Sri Lanka: The Haves and the Have Nots

by Kamal K., United Lankan Workers Party (RCIT-Section in Sri Lanka), January 2014


Our country is confronted by two crucial contradictions. One is the economic problem which affects every stomach of Sri Lanka irrespective of race, religion, etc. The other is the national question – the oppression of the Tamil minority. There are two societies in Sri Lanka, namely the Haves and the Have Nots.

The small minority of the Haves consists of the capitalist class which comes mostly from the ruling Sinhala nation. They life from the profits produced by the Sri Lankan proletariat amongst which the Tamil workers – in particular the Tamil plantation workers in the central provinces – constitute an important sector.

The haves are led by the ruling clique, which comprise the most powerful families who are loyal followers of President Mahinda Rajapakse and his clan. These powerful families have their representatives amongst the ministers, deputies and other parasites. They utilise the state apparatus as watch dog to terrorize the working people. Therefore they carry out regularly abductions, murder, rape, drug business and so on.

The have nots, on the other hand, are living in deep poverty. They constitute the huge majority of the 21 million population of our country. According to official World Bank statistics 38.2% of the people are living in poverty with an income of less than 2.50 US-Dollar a day. Most of the rest of the people have an income barely higher than this. The majority of those in employment are wage labourers (57%), the rest are mostly poor peasants or urban small traders.

Sri Lanka is a prisoner of its accumulated debt via which the imperialist banks and financial institutions are squeezing the working people. The country’s debt is 24 Billion US Dollar which is the equivalent of 48% of its Gross National Income. Its biggest creditor is China, the emerging imperialist power, ahead of the older imperialist power, Japan. These imperialist jackals extract huge profits via the credit regime which is paid by the workers and peasants of our country.

An important tool to split the workers and peasants in Sri Lanka is the national oppression of the Tamil people. The Tamils constitute – if one adds the Eelam Tamils in the North and East, the up-hill Tamils in Central Sri Lanka and the Moors – at least one quarter of the country’s population and thus a high proportion amongst the Sri Lanka working class. They suffered a terrible defeat in 2009 when Rajapakse’s army defeated the Tamil Tigers – a petty-bourgeois nationalist guerilla movement with strong roots amongst the Tamil masses. The army slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil women, men and children and drove hundreds of thousands from their homeland. The Tamils have since long aspired for an independent state “Tamil Eelam”. This is why we as socialists raise the slogan of an independent, socialist Tamil Eelam” – as the Tamil liberation movement formulated it in its historic Vattukottai Resolution in 1976.

The only salvation for the Sri Lanka people is the unity of the working class – both Sinhala and Tamil – in the struggle against the semi-dictatorship of Mahinda Rajapakse and the capitalist class. This is why the ULWP fights for a workers and peasants government which leads the people to a socialist future!