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NewsSri Lankan army attempts to block SEP meeting in Jaffna

Sri Lankan army attempts to block SEP meeting in Jaffna


1 July 2011/wsws
Despite disruptive actions by the military and the police in the military-occupied city of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, workers, youth and housewives participated in a well-attended June 19 public meeting organised by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) on “The Middle East upheavals and the theory of the permanent revolution.”

Two days before the meeting, army officers prevailed on the Jaffna Multi Purpose Cooperative Society not to allow the SEP to use its venue, even though it had been booked weeks earlier. Managers told organisers that the army planned to hold a meeting in the hall on that day. When SEP supporters objected that the party had already paid for the hall, managers said they could not permit the meeting as there might be “disruptions.”

The officials did not elaborate on who wanted to disrupt the meeting but cited an attack on a meeting held by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)—a Tamil bourgeois party—in a Jaffna suburb on June 15. The TNA accused the army of breaking into its campaign meeting for local government elections, assaulting participants and chasing them away. The Jaffna armed forces commander denied any involvement by the security forces, but such attacks cannot be carried out in the north and east of Sri Lanka without their participation or assistance.

The SEP had to book the nearby Weerasingham Hall to hold its meeting. In a further bid to intimidate party supporters, army officers went there too and photocopied the SEP application form to hire the hall.

Harassment also occurred during the two-week SEP campaign for the meeting. Thousands of leaflets and articles from the World Socialist Web Site were distributed in Jaffna, Chavakachcheri, Jaffna University and several other areas. Army and police squads patrolling Jaffna took down the names, addresses and national ID card numbers of SEP supporters. Pro-government thugs and police officers tore up SEP posters in broad daylight.

These attempts to block the SEP meeting are indicative of the police-state measures in force throughout the North and East of the island against ordinary working people. Despite the government’s claims that it “liberated” the Tamil masses by defeating the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), what has been put in place is a permanent military occupation.

Chairing the public meeting, R. Sambandan of the SEP central committee denounced the army’s attempt to sabotage the meeting. He noted: “The security forces are particularly sensitive that youth and workers in the north and east are learning lessons from the Middle East uprisings. Such mass unrest could reverberate here. With the military defeat of the LTTE and the exposure of the bankruptcy and reactionary nature of its separatist politics, Tamil people are seeking a way out.”

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