The truth about the oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the lies in President Rajapaksa’s speech on Independence Day
Some months ago Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa declared at the Independence Day celebrations in Anuradhapura: “Ethnic communities have no separate regions. The entire country belongs to all ethnic communities.”
This is a joke which has no connection to the reality. The truth is:
Sri Lanka/Elangai is inhabited not only by different communities. It is first and foremost inhabited by two different NATIONS: the Sinhala people and the Tamil people. Both live on the island since thousands of years.
When the British colonialists conquered Sri Lanka/Elangai they realized there were two separate native people. In June 1796, the British Colonial Secretary, Sir Hugh Cleghorn wrote to his government:
“Two different nations, from a very ancient period, have divided between them the possession of the Island: the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior in its southern and western parts from the river Wallouwe to Chilaw, and the Malabars (Tamils) who possess the northern and eastern districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.”
To this we shall add the Hill-Country Tamils. They were brought in the 19th century by the British colonialists as semi-slaves from India to the island. All in all they brought between 800,000 and 1.5 million Tamils from India to work at the plantations. They were treated badly – like the Black people who were brought from Africa to America. Nearly one-fourth of these Tamils died on route. They played a major role in building Sri Lankas/Elangais main industry: the tea, rubber and coconut plantations.
Tamils are an oppressed nation
Before independence both the Sinhala and the Tamil people were oppressed by the British imperialists. Since 1948 till today the Tamil people – both the Eelam Tamils in the North and East and the Hill Country Tamils in the central regions – are a nation oppressed by the Sinhala ruling class.
Today they are oppressed more than ever. Hundreds of thousands of Tamils have been killed or driven out of their homes. Today the Rajapaksa regime needs an army of 400.000 soldiers to oppress the Tamil people and keep its power. The Tamil territories in the North are occupied with one soldier per 10 inhabitants!
Who benefits from the oppression of the Tamil people? Certainly not the Sinhala workers and poor peasants!
It is only the Sinhala ruling class and the foreign imperialists who gain from the oppression of the Tamil people! These rich capitalists make profit from the cheap labour force of the Tamil plantation workers. These rich capitalists profit from land in the North which they take away from the native Tamil people.
National self-determination and socialism
So let us speak out the truth: This country does not belong to all ethnic communities. The Tamil people want their own state but the army is occupying their territory to deny the Tamil people their right for national self-determination.
The country belongs to the Sinhala capitalists. They exploit the Sinhala workers and they super-exploit the Tamil workers. To divide the workers of both nations they spread Sinhala chauvinism.
To fight against their oppression the Sinhala workers and poor peasants must reject this chauvinism. They must fight for full equality and national self-determination for the Tamil people. This perspective of national liberation must be part of a program for socialist revolution. Armed with such a program the Sinhala and Tamil workers can unite against the Sinhala capitalists and win. Together they can build a socialist society without exploitation and national oppression! This is what the United Lanka/Elangai Workers Party is fighting for!