An election for the billionaires

By Patrick Martin

Former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. [AP Photo/Associated Press]

There are two presidential elections taking place in the United States in 2024. The voting by the American population, which culminates on Election Day on November 5, will receive the bulk of the media attention.

Far more decisive, however, is the second election, which is going on right now, in which a relative handful of billionaires and corporate oligarchs decide which of the candidates of the two established capitalist parties, Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican ex-President Donald Trump, will better serve their class interests.

As of March 31, the Biden campaign had more than double the cash on hand of Trump and the Republicans, $192 million compared to $93.1 million. The Biden campaign is touting the fact that its war chest is the highest total amount amassed by a Democratic candidate in US history. It includes $26 million raked in two weeks ago in Manhattan, where three Democratic presidents—Biden, Obama and Clinton—and an array of Hollywood and Broadway performers appeared before an audience with ticket prices that topped out at $500,000.

Trump’s efforts were given a boost at a record fundraiser Saturday night, held at the estate of hedge fund billionaire John Paulson in Palm Beach, a short distance from Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago compound. The price of admission ranged up to $800,000, and the 117 guests ponied up a total of $50.3 million in campaign pledges, nearly double the Biden total at Radio City Music Hall.

“Tonight, we raised an historic $50.5 million for the re-election of President Trump,” Paulson wrote in a statement to the media Saturday evening. “This sold-out event has raised the most in a single political fundraiser in history. This overwhelming support demonstrates the enthusiasm for President Trump and his policies.”

The enthusiasm of the assembled billionaires was no doubt fueled by Trump’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and by the fact that the exemption for “pass-through” corporations, worth $700 billion to private equity firms and other speculative ventures, will expire in 2025, the first year of the new presidency. Trump’s open embrace of fascist violence is seen by an increasing section of the ruling elite as necessary to crush social opposition to its policies of austerity and war.

If money is any indication, however, there is even more “enthusiasm” among the billionaires for Democrat Joe Biden, whose war against Russia is seen as critical to the global interests of the American ruling elite. Dominant sections of the capitalist class see Trump as too erratic on foreign policy and recognize that Biden’s occasional anti-corporate demagogy is purely for show, a means of deluding the population and defusing popular resistance to the war policies of American imperialism.

Unfortunately for his electoral prospects, however, Biden’s attempts to present himself as a “man of the people” have become increasingly strained. “Middle-class Joe” has been displaced by “Genocide Joe” in public consciousness, as he has become indelibly associated with the war crimes being committed by Israel in Gaza, armed and financed by the Biden administration.

Biden continues to collect multimillion-dollar amounts at closed-door meetings with wealthy supporters on virtually every campaign swing. On Monday, for example, he traveled to Wisconsin to unveil his latest political swindle, a proposed reduction in college student loan repayment, which will provide little actual benefit. Air Force One then touched down at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, so Biden could attend a fundraiser that collected $2.5 million from about two dozen individuals (roughly $100,000 apiece).

The co-hosts of this affair were Michael Pratt, who runs GCM Grosvenor, a $77 billion hedge fund specializing in “alternative,” i.e., socially “progressive” investments, and Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and daughter of the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade. 

Over the weekend, Politico published a revealing account of the 2024 campaign headlined, “Big-dollar fundraisers are back,” which noted that both parties are relying on small affairs where Trump and Biden schmooze with the super-rich to raise the bulk of their campaign funds. This is particularly important for the Democrats, the website reported, citing the comments of former Obama fundraiser Ami Copeland.

For Biden, burying Trump in cash is central to his general election strategy. He’s started with a sizable financial advantage over the former president, and hosting splashy, high-dollar fundraisers helps to further pad that edge. “His cash advantage is existential,” Copeland said, because “it’s the thing working the best on the campaign right now.”

The fundraising for both campaigns seems inversely related to their actual support, given that polls and media accounts generally concede that Biden and Trump are the two most unpopular political figures in America. Small-donor fundraising, which was up substantially in 2016 and 2020, driven initially by support for the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders and later by opposition to (or support for) Trump’s fascist demagogy, has slowed significantly this year. 

The massive domination of money is only one aspect of an electoral process that is completely undemocratic and aimed at excluding any opposition to the capitalist two-party system. The Democratic Party in particular has taken the lead in waging an “all-out war” on third party and independent candidates, which will be focused on challenging their efforts to meet massive signature requirements.

This is the state of American democracy in 2024: One of the two major parties is controlled by the perpetrator of an attempted fascist coup to overturn the 2020 election, while the other party will renominate the president responsible for an ongoing war against nuclear-armed Russia and the first genocide of the 21st century.

The Socialist Equality Party entered the 2024 elections to provide a genuine choice for the working class, Kishore for president and Jerry White for vice president, running on a socialist and antiwar program.

In a statement posted on X/Twitter Monday responding to the massive domination of money over the election, Kishore wrote:

As Marxists have long explained, the state is not a neutral arbiter but an instrument of class rule. It is controlled by a ruling class that supports the genocide in #Gaza and an escalating global war, while waging a war on the social and democratic rights of the working class at home.

The Socialist Equality Party campaign is aimed at developing a movement in the working class. The existential questions confronting workers in the US and throughout the world will not be resolved by tinkering around the edges, by hoping for “change” within the existing political structure. The working class has to take up the fight against the entire social and economic system of capitalism. This is the essential question, and the only way to oppose the drive of the ruling class to world war, dictatorship and capitalist barbarism.

The central issue in the 2024 elections is to bring the class questions of jobs, living standards, social benefits, democratic rights and war before the widest possible audience and to win the most politically advanced sections of workers and youth to the program of revolutionary Marxism.

[This article was originally published in the World Socialist Web Site here on April 09, 2024.]

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The underworld, the fraud called ‘Operation Justice’, and public security

By Nandana Nannetti.

“If they don’t stop drug trafficking, we have to go find them. If there is a conflict, they will have to be killed,” Public Security Minister Tiran Alas reiterated in a meeting held in Jaffna about the operation of Justice, the operation which the government claims to have launched against illegal drugs and the underworld. As a step to intensify and continue to inflict state terror on the oppressed public, the Inspector General of Police released 20 more special police battalions on 20th March, claiming to be for suppressing the underworld, and said that the underworld would be “ended” in a few months.

Deploying of 20 Special Police battalions on March 20, 2024 Image Courtesy of NewsWire

Referring to two shooting incidents reported in Pitigala and Ambalangoda on the night of 11th March, in which four people lost their lives and six others were injured; IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon said the same thing in a different manner when he announced that they (the Police) “will act to response in such a language that is comprehensible to the people involved in such acts.” He made this announcement while addressing an event in Ambalangoda.  

By the time the Sri Lankan Inspector General of Police made the aforementioned statement, a suspect arrested by the Peliyagoda police the on previous day had already been shot dead. The said suspect was arrested on 10th March by the Hambegamuwa Police as a suspect in connection with the killing of a monk named Dhammarathana in Kalapaluwawe on 24th January. He was handed over to the Peliyagoda Police. According to the Peliyagoda Police, the suspect, Kalhara Dilshan of Aranagamwila, Polonnaruwa, has served in the Army Commando Force. The Peliyagoda police took him to the Lihiniya Canal area at Attanagalla, Urapola on the next day and shot him dead at around 11 pm. Newspaper “The island“ reported that, this man, who was handcuffed and taken under the protection of an armed police battalion was shot when he tried to run away, pushing a police officer to a precipice.

Thus, as the above announcements make clear, the “Operation Justice,“ is a government terror campaign that allows the police to use force up to the point of extra judicial killing of people in violation of basic human rights and existing laws. 

What launched as a police operation on 17th December last year, was expanded to involve the Army too by 11th March. By the time, according to the police reports, there had been 68,931 raids across the country, and 68,577 suspects and, illicit drugs worth 850 million Rupees were arrested. This number includes many innocent people who were arrested on bogus charges. According to police reports, property worth Rs 720 million was seized by the Illegal Assets Unit. The reader should not be misled by these numbers because the so-called operation does not reach the big businessmen who run the illegal drug trade. 

There is no record of Operation Justice controlling the illicit drug trade. But the operation has been extended from catching people for sexual harassments in public transport and then to rounding up beggars. One example of the nature of their ‘justice’ is reported on 26th February. One Madawalage Newton, a 69 year mason of Pagoda, Nugegoda, was arrested while waiting for his colleague in his way to work. He was arrested at the Nugegoda railway station in a police operation against “begging, by obstructing traffic”, although he confirmed his identity by showing his national identity card. Nine others were arrested with him and produced to court and then he was sent to a detention center for beggers, and then to the Magazine Prison. Relatives of Newton told the media that the prison informed the family that this elderly man, suffering from a chest pain, died at 1.30 pm on the 7th March. These incidents testify that the goal of the so-called Operation Justice is to suppress the poor and spread state terror in the society by deploying armed forces everywhere to quell the sparks of a public revolt.

In launching the operation, Public Security Minister Alas said that the justice operation in illegal drug raids will not target those who use or import drugs, but those who sell them. Regarding the launch of the operation on December 17, the minister has said on several occasions that his goal is to eliminate the drug retailers because when the drug sellers are gone, the drug users and the importers of drugs will not be able to achieve their goals. This statement is aimed at the poor people in villages and cities who are motivated to involve with illicit drug trade, because they have no other means to earn a living. On February 12, the Inspector General of Police addressed a community police committee meeting in Kalutara and said that he had received a report that “when one of the housemates was caught, the second one went to work”. He described how to continue the operation, “If someone in this business is caught and jailed, if there is a group who bought drugs from him, follow up and find who supplies them now.” If one person in the house is arrested and another person in the same house steps forward to accept the danger, it means that they are involved in serious problems of livelihood. That’s the very reason, why the drug dealers can use them one after the other.

An audio tape, said to be of a conversation between a powerful underworld officer and a police officer has recently become viral. “Do your duty as a policeman. You must do it because it is your duty. It doesn’t matter if a few drug sellers are caught and prosecuted. Don’t try to stop our business,” he said to the officer. The Public Security Minister’s plan fits exactly into this proposal.

Inquired at a media briefing announcing the expansion of the operation, about the public perception that the Operation Justice violates human rights, a police spokesperson denied it. He cited the fact that no one has filed a human rights case against the operation so far. Prosecution requires evidence. As the Police Media Spokesperson knows very well, the police conduct the operation without leaving any evidence for the victim, moving very similar to the underworld. Public complaints are ignored by the higher ups of the police. No one in their right mind would believe that the police, one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, would do justice.

The experiences exposing the hypocritical statement of the police spokesman are numerous. On January 20th, a 22-year-old innocent youth Mindika Aluthgamage was shot dead at a mobile phone shop named Three Star at Telijjawila, Matara. The owner of the shop is a young man named Dilshan Madusankha. Dilshan publicly presented facts about this crime committed by the police. He explained that the assassins came to kill him had mistakenly shot his friend when he was away. He pointed out the reasons. On August 24, 2020, Malimbada police arrested him for stealing money from a Telijjawila liquor store. The police tortured him severely and further scrutiny of the CCTV footage confirmed his innocence. The young man suffered physical disabilities. Even though the mother of the youth complained to all relevant places including the Police Commission, there was no relief. The fundamental rights case 68/2021 which they have filed has been assigned to the Supreme Court and scheduled to be taken up again on February 16. Dilshan said, he received death threats from the police to stop the legal activities and he declared through his facebook account and other media that there is no one to kill him except the police.

The most recent incident was on March 2, when a suspended police sergeant and a social media activist, Nimal Jayasekara, residing at Walakumbura Attham Niwasa in Nagoda, Galle, a whistleblower exposing police corruption, was stormed and shot with a T56, and robbed of his tab computer and mobile phone. He alleges that this was done by the Sri Lanka Police. He challenges the police to arrest the relevant weapon, persons and motorcycle, if they claim they are not involved.

Police Sergeant Nimal Jayasekara’s revelation

It should not be overlooked that many underworld shooters and organized criminals are people with connections to the military or police. The main shooter of the gang that killed five people in Tangalle on December 21 was an ex-navy soldier. On February 17, at Ambalangoda, the gunman who was arrested in an attempt to kill a person was a soldier from the Kilinochchi army camp. An officer of the same camp, who got the contract and directed the soldier, was also arrested.

The threat to social life from the underworld is highlighted by the police in order to suppress public opposition to the actions of the police such as extrajudicial killings, filing false cases, terrorizing social life, etc. The very existence of the police, a tool of the capitalist class hostile to the oppressed people, is a threat to public freedom. It is no secret that large-scale illegal businesses cannot be sustained without the support of the police and the government at a high level. From this point of view, it is clear that, the public has lost their rights for a fearless peaceful life because of the underworld and the police; both being the arms of the capitalist society.

One example of the nature of the control that the police is maintaining on the lives of the common people, is what the Hikkaduwa police did to Gange Nishad Kumara, a 42-year-old resident of Tuduwegoda, Hikkaduwa, on March 14. Kumara is an oppressed fisherman He was arrested near his home, and the reason was not carrying his identity card with him. He was taken by force and asked to paint the police building. He was not released even though the family brought the identity card to the Police Station and confirmed his identity. The police have filed charges against him as a theft suspect because he did not finish the painting and got a lawyer to intervene on his behalf. The mission of so-called justice is to secure and develop this situation.

The “Global Initiative” says, “According to police data, crimes in 2022 (in Sri Lanka) increased by 60% monthly, and the number of petty crimes reported in January rose to 29,908 by the end of November from 1,676”. They pointed out in an article titled “The crime cost of Sri Lanka”, that, “economic stress has also generated an increase in illegal activities as measured by the Global Organized Crime Index.” Another proof is that homicides of all types rose from 273 in 2019 just before the economic crisis to 533 in 2022 at its peak.

Operation Justice did not control this tendency but exacerbated it. In the first 6 months of 2023, the number of shootings that was approximately 4 per month, has increased to 7 per month this year after Operation Justice was implemented.

The government is following the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” policy of 2016-2022, which has been used to suppress insurgencies. It killed between 7,000 and 12,000 poor Filipinos. Most of them were urban poor. A Human Rights Watch investigation found that the police were involved in falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings.

The increase in usage of illicit drugs  and enhancement of crime is a global phenomenon. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has reported that 296 million people have used drugs in 2021. According to the report, it is a 23% increase from before. In the past 10 years, the number of people with mental illnesses due to drug usage has risen by 45% to 39.5 million. The drug industry is one such large market. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has stated that this industry is twice the size of the world car market.

The class rule of the top 10%, which swallows 76% of the world’s income, has created a market of 296 million consumers worldwide from the youth in the bottom 50%, who receive only 2% of it. No capitalist regime can save the people from this situation. As long as capitalism exists, only the criminals needed for the respective businesses will be supplied from the oppressed sections of the society as well as from the security forces.

The only class capable of countering the attack, the working class, should be independently mobilized against this self-enhancing crime-ring. Only they are capable of rallying the oppressed sections and launch a powerful counter-attack against the calamity prepared and implemented by the capitalist states in collaboration with the trillionaire drug mafia. We call upon the workers to build up their independent organizations, where different tendencies genuinely representing the interests of the working class are mobilized, to fight back this menace, to safeguard oppressed against conspiracies of the state and to organize protests including pickets, demonstrations, public meetings, and strikes, hence launching a movement culminating in a general strike to defend the lives of the workers and the oppressed.

[This article is a slightly modified version of the article originally published here in Sinhala on March 22, 2024]

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The Colombo Action Committee against State Repression and the Practice of Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka

By Nandana Nannetti.

On February 29, the Sinhala section of the World Socialist Web Site had published an article under the title, “Police claim one cannot be allowed to humiliate them through pamphlets, and pounce upon the Colombo Action Committee.” The relevant issue was the police raid to stop the CAC-led campaign against the suppression launched under the name of ‘Operation Justice’. The police charged CAC with “intentionally insulting with intent to provoke a breach of peace, and circulating false reports with intent to cause mutiny or an offence against the republic or public tranquility.”  The SEP letter has clearly expressed its opposition to the repression of the police, and has also raised the danger it poses to the public.

The prelude to the CAC campaign against the suppression operation called “Justice” was the police intimidation followed the arrest of Aruna Wijesuriya, son of CAC secretary and journalist Shanta Wijesuriya. Aruna Wijesooriya was arrested by the Kesbewa police, who later demanded and received a ransom of 10,000 rupees for his release. Another officer threatened to kill Shantha for lodging a complaint to the police regarding the whole incident. Shanta and his family then faced retaliation by the police. Shanta’s son was arrested and falsely accused of keeping the illicit drugs commonly called ice. His girlfriend, who went to visit him, was stripped and beaten within the police station for recording the conversation. 

On February 17, CAC issued the aforementioned statement, “Defeat the state terror campaign called ‘Mission of Justice’, unleashed against the people, including the oppressed youth”. “This attempt by the machine of state repression, posing as an agent of morality against immorality, is fraudulent, evil and despicable. It is a desperate attempt to suppress the opposition of the laboring oppressed people to the implementation of austerity measures as dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), hence imposing the crisis of the capitalist class rule on the shoulders of the oppressed masses,” it pointed out.

The campaign was expanded through pasting posters all over the area with the assistance of the Prisoner’s Rights Organization and local youth. The campaign invited people to join a picketing campaign at Kesbewa on February 27. On February 23, while CAC leaflets were being distributed, Shanta was summoned to the Piliyandala Police Station by the Superintendent of Police, Ratmalana saying that they would conduct an urgent investigation regarding the complaints of Shanta and his family. It was a naive attempt to stop the campaign. The next day, Comrade Punyawardena of CAC, who was distributing leaflets in Piliyandala town, was forcibly taken away in a three-wheeler under the direction of the same Superintendent of Police. The superintendent told Punyawardena that, he was sure that no wrongdoing of the type described in CAC statement had occurred in the Piliyandala and Kasbewa police stations.

CAC February 27 picket campaaign

Punyawardena was released after obtaining a statement. Meanwhile, CAC distributed more than 2,000 leaflets in the city and the public was informed against the action of the police. At the same time, the head of the criminal division of the Piliyandala Police warned Shantha to not to oppose the police and the operation of justice, because an investigation is underway into the incident. But that evening (24th), Kasbewa police obtained a search warrant from the court and raided Shanta’s house and seized about 500 CAC leaflets and materials that had been prepared for the campaign.

It has been noticed by the police that, CAC is the only organization that has been engaged in such an open struggle against this violent state repression campaign, until this date. Hence the police thought that it would be easy to suppress it under the circumstances that no other organization challenged the operation of justice. Even the Socialist Equality Party, the Sri Lankan branch of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), only documented their protest in two articles on the World Socialist Web Site in June and in January. But public opposition is growing strongly. This dire situation is reflected by the independent intervention of a group of members of the Frontline Socialist Party to support this struggle in several ways. 

It was in these circumstances that CAC convened a press conference on the 26th to explain the threat and to gather support against it. Despite the presence of representatives of the major electronic media organizations in Sri Lanka, most of the major capitalist media organizations avoided publishing the reports. Meanwhile, the CAC’s invitation to the Sinhala section of the WSWS to participate in the press conference was ignored due to the subjective dislike of Sri Lanka’s SEP towards CAC.  

The picket campaign was carried out at Kesbewa town on 27th evening, as per the schedule. The police did not step forward to implement the court order they claimed to have obtained against the campaign. Under the circumstances of continuing of the struggle by the CAC, not giving in to the pressures, it was not possible to prevent the wide publicity it received. As a last moment attempt to “protect its ‘good’ name”, the police constable Paulson and Sergeant Alwis of the Kesbewa Police, who posed a threat to Shanta and the family, were transferred to the Moratuwa and Mt. Lavinia Police stations respectively.

As CAC stated during this struggle, “the anti-democracy and terror-mongering displayed by governments, by bringing social media censorship laws and anti-terror laws, is not at all an expression of the strength of capitalist governments, but an expression of their organic weakness. …. Anywhere in the world, such regimes have been able to survive, because trade unions and pseudo-left fronts have invaded into every instance of class struggle to sabotage, control and compromise mass struggles. We workers, peasants, and the rest of the oppressed people, must understand that, for us, there is no self-defense through official capitalist institutions. Freedom and security cannot be guaranteed except through building of an independent mass movement under the revolutionary working-class program, against those very institutions.”

Reflecting the SEP’s nervousness and fickleness, this principled struggle the CAC is engaged in, has been deliberately kept in the dark by the anonymous author in his article. At the same time, it did not forget to denounce CAC, as will be explained later in this article. However, this unknown so-called “our writer” claims that, “the repressive arm strengthened through the justice operation is being used to stifle those who criticize the government’s program in any manner.”

But it does not seem that even the ruling class themselves have believed “the repressive hand has been strengthened through the operation justice”. The police announced on Monday (11) that the army will also participate in this operation. Capitalist media, trade unions, pseudo-lefts have offered open and closed support, but only a feeble mind insensitive to the drivers of class struggle and class relations can assume that the regime, which is repelled and hated by the laboring masses, can be strengthened so easily. The campaign launched in the name of justice has shown the desperation of the ruling class, with the government, its police force and the army boasting that they will destroy the underworld. Currently, imprisoning beggars has also become a part of ‘justice’.

The responsibility of revolutionaries is to expose this situation and mobilize the working class against it. As CAC revealed in its struggle, the truth is that the operation of justice is evoking strong popular opposition and paving the way for the revolutionary organization of the working class. This protest is growing unorganized in all workplaces, and villages. There is no justification for depicting the desperation of the ruling class as a strength, instead of intervening in the situation. Such actions always allow opportunism, hence saving capitalism from danger.

As the International Committee of the Fourth International has pointed out, we are entering the fourth year of a revolutionary decade. The revolutionary struggle erupted in Sri Lanka in 2022 is still ablaze like the cinders under the ash. At a time like this, “it is necessary to utilize the favorable conditions of a revolutionary crisis in order to mobilize the masses; taking as a starting point the given level of their “maturity” it is necessary to propel them forward, teach them to understand that the enemy is by no means omnipotent, that it is torn asunder with contradictions, that behind the imposing facade panic prevails.” (Leon Trotsky, Class, Party and Leadership). 

CAC is following this revolutionary policy.

The SEP article ignores CAC’s this struggle and turns to condemn it. It says: “Despite deep political differences with the Colombo Action Committee, the Socialist Equality Party opposes this vicious attack on them.” Unable to find any of these “deep political differences” which have never been explained, the SEP writer washes its hands by saying that “The Colombo Action Committee was formed by a group expelled from the SEP on disciplinary charges” and recommends the reader to read the “Statement of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka on the Expulsion of Nandana Nannetti and Sanjaya Jayasekara”.

At the same time, it says, “the response of the working class to the Wickramasinghe government’s sharpening of the class war against the working class should be to develop its own class struggle. The lie of the trade unions that they can pressure the capitalist governments and win their demands is exposed through the repression being carried out by the Wickramasinghe government. By doing so, the government shows that it is not ready to take a step back from its austerity program in any way. Hence arises the urgency for the working class to form action committees, independent of these trade unions and capitalist parties.”

The primary responsibility of the Revolutionary Party, that is to develop perspectives, is not an astrological task, it is historical task. The revolutionary intervenes in what he is analyzing. The revolutionary who analyzes the world in dialectical materialism does not stop at that and wait. He is committed to change the world. SEP did not make any active intervention in the political incident which it emphasizes to take seriously. Even now, what the author of this article recommends to the public is to follow this and that procedures, to eliminate this and that disaster.

“Only with the help of such systematic, persistent, indefatigable, courageous agitational and organizational work always on the basis of the experience of the masses themselves, is it possible to root out from their consciousness the traditions of submissiveness and passivity; to train detachments of heroic fighters capable of setting an example to all toilers; to inflict a series of tactical defeats upon the armed thugs of counterrevolution; to raise the self-confidence of the exploited and oppressed; to compromise Fascism in the eyes of the petty bourgeoisie and pave the road for the conquest of power by the proletariat”, (The Death of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, p. 18) hence culminating the program of the Fourth International. 

It is not our intention here to repeating our comments on the disgusting statement of expulsion, the document which the SEP leadership recommends to the reader. But we just say this much: The SEP leadership has repeatedly violated the party constitution and discipline on a large number of occasions, from very important matters such as congresses, not allowing to discuss the differences and expelling 12 members from the party, without disciplinary investigation. The expelled members have a written history of a fight against this situation. The SEP issued statements claiming that it stands with the struggle and, then expelled Comrade Sanjaya for staunchly defending the party line at the ground. According to them, his participation was a breach of discipline. There is no discipline to superior to fight for the program and perspective, and the SEP in Sri Lanka has made history within the history of the International Committee by expelling a group of members exactly that manner for breaching some superior discipline by fighting for the party program and perspectives. 

Thus, it should be clear that the SEP leadership’s disgust towards CAC is not just a question about CAC or its members. SEP should seriously consider this situation. The conditions that enabled the suppression of objective truth are collapsing. The growing class struggle will bring the truth to light.

[This is the English translation of the article originally published in Sinhalese here on March 13, 2024]

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Defeat the State Terror called “Operation Yukthiya” against oppressed youth and the masses

Statement of the Colombo Action Committee for People’s Struggles

Image courtesy:adaderana.lk

It is already clear that the state terror unleashed in the name of Operation Yukthiya is one way the government is intensifying its repression against the youth and the rest of the oppressed. Its goal is the protracted class struggle.

The government suddenly jumped on to the crackdown on drugs as one of the measures to forcefully maintain the much hated capitalist state; to keep the society terrorized with violence and to garner the support of a backward social stratum. This has already given way to allow the police to act beyond the limits of the existing law and making that situation the norm in the country. What the country has is a police force that has a long history of being warrented and been operating to kill persons outside the judicial procedure.

A complaint made  to the Police Commission by Aruna Indika Wijesuriya, a professional photographer based in Madapatha, Piliyandala, exposes the repressive drama, hence bringing us a picture of what is happening right now across the country. According to the complaint, on December 6, the police raided the young man’s house at night, searched it thoroughly and found nothing suspicious, but arrested the young man and demanded a ransom of 10,000 rupees for his release. It is alleged that Sergeant Alwis and police driver Madushanka have requested the bribe and Indika’s friends gave them the requested amount. He was released on police bail the next day.

Aruna’s father, Shanta Wijesuriya, who is a well-known journalist and political activist, came to know about this later and went with his son to Kesbewa police station to complain about this, but the police avoided accepting the complaint. The police hunters were furious because the father and son tried to complain against the police for taking bribes.

On December 13, a group of plain clothed police officers assaulted Aruna, searched his house and arrested him again. When the youth made a phone call to his cousin, the police surrounded the relative’s house as well. Again, around 3 am, On December 17, a police team including Alwis, who was accused of taking bribes, surrounded the youth’s home. There, a young man named Shehan was also with the police, and the police showed Shehan something that appeared to be a pack containing the illegal drug called ‘Ice’ and asked, “Shehan, did Aruna give you this?” But, facing protests from those present, the police retreated with the following warning: “Aruna Oya Adath Dinum( (Aruna, you have won today too)”.

Later, on February 2, the police officer, identified as Paul, had threatened Wijesuriya – the father of the youth – at Kesbewa courts premises saying that he would “shoot him if he tries to be smart”. On the same day at around 5 pm, the police raided a place where the young man was taking photographs and arrested him. The next day, his girlfriend, who went to visit him, was arrested on the charge that she had recorded the conversation of the police officers, beaten and harassed by removing her clothes forcibly, checking for illegal drugs. The cousin who visited the youth was also arrested and later released. The court rejected the request of the police to send the young man for rehabilitation, alleging that the boy who was brought to the court with ‘ice’ had used the substance. Allegations that he had used it were nullified by the medical evidence. There is no place to complain about these injustices. The institutions which claim to be investigating and redressing such grievances continue to ignore complaints. The response received from many such institutions was that there is no evidence to prove the allegations.

On February 6, social media reported an incident where the father of two was arrested by the Baddegama Police. The victim, Jeewantha Kumara of Ganegama, within the jurisdiction of the Baddegama Police was arrested with 2 grams and 350 milligrams of “ice”. Police assaulted Jeewantha and his brother, and their sister, a school-girl, video-taped how the police team in plainclothes assaulted her two brothers. She watched and taped how one of the police team tried to put a black parcel in her brother’s pocket. The police assaulted her, snatched her phone, arrested Jeewanta and filed a case. The phone which recorded the incident was never returned and has disappeared with all the evidence. The girl and her other brother had to be admitted to Karapitiya Hospital and receive treatments. There is no reason to think that the complaints made to the Elpitiya Senior Superintendent of Police and Galle Assistant Superintendent of Police will bring justice to these oppressed people.

The case of shooting down a carpenter at Narammala is a well-known crime among hundreds of such incidents. On January 18, police personnel in plain clothes ordered him to stop the lorry he was driving. When he did not stop, the vehicle was chased and he was shot dead. This is the way the so-called Operation Yukthiya is being carried out and the Public Security Minister Tiran Alas has assured in Parliament that the operation will continue irrespective of any objections such as concerns of human rights.

This attempt by the state repressive apparatus to pose itself as the agents of morality against immorality, is deceitful, evil, and despicable. It is a desperate attempt to curb the resistance of the working and oppressed people, arising from the implementation of austerity dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), hence imposing the crisis of capitalist class rule on the oppressed masses.

The root of all crimes is the rule of the bankrupt capitalist class. It is not limited to Sri Lanka. These rampant economic, political and social problems are not caused by illicit-drug users. The drug business operates through politically supported transnational and domestic parasitic crime networks. Addiction to drugs itself is the result of social unrest flowing from endless economic, political and social problems. Under these circumstances, the daily operations by military and police, establishing military police roadblocks at every other inch and conducting search operations are nothing but setting up the mechanism to subjugate the lives of the workers and oppressed people to the conditions of the police state. These operations have nothing to do with eradication of illicit drugs.

The statistics of the World Bank show how the poverty in the society is increasing day by day. Poverty, which was 11.3 percent of Sri Lanka’s population in 2019, has increased to 12.7 percent in 2020; and then from 13.1 percent in 2021 to 25 percent in 2022, and to 27.9 percent in 2024. This is a manifestation of the bankruptcy of capitalism on a global scale. World Bank reports show that between September 2022 and March 2023, world poverty increased by 11 million from 648 to 659 million. That’s by calculating the income below $2.15 per day. But, taking into account the lower middle income level and upper middle income level countries, i.e. the levels of $3.65 and $6.85, this figure rises by another 28 million. The poor are consumed by hunger, disease and discomfort. On the other hand, the income of the top 1% supre-rich is increasing by leaps and bounds.

The results of this level of inequality include the escalation of social tragedy, from drug addiction to various crimes and suicides. There was a recent incident where a 14-year-old boy jumped to the fast approaching train and committed suicide near Tambalagamuwa railway station on February 11. Following the sound of the train’s horn, the other children moved out of the way, but this child spread his hands and was smiling while waiting for the train to go over him. The train driver has stated that he had never seen anything like this in his entire life. Later, the child’s guardian aunt told the media that the child was suffering from acute malnutrition.

Attention of the masses is, and should be, focused on these issues. The world is gripped by the struggles of workers, farmers and youth. Anti-democratic measures and terror-mongering displayed by governments bringing social media censorship laws, anti-terror laws are not at all manifestations of the strength of capitalist governments, which are largely discredited among the masses, so lacking popular support, but manifestations of their organic weakness. Those governments cannot fulfill even a single economic or social need of the people. Anywhere in the world, such regimes have been enabled to persist because trade unions and pseudo-left fronts have infiltrated every instance of class struggle, to disrupt, control and compromise mass struggles. We workers, peasants and other oppressed people must realize that self-defense does not come at all from official capitalist institutions, and that freedom and security cannot be guaranteed except through the formation of an independent mass movement against the capitalist establishment under the working class revolutionary programme.

We, the Colombo Action Committee for People’s Struggles, request all progressive people opposed to capitalist attacks to come forward to build and unify action committees at workplaces and residential areas, which can ensure the safety of the oppressed people. Only such a mass movement can really wipe out capitalist rule and all the tendencies that block the path of social progress.

Abolish all repressive laws!

Forward towards a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government!

[This statement was originally published here in Sinhales on February 17, 2024]

Defeat the State Terror called “Operation Yukthiya” against oppressed youth and the masses Read More »

Stop-Gaza-Genocide Petition calls on working people of Sri Lanka and internationaly to fight Zionism and Imperialism 

By the Executive Committee of the CACPS and the Editorial Board of theSocialist.LK 

“The death toll in Gaza is staggering. More than 30,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in just 150 days; 5% of the population is dead, injured or missing. It is impossible to adequately describe the suffering in Gaza” 

Philippe Lazzarini, Head of UNRWA (Tweet on X on February 5, 2024)

Colombo Action Committee for People’s Struggles (CACPS) and theSocialist.LK yesterday (05) launched a public online Petition titled “Stop Gaza Genocide Now! No to Zionism! No to Imperialism!”. The significance of this political act to mobilize the working class, in Sri Lanka, South Asia and internationally, and all those who want to stop the massacre in Gaza, is expressed by the statement of Lazzarini, quoted above. 

The Petition calls upon masses to reject the reactionary appeals to imperialist warmongers to stop the massacre. “Crisis ridden, these powers are planning a war with China, and are waging a war against Russia in Ukraine, as part of a global nuclear war that would entail Iran, the Middle East and the rest of the world. In these imperialist centers too, the war abroad has brought social counter-revolution at home,” Petition states.

Pointing out the necessary relationship between war on the one hand, and debt and austerity on the other, over billions of people around the world, the Petition states, “Manifestation of the hold of imperialism takes different forms: it may be war, it may be debt and austerity. Therefore, there is no fight against debt and austerity without a fight against war, and vice versa.”

It calls upon mass solidarity with the Palestinian people and to fight till their demands are met. These demands are expressed in the slogans the Petition fights for. These include, Stop Gaza Genocide Now! No to imperialist Barbarism! Punish War Criminals!

Refuting the imperialist political trap of the two-state solution, it calls upon to fight for a socialist programme to build a Jew-Arab Unified Socialist State, which would be  part of a Federation of Socialist Unified States of the Middle East and the World.

In the backdrop of traditional working class organizations, the trade unions and their pseudo-left bckers, being lined up with imperialism and the capitalist state of austerity and international finance capital, the CACPS and theSocialist.LK call upon working class of Sri Lanka, united with the Israeli and US working people,  to “unleash our enourmous power to fight for political power, independent of the State-Company-Trade Union alliance, to call general strikes, to stop war funding and military aid, and stop the Genocide and the world war.” 

This Petition was launched as part of the wider campaign by the CACPS and theSocialist.LK against the long oppression of Palestinian people by the imperialist-backed Zionist Israel. 

We invite fellow workers and our readers to sign the Petition today, share it widely and fight to stop the Gaza Genocide Now and halt to the impending neuclear war. 

Copy the Petition Link here:


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Sri Lanka Police harass Colombo Action Committee members and seize campaign material 

By Sanjaya Jayasekera.

Sri Lanka police today questioned one comrade of Colombo Action Committee (CACPS) and later in the day took into custody its campaign material upon a court order. 

CACPS members were engaging in a leaflet distribution campaign today (24) morning in Piliyandala town area. They were distributing CACPS latest statement (in Sinhala) titled “Defeat the state terror unleashed against the masses, including the oppressed youth, in the name of “Operation Yukthiya”! Around 9.45am in the morning, Piliyandala police stopped one comrade who was distributing leaflets to people and escorted him to the police station. Inquired as to why he was brought to the police station, the Officer in Charge (OIC), informed CACPS members that the leaflet contains material “insulting the police” and that the police want to conduct an investigation over and around the leaflet.  Police recorded a statement from the comrade and was released within about an hour.  

CACPS members campaigning in Piliyandala town on February 24, 2024

In the evening around 4.45pm, a team of police officers including the OIC of Kesbewa Police arrived at the residence of Comrade and journalist Shantha Wijesuriya, who is the Secretary of CACPS, along with a warrant from Kesbewa Magistrate Court  to search the house for offences under Section 484 and 485  of the Penal Code.  These purported offences respectively are intentionally insulting with intent to provoke a breach of peace, and circulating false reports with intent to cause mutiny or an offence against the republic or public tranquility. The police seized around 500 leaflets containing the CACPS statement and several dozens of posters and placards that had been prepared for use at the demonstration, to be held on February 27 in Kesbewa town, organized by the CACPS and Kesbewa Action Committee, on the theme of the statement.

Kesbewa Police encircle journalist Wijesuriya’s residence on February 24, 2024

Yesterday, Wijesuriya was also summoned by Piliyandala police by order of S. Wickremasinghe, ASP, to record a statement over two hours, as part of an “expeditd investigation” over a complaint lodged by him of alleged death theats by a police officer over a bribary complaint, and over another complaint made by his son’s fiancee in respect of an alleged sexual assault by police officers attched to the Kesbewa police. The ASP has already decided and told Wijesuriya that his allegations are false and that he knows that police officers did not engage in the alleged activities!    

While the police have hurriedly initiated court proceedings in respect of CACPS activities, have delayed action against those accused of serious allegations.

These acts of police and of Wickremasinghe’s government are an attack against freedom of expression of CACPS and the oppressed masses, and are intended to intimidate and harass political dissent. Police and the government are attempting to block leaflets reaching the masses and stopping CACPS campaigns. 

We call upon workers, oppressed masses and those who defend democratic rights to condemn this assault on political rights and fight for and demand the immediate halt of harassment of CACPS members and stifling of its political activity by the government. 

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Sri Lanka government enacts social media crackdown law, tables new anti-terrorism law 

By Sanjaya Jayasekera.  

Sri Lanka Speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena last Thursday (01) signed into law the Online Safety Act (No 09 of 2024) (OSA), a piece of legislation long prepared by the ruling class to crack down upon freedom of dissent in the country. The law was approved by the Parliament late January, with a majority of 46 votes, including provisions not in compliance with even the limited amendments proposed by the country’s Supreme Court in its determination on the Bill delivered last October. Subject to such proposals, the Supreme Court found the law, as a whole, constitutional.

This law is patently anti-democratic. It empowers a government body, the Online Safety Commission (OSC), the sole power to determine and declare the “falsity of any statement“, which would be published on an online portal, and thereupon prosecute anybody who makes and communicates a statement contrary to such “truth” declared. 

“False statement” is defined as “a statement that is known or believed by its maker to be incorrect or untrue and is made especially with intent to deceive or mislead”. This knowledge or belief is presumed to be shaped by what is declared as false by the OSC, or what the government authorities have claimed to be true.  

A person could be prosecuted for the offenses, among others, of “communicating a false statement” online and (a) posing “a threat to national security, public health or public order” or “promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of people” (Section 12); (b) where such statement amounts to contempt of court; (c ) giving “provocation to any person or incites any person intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation or incitement, will cause the offence of rioting to be committed”; (d) voluntarily causing “disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies”; (e) insulting or attempting to insult “the religion or the religious beliefs of that class” with “the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of persons”; (f) inducing “any other person to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility” with “intent to cause any officer, sailor, soldier, or airman in the navy, army or air force of Sri Lanka to mutiny”  or with “intent to cause fear or alarm to the public”. A person, “who wilfully makes or communicates a statement”, either true or false, “with intention to cause harassment to another person” (“target person”) by publishing any “private information” of the target person or a related person and causes such person “harassment”, also commits an offence. All such statements are “prohibited statements”.

Attempting, abetting and conspiring to commit these offences are also crimes.

The punishments for these offenses range from three to five to seven years imprisonment and in some instances may be doubled in the event of a subsequent offence, coupled with fines up to one million rupees. 

The OSC has sweeping powers to order any internet service provider or internet intermediary (which provide the service of social media platforms) to disable access by end-users to an online location (such as a website, webpage, chatroom or forum), which contains a prohibited statement. It can also order removal of such statements. It can blacklist a website, social media account or a platform as a “declared online location”. The commission is also empowered to seize “property movable, and immovable and to sell, lease, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of the same”. 

Criminalizing “fake news” has been the demand of the ruling class for some time. It was on the agenda of successive governments during the recent past – a draft law was on the table during the former Sirisena-Wickremasinghe government in 2019, following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, and then under former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was ousted by the mass struggles of April-July 2022, mainly organized through social media. These attempts were defeated temporarily by wider objections raised by civil society groups and international organizations, and right-wing political parties who demanded a social media and internet regulatory law that is in line with the “international standards”. 

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe salutes military parades at the the government’s 76th Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, on February 4, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Presenting the Bill in the Parliament, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles claimed that this law is required to fight online harassment against women and children. This is only a pretext. He also revealed the intention to curb “misinformation” that damaged the reputation of parliamentarians. This is a reference to the extensive social media activism during mass struggles of 2022 that rejected the whole parliament. 

Every opposition party in the parliament agrees with the government for a social media regulatory law placed in their hands.

During the parliament debate, National People’s Power (NPP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake concurred with Alles declaring that “things that should not happen also are taking place [in social media]”.

Main opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) member of parliament, Harsha de Silva worried that international tech giants would abandon Sri Lankan online space. His is the concern of the tech profiteer capitalists, whom de Silva wants to confer unbridled freedom to attract investment.  Around the world, these companies have already been complicit in government censorship of free speech. 

If and when in power, these parties will also ruthlessly employ these laws against the working class and political opponents, particularly from the left, to meet the demands of international financial capital. 

Pseudo-left FrontLine Socialist Party (FSP) Education Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda told media, the proposed law is redundant because, “there are already laws to deal with situations of this nature [those covered by the new law]”, and conveyed FSP’s subservience to the oppressive legal system of the bourgeois state and the parliament.  Its “People’s Council” programme is an appendage of the parliamentary system. 

Another view among the middle class has been vocalized by Gamini Viyangoda, writing in the pseudo-left paper “Anidda” on Sunday (04). Viyangoda says that the Bill is politically maneuvered for the government  “to prepare an environment to safely face the upcoming critical elections”. President Ranil Wickremasinghe, who himself knows to have a rare chance for him to gain a presidential election win, is not making these laws for himself, but for the capitalist establishment,  all of whom,  including NPP and SJB, have affirmed their readiness to go ahead with the austerity measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on the back of the people. This is the very truth that these radicals conceal from the people. 

While OSA is made law, the government placed on the pipeline a new anti-terrorism law, surpassing the powers of arrest, administrative detention or custody and prosecution under the existing draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act  (PTA) of 1979. More than 35 parties challenged the proposed law last month in the country’s Supreme Court. Poet Ahnaf Jazeem, who is a former torture victim of PTA, petitioned the court and submitted that “this authoritarian law… is essentially designed to be used as a weapon of collective punishment against the working class… It is driven by class hate.

Soon after his appointment as president, Wickremasinghe declared his government’s class war against the working people and the poor, poised to implement harsh austerity measures dictated by the IMF. In this backdrop, these laws are the new arms of Wickremasinghe’s armory to be used against political dissent, especially left-wing political ideas and movements, journalists and activists, to intimidate, harass, question, arrest, and imprison them, and block websites and social media accounts. Sri Lanka police is notorious for employing draconian anti-terrorism, public security and hate speech laws against social media activists, artists, protesters and ethnic-minorities. 

Recently, Alles deployed special police forces to “fight drug menace” and arrested over 56,000 since December 17. This operation, falsely named “Yukthiya” (Justice), is intended to terrorize urban and rural impoverished areas, intimidating working people and youth throughout the country. Last month, the government commenced using facial recognition technology, according to Alles, as part of plans to “eradicate” the under-world and drug-trafficking. 

Wickremasinghe has come a long way toward a police state, with dictatorial powers conferred to him under the country’s communal constitution. He has deployed tri-forces as strikebreakers and used essential services laws to witch-hunt worker leaders. 

The global imperialist crisis, however, has not left Wickremasinghe alone in this onslaught against the masses. Just one month before OSB was tabled in parliament, the United Kingdom passed a similar law targeting social media freedom. In India, websites and social media platforms are now required to remove content about the Union Government, when notified by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) as “fake”.

The trade union leaders have succumbed to Wickremasinghe’s  IMF “economic restructuring” plans and have no political programme to fight against austerity, nor to defend democratic rights. It is only the working class, which can and should fight to abolish these repressive laws and defend democratic rights. This requires organizing in their own independent organizations, united across ethnic divisions and industries, to bring about a government of the working people, free the economy from the siege of international financial capital and restructure the economic life on socialist lines.  

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Towards a Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam: A Response to the problem of Tamil Students of Jaffna

By Nandana Nanneththi.

The Sinhala section of the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) reported recently that a group of Jaffna University students raised the following question to the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) of Sri Lanka: “There is a widespread global protest movement supporting the Palestinians; But during the war in Sri Lanka, when the government carried out a genocide against the Tamil people, there was no such global movement to support us. why is that?”

What they are questioning is about the brutal attack by the Colombo government in 2009 in Mullivaikkal, where 150,000 Tamil people were trapped in an area of ​​14 square kilometers, just like what is happening in the Gaza Strip today. There is no reason for the pain in the hearts of these people to go away automatically, who were shaken by human feelings, exacerbated by the truth that the world  betrayed them, when they were made helpless and subjected to cruel treatment and tortuous conditions.

A View of the Final Carnage in the Civil War [Photo:opiniojuris.org]

But, instead of facing this reality, the SEP, through an article published in Sinhalese on the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) on January 24, authored by Navin Devage, titled “A Reply to the Political Questions Promoted by Tamil Nationalists Among Jaffna University Students Regarding the Gaza War,” is attempting to narrow down the crisis of the Tamil people as a mere product of Tamil nationalists, pretending that there existed a global protest movement to fight against the Tamil Genocide.

Accordingly, “the claim that there was no global opposition to the genocide against the Tamil people during the war in Sri Lanka is false,” writes the SEP, pointing out the campaigns of the Tamil diaspora who were exiled from the island as a result of the war, such as, “8000 Tamils ​​in Central Berlin marched from the CDU headquarters to the Indian Embassy”, “a hartal movement took place in Tamil Nadu”, “50,000 Tamils ​​protested in Paris”, etc. The question that has arisen now is the fact that the cries of the oppressed Tamils, from within the country and abroad, for the protection of their lives in the last genocidal attack by the government forces, did not receive a favorable response from the world.

To elaborate further, all the radicals, left parties and trade unions in Sri Lanka as well as in other countries, were engaged in the “war against terrorism” campaign unleashed by US-led imperialism at that time. The left parties of Sri Lanka were already smearing the blood of the oppressed Tamils ​​on their hands. Temples and churches had become centers blessing the attrocities against Tamil people. The racists came to the fore, suppressing the progressive artists. Racist films and other creations had become part of popular culture. Unions encouraged their membership to donate wages to war funds. Creation of a horrified graveyard in the north was celebrated with milk rice (The traditional Sri Lankan food of celebration). In the midst of all this, with the massive escalation of military attacks in 2009, in order to cover up the massacres on the ground, the Rajapaksa government announced that it could not assure the safety of the lives of journalists and even of the Red Cross members. The oppressed Tamil people who did not then have smartphones, and access to Facebook and social media platforms, did not have the ability to share the events of the bloody tragedy that was unfolding before them, as in Gaza today. In this way, by the time of the final onslaught, the fact that a reactionary pro-war mass sentiment had been built against the Tamil people in the southern partk of Sri Lanka, gave the government an easy war victory.

The effort made in the article, to insinuate that the resistance to the genocide of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka was included as a common slogan of the mass struggles around the world, which were erupted by the global economic and financial crisis of 2008, is similarly false.

This objective reality must be overcome by a genuine movement of the working class. Instead, it is naive to try to console the Tamil people by distorting the reality and to say that such an idea was promoted by the Tamil elite, and to assume that the oppressed people can be hence freed from the influence of Tamil nationalism. It should be specially noted here that the article is written with the good intention of liberating the oppressed Tamils ​​from reactionary nationalism, but the way followed to achieve it goes against the very objective. In other words, the purpose itself has revealed that the way followed to achieve it is unfair.

Against this distortion of the said article, we have to note that it was only the SEP, the WSWS and the ICFI, that have been carrying out a principled fight against the communal injustice and racist war against the Tamil people in the North-East of the country, by launching an international campaign and presenting a socialist program, over three decades uninterruptedly.

The February 4, 2009 WSWS editorial board’s statement quoted in the SEP article itself makes  things clearer: 

“Working people internationally have shown mass opposition to their governments’ support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and horror at the war crimes in Gaza. They will feel the same way if made aware of the situation in Sri Lanka. Tamil workers must link their struggles with that of workers all over the world against the common imperialist enemy.”

According to the article, “…by puffing the formula of problems unique to the Tamil people and a Tamil solution, what the students’ union is actually doing is to prevent such a united struggle of the oppressed of all races and creeds against the outdated social order – that is their common enemy – in which the capitalist ruling elite holds political power.”

In this way, the SEP leadership is exposing a struggle carried out within the party on the issue of whether the Tamil people have had no special problems. It is an illusion of the SEP leadership to believe in winning over oppressed Tamils to the international working class program, while denying to recognize the special discriminatory circumstances of Tamil people and thereby standing with the same infamous capitalist slogan.

As stated in the February 4, 2009 WSWS editorial board’s statement quoted in the SEP article, The allies of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora in the imperialist countries are the working class. It is the only social force with the power and whose class interests lie in ending the war, overthrowing the Sri Lankan bourgeois state, and ensuring the democratic rights of the Tamil population, as part of the struggle against the imperialist world order.”

Thus, “SEP the Sri Lanka branch of the International Committee fights to build a revolutionary alliance of Sinhala and Tamil working class and peasants to form a socialist united republic of Sri Lanka and Eelam. The democratic or social aspirations of the people cannot be realized under capitalist rule in Sri Lanka or within the confines of the nation-state system established in the Indian subcontinent in 1947-1948. The backwardness of Sri Lanka and Eelam, which is the result of the colonial past and continued imperialist rule, can only be overcome by the establishment of a worker-peasant government as part of the world socialist revolution.” [The SEP and the fight for the Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam, ICFI on release of SEP members by LTTE, December 1, 1998] 

SEP and its pioneer RCL fought for decades for this perspective of the Sri Lanka-Eelam Socialist Republic. The said article refrains from mentioning the term, “Sri Lanka-Eelam”. We know that there is an “inevitability” behind every coincidence, even though it may appear to be a coincidence. Later, according to the policy developed by the SEP leadership, ‘Tamil people have no special problems’ compared to Sinhalese majority working class; If so, there is no question of the right to self-determination. It means that the national question is resolved automatically, already, with or after the defeat of the LTTE by the Colombo government. Then this ‘Sri Lanka-Eelam’ slogan cannot be valid. That is the very inevitability that caused it to disappear from the article.

As the SEP had pointed out from the beginning, the end of the war with the victory of the Colombo government suppressing the Tamil people’s struggle in the North, was opening up space for the suppression of the working class in the south. Also, the end of the war led to the strengthening of the right wing. It happened in the context of a pre-emptive strike by the ruling class against a possible popular uprising in the South. Buddhist extremist attacks started by the end of 2009 against other religions, the state campaign of extrajudicial killings under the guise of suppressing the underworld, continued unhindered with the approval of all the media and the majority of the middle class. The Party’s response was a belated, half-hearted one.

This policy went to the extent of the party’s tacit approval of the government’s move to forcibly cremate Muslim corpses during the Covid pandemic. In the face of these attacks, instead of continuing the struggle on the basis of its own history, it adapted to the status quo, taking a rest. These diluted responses of the party have reflected that the party was directed to adapt a little, in order to avoid isolation caused by the hostile attitudes against the party developed in the Sinhalese majority South, throughout the determined struggle that party carried out over three decades, based on the slogans calling not to give one cent, one man or one drop of blood to this war and to withdraw troops from the North and the East.

The theoretical conclusion of the International Committee that the campaign for self-determination of a nation understood as a right up to freedom of secession plays a regressive role in the context of a tendency to fragment states into Imperialist-backed statelets, and the rightward movement of national liberation movements and of all national political movements, including trade unions, consequent to the globalization of production, was employed by the party leadership to justify its adaptation. Accordingly, they argued that there is no question of self-determination anymore. Even the talk of self-determination was interpreted as representative of separatism and support for imperialism.

According to the International Committee, the demand for self-determination, as the right to freedom from national oppression, which is clearly a transitional demand, has not been used since Lenin’s time to promote the formation of a separate state. As long as we could subjugate it to the working-class strategy of united mobilization for the socialist perspective, we have fought for it firmly. As the current crisis exacerbates pressure on national groups, democratic issues including self-determination have emerged more acutely than ever. But, it must be based on the truth,”that the essential progressive content of ‘self-determination’—the eradication of national oppression—can be realized only through the SEP’s program for the Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam.” [The SEP and the fight for the Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam, ICFI on the release of SEP members by LTTE, December 01, 1998]

To elaborate further, “To the extent that the nation-state persists as a basic unit of political and economic organization of bourgeois society, the national question—which, at this point in history, would be more aptly called the “national problem”—persists. But Marxist tactics flow from a scientific understanding of the historical obsolescence of the national state. (David Noth, The Russian Revolution and the Unfinished Twentieth Century) As long as the working-class party avoids it, pro-imperialist, national separatist opportunism would build its kingdom on it.

The SEP article defects from that responsibility. Its distinguishing feature is its rejection of the historical materialist method. The writer selects only the things he prefers from the whole composition, and from it, arrives at the conclusions he is biased towards. In emphasizing the lessons of the 1985 split, the leadership of the International Committee has pointed out correctly on many occasions that, when pragmatism is thrown out of the front door, it creeps in through the back door. The revolutionary should carefully be aware of this.

Towards a Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam: A Response to the problem of Tamil Students of Jaffna Read More »


Sri Lanka’s proposed anti-terrorism law does not meet the threshold of democratic quality, poet Ahnaf Jazeem petitions the Supreme Court 

By Sanjaya Jayasekera

This week, poet Ahnaf Jazeem, a former victim of Sri Lanka’s draconian terrorism law, filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the government’s proposed new Anti-Terrorism Bill. This new law is to replace the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which, since its enactment in 1979 by former President J.R.Jayawardena government, was extensively used by successive governments against Tamil and Muslim youth and political opponents in the North and South of the country, to kidnap, detain, torture and kill and remand for years without trial. 

Jazeem pleads from court a declaration “that the Bill in its entire content, is antidemocratic, infringes the foundational democratic fabric of the society and the democratic aspirations of the Sri Lankan people, and therefore unconstitutional, and lacks fundamental qualities required of a law for the same to be placed for approval by legislators even with a two third majority, and does not meet the threshold of democratic quality required to qualify it to be placed before the people to be approved by the People at a referendum.” The mechanism referred to here is how even “unconstitutional” laws are passed as law under the constitution of the island. Jazeem, contrary to almost all other petitioners, have refused to enforce this anti-democratic procedure. 

Ahnaf Jazeem

Jazeem is the eldest son of a Muslim family of five children of a poor farmer and day-labourer, residing in Mannar, some 300Km North to the capital Colombo. He is the author of Tamil poetry anthology, Navarasam [nine moods] published in 2017. After graduation he was employed as a Tamil Language teacher.  On May 16, 2020, Jazeem was arrested by the Police Counter-Terrorism and Investigation Division (TID) allegedly on the suspicion of having “published books on and taught his students ‘extremism’ and ‘racism”. He was then wrongfully detained under the orders of ousted President Rajapaksa for thirteen months, during which period he was subjected to severe physical and mental torture including being cuffed to a table day and night continuously for five months, and forced to record a self-incriminating statement. 

Incarcerated in remand custody thereafter, Jazeem was granted bail in mid June 2021 on strict conditions. The case against him on a false charge of ‘indoctrinating’ his students under the PTA concluded with Jazeems’s acquittal in December last year, without even requiring to call proof in his defence. His freedom was secured by mass support he gathered from around the world. He is yet arbitrarily listed as a designated person, who the government believes “commit or attempt to commit, participate in or facilitate the commission of, terrorist acts”, by the Ministry of Defence. 

The petition states that it is with this personal experience of being a victim of the existing terrorism law that Jazeem is challenging the proposed law. Jazeem was prosecuted as part of the racist anti-Muslim witch-hunt of the then Sirisena-Wickremasinghe government and then of the Rajapaksa government. 

The proposed law will apply within or outside the territorial limits of Sri Lanka. The government commits to “protect other sovereign nations and their people from the scourge of acts of terrorism”, which lays down the readiness of the Sri Lankan ruling class to support imperialism and states of the type of Zionist Israel, so that any agitation by the people against such support of war by the government will be declared unlawful and as an act of “terrorism”. 

Any person, who commits any act or illegal omission specified in the law, with the intention of (a) “intimidating” the public or a section of the public; (b) wrongfully or unlawfully “compelling” the Government of Sri Lanka, or any other Government, or an international organization, to do or to abstain from doing any act; or (c) propagating war or, “violating” territorial integrity or “infringement” of sovereignty of Sri Lanka or any other sovereign country, commits the offence of “terrorism”. This definition of terrorism is overly broad and could easily be used against political dissent. 

Number of other clauses in the Bill that define offences “are overly broad, and draconian and will have ripple and chilling effect on the democratic fabric of the society and upon the democratic rights of the people of the country, especially the working people, the marginalized, ethnic minorities, the political dissidents hostile to government austerity policies and to freedom of expression and journalism,” the petition states. 

Punishments for the offences under the law reach upto twenty years of imprisonment to life sentence. 

The law also proposes unprecedented powers to the executive President and administrative officers in respect of detention, rehabilitation and laying down regulations in respect of the offences.  

Under Clause 31 (1)(b) of the Bill, a detention order sought by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) or any officer not below the rank of a Deputy Inspector General of Police authorised by the IGP could be issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Under PTA, it is the Minister who has this power. This  removes all authority of a Magistrate to review the justification for the deprivation of liberty, and that too for a minimum period of 2 months, extendable to a maximum period of one year.

The law will alarmingly enable a police officer together with a Deputy IGP to remove a suspect from under judicially supervised custody to executive controlled custody (administrative detention), without establishing the commission of an offence, and in any event, even if an offence had been committed, by merely reporting an allegation. 

The law will legitimize an existing practice whereby persons in detention are compelled by the Attorney General (AG) to accept ‘rehabilitation’ which in effect is a form of punishment without finding of guilt. The danger is that an executive office, the AG, is empowered to compel a person into acceptance of or impose a penalty without proving guilt. The President is empowered to specify places of detention.

Under clause 79 of the Bill, the President will be empowered to designate any organization as a proscribed organization, which power could be used against opponent non-governmental organizations, trade unions, action committees, political parties,  media institutions and persons.

These egregious provisions of this law will also enable the President, after an application is made to the High Court by the AG and court stamp is obtained, to issue “restriction orders” against a person who has committed or is preparing to commit an offence stipulated in the law. The President, on the recommendation made by the IGP or the Commanders of armed forces may also designate any public place to be a “prohibited place”.

These powers will strengthen the already dictatorial powers of the president and create conditions for a police state.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe. (Image courtesy of island.lk)

The capitalist ruling class is amassing its armory against the working class: including the Public Security Ordinance, ICCPR Act, the colonial Penal Code, Establishment Code, Essential Public Services Act, Bureau of Rehabilitation Act and some other laws. Yesterday (24), the Parliament passed another historically unprecedented repressive law,  the Online Safety Act (OSA), to block internet freedom, social media activity and largely freedom of expression of any sort. The government is now able to declare, through a commission, what is “true” or “false” on its own and arrest, detain and prosecute anyone who states otherwise. 

President Wickremasinghe’s government is committed to implementing harsh austerity measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the shoulders of the working people and the oppressed. His government is extremely discredited, and even has no popular mandate, as his predecessor was ousted by mass struggles in April-July 2022. New laws and repressive measures like “Yukthiya”, a mass intimidation campaign in the guise of “war against drugs”, yet a lighter version of the Duterte-type, are being used against striking workers, demonstrations and student protests. 

Wickremasinghe effectively declared war on the working people just as he was parachuted to the presidency in a constitutional coup through the Parliament, an institution  utterly hated by the People. The working people are faced with a social counter-revolution. Defending democratic rights and the fight against austerity need the mass mobilization of its class, around their own rank-and-file organizations, across ethnicities and trades, nationally and internationally, to usurp political power to re-arrange the society on socialist lines.

Sri Lanka’s proposed anti-terrorism law does not meet the threshold of democratic quality, poet Ahnaf Jazeem petitions the Supreme Court  Read More »


The US/UK attack on Yemen and the global eruption of imperialist war

Statement of the WSWS International Editorial Board

We post below the Statement of the World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board, published in WSWS.org on January 13, 2024. We, theSocialist.LK endorse this statement in its entirety and invite our readers to carefully peruse it and grasp it for actions ahead.

The World Socialist Web Site unequivocally condemns Thursday’s attack by the United States and United Kingdom against Yemen. With no popular mandate, with no congressional or parliamentary authorization, without even an attempt at a serious explanation, the Biden administration in the US and the Sunak government in the UK have carried out an illegal act of war against an impoverished nation.

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the fast combat support ship USNS Supply transit the Strait of Hormuz, Dec. 14, 2023. [Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Nowak ]

The attack on Yemen is a major escalation of the developing war in the Middle East. Since the beginning of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, the US and its imperialist allies in NATO have overseen a massive militarization of the region, directly targeting Iran. This is itself part of an expanding global war, including the US-NATO war against Russia and the developing economic and military conflict against China.

US President Joe Biden did not even see fit to go on national television to explain the launching of a new war, under conditions in which there is overwhelming popular opposition to the expansion of war in the Middle East. As the Pentagon was planning to attack Yemen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was admitted to the intensive care unit of Walter Reed Hospital, with the knowledge of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but unbeknownst to the president. This bizarre episode underscored the reality that US war-making is operating on autopilot, increasingly outside the pretense of civilian oversight.

As always, the rationale provided to justify the war is a pack of lies. Biden declared that the missile strikes were “defensive” and “a direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks.” The American media, with the same breathless reporting that has accompanied every US military operation, proclaims that a country with a gross domestic product 700 times smaller than the United States is carrying out “intolerable” actions, against which the American military is “forced” to defend itself. Overnight, Yemen’s Houthis have been turned into a new bogeyman, requiring urgent military action without any discussion or explanation. 

In coordination with the Israeli genocide in Gaza, the United States has dispatched to the Middle East a massive military armada, consisting of two aircraft carrier battle groups, multiple guided missile destroyers, an unknown number of submarines and dozens of warplanes. These forces have provided logistics, reconnaissance, and target selection to Israel in a deliberate effort to provoke retaliation from Iran and its allied forces such as the Houthis. 

Yet, supposedly it is Yemen that is the “aggressor,” carrying out “unprecedented attacks” on US military forces deployed in the Red Sea, thousands of miles from the US border. American imperialism, which has a military larger than that of the next 10 countries combined, claims to be waging a “defensive” war on the other side of the world against a small, oppressed and impoverished country.

“We’re not interested in a war with Yemen,” asserted the Pentagon on Friday, “We’re not interested in a conflict of any kind.”

In fact, the imperialist powers have been waging a war against the population of Yemen for nearly a decade. The Houthis in Yemen have been subject to ruthless slaughter, waged by Saudi Arabia but armed and financed by the United States. According to the United Nations, 377,000 people have been killed in a genocidal campaign that has involved blockades resulting in mass starvation and disease. First under Obama and then under Trump, the US financed this assault with more than $54 billion in military equipment, aided and abetted by its imperialist allies, including the UK. 

The devastation of Yemen is part of more than 30 years of unending and expanding war, spearheaded and led by American imperialism, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990-91. This included the first Gulf War in 1990; the dismantling of Yugoslavia, culminating in the war against Serbia in 1999; the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001; the second war against Iraq in 2003; the war against Libya in 2011; and the CIA-backed civil war in Syria that began the same year.

Every single administration since that of Bill Clinton has authorized military operations, airstrikes, and destabilization operations in Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, seeking to control the critical waterway leading to the Suez Canal.

The launching of military strikes against Yemen marks a new stage in the deepening imperialist military offensive throughout the Middle East and beyond. The US and its imperialist allies are waging a de facto war against Iran, working to eliminate Iran’s military allies throughout the Middle East. The strikes against Yemen are directed at encircling Iran and provoking it into retaliation against US forces, which could be used to justify a full-scale war against Tehran.

The immediate antecedent for the escalating war in the Middle East, of which the genocide in Gaza is a part, is the collapse of Ukraine’s “spring offensive.” But the imperialist powers are doubling down. “Backing Ukraine is key to the West’s security,” declares The Economist, while Foreign Affairs asserts that “Victory Is Ukraine’s Only True Path to Peace.”

Overriding all of this, the United States is involved in a struggle to fend off the challenge posed by China to its global hegemony, which threatens to trigger a shooting war in the Pacific. In the US media and political circles, there is growing talk of a new “axis of evil” involving Iran, China and Russia. 

Each one of these conflicts cannot be understood in isolation. The bombing of Yemen is part of a global counter-revolution, in which the imperialist powers are seeking to reestablish direct control over their former colonies.

The countries carrying out this agenda are the old imperialist powers: the US, UK, France, and Germany. The British ruling class, unable to carry through its policies independently, seeks to exploit the so-called special relationship, that is, Britain’s role as the principal ally of American imperialism, to advance its own interests on a global stage. 

Every war launched by the US and its imperialist allies has ended in one bloody debacle after the other, with millions of people killed. But each disaster only reinforces the determination of US imperialism to use war as a means to secure its global hegemony.

American Imperialism, to paraphrase the words of Leon Trotsky, is “tobogganing towards disaster with eyes closed.”

Over the past three months, millions of people all over the world have marched in protest of the US-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza. The US strikes on Yemen occurred on the same day as the International Court of Justice heard devastating evidence that Israel, and by extension the United States, were responsible for genocide in Gaza.

The response of US imperialism to these mass popular protests and exposures of its war crimes has been to accelerate its war plans. This is because the eruption of war, genocide and political repression is not an aberration. Imperialism, as Lenin explained, is not merely a policy, but rather a specific historical stage of capitalist development. Opposition to imperialism is, therefore, a revolutionary question.

It is not a matter of appealing to the capitalist governments responsible for these crimes to alter course, but rather mobilizing the working class, fusing the struggle against war with the developing struggles of workers all over the world against inequality and exploitation. The logic of these struggles requires the conquest of political power by workers all over the world, the expropriation of the capitalist oligarchs and war criminals, and the socialist reorganization of economic life on a world scale.

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