TS support the demonstration against the camps on 17th of october. And call for appeal for support to be made to all those who stand in solidarity with the Tamil speaking people-trade unionist – students -young people and workers. TS also holding a public meeting supported by socialist students at Queen mary university, room 210, Laws building[-sat 17 october, 6pm, nearest tube, Mile end,bus-25].
The Sri Lankan army killed and injured tens of thousands of Tamil civilians earlier this year in their brutal war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This was/ is a war on the whole tamil people Hundreds of thousands more have been rounded up and imprisoned in Nazi-style concentration camps. Over 250,000 people are suffering in appalling conditions, crowded into tents, with inadequate water and sanitation, and a chronic lack of food and medical supplies.
At least 40 people die every week in the camps. Even by the government’s own admission, at least 31,000 children are being kept in these camps. There is only one toilet for every 200 refugees. 30% suffer from malnutrition. There are no adequate medical facilities available and diseases, such as jaundice, are spreading fast. The possibility of an even greater humanitarian catastrophe looms with the monsoon season threatening flooding and the overflowing of the primitive sewage systems, spreading deadly diseases throughout the camps. This is an outrage. Despite the horrific conditions there are reports of riots against the authorities in the camps. Recently Médecins sans Frontières treated three and six year old children, wounded when soldiers, claiming they posed a risk, attacked. Nobody has been brought to justice. These prison camps must be shut down and all internally displaced persons (IDPs) must be freed immediately.
The government spent several million dollars per day on the war. Surely it can improve the lives of these people by investing a fraction of what they spent on war in reconstruction. The Sri Lankan government has announced that they will cut aid, following an announcement by the UK government that they will withdraw their tiny contribution. Access to independent aid agencies is severely restricted by the Rajapakse government and the military. This government has an appalling record on handling the money donated by millions of people across the world to aid the victims of the tsunami. Most of that aid never found its way to those who needed it. We call for an elected committee from the IDPs to control and manage all humanitarian aid and other funds and the publication of a ‘rupee by rupee, penny by penny’ report of how the money is spent.
Western ruling elite cannot be trusted
Governments around the world continue to refuse to condemn the Rajapakse government for war crimes. Instead, the IMF will hold a meeting to authorise more loans for Sri Lanka. Trade links with Sri Lanka are prioritised over the lives and rights of hundreds of thousands of people. New Labour ministers are more concerned with arms sales and other trade links, than with giving vital assistance to the suffering Tamil people. In May, Des Browne, New Labour’s special envoy, said: “We visited the IDP camps in Vavuniya. We saw the considerable efforts the government is making to accommodate and assist IDPs who have left the conflict zone.” On 6 October, Mike Foster, New Labour’s Development Minister, said: “Conditions in the camps have improved since my last visit”. We cannot rely on the government in Britain to come to the assistance of the suffering Tamils. The Tories and Liberals are no better. For all of them, it’s just ‘business’ as usual. A recent Daily Mail article, condemning Tamil protesters for the cost of policing their “expensive” Parliament Square protests, reflected the racist attitude of the ruling class to the concerns of people worried about family members.
We can only rely on our own strength, and our determination to build a movement around the world to exert massive pressure. Tamil Solidarity, for the rights of workers and all oppressed people in Sri Lanka, was set up to help build such a movement. This campaign links socialists, trade union activists and young people in opposition to the Sri Lankan government’s brutal policies. The unity of working-class and oppressed people across ethnic and religious divides is essential to the struggle for Tamil rights. The Rajapakse regime which is waging war against the Tamils is also attacking civil and workers’ rights throughout Sri Lanka, and is complicit in the disappearances and killings of socialists, trade union activists and journalists. So, these struggles are all linked. We aim to extend that solidarity work internationally. In Britain, for example, we are raising Tamil rights in the trade union movement, encouraging direct links between organised workers here and those in Sri Lanka. We are organising activity in university campuses and linking up with campaigns such as Youth Fight for Jobs.