Save democracy in Sri Lanka: NAPM

Save democracy in Sri Lanka: NAPM



The situation in Sri Lanka is alarming. Despite a two days ceasefire on the occasion of the Tamil New Year, and despite innumerable appeals to the Sri Lankan government, President Mahinda Rajapaksha has made it clear during the recent visit of UN Special Envoy Vijay Nambiar on 17th April 09 that he is not ready to abandon his line of "war to the finish".

The Tamil civil population in the Vanni is in an absolutely desperate situation without food, water and medical supplies and under frequent attack in the so-called safe zone. Those who manage to leave (many don't want to, for complex reasons), encounter extremely discouraging conditions in the transit camps. Families are separated, disappearances of males of a certain age group are rampant, women face violations and informers try to track down political affiliations, which lead to further disappearances, while food, water and medical supplies leave a lot to be desired. Those who stay in the Vanni do so under manifold compulsions and there are daily deaths in large numbers due to lack of food, water, medical supplies and violent interference. Since 20th April, more people have come out of the so called safe zone, so that more ferocious massacres can be expected in the Vanni Region.

The argument that the LTTE has a vested interest in the presence of the civil population cannot be used as an excuse for the ongoing human rights violations by the State. The war has to end in order to end war crimes and enable a sustainable democratic process.

It is known that the Indian economic and military aid to the Sri Lankan government has been of a high order, presumably "to keep the Chinese at bay". We also remember from the over quarter of a century of armed conflict that the fratricidal tendencies among Tamil groups have been encouraged and enhanced by material aid and training through the RAW and other Indian intelligence outfits over the years. So the injury inflicted from the Indian side is much larger than only the involvement of the IPKF. Actually Priyanka Gandhi has a point when she says to the press that the murder of her father was caused by people's unbearable suffering.

We appreciate that the tone of the Indian Government has changed over recent weeks due to vast protest in India and abroad. However this is not enough. We have reasons to believe that words and deeds often do not tally. Political parties are using the issue to garner votes. There have been numerous protests by democratic organisations over the past three months, demanding to stop the war. People have had demonstrations, hunger fasts, appeals, conferences, road blocks, human chains, petitions galore. In Tamil Nadu, there have been several self immolations. Over the past one week (since 13th April 09), a group of twenty women in Chennai belonging to different organisations have been on an indefinite fast for PEACE in Sri Lanka .

On behalf of NAPM and PPF we wholeheartedly support this struggle. We have raised the issue extensively in our pre-election manifesto and campaign in Tamil Nadu from 23 to 31st March .National Conveners of NAPM have endorsed the demands for Peace, democracy and sovereignty of Tamils in Sri Lanka in their national Conveners meeting in Nagpur on March 1st, 09. NAPM Tamil Nadu has had rasta roko, arrest and fast on February 21 and a massive human chain on March 19th, 09. We also participated in the International Working Class Protest on April 8th, 09. We will not cease to raise the issue at national and international level. We will integrate the issue in all our campaign during pre-election time and also in the long term.

However, we appeal to our sisters to end their fast, as the conflict of decades cannot be solved over night and the aim is to save human lives and end the death toll, not to add to it. Let us abide by the slogan of the Tamil women from Batikaloa:




- We demand an immediate durable and unconditional ceasefire to enable peace negotiations.

- We demand formation of credible teams of international human rights activists, medical personnel and social workers to be present in the process of helping the civil population in the Vanni to get access to food, water and medical supplies and to safeguard their human rights, sanity and dignity in the transition. Special care needs to be taken to protect, women, children and youth.

-We demand de-mining and restoration of villages so that peoples right to return to their homes can be safeguarded and implemented.

We demand a political process in which all communities will be able to participate with confidence and equal rights, irrespective of ethnicity, language, caste, creed and gender.

-The Tamil people's right to self-determination must be respected and implemented.

-Disappearances and other violence must end and freedom of the press must be guaranteed. The working classes must be able to form organisations and struggle for people's rights to Life and Livelihood.

Medha Patkar
National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)

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