Let us Defend and Carry Forward the Climate of Peace!
Let us Demand a Just Political Solution!
(Address by Comrade S.K. Senthivel at the May Day Rally in Jaffna)
‘May Day 2003’
Comrades and Friends,
I express my revolutionary salutation and greetings to you on this glorious day of revolutionary struggle of the working class. We are celebrating this May Day in the wake of two important events that have taken place on the national and the international scene. The first concerns the climate of peace in which there is respite from the nineteen years' long war of national conflict in the country, with the North-East at its core. The second concerns the new international situation consequent to the attacks in American cities on the 11th of September last year. It is important to take our stand on both these matters on a Marxist-Leninist basis and with a proletarian class outlook. Let us at the same time firmly resolve to be determined in our decisions, our political stance and their implementation.
The nineteen years' long war has taken a break because of the Memorandum of Understanding made between the government and the LTTE. As a result, guns and cannons have taken a rest. People in the North-East and in the rest of the country have gladly welcomed the fresh breeze of peace. The ceasefire and consequent lifting of embargoes, after a long spell, have created an opportunity for the people to heave a great sigh of relief. This new environment is most welcome. Thus, our party emphasises that the above environment of peace should be protected without ulterior motive by both parties, with the support of other popular political forces.
The environment of peace that has come about on a national scale is one that the country deserves and one that seems to be the last opportunity for peace. A similar good opportunity was there in 1994, but Mrs Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunge seriously blundered then in protecting it and carrying it forward with calm. As a result, she destroyed the environment of peace and transformed herself from one portraying herself as the angel of peace to one performing a war dance. An opportunity for peace then lost has come before us once more. All of us should be aware that, if we fail to carry it forward in a proper fashion, the result would be great damage and disaster.
Nobody need consider the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the LTTE to be 100% perfect. There are positive and negative features in it. But we should view it from the point of view of the people and grasp the favourable features that are present in good measure. For our people who have suffered damage, destruction, despair and displacement because of the nineteen years long war, the ceasefire and the lifting of embargoes are most favourable things. We should welcome the above features that are carried forward with third party mediation by Norway. But one cannot be blindly faithful and careless. Every step should be taken with careful observation.
The move towards negotiations is correct. It cannot be one for merely finding short-term solutions. The negotiations should progress towards building up a lasting peace and restoration of normal life for the people. Only negotiations that could make way for full autonomy in the Tamil homeland comprising the merged North-East province could be meaningful.
This is exactly what our party has emphasised as one of its prime demands in very May Day declaration over the past eighteen years. We did not stop with making declarations, but also carried forward struggles in support of the demand in the North-East, among the Sinhalese in the South and in the Hill Country.
The beginning of the materialisation of the demands that we pressed for, namely a ceasefire, lifting of embargoes, negotiation with the LTTE, third party facilitation and a move towards a just solution, is a great victory for the people.
At this juncture, our party remembers the mass movements and struggles that were carried forward unremittingly to make possible the beginning of peace. We have always strongly opposed the acts of racist violence initiated by the UNP in 1977 and the acts of barbarism in 1979, 1981 and 1983.
We have always opposed the Prevention of Terrorism Act that was designed to defend chauvinistic oppression and suppress the struggles of the Tamil people. Besides that, we also warned of the danger that this very act could be turned against the Sinhalese. As predicted, it happened in the cruellest possible way amid the Sinhalese. Even today, around 3000 Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people are detained in various prisons across the country under this Prevention of Terrorism Act. We demand their release on this May Day.
We also campaigned against the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the Country that made it legally necessary to take an oath rejecting secession. In the mid-1980s, we founded the Mass Movement for Human Rights and carried out several campaigns and struggles against the above pieces of legislation and demanding the removal of embargo on fuel and other essential goods. Recollection of these activities today would further affirm the consistently pro-people stand of our party.