The Socialist 12 May 2009 |
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Sri Lanka's killing zone
Youth Fight for Jobs conference 2009 speaker in support of a motion condemning the slaughter of the Tamils. Photo Paul Mattsson
HUNDREDS OF Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka were killed last weekend as a result of heavy artillery shelling in the war zone - a few square kilometres of coastal strip containing around 100,000 Tamil civilians and LTTE guerrillas.
A doctor in the zone recorded 378 dead bodies at the hospital where he is working. He estimates that as many as 1,000 people have been killed and over 1,000 injured in two days of heavy bombardment.
People in the zone are desperately short of water, food and shelter. Medical facilities are being overwhelmed. Those Tamils who have fled the conflict have been interned in military run government detention camps.
The Sinhala chauvinist government of president Mahinda Rajapakse has denied responsibility for what the United Nations has termed a "bloodbath", claiming instead that the Tamil separatist LTTE deliberately fired on the trapped civilians.
The government will not allow independent journalists into the area. Moreover it has been attempting to tightly control the country's media.
Government and military leaders have labelled left parties (including the Socialist Party's counterpart in Sri Lanka - the United Socialist Party), trade union activists, human rights campaigners, journalists and media organisations as 'traitors to the nation'. Physical attacks and threatening calls are carried out to intimidate such people.
Human rights are violated openly and armed groups closely working with the military are abducting people, mainly Tamils, for ransom. Disappearances, abductions and extra-judicial killings are reported almost every day. However, the government and the police have turned a blind eye to the situation.
Ordinary Sinhala people will increasingly pay a heavy price in terms of the crippling cost of the war to the economy, the destruction of democratic rights and the ongoing threat to their security.
As Tamil demonstrators continue their five-week occupation of Parliament Square in London, the British foreign secretary David Miliband, instead of condemning the Sri Lankan government's military onslaught, has simply appealed to the ineffective, and divided, United Nations to discuss the humanitarian crisis. In fact UK government aid to the Sri Lankan government has not been suspended and British companies continue to invest there.
The Socialist Party has consistently campaigned to stop the slaughter of Tamils and for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the war.
Only through independent struggles of Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim workers can the conditions be created for a democratic workers' government to come to power, which would allow a peaceful resolution of the decades-long national question in Sri Lanka.
For more background material see www.socialistworld.net
For latest on the 'Stop the Slaughter of Tamils' campaign, see www.stoptheslaughteroftamils.org