Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/538/6187

From The Socialist newspaper, 18 June 2008

Sri Lanka:

London protest over Rajapaksa's dismal human rights record

ON 10 June, Tamils in London gathered in front of the Commonwealth Office to protest against Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit and against the UK prime minister Gordon Brown.

Senan

Despite the fact that Sri Lanka has been condemned as having one of the worst records in the world for human rights and, on 21 May 2008, UN member states refused to elect Sri Lanka to the human rights council, Rajapaksa had been invited to attend a two-day Commonwealth mini-summit in London on 9-10 June.

It's 25 years next month since 'black July' in 1983 when thousands of Tamils were killed by Sinhala thugs, largely organised by the political elite of that time.

The then president, J R Jayewardene, made no attempt to protect the Tamils. Instead, he infamously said: "I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people. Now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion. The more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here. Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy." (quoted in the Daily Telegraph, UK 11 July 1983)

Since then the country has been plunged into economic turmoil and bloody war. Among all the successors of JR Jayewardene the current president - Rajapaksa - is regarded as the most racist president that the country has ever seen. There is a widespread fear in the country that 'black July' may be repeated, only this time it will cost more lives and long term economic damage.

Slogans

AT THE 10 June demo the Metropolitan police were forced to extend the gathering space as the number of people who turned up to protest exceeded 1,000. A small number of Sri Lankan government supporters also turned up with national flags to support Rajapaksa's policies - probably organised by the Sri Lankan embassy.

The Socialist Party's slogans were welcomed by the protesters. When interviewed by the leading local Tamil television 'Thebam', Socialist Party member Lois Austin pointed out: "This protest is very important as it will send a message to both Rajapaksa and Gordon Brown: Tamils living in this country will not be fooled by a promise of peace in the distant future. Gordon Brown, together with Rajapaksa, has no intention of solving the problem in Sri Lanka or respecting Tamils' right to self-determination."

This argument - stated in the Socialist Party's leaflet - had a massive impact on the protesters. Quite significantly some even shouted out the slogans.

One of the Socialist Party's slogans said: "Killing of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Upcountry people must be stopped. And peace negotiations must be started immediately with the representatives of ordinary people." This is significant as, recently, many civilian Sinhala people have fallen victims to a number of bus bombs in the south.

The United Socialist Party (USP - the Socialist Party's counterpart in Sri Lanka) has been arguing for united action for a long time. In the recent eastern provincial election the USP was the only left force that participated. In some constituencies the USP had pushed back support for communalist forces such as JVP (People's Liberation Front).

On the London protest we ran out of leaflets and sold all the copies of The Socialist that we had brought - around 50 copies. Even though there was no material in it on Sri Lanka, its front page chimed with the mood of the demonstrators. Calling for a new workers' party it said 'Don't just be angry. Get active'.

A Sri Lankan passer-by who stopped to support the protest said: "I am struggling to support myself here and people in Sri Lanka. Prices are rocketing. The majority of the people now live in utter poverty. Tamils have suffered a great deal in that country and elsewhere. It's time we all unite to put an end to this." The man - who is Sinhalese - came back five minutes later asking: "Where is the socialist I was talking to?" and gave us a financial donation.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 18 June 2008:

No! to racism: Yes! to decent jobs, homes and public services

No! to racism: Yes! to decent jobs, homes and public services

Unite and fight against racism

Protest at BNP 'hate festival'

Let AmDani stay!

conference


International socialist news and analysis

Lisbon Treaty 'No' vote delivers major shock for political and big business Establishment


Socialist Party campaigns

Shell drivers strike

David Davis - sanity or carving a position?

Greater Manchester - save your post office

London protest over Rajapaksa's dismal human rights record

Stop big business polluting our environment


Education

Stop New Labour's divisive school academy plans


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS: Polyclinics - Stop this backdoor privatisation

PFI - a very bad deal for the NHS

Reopen the battle on NHS pay


Socialist Party campaigns

End the occupations

Unison conference: Angry delegates attack leaders


Post office closures

Leeds: Stop Beeston post office closures


Socialist Party workplace news

National Shop Stewards Network Conference

CWU's link with Labour hotly debated

Victory against bosses at Keele

Workplace news in brief


 

Home   |   The Socialist 18 June 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Sri Lanka:

triangleBuilding a working-class movement for Tamil rights

triangleSri Lanka: Presidential election sees return of dictatorial Rajapaksa clan

triangleKashmir crisis: Stop the attack on democratic rights

triangleTamil Solidarity Day: Linking up oppressed people's struggles

triangleIndia: Modi victory underlines need for real socialist fightback

Human rights:

triangleLondon: Political undercover policing - public meeting

triangleDodgy MP lobbied for genocidal Sri Lankan leader

triangleWorkers' protests against state repression in China and Hong Kong

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King

Socialist:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Tories in Crisis

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The Labour Party - what is its future?

triangleSocialist Students & Young Socialists national zoom rally

Socialist Party:

triangleTwo weeks to donate: we need your help

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party: Tories and Blairites only care about corporate greed

International

International

16/9/20

Egypt

Egypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression

16/9/20

Nigeria

Nigerian police repress peaceful anti-government protest

9/9/20

Belarus

Belarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

9/9/20

Iran

Strike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

2/9/20

Israel

Mass protests in Israel demand Netanyahu's resignation

19/8/20

Lebanon

Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion

19/8/20

Belarus

Mass protests and strikes rock Belarus

19/8/20

Trotsky

New book: Leon Trotsky - A Revolutionary Whose Ideas Couldn't Be Killed

10/8/20

Lebanon

Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion

5/8/20

Cuba

Cuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo

5/8/20

Nuclear weapons

Anniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

22/7/20

Iran

Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

22/7/20

Israel

Israel: Nurses strike and win

8/7/20

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

24/6/20

South Africa

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999