THERE is a war taking place in Sri Lanka, in which the government of President Rajipakse, armed, equipped, trained and financially supported by the UK and the US, is setting out to massacre and terrorise the Tamil people, and at the same time drive back the Sri Lankan trade unions, which are seeking better wages to try and keep up with the mountainous rises in the cost of living that have taken place.
The Tamil Tigers, the military organisation that defends the Tamil people, is under heavy and sustained attack. It is resisting bravely and is confident that it will not be defeated by the imperialist backed Sri Lankan armed forces.
In the past it has seen off the intervention of the Indian army and numerous Sri Lankan army attacks.
It has many brave, well trained and capable fighters and there is nothing to suggest that it will be beaten by the Sri Lankan army.
At the same time as the war rages against the Tamils, police death squads are killing trade union opponents of the racist right wing regime.
Arbitrary arrest, torture, and imprisonment without trial, is now the rule in Sri Lanka, and hundreds if not thousands of trade unionists and members of workers’ parties have been jailed or have disappeared at the hands of the state.
Once again, the British government is a party to this. It has declared that the self defence armed forces of the Tamil people, the Tamil Tigers, are terrorists. They have been proscribed as such and it is illegal to give them support, such as collecting money for them in Britain.
The British ruling class has got major investments in the New Economic Zones of the island.
It views the Rajipakse regime as ‘their’ government, with its main task being to preserve its profits and its rate of profit, made from exploiting all of the people of the island, through suppressing the Tamil people and driving back the trade unions.
The British ruling class has been egging on Rajipakse to attack the Tigers and the trade unions so as to keep their rate of profit up.
The other aspect of the struggle is that the tactic of divide and rule being practiced by the Rajipakse regime is as old as the British ruling class itself.
In fact, Rajipakse has inherited the policy from the British Raj.
It seeks not just to split the Sinhalese from the Tamils, but also to split the working class itself through organising a massive military pogrom in the island. It labels trade unionists as terrorists and as allies of the Tamil Tigers.
The weakness of the regime and its imperialist backers is that it is fighting a struggle on two fronts, against the Tamil people and against the working class.
Even the British government is now worried that Rajipakse has gone too far with the tearing up of the Ceasefire Agreement, and that his war and civil war will end in defeat for the regime and revolution in Sri Lanka.
The British trade unions have a duty to support the Tamil people and the Sri Lankan workers.
They must demand that the Brown government stops all military and political support for the Sri Lankan government and army, and that the proscription of the Tamil Tigers is lifted.
The British trade unions must stand for the defeat of the Sri Lankan army, and for the halting of its murderous war, and demand the freeing of all of the political prisoners of the Rajipakse regime.
In Sri Lanka itself the working class must organise a general strike to bring down the Rajipakse regime, to go forward to a workers and small farmers government. This will expropriate the bosses and the bankers, give the land to the peasants and go forward to socialism.
The Tamil people will then be able to decide whether they want to set up a separate state in the north and the north-east of the island, or to have their republic as part of a Workers Republic of Sri Lanka, with the right to secede if it wishes.