully with all of the displaced persons.”

Several internationally respected organizations concerned about war crimes, and a few mass media journalists, have conducted interviews with IDPs, taken or viewed photographs, videos, satellite images—taken surreptitiously during the war—and have read electronic communications and documents from many sources. Some observers have been able to visit a camp or two.

On May 17, one of those organizations, the International Crisis Group, released its report, “War Crimes in Sri Lanka”. I cite from it:

“The Sri Lanka security forces and the LTTE repeatedly violated international humanitarian law during the last five months of their 30-year civil war…from January 2009 to the government’s declaration of victory in May [violations worsened]. Evidence gathered by the International Crisis Group suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.

“This evidence also provides reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lanka security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible.”

Here is a revealing example of this evidence.

On August 25, 2009, Channel 4 News (UK) broadcast raw footage, one minute long, showing S.L. government soldiers casually executing eight bound and blindfolded, naked Tamil men, believed to be LTTE combatants. This is a war crime according to all international agreements. Rajapakse’s government denied the authenticity of the photos, apparently taken by a S.L. soldier and provided to Channel 4 through the exiled group of Sinhalese and Tamil journalists, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. But internationally renowned forensic experts have validated its authenticity. (See 1, 2 and 3)

In a recent Channel 4 News broadcast by Jonathan Miller, two eyewitnesses spoke of systematic murder of all LTTE fighters caught or surrendered. One witness is a senior army commander: “Definitely, the order would have been to kill everybody and finish them off.” A frontline S.L. soldier told Miller: “Yes, our commander ordered us to kill everyone. We killed everyone.”

Even the head general in charge of defeating the LTTE, General Fonseka, spoke of having orders from the Defense Secretary to kill leaders without taking prisoners—“all LTTE leaders must be killed”. http://www.defenceforum.in/

Returning to the International Crisis Group war crimes report:

“Starting in late January [2009], the government and security forces encouraged hundreds of thousands of civilians to move into ever smaller government-declared No Fire Zones (NFZs) and then subjected them to repeated and increasingly intense artillery and mortar barrages and other fire. This continued through May despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties.

“The security forces shelled hospitals and makeshift medical centres—many overflowing with the wounded and sick—on multiple occasions even though they knew of their precise locations and functions. During these incidents, medical staff, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others continually informed the government and security forces of the shelling, yet they continued to strike medical facilities through May…”

Among the charges that must be investigated, wrote ICG, is “the recruitment of children by the LTTE and the execution by the security forces of those who had laid down their arms and were trying to surrender.”

Shortly after this report, Amnesty International released its report of torture in 111 countries. Among those A.I. condemns for the “politicization of justice” is Sri Lanka’s government. It also criticizes the UN “for its failure to intervene…By the end of the year, despite further evidence of war crimes and other abuses, no-one had been brought to justice,” A:I:’s Secretary General Claudio Cordone said. “One would be hard pressed to imagine a more complete failure to hold to account those who abuse human rights.” (See 1, 2 and 3)

Some leaders of ALBA countries may be under the impression that when westerners (A.I., ICG, Channel 4) protest about human rights abuse that this reflects the double speak language of white imperialism, or NGO imperialists. This is sometimes the case. But it is definitely not so with Sri Lanka. None of the western governments on the HRC wished to condemn Sri Lanka. They only condemned the LTTE and simply asked Sri Lanka to look into its own behavior during the war.

Do not take my word or those of A.I and ICG for this assessment alone but look at the conclusions drawn by internationally renowned figures with impeccable solidarity credentials, such as Francois Houtart, who, among other positions, is an honorary professor at the University of Havana. He chaired an 11-judge panel looking into war crimes charges against Sri Lanka’s government and army—the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka (PPT), held in Dublin in January. Among the many supporters of the panel and their conclusions is the senior advisor to President Daniel Ortega, Miguel D´Escoto. Ironically, Nicaragua is one of the ALBA countries that praised the Sri Lanka government and voted for their resolution at the HRC. The PPT’s conclusions approximate those allegations made by the above mentioned organizations: Sri Lanka committed “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”. These conclusions are found on pages 14-15 of the 50-page verdict.

On the Qualifications of the Facts

“Summing up the facts established before this Tribunal by reports from NGOs, victims’ testimony, eye-witnesses accounts, expert testimony and journalistic reports, we are able to distinguish three different kinds of human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan Government from 2002 (the beginning of the CFA) to the present:

• Forced “disappearances” of targeted individuals from the Tamil population;
• Crimes committed in the re-starting of the war (2006-2009), particularly during the last months of the war:
• Bombing civilian objectives like hospitals, schools and other non-military targets;
• Bombing government-proclaimed ‘safety zones’ or ‘no fire zones’;
• Withholding of food, water, and health facilities in war zones;
• Use of heavy weaponry, banned weapons and air-raids;
• Using food and medicine as a weapon of war;
• The mistreatment, torture and execution of captured or surrendered LTTE combatants, officials and supporters;
• Torture;
• Rape and sexual violence against women;
• Deportations and forcible transfer of individuals and families;
• Desecrating the dead;
• Human rights violations in the IDP camps during and after the end of the war:
• Shooting of Tamil citizens and LTTE supporters;
• Forced disappearances;
• Rape;
• Malnutrition; and
• Lack of medical supplies”
(See 1 and 2).

Conclusion

I urge ALBA members of the Human Rights Council—Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua—along with their brothers and sisters in Venezuela to recognize an error made when they promulgated Sri Lanka’s own resolution laid before the HRC and adopted by the majority, on May 27, 2009 –Resolution S-11/1, “assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

The self-serving resolution only condemned the LTTE for acts of terror while praising the Sri Lankan government and supporting, naturally, its right to sovereignty. These ALBA countries, along with most members of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Council, let the entire Tamil people down, especially the Internally Displaced Persons. My assessment is shared by the people’s tribunal in paragraph 5.5:

“The Tribunal stresses the responsibility of the Member States of the United Nations that have not complied with their moral obligation to seek justice for the violations of human rights committed during the last period of war. After repeated pleas, and in spite of the appalling conditions experienced by Tamils, the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council failed to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate those responsible for the atrocities committed due to political pressure exerted by certain Members.”

The PPT came to the opposite conclusion that Golinger does on all accounts. The US is not an actor of “aggression” against Sri Lanka’s government rather it is the case of one war criminal supporting another. The tribunal “highlights the conduct of the European Union in undermining the CFA of 2002. In spite of being aware of the detrimental consequences to a peace process in the making, the EU decided – under pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom – to list the TRM (Tamil Resistance Movement, which included the LTTE) as a terrorist organization in 2006. This decision allowed the Sri Lankan Government to breach the ceasefire agreement and re-start military operations leading to the massive violations listed above. It also points to the full responsibility of those governments, led by the United States, that are conducting the so-called “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) in providing political endorsement of the conduct of the Sri Lankan Government and armed forces in a war that is primarily targeted against the Tamil people.”

As solidarity activists, we advocate the right to resist and the necessity to conduct armed struggle once peaceful means fail to induce oppressive governments to engage in a process aimed at justice and equality—such is the case in Sri Lanka with the Tamil people, just as surely as it is in Palestine.

I find that most armed movements commit acts of atrocities, even acts of terror. The struggle for liberation in Cuba was an exception to the rule. Fortunately, it lasted just over two years. The armed struggle for liberation from Sinhala oppression against another indigenous group lasted for quarter of a century and, at the end, the LTTE clearly did resort to acts of desperation and terror. Other brave and righteous groups fighting for liberation, for equality and justice, such as Colombia’s FARC and Palestine’s PFLP, have also committed acts of terror. The ANC in South Africa was brutal in its struggle for liberation.

I wonder how I would act in such circumstances!

True solidarity activists have no choice. We must support the Tamil people. Today, they are in disarray. Various tendencies are in formation. But dialogue with them all is what solidarity forces must engage in around the world. One tendency is the new Provisional Transitional Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), which just formerly constituted itself in Philadelphia. Their coordinator, Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, is a resident of the United States and an attorney. In February, he filed a suit in the US Supreme Court that would negate parts of the U.S. Patriotic Act and allow people to provide “material support or resources” to armed groups fighting for their liberation. Tamil Eelam advocates in the US have associated with the civil rights organization, Humanitarian Law Project, and along with supporters of the crushed LTTE and the PKK (Kurdish rebels in Turkey) are seeking to legitimize the rights of oppressed minorities to fight for liberation, if necessary with arms when peaceful means are impossible. See TGTE’s website.

My main motivation for siding with people who fight against oppression and for liberation is a matter of basic solidarity morality, and an understanding of this necessity for the suffering people. The basic reason why so many millions of people have respected and loved Che Guevara is because of this moral stance. To back any corrupt, capitalist, genocidal government—albeit in the name of support for “sovereignty”—is not consistent with Che’s and our collective moral stance.

Sri Lanka: Parliamentary General Election 2010

Election Manifesto of the New-Democratic Party

Introduction

The entire people of Sri Lanka are facing acute crises and problems at two levels. One concerns the failure to resolve the national question caused by chauvinistic capitalist oppression. The other concerns the economic crises and problems that developed as a result of class oppression. Besides these, people have to struggle against a variety of problems faced by them in their daily lives. In all of these problems, the ruling classes comprising the government and the opposition factions are on one side and the overwhelming majority comprising the working people are on the other. Another fact that needs to be noted is that the imperialist forces of global hegemony and forces of regional hegemony have continued to meddle and tamper with the national question which is the main contradiction, and in the economic issues arising from the class contradiction, which is the fundamental contradiction. The effects and consequences of the above factors are been experienced as sorrow and suffering by the people at all levels of the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society. Hence we briefly place before the public in the Election Manifesto of the New Democratic Party the basic political stand and the demands put forward by the Party.

The National Question and the Tamils

The New Democratic Party has consistently emphasised that the national question is the principal contradiction in Sri Lanka. The end of the war has not brought the national question to its end. Since chauvinism is even more closely bonded to the state machinery, national oppression against the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil nationalities has intensified further. The three nationalities are affected in different ways according to their specific conditions of existence.

Generally, all three minority nationalities are subject to discriminatory treatment. Their right to education in their mother tongue and the right to conduct their affairs in their language are unlawfully denied to them. Besides, allocation of places in higher education, vocational training and the professions are unfavourable to them. In addition, owing to chauvinistic oppression against the Tamil nationality being implemented as a chauvinist war of national oppression in their traditional homelands, Tamils have suffered loss of life, disablement, and loss of property on an unprecedented, massive scale. Several hundred thousands have been forced to be displaced within the country and abroad. Amid this, in addition to land already appropriated from Tamils for establishing “High Security Zones”, planned colonisation of Sinhalese is being intensified with the aim of reducing them to a minority in their own territories.

Besides those in the open prisons called “Refugee Camps”, thousands are languishing in prisons and detention caps, as terror suspects, without trial or inquiry. Not merely Tamils and Hill Country Tamils but also Muslims and Sinhalese are put through such suffering for political reasons. The main cause for this situation is planned chauvinistic oppression by the state. Yet, attempts to resolve the national question, firstly as parliamentary deals, secondly as peaceful campaigns and thirdly as armed struggle, based on the claim that the Tamils could by themselves resolve the Tamil national question, failed. There were two fundamental reasons for the failure. Firstly, at no stage was the liberation struggle of the Tamil nationality carried forward as a mass struggle. That was the reason why weapons gained prominence while democratic practices were rejected. Secondly, the struggle with a narrow nationalist outlook was isolated from the struggles of other oppressed people. As a result, the struggle of the Tamils tended to rely on and side with Western powers and to deny support and even be hostile to struggles against imperialism and hegemony. As a result, the liberation struggle of the Tamils became isolated within Sri Lanka as well as internationally. It was because the three stages of struggle were guided by the same incorrect, upper class, elitist thinking that they pushed the Tamil people into a great tragedy. Thus there is a need to be freed from these errors, unite the Tamil people on a working class basis, create militant solidarity between them and other oppressed people and carry forward the fourth stage of the struggle. The New Democratic Party made clear its observations on the matter even before the struggle of the LTTE faced downfall.

Muslims

Since the Muslims are spread throughout the country, they face different kinds of oppression according to the environments in which they live. Also, their livelihood and small trade have been subject to attack by fanatically chauvinistic gangs, Muslims in different parts of the country have from time to time faced fierce chauvinist attacks. Tamil narrow nationalism has, in addition, targeted Muslims and carried out massacres. The expulsion of Muslims from the North in 1990 was a major act of cruelty against them. The government, while on the one hand engaging in activities that divide the Tamils and Muslims, has been colluding with chauvinistic gangs in seizing land and property from Muslims, and denying the Muslims their rights.

Hill Country Tamils

The Hill Country Tamils have, since deprivation of their right to citizenship in 1948, have struggled for their existence. The Sirima-Shastri Accord of 1963 was a great injustice perpetrated against them. Cruel exploitation of their labour and their expulsion of many from the plantations following the nationalisation of the plantations facilitated the implementation of that accord. Efforts have intensified to suppress the political voice that they may have through the right to vote that they won as a result of a prolonged struggle. Planned Sinhala colonisation and schemes like the Upper Kotmale Scheme designed to destroy plantations on the one hand and chauvinist attacks against them on the other persist. The so-called leaders of the Hill Country Tamils are accomplices of the chauvinists in activities designed to prevent the identification of the Hill Country Tamils as a distinct nationality. The people need to recognise the true nature of such leaders.

The Way to a Solution

In the current situation where the national question is being exacerbated and the minority nationalities are severely oppressed, the New-Democratic Party emphasises that, without resolving the national question, it is not possible resolve other problems faced by the country. From that position, the New-Democratic Party has consistently put forward the following idea as the basis for a long-term solution for the national question.

A just and lasting solution to the national question is possible only through rebuilding the country as a multi-ethnic, multi-nationality entity with autonomous regions for the nationalities and autonomous structures to preserve the unique identity of communities without a contiguous territory, based on the principle of the right to self determination within the framework of a united Sri Lanka which treats all nationalities and national minorities as equals.

Immediate Steps

At the same time, taking into account the consequences of the war and the direct impact of chauvinistic attacks, the New-Democratic Party urges the following immediate steps.
• All the people been displaced as a result of the war should be immediately resettled in their own homes.
• Normal life should be restored for people affected by war, through reconstruction and rehabilitation.
• All losses due to war should be compensated and opportunity provided for communities to rebuild their lives based on self-reliance.
• Military camps should be removed from areas in which civilians live in large numbers.
• All those under detention without trial or inquiry should be released forthwith and due compensation paid for the injustice done to them.
• Planned colonisation should be stopped forthwith, High Security Zones done away with, and the right of communities to their traditional territory respected.
• Acts of communal hatred affecting the life and livelihood of Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people should be ended immediately, and firm action taken against those who provoke communal hatred.
• The legal right of all speakers of Tamil to education in their mother tongue and to carry out all affairs including matters relating to the state in Tamil in any part of the country should be safeguarded.
• Provocation of hatred towards the Muslims and acts of violence directed against Muslim communities should be prevented.
• Moves to appropriate land belonging to the Muslims in their traditional areas should be prevented.
• Hill Country Tamils should be recognised as a nationality and their right to existence in regions in which they have lived for several generations should be affirmed.
• The Hill Country Tamils, especially the plantation workers, should be given an adequate wage increase, and be granted the legal right, opportunity and means to possess their own homes and land in order to maintain an independent economic existence by developing cultivation and animal husbandry.
• Educational and employment opportunities should be enhanced for the Hill Country Tamil community, which is still backward in education and employment.

Social Oppression

The well being of any nationality of Sri Lanka cannot be isolated from that of other nationalities. Hence, it is not possible to isolate the liberation of the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people cannot be viewed in isolation from the interests of the country as a whole. Likewise, we cannot ignore oppression based on class, caste and gender, nationally and within each community. It should again be reminded here as a lesson of historical experience that the tendency to be blind to social oppression, on the pretext of the liberation struggle of the Tamil people and unity of the nationality, has in no way helped the liberation of the Tamil people.

Many trade union rights and other legal rights won by the workers through struggle have been lost under the liberalised private sector economy, which is part of capitalist globalisation.

Several obstacles exist in society that prevent the victories scored in the struggle against casteism under the leadership of our Marxist Leninist party from leading to a total elimination of caste domination. Tamil narrow nationalism has been an accomplice to those evil forces.

While education and employment opportunities for women have increased, their work load too has increased. Besides that, there is also an increase in sexual harassment in their places of work. Thus, besides oppression based on caste, nationality and class, working women suffer gender-based oppression within the family and outside. Neither armed struggle nor urban employment has helped working class women to win liberation. The concerns of feminist campaigners remain confined to the boundaries of the well to do middle class.

We never accepted the argument that the unity of the nationality or of the community will be wrecked by raising issues of social oppression. The New Democratic Party has not exempted any social injustice. It has struggled against all forms of social oppression including chauvinistic oppression. Thus the following demands are included in the Election Manifesto of the Party.
• All trade union rights denied to the working class following the Open Economic Policy should be restored. All employment sectors should without exception be given the right to organise as a trade union.
• The rise in prices should be arrested, the cost of living controlled, and wage increases should be granted.
• The rights of working people including workers, peasants and fisher folk should be assured.
• Untouchability, caste-based discrimination, disregard and oppression that are still practiced as a result of residual caste ideology should be fully eliminated.
• In addition to strong legal action against all social violence against women, the idea of gender equality should be emphasised in all social institutions including schools.
• Sections of the people who remain backward on the basis of class, gender, caste and region should be granted special concessions in education, higher education and employment.

Alternative Political Path

To win the above demands, it is important to build a new front of mass struggle that brings together all nationalities and national minorities along an alternative political path based on broad unity of the people. It is only through the total rejection of the narrow Tamil nationalist outlook which portrayed the Sinhalese people as enemies and acting on the basis that the broad masses of Sinhala working people are an ally that it will be possible to defeat the chauvinism afflicting the Sinhalese people and enable them to accept the rights of other nationalities. Through that, it will also be possible to salvage the struggle of the Tamil people against national oppression from the tendency to isolate the Tamil people from other nationalities of Sri Lanka, and thereby carry forward the struggle.

Global domination by the US and the regional hegemonic ambitions of India, besides contributing to the transformation of the national conflict into war, have been obstacles to finding a just solution to the national question. The imperialist grip on Sri Lanka has tightened during the past three decades. Sri Lanka is now a major debtor nation. Sri Lanka, without a national economy, depends on earnings from the sale of its labour power in the international market, directly or indirectly through means such as the garment industry. Hence, it is important to rescue the sovereignty and the economy of the country from US-led Western imperialism and from Indian hegemony. All foreign involvements that seek to use the national question for purposes of intervention, and domination trade, political and military affairs should be opposed.

The New Democratic Party has never believed that useful political change can be brought about through the parliamentary system. It has never propagated such faith among the people. The importance of this election to the Party is the opportunity that it provides to take correct ideas among the people and thereby mobilise the people along an alternative political path.

The people by studying, understanding and supporting the stand of the Party will be strengthening the struggle for their rights. We pledge that, with the strength of that support, the New Democratic Party will work resolutely with the people within and outside parliament to mobilise the people and advance along the path of struggle.

If the people will grant us parliamentary representation at this election, we pledge that we will continue to be an honest political force which is true to the people and act to build a new political culture and advance our political cause.

Handling Contradictions among Fraternal Parties

A Document Drafted by the International Relations Study Group of the New Democratic Party (Sri Lanka)

Prelude

The manner in which debates are conducted among some Marxist Leninist organisations and individuals with Marxist Leninist views on issues of varying importance, makes one wonder whether they as Marxist Leninists have learnt much from Mao Zedong on the question of handling contradictions, especially those not concerning the enemy.

Disagreement and dissent are not new or unusual to communists. Yet, seemingly deep divisions of opinion have, more often than not, been healed inside communist parties by thorough discussion and debate, to lead ultimately to greater unity. Splits occur more for lack of dialogue than for sharp ideological differences. Individuals seeking to prevail over others through suppression of discussion and debate have done much harm. Nevertheless, the predominant desire has, as a rule, been to resolve internal contradictions through dialogue or debate as necessary. Criticism and self-criticism constitute an important part of the process.

The method of democratically resolving contradictions within an organisation has also been successful inside broad front organisations as well as short-term alliances led by good communists, because communists do not lose sight of the common cause and persevere to ensure that the common interest prevails over differences, except when the differences stand in the way of attaining the agreed goals or in the face of duplicity.

A reason why splits in left parties take long to come into the open is the practice of democratic centralism. Effort is always made to resolve contradictions through discussion and debate. Not only the great debates within the Soviet and the Chinese Communist Parties but also the debates between them on the questions of Stalin, People’s Communes, and the ‘peaceful path to socialism’ took place in a disciplined manner over a long time. It was after Khrushchev launched a vicious public attack on Comrade Stalin as a pretext for replacing Marxism with revisionism that the existence of serious differences became public knowledge. Even then, efforts continued to resolve the contradictions through discussion based on democratic principles; and it was Khrushchev’s hostile and provocative attitude towards fraternal parties and socialist countries opposed to revisionism which led to acrimony. What is important to note here is that, despite deep divisions and the prospect of reconciliation getting bleaker by the day, Marxist Leninists persevered in internal debate and refused to be provoked until the revisionist camp went on the offensive.

The tendency to split has been strong when the general political climate was not favourable to the left. Ironically so, since that is exactly the kind of situation demanding greater unity and serious effort to resolve the differences, and rebuild the proletarian revolutionary party and the left movement. Marxist Leninists cannot compromise with opportunism or adventurism, and need to be firm against such tendencies. But the way to correct erroneous tendencies is patient discussion and debate rather than hasty confrontation. There is a need for a culture of respect for opposing views—not one of accommodating wrong tendencies and views—in dealing with contradictions so that those who hold the wrong views are corrected while incorrect views are eliminated in a friendly and democratic way.

Intra-Party and Inter-Party Contradictions

Marxist Leninist parties have generally been good at handling internal contradictions. The Marxist Leninist movement in India was splintered in the wake of state repression in the 1970s and in Sri Lanka following the political chaos caused by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) insurrection. Similar problems have been faced by Marxist Leninists elsewhere in the 1970s and 1980s. But, as a whole, the Marxist Leninist movement has demonstrated remarkable resilience to survive the crises and re-establish itself, and in some cases launch successful revolutionary mass struggles.

Marxist Leninist organisations in India are showing a steady growth but have difficulty in uniting as a powerful revolutionary force. In Sri Lanka, active Marxist Leninists among the Tamils and Hill Country Tamils are, in effect, represented by a single organisation, while growth of narrow nationalist politics during the past three decades has not helped the growth of the left—not just the genuine—among the Muslims and Sinhalese. Emergent narrow nationalism has been a major factor among Muslims in the wake of hostility from Sinhala chauvinism and Tamil narrow nationalism. The strong Trotskyite tradition among the Sinhalese continues to be a divisive force even after the left lost ground to the populist pseudo-left JVP which assimilated the Sinhalese youth to its chauvinist agenda. There are, however, Marxist Leninist groups and individuals who are unable to organise themselves as a political party. Thus Marxist Leninists need to think in terms of a broad front to the exclusion of opportunist politics and opportunist alliances.

Attempts to develop international alliances of Marxist Leninist parties and organisations has had limited success. While the need for developing fraternal relationship between Marxist Leninist parties is urgent, its fulfilment is hampered by difficulties in resolving what would, if handled correctly, be only friendly contradictions.

Stable and healthy relationship needs to be built between fraternal parties, including Marxist Leninist parties with seemingly strong ideological differences, at a party-to-party level. While the relationship between Marxist Leninist parties within a country is mainly about unity and struggle in carrying forward the revolutionary mass movement, that between parties in different countries or even regions of a country, where geography and ethno-linguistic differences stand in the way of close interaction and collaboration, is mostly about mutual support and exchange of thought and experience. Based on past experience, both positive and negative, in the international communist movement, it is important that interaction between parties is fraternal and on an equal footing.

Given the absence of a broad umbrella organisation or a network, fraternal ties between organisations demand mutual understanding and support and the will to treat differences as friendly contradictions. This demands the recognition that conditions differ from country to country and from region to region, and that revolutionary strategy will invariably be unique to each situation, be it a country, a region or different communities within a region – in short the specific context.

One cannot deny a fraternal party the right to comment on the political situation in the country or region of another party; or make general or universal observations; or draw attention to potential dangers and errors. Fraternal relationship is meaningless without such right. But the way in which views are exchanged is important. A Marxist Leninist party, however strong or successful, should show humility and avoid dictating to a fraternal party on matters of policy, tactics and strategy. Equally, a Marxist Leninist party should be receptive to views expressed by a fraternal party as well as other friendly forces, and all parties should be willing to learn from each other.

Insisting on universal solutions to seemingly similar but fundamentally different situations leads to harmful misunderstandings. It will be dogmatic to refuse to recognise differences in approach in their context and to reject the need for different strategies in different situations. Marxist Leninist parties need to be cautious about utterances with unfavourable implications for fraternal parties. Equally, in the event of error, the response, while being uncompromising on principles, should not be hostile. Public debate is best avoided until every possibility of rectifying errors and resolving differences through fraternal dialogue has been exhausted.

Recent International Experience

One unfortunate recent instance concerns the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – now the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – which had carried out a successful 10-year long armed struggle. The UCPN(M), besides declaring that they will pursue their goal of establishing a People’s Republic of Nepal peacefully, prescribed it as the way forward for socialism in the 21st Century. The views expressed had adverse implications for the Communist Party of India (Maoist) which has been persevering in armed struggle in several parts of India. Not surprisingly, the revisionist Communist Party of India (Marxist) mischievously demanded that the Indian Maoists should take the cue from their Nepali counterparts. The strong public response of the Indian Maoists to the Nepali Maoists only helped to strain the relationship between the two parties than to rectify mistakes.

It has already been seen through the recent experience of the UCPN(M) that any decision on a peaceful path for the Nepali revolution is not in its hands but in the hands of the Nepali reactionaries, Indian expansionists and US imperialists who are keen to restore the old order. Thus the declared position of the UCPN(M) has to be understood in the context of India and the US branding it as terrorist and using it as pretext to militarily intervene to restore the old order. Yet there was neither need nor adequate basis to generalise that experience or prescribe it to other countries. That error could have been rectified through dialogue which did not spill over into the media, at least until after its resolution, and allowing the UCPN(M) time to review their new found position.

Nevertheless, there are things for left parties across the world to learn from the Maoists of Nepal. Their ability to resolve internal contradictions through patient and thorough discussion is one of them. While the enemies of the Nepali revolution gleefully speculated that differences on the line of the struggle would lead to a split in the party, the Maoists surprised them by not only resolving their differences but also consolidating party unity. The Maoists achieved it through a long and thorough process of uninhibited discussion, debate, criticism and self criticism.

Thus there is no reason why Marxist Leninist parties within a country cannot find common ground and make it the basis for cooperation in mass struggles against the state. Such cooperation will inspire Marxist Leninist parties in other countries to cooperate with each other nationally and internationally.

There is also the question of how to deal with anti-imperialist and left movements whose political line disagrees with the Marxist Leninist position on the road to socialism. Venezuela is perhaps the most important case today, as it is also used by several reformists as well as frustrated Trotskyites to reject Marxism Leninism. Marxist Leninists know what is keeping the populist left government of Chavez in Venezuela in power amid sustained efforts by the US and the forces of Venezuelan reaction to topple it. Flatterers are seeking to lull the Latin American left into a state of complaisance, and Marxist Leninists have warned against it, especially since the enemies within and without are strong. Marxist Leninists call for the politicisation of the Latin American masses on the basis of class and class struggle and have reservations about the way in which the left is being organised in Venezuela.

More serious concerns exist about the extrapolation of the Venezuelan experience to the whole of Latin America, let alone the world, by some who project it as Socialism for the 21st Century. Yet it is essential to recognise the need for unconditional support for the left and anti-imperialist governments in Latin America in defending themselves against US-led conspiracies. It is equally important for Marxist Leninists and the broad left to be aware of the risks faced by the Latin American left governments and to warn against the risks, especially the dangers of over enthusiasm. But it will be a grave error to denounce the governments in ways that will weaken internal and international anti-imperialist solidarity.

Lessons in Handling Contradictions

Thus the central issue boils down to the correct handling of debates and discussion among fraternal parties and friendly forces. Many of the rules that apply to the correct handling of contradictions within a party apply to the handling of contradictions between fraternal parties. The Communist Party of China, at least until China took the capitalist road, was exemplary in its dealings with fraternal parties. It treated all parties as equal and with respect. The CPC did not dictate to fraternal parties, nor did it seek to advice fraternal parties how they should conduct their affairs. The most one could expect from the CPC was a statement of its experience and general comments indicative of its assessment of a situation, but never prescriptions.

The New-Democratic Party has learnt from friendly Marxist Leninist parties and through its own experience, including serious mistakes. Thus it has been able to avoid friendly contradictions from developing into hostile contradictions. For example, differences have existed between the NDP and most of the Indian Marxist Leninist parties in India on the Sri Lankan national question. The position of the NDP was that the national question should be resolved without recourse to secession, by establishing autonomies for the various nationalities based on the principle of self determination. While denouncing Sinhala chauvinism, it criticised Tamil narrow nationalism, the anti-democratic ways of the Liberation Tigers (LTTE), and LTTE’s excessive reliance on arms at the expense of mass politics. This approach was at variance with the views held by several Indian Marxist Leninist parties, which were conditioned by the general impression created by the Indian media and other biased sources of information.

The NDP did not fault the Indian Marxist Leninists for what it saw as erroneous positions. Instead it patiently explained its position to each party with which it was in touch. Some took the trouble to understand the position of the NDP by accessing its publications, while there are others who still differ. The NDP, despite its position that the national question is still the main contradiction in Sri Lanka, seeks to prevent differences over that matter from developing into a major contradiction.

Likewise, the NDP has its assessment of conditions in India. It supports all mass struggles against the repressive state and seeks friendly relations with all Marxist Leninist parties and groups in India. It has its overall assessment of the political situation in India, and the political lines and methods of struggle of fraternal parties. It shares its views with the party or group concerned wherever opportunity arises; and it makes its understanding clearer and corrects wrong impressions through exchange of views. It has, on principle, refused to take a public stand on disputes among Marxist Leninist parties and groups. At the same time, when its views are sought, it has expressed them frankly and in a friendly manner.

It is unfortunate that when an NDP delegate attends a function organised by one Marxist Leninist organisation, some other organisations frown upon it, as if it is an unfriendly act. The truth is that the NDP places its relationship with all fraternal parties, nationally and internationally, on an equal footing so that cooperation and support are on a mutual basis and without discrimination between friendly parties, and not siding with one against another. Here, again, the approach is like that of Marxist Leninist parties in the 1960s and 70s towards rival Marxist Leninist organisations from another country, namely one of encouraging the rival parties to resolve their differences amicably and forging closer ties without taking sides.

The Need for a Sound Marxist Leninist Approach

In the final analysis, all Marxist Leninists have to get close to each other, nationally and internationally. One has to be conscious of the fact that the Marxist Leninist line of struggle is based on mass struggle and broad front organisations. That means achieving the broadest possible unity based on a common programme without compromising on basic principles. It is important to strike the correct balance between broad-based unity and being firm on principles. Firmness in principles can go hand in hand with cooperation with others holding different views, provided that the aims are clearly defined and there is no hidden agenda. That was how Marxist Leninists across the world successfully led struggles against colonial rule, fascism, imperialist aggression and various forms of internal oppression.

It merely requires an extension of the above approach to the relationship between fraternal parties to enhance mutual support and cooperation with a view to build strong Marxist Leninist revolutionary movements nationally and internationally.

Contradictions are bound to arise between fraternal parties when policies and practices of one appear to be in conflict with those of the other. Such differences are not difficult, certainly not impossible, to resolve. It is important to study the conditions under which the seemingly unacceptable decisions are taken and appreciate the reasons for differences in approach. To understand a decision is not to endorse it but to recognise the conditions that lead to that decision. This step should be thoroughly implemented before making critical comments or suggesting more appropriate options.

It is important to remember that contexts differ and that the revolution needs to address specific situations and issues which vary not only from country to country but also from region to region and community to community within a country. That is not to deny universal principles and the primacy of class and class struggle. It is only a call to apply the scientific method of Marxism Leninism to solve a problem rather than redefine the problem to fit a model solution.

What Marxist Leninists should always remember is that all fraternal parties are equal and that party to party relations should emphasise matters that unite fraternal parties and not what seem to divide them. There is a need for unanimity on a wide range of issues concerning mass liberation struggles against imperialism and its lackeys. Such unanimity demands a flexible rather than a rigid approach, comprising firmness in principles and flexibility in handling differences.

Modern communication technology has certainly helped revolutionary struggles in many ways, including exchange of information with speed and establishment of contact with relative ease. But it has also encouraged hasty and ill-considered exchanges of views between individuals and organisations as well as to the spilling over of debates into the public domain before the issues concerned are even understood. The so-called “blogsites” and other such websites of Marxist Leninist organisations and individuals associated with them need to exercise caution and discipline in the handling of political information in the public domain.

We now witness the liberal use of the term ‘self criticism’ by parties to polemical debates demanding that the opponent should self-criticise before he/she or the organisation could comment on a subject. Such conduct is childish and violates the spirit of self-criticism as understood by Marxist Leninists. Indulgence in personal or personalised debates in the public domain can lead to childish petit bourgeois conduct which is certainly not characteristic of a good Marxist Leninist. It is well to remember that it is the enemy and mischief makers who gain when Marxist Leninists indulge in bitter personal attacks in the public domain.

The Marxist Leninist method of rectifying errors has criticism and self-criticism as a central feature by which the organisation seeks to correct erroneous views and actions and not humiliate the holder of a wrong view or doer of a wrong deed. What is needed is support and solidarity among individuals as well as organisations.

Marxist Leninists in Sri Lanka like those in other small South Asian countries look up to mass revolutionary struggles in India as an inspiration. A revolution in India will make the revolutionary task all the more easier for the smaller neighbours; and, in the event of an advancing revolution as in the case of Nepal, Indian revolutionary forces can effectively stop Indian meddling aimed at undermining the revolution and destabilising the country. It is our appeal to Indian Marxist Leninists that they should, irrespective of differences, seek to build and to strengthen ties with Marxist Leninist and anti-imperialist liberation movements in the region and encourage mutual support on matters relating to the common cause of anti-imperialist and anti-hegemonic mass struggles.

Courtesy: New Democracy 36

An interview with Benedict Anderson

Benedict Anderson was in Delhi recently to deliver a lecture on his latest work. He “is one of the first and original theorists of nations and nationalisms. His pathbreaking work ‘Imagined Communities’ is an exploration of how various peoples have at a certain juncture in history imagined themselves into nations. An anthropological explorer of various national-liberation movements in East and Southeast Asia, Prof Anderson sees the rise of nationalism as being closely connected with the growth of printed books and with the technical development of print as a whole”. Paramita Ghosh interviewed Anderson for Hindustan Times. FOR THE FULL TEXT

Q: As a man of the Left, what is the future of Marxism in south Asia and in India?

A: Communism has taken a beating in the last 20 years. But it won’t go away if underlying problems in society don’t go away. There has to be new ways to revive it. However, one framework which Marx never anticipated was how the atomic tests would destroy civilisation. The limits of resources are not there in Marxist vocabulary, it comes from Thomas Robert Malthus and it has to be grappled with.

India has three kinds of Communisms. The established left, the CPI M-L and the new Naxalites who are no longer led by college students. They go to the bottom of society.

Q: One of our living realities is the competition between Indian and China amid the babble of economic cooperation. How can Third World solidarity be revived?

A: What solidarity can there be to speak of? There was never a leftist government in India. The Cold War put China on one side and India played a role in between…. Both are rapidly expansionist, they are bound to get in each other’s hair. But it is in everyone’s interest to reduce the power of America.

China wants a ring of friendly countries around it, but it won’t occupy them. It’s not clear what China wants in Africa. I don’t know whether they intend to stay. If the Chinese start moving there, then it might get interesting.

There is, I think, however, a growing acceptance that war will not get you more territory. What threatens nation-states are not external states, but internal collapse. It has happened in Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia. It may happen in India. States can’t get any bigger, but they can get smaller.

New-Democratic Party on the Presidential Election in Sri Lanka

New-Democratic Party (Sri Lanka)

The Central Committee of the New-Democratic Party unanimously resolved that the people should not vote for any candidate contesting the forthcoming Presidential Election but spoil their ballot papers, and thereby carry forward a mass movement of protest to reject and eliminate the dictatorial presidential system with executive powers; and by doing so the entire people, especially the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people, should express their disgust and opposition to the system of personal dictatorial presidential rule that has been in place for thirty-one years.

The Central Committee of the New-Democratic Party unanimously adopted the above resolution, after debating the stand of the Party on the Presidential Election. In a detailed statement on the above resolution, S.K. Senthivel, General Secretary of the Party, further added:

During the past 31 years the country and the people have at various levels have with pain and sorrow experienced economic crises, political repression, injustice and devastation. The presidential system with executive powers has been principal among factors that caused the three decades long chauvinist capitalist war and the struggles carried out among the Tamil people. The one who initiated the war was J.R. Jayawardane, the first executive president. Thirty years on, the one who celebrated victory after ending the war in a flood of Tamil blood is President Mahinda Rajapakse. At the same time, the one who carried forward the cruel war in the battlefield is Army General Sarath Fonseka.

President Rajapakse and General Fonseka jointly carried forward the final war. Although the two are today opposing each other in the Presidential Election, both are incapable of fulfilling the basic aspirations of the working people of the country and of the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people. Both uphold chauvinistic positions that are unwilling to find a sincere solution to the national question. For the people to choose one as the better candidate and vote for him will not only be a politically unwise act but also one amounting to their blighting themselves.

The New-Democratic Party poses the question to the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people as to how they could vote for either of these two main candidates contesting on behalf of two chauvinistic parties. To vote for the other parties will not only be meaningless but also deflect the opposition of the people to the executive presidential system and indirectly support the main candidates.

The statement further added that, if a joint candidate had been put up collectively by the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil parties and the parties of the left against the candidates of the two chauvinistic capitalist parties and a situation created in which neither candidate secured 50% of the votes, it would have led to a constitutional crisis relating to the presidential system and forced a need to amend the constitution. Besides, it would have led to the building up of political awakening among the people and mass political power.

The minority nationality parties that are seeking to elect one of the main candidates with no consideration for the above prospect are committing an act of betrayal for the sake of securing their posts and positions and their pursuit of selfish parliamentary politics. This is a continuation of the past politics of ruling class dominance. In the 30-year war, around two hundred and fifty thousand Tamil people have been killed. Property worth tens of billions has been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and in the end three hundred thousand people have ended up as refugees behind barbed wire fences. The sorrow of the destruction and despair of the final stages of the war have not gone away.

Under these conditions, how can people vote for the executive presidential system that is responsible for the cruel war and the problems of daily livelihood and the two candidates who caused the destruction? Likewise, the system of government that took the lives of nearly a hundred and fifty thousand Sinhalese people plunged in a pool of blood was exactly the same dictatorial presidential system. Hence, it is fantasy to expect that anyone coming to power will for the sake of election pledges willingly abandon this presidential system and its brutal powers to being democracy for the people.

Thus, there is an opportunity before the people to express their disgust and opposition to the presidential system and the main candidates; and the proper way to do it is to reject the electoral process by spoiling the ballot papers. The call of the New Democratic Party to the people is that they could through such rejection carry forward alternative politics by demonstrating their political strength and taking the path of mass struggle.

Response to S Sivasegaram’s Rejoinder

Ron Ridenour

S Sivasegaram’s rejoinder to my series on the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils and the role of Cuba – ALBA in this tragedy is an excellent, well-thought and balanced piece. He, much more than I, knows the history and the peoples.

Without knowing anything about that part of the world until the end of the civil war, I was moved to conduct research because of the treatment the Sri Lankan government and military conducted against Tamils. I was also moved by what I believe essential for revolutionary morality: one does not side with a brutal government which practices discrimination (genocide even) against an entire people regardless of errors or incorrect attitudes by members of that people. I did not write to support elitism on any side, nor the Tigers, who, as I understand it, did act as Sivasegaram described they did. I wrote, in part, to admonish my comrades, the governments of ALBA countries whose resolution in the Human Rights Council is abhorrent in its applause for such a government and in its lack of solidarity for the interned Tamil people.

The fact that Sri Lanka has become a pawn in the hands of imperialism and authoritarian governments sometimes in opposition to US-led imperialism (China and Iran) in no way justifies an immoral stance by revolutionaries. The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. So, if ALBA must trade with the authoritarian-anti-democratic-anti-revolutionary governments of China and Iran that is for them to decide, but that must not make them dependent upon them politically. We certainly should have learned that, after all those years with the Soviet Union, which did not always conduct foreign policy in the interests of the people at hand.

We revolutionaries must not act cynically. Even if the Tamil nationalists should support other peoples and should have discussed matters with Latin Americans, this failure cannot justify abandoning a tortured people and applauding the torturers.

A Rejoinder to Ron Ridenour’s essay on Sri Lanka

S Sivasegaram

For Ron Ridenour’s essay, First Article, Second Article, Third Article, Fourth Article, and Fifth Article

I fear that the attitude of supporters of the Tamil cause towards Latin America is rather subjective, and that their approach is still sentimental. I will come to that later in my response, but, before that, the Tamil nationalist, especially pro-LTTE, claims need to be studied with care.

Firstly, accepting the right of Tamils in Sri Lanka to self-determination is correct. But the national question is far more complex than supporters of the Tamil cause in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in India are made to understand. I have elaborated on this in my long essay which Radical Notes published as a book. Secession is still not the answer and the call for secession in 1976 was thoroughly ill-considered.

Secondly, the history of Tamils in Sri Lanka is being wilfully distorted. A most objective version of ancient history exists in the recent work of Dr K Indrapala, a Tamil, now in Australia. The point that comes out is that there is evidence of Tamil settlements in the island much earlier than acknowledged in the past. But that does not mean that the present-day Tamils are their descendants. The Jaffna Kingdom on which Tamil nationalists lay their claim to Tamil statehood is something of the Second Millennium A.D. which ceased to be nearly 5 centuries ago. There were, however, Tamil chieftains and despotic rulers in the Vanni who survived until the British moved in early in the 19th Century. Part of the Vanni was under the ‘Sinhalese’ Kandyan Kingdom.

The Sinhalese have had a longer history in terms of kingdoms ruled by ‘Sinhalese’. (Not all rulers were really Sinhalese. At least one was from Kalinga. Several were Tamils or Telugus). But what does all of this prove? Not a lot.

The reality is that in the course of modern history, two Sinhala-speaking polities that had a separate existence for 450 years merged into one to serve certain class interests. Tamil-speaking polities ended up as three nationalities with distinctions in many ways and with problems for which Eelam was not an answer. The attitude of the Tamil elite in early 1900s alienated the fisherfolk of the west coast of the island and let them accept a Sinhala identity. In course of time the Tamil identity of the Colombo Chetties and the Paravar communities was lost. The main reason for these was that the Tamil leadership (of Jaffna mainly to which the Vanni and the East got added much later) was dominated by the Vellala Saivaites (equivalent of the Pillai/Mudaliyar etc. of Tamil Nadu, Nayar/Pillai/Menon of Kerala, Patels of Gujarat etc.)

To talk of a Tamil nation comprising 25% of the population is incorrect. The Tamil nationalists nominally represent about 10%, but they truly represent the interests of a fraction of it. When the armed conflict escalated in the 1980s, the elite fled and it was the oppressed who bore the brunt of intensifying chauvinist oppression and war. The elite are abroad, living in comfort, and want to prolong the conflict to pursue their pet project of ‘Tamil Eelam’. The vast majority of the Tamil diaspora have been misled by a few nationalists (pro-LTTE and now the vociferous pro-government groups). What I like to stress is that history has been successfully distorted on all sides to serve narrow interests and to divide the people.

Thirdly, the LTTE was on the one hand the only remaining armed resistance to state oppression. But on the other they systematically failed the people. Their dominance of Tamil politics came about mainly by brutal repression of all opposition, rivals and potential rivals. That continued until their ultimate fall. The genuine left still treated them with some deference for being the only defence that the Tamil people had against state repression; but the LTTE was undemocratic, acted to please imperialism (especially since antagonising India), never believed in people’s struggle, and relied on military victory led by their army. They recruited children by force especially as their fortunes faded. They let the rich get away by paying off while the poor had to send heir children to join the LTTE ranks. All these are factors that contributed to their defeat. But that does not in any way justify any of the cruel and at times barbaric acts of the state.

Yet, failure to criticise the LTTE for its attacks on civilians (not just Sinhalese) has done a lot of harm. Rivals of the LTTE with Indian and Sri Lankan state patrons have been just as guilty. A section of the genuine left criticised the LTTE’s faults while defending the struggle and denouncing state oppression.

Fourthly, leaving alone the anti-democratic and even terrorist acts against civilians, the LTTE and its supporters among the Diaspora have much to answer for the failure of the peace talks (although the government is the main culprit); its reliance on the US (which used the peace talks to get the better of India in Sri Lanka while undermining the LTTE in collaboration with the UNP leadership); and its failure to protect the people.

The LTTE cannot escape the charge that it led 30,000 to the slaughterhouse and 300,000 to what are open prison camps. That tragedy could have been averted had the LTTE let the people go after the fall of Kilinochchi in December 2008. If they did not drag along with them the 100,000 or so from the Kilinochchi District, the government forces could not have advanced fast without clearing the District, and that would have allowed the LTTE leadership to change their strategy. Also there would have been political issues that would have arisen preventing the government from taking people out of their homes. That was water under the bridge when the people were taken to Mullaitivu and compelled to live a life of misery, with the government curtailing if not blocking the supply of essentials. But what justification was there to forcibly prevent the people from leaving when they could not bear the agony anymore? I have heard from people who escaped before the fall of the LTTE about the anti-people methods used by the LTTE to keep the people with them?

Did they seriously think that they could reverse their military fortunes? Did they expect meaningful foreign intervention? If so, in what form? There is substantial circumstantial evidence that they were given false hopes by a section of the Tamil elite among the diaspora about some form US/UN led intervention (to save the LTTE leadership even if not to save the Tamils). Many such questions are being carefully avoided by the Tamil nationalists.

Thus the blame lies with firstly the Government, secondly with the Tamil nationalists as a whole and the LTTE in particular, and thirdly the forces of foreign intervention (the US and India especially) for the tragedy of 2009.

To turn to Latin America:
Objectively, Latin America is increasingly facing US-led threats (The Honduras coup and the Colombian bases are additions to an existing threat). Human rights have consistently been used by the West to undermine defiant states. The US, which uses one set of rules for the Palestinians, a different set of rules for the Kurds of Turkey, and a slightly different one for the Kurds of Iraq, also encourages secessionist forces in the wealthy parts of Bolivia and Venezuela). Latin America sees the issues in terms of a global reality that it faces.

The UNHRC resolution was a pre-emptive response to an anticipated resolution that the US, UK, Germany and Mexico (of all countries!) were planning. Why did Sri Lanka become an issue to them? It was to punish Sri Lanka, not for killing Tamils or denying Tamils their basic rights, but because the government was drifting out of US control. (Indo-US rivalry too has been a factor). USSR and China even during their socialist days had steered clear of UN intervention (and have hopefully learnt from their mistake of allowing meddling in Afghanistan and let the invasion of Iraq pass).

The basic guideline for countries confronting US imperialism is to do what is possible to prevent US meddling in any form. To imagine that a resolution denouncing the Sri Lankan government would have brought relief to the Tamils is fantasy.

Then there are subjective reasons, which cannot be ignored.

Leading Tamil nationalists of all shades have cared little for struggles for justice internationally. (Anton Balasingham, the LTTE ‘theoretician’ had even denounced the struggle in Kashmir as trouble making as he did the resistance in eastern India). The LTTE has not denounced the oppression of the Palestinians or US aggression anywhere, much in line with their political forebears in the Federal Party who denounced the Vietnam struggle as communist trouble making. The SLFP had an anti-imperialist past, but had been dodgy after the 1980s. Of late, the government has occasionally stood up for the Third World on important issues; the role of Dayan Jayatilleka (whose politics is not necessarily genuine) during his short spell as Sri Lanka’s UN ambassador has made an impression in Latin America. I do not think that the Tamil nationalists have had a moral right to ask for support from any country outside the imperialist world and India whom they loyally served. The tragedy is that they have left the Tamil people badly isolated.

By isolating themselves from the left governments, the Indian, especially Tamil, friends of Latin America will achieve nothing. They should have sought to discuss the matter with some of the Latin American embassies before jumping to conclusions. Taking decisions one-sidedly without reference to their friends is not healthy practice. It will be the progressive forces of India who will lose most by such kneejerk action.