Send letters of protest TODAY!

Sectarian violence has been on the rise lately in Sri Lanka, threatening to plunge the country back into all-out civil war. Alarmingly, this violence has recently taken the form of brutal attacks, murders, and repression of all kinds against those Sri Lankans who have been organizing to end this very violence. Most recently, a gang of thugs, led by a deputy minister of the current government, attacked an anti-war demonstration and threatened the lives of organizers. This incident follows other actions designed to end any prospect of a just peace in the country.

On November 10, 2006, a prominent Tamil MP, Nadarajah Raviraj, was gunned down outside his home in Colombo. The Tamil people are an oppressed minority in Sri Lanka. Raviraj was well-known for his campaign to build unity between the Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim peoples of Sri Lanka. In the weeks prior to his murder, he was active in the Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC) – a popular initiative organized by left forces in Sri Lanka against abductions and killings of Tamils which are daily increasing.

The CMC is currently headed by Siritunga Jayasuriya of the United Socialist Party, who won third place in Sri Lanka’s recent presidential elections on the basis of a program of self-determination for the oppressed Tamil minority, workers’ unity against civil war, and ending hunger and poverty on the island. Siritunga now receives death threats daily. These are not empty threats. His life, along with the lives of all who campaign for genuine peace with dignity for all, is in grave danger.

Out-and-out sectarian forces are behind the attacks, hoping to restart a full-scale ethnic civil war. All killings in the high security city of Colombo indicate there is complicity between government security forces and paramilitary groups, which the government has proven unwilling to disarm. Mahinda Rajapakse, president of Sri Lanka and partisan of the Sinhala majority, spoke against the murder of Raviraj but took absolutely no steps to bring his murderers to justice. Such an attitude leads to the conclusion that there is a thinly-veiled collusion between the current government and the paramilitary gangsters. One can only expect this situation to worsen without the strongest possible expression of outrage on the part of working people and human rights supporters internationally, and the most energetic organization of unity on the part of the Sri Lankan workers and poor.

As the situation develops, it becomes clear that the current government supports and encourages the sectarian violence. On January 9, 2007, Siritunga Jayasuriya and a handful of associates in the United People’s Movement (UPM), a newly-formed alliance of political forces who are against the war, against government repression, and against hunger, barely escaped with their lives. Over 300 armed thugs, led by a deputy minister of the current government, Mervyn da Silva, raided the place where the UMP’s first public rally was to be held in Colombo. The rally was called under the slogans “No to the brutal (civil) war!” and “Against repression and poverty.” Da Silva, an associate of President Mahinda Rajapakse, arrived with known gangsters, took over the stage, and did thousands of rupees worth of damage to this public space. When the official police arrived on the scene, they simply looked on as da Silva’s goon squad ransacked the stage! There followed a chase in which Siritunga narrowly escaped with his life. His name, along with those of up to 30 other organizers, has appeared on lists of people who should be “killed immediately.” The current chauvinist government of Sri Lanka targets these activists in order, as Siritunga has said, to “destroy the bridges between the South and the North” of the island.

We appeal to all people of goodwill to express your strongest possible condemnation of sectarian violence and those responsible for it. We call for an avalanche of protests via email, phone, and at your local Sri Lankan embassy or consulate. We demand:

  • Stop all threats to the safety and lives of anti-war activists;
  • Allow a totally independent, international investigation into the murder of Nadarajah Raviraj;
  • Halt attacks on democratic freedoms, human rights and the right of oppressed minorities;
  • Take immediate action against Deputy Minister Mervyn da Silva for his actions on 9 January.

Details for protests and solidarity:
To the president, (who is also Minister of Interior!) Mahinda Rajapakse:

  • Office of Mahinda Rajapakse
  • Telephone directly to his office: ++ 9411 25429 38 (up to 41)
  • E-mail address: gosl@presidentsl.org
  • Fax number: ++94 11 2321404

Send letters, faxes and e-mails to your Sri Lankan embassy or consulate.
Copies of messages, reports of action and any responses to the UPM:

  • c/o Siritunga Jayasuriya: usp@sltnet.lk

Please also convey reports to: Committee for a Workers’ International in London who are coordinating the campaign outside Sri Lanka (e-mail: cwi@worldsoc.co.uk)

You can also send a copy of your protest to Leader of the Opposition:

  • Ranil Wickramasinghe through his Media Secretary
  • e-mail: saman4media@sltnet.lk
  • For further information, search “Sri Lanka” on www.socialistworld.net.

    Thank you for your help with this important campaign.

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