National Sections of the L5I:

Stop the Genocide of the Tamils

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The Sri Lankan Army has launched its “final assault” on the tiny 21 square kilometre area of land where some 100,000 Tamil civilians, plus the remaining fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), are besieged. The government of President Mahinda Rajapakse, dares to call this hell hole a “safe zone” and claims to be conducting a “rescue operation” to save the population, whom he describes as hostages of the Tigers.

The Army claims to have freed 62,000 Tamils but NGOs active in Sri Lanka say the numbers still in the area are much greater than this would suggest. The government and the army allow no media or aid agencies into the battle zone. They have banned all food or medical supplies from entering it. Repeated bombardments have certainly caused large numbers of numbers of casualties. The army claims a tiny number but the United Nations estimates 4,500 people have been killed and 12,000 wounded this year. The LTTE put the figures much higher claiming over 1,000 people has been killed and 2,300 wounded just in the few days since the temporary government ceasefire ran out.

All organizations working in the area, apart from the Army, agree that hospitals, orphanages and bunkers sheltering the population have been hit by the shelling and aerial bombardment. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which operates hospitals in the region, described the situation as "nothing short of catastrophic." Refugees have told Al Jazeera that conditions they faced were “hellish”. For the past weeks and months the army has been assembling the refugees from the fighting in detention camps, which are now horribly overcrowded.

In Britain with its large Tamil community, there has been huge demonstrations this year: one on January 31 with around 125,000 participants and another on April 11 with upwards of 200,000 people. There have been repeated blockades in Westminster in the last week or so, both on the bridge and around the Houses of Parliament. The police savagely attacked the first such blockade.

On April 22 tens of thousands blocked in this important traffic hub for most of the day, repeatedly chanting “Stop killing Tamils!” and “Rajapakse – terrorist!” A student, Parameswaran Subramaniyan, continued his hunger strike in Parliament Square against the genocide of Tamils. Demands centre on the call for a ceasefire, the entry of journalists, food and medical supplies and the opening up of negotiations between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government.

These actions did move UK prime Minister Gordon Brown to call for a ceasefire and the admission of humanitarian aid but this was a verbal commitment only since his government continues to support Rajapakse - including sending weaponry to the army, and continues to call the LTTE “terrorists”. Major demonstrations have taken place in southern India, demanding Indian President Manmohan Singh vigorously condemn the genocide. Smaller but still significant demonstrations have take place in a number of European countries and in North America.

Despite earlier support for ceasefires and negotiations the USA, UK and other EU states have since 9/11 increasingly accepted the Sri Lankan governments claim that the whole question is one of LTTE terrorism. Therefore it is not to the governments of the world but to its peoples - especially the workers and poor peasants - that Tamils must look to for support.

All working class and progressive forces should be supporting the call for a ceasefire by the Sri Lankan army and its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the Tamil majority areas in the north and east of the island. They should abandon the land and sea blockade and allow in food and medical supplies. They should allow full and uncensored media reporting from the region. They should respond positively to the LTTE’s request for talks. It is an elementary democratic right, enshrined in all declarations of human rights, that a distinct national community like the Tamils should have the right to determine their own future free from all coercion – and should, if they so decide, have the right to secede and form their own state.

We believe that all other states should cease sending military or economic aid to the Sri Lankan government until it meets these elementary democratic conditions. We believe the workers movement should exert the maximum pressure on governments to bring this about and themselves render support to Tamil communities mobilizing abroad to achieve similar aims.

The reconquest of the North and the siege of the remaining LTTE forces and their civilian population is quite simply a genocidal attack, similar to that perpetrated by Israel against the people of Gaza. It must be stopped.