| by Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne
(December 04, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We were struggling during the last period to build a social democratic movement to face the dictatorial and repressive policies of the government. But this attempt was nullified continuously by the intervention of chauvinist forces. There is a school of thought which believes that the government could be challenged only by a leadership that is more Sinhala than the Mahinda camp. These misplaced radicals devote their time to contact racist elements who fall out from the ruling coalition. In addition they try to promote alternate UNP leaders to act as saviours of the Sinhala nation. In other words an important question is posed to those who are coming into the anti government agitation. Are we to take the stale set of slogans of Sinhala chauvinists as the first and foremost weapon to be used against the government? Quite apart from the question of expediency of such a strategy, it will inevitably boomerang on the opposition.
Breaking the barriers of language
On the other hand, the tendency that advocated social democracy, of some kind, was able to get together parties and organizations breaking the barrier of language and nationality. Though they got together several times before, the intervention of the Sinhala majority disturbed the unity and parties could not agree to a common struggle. However the emergence of unity between the Tamil democrats and the left in the recent local government elections, became and impetus for those who stood for social democracy. The term social democracy is used here not in the same sense that it is used in the west, in modern times. It means a broad agreement on democracy and equality.
New discussion broke out in all parties after the election. Even the JVP had to recognize the power of this unity between the revolutionary left and the Tamil democrats. JVP youth leaders, who in the recent past worked hard in the Tamil areas, found that their past policy of promoting the war, has introduced a Chinese wall, between the Tamil oppressed and them. This sent a shock wave through the student base of the JVP. They were also impressed by the influence achieved by the Nava Sama Samaja party among the Tamil oppressed.
The new way out
In this scenario it was a big relief for those who stood for a new way out, to participate in a discussion that was launched on 23rd November under the patronage of Rev Maduluwawe Sobitha , using the banner National Movement for Just Society. MP Dayasiri, MPSumanthiran, DPF leader Mano Ganesan, Bahu of NSSP, USP leader Siritunga, Priydarsani women’s leader and university teacher’s union spokesperson, participated in this press conference.
It was reported that Vickramabahu made the following speech at this meeting: “Today there is a serious challenge to democracy in this country. On the surface, one sees only democratic tendencies. We can have press conferences and protest meetings. Elections are held and parliament, provincial councils and town councils are functioning, courts are operating without state intrusions. But all these are pretensions. There is a political terror regime working behind the scene. Justice is not done and people live in terror. It started in the Tamil areas, but now it has come to the south as well. The power of this illegitimate institute can be seen in the recent events.
Senior political adviser to the President, Bharatha was killed by security personnel in broad day light in Colombo suburbs. WPC minister’s house was surrounded and searched by security forces. White van has abducted several around Colombo, while it is a common event in Tamil areas. Not only general Fonseka but thousands of Tamil political prisoners are kept in unknown places, while the government admitted over 800 are kept under PTA.
The nature of the state terror regime could be seen by the amount allocated to the defence and related departments in the budget. Latter dominates the entire budget. Executive presidential power is used by the terror regime to legitimize its actions. Executive presidency, envelopes and covers the political terror regime. There is logic behind keeping the General in prison, because, this political terror is driven by Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism and militarism. If the General is given freedom, his influence in the armed forces will be an obstacle to politicisation of the military apparatus. Hence he is kept in prison through a travesty of justice. His image is demolished by subtle campaigns. He will not be killed but his personality will be demolished.
They survive on the theory that the war against Tamils brought fortune to Lanka. The terror regime is mainly used to protect foreign investors and brokers. It protects the plunder of local resources. The truth is that the war brought the biggest misfortune of political state terror on every body. We lost our freedom and our national resources. We can win democracy and freedom only by defeating state terror that hides behind the executive presidency. Rev Sobitha explained that Gandhi challenged the British Raj; then the biggest world terror, by mass actions. We must get together to launch such a mass struggle to defeat this dictatorial terror regime.”