The United Socialist Party (USP), the Sri Lankan section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, held its eleventh national congress from 31 October to 1 November 2009 in Colombo.
By Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party, Sri Lanka
The USP are proud of everyone who, in the face of very difficult circumstances, attended this crucial congress – particularly the delegates who came from Jaffna, from the tea plantation area and from the east. There were also visitors from India and Kashmir, in spite of the difficulties of travel and security.
Discussions were mainly concentrated around new political developments following the victory of the Sri Lankan army over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in a war which lasted for over 30 years.
After the military defeat of the LTTE, the capitalist Sri Lankan government, led by Mahinda Rajapakse, used a Sinhala Buddhist ideological campaign to establish authority amongst the Sinhala people in the south.
During the war, the suppression of the freedom of the press reached alarming proportions. All working class struggles which came forward with day to day demands were also suppressed and accused of being pro-LTTE .
Other left parties, including the Communist Party and the LSSP (Lanka Sama Samajists), all publicly supported this suppression. The pseudo-left party, the JVP, fully supported the Mahinda Rajapakse regime, passing the ’emergency law’, which is being used against the struggles of the working class.
During this congress, we pointed to the possibility of future struggles of the working class, youth and students. The USP has been campaigning to set up an independent national workers’ congress, with factory level elected delegates from all over the country, to discuss the demands and problems faced by the working class and take democratic decisions.
Other key discussions were centred on the Tamil national question following the end of the civil war. The Sinhala capitalist ruling class fail to put forward any political solution to the national question, even after the defeat of the LTTE.
The USP has always supported the struggle of the Tamil-speaking people against their oppression and stood firmly for their right to self-determination. But we saw the LTTE as partially responsible for its own defeat, in terms of adopting wrong policies, and not basing itself amongst the suppressed Tamil people or collaborating with the working class struggles in the south of the country against capitalism.
Marxists need to appeal to the Tamil workers, poor peasants and youth, to link with the suppressed masses and working class people in the south of the country, to win their national aspirations and demands.
The USP is the only force in the country that has a principled stand demanding acceptance of the right to self-determination for the Tamil-speaking people. Based on that, we have to build a combined struggle in the north, east and south against capitalism.
The congress also unanimously endorsed putting forward a working class programme in the forthcoming presidential and general elections as an alternative to neo-liberal policies and communal forces.
The high morale amongst the congress delegates was reflected in the excellent collection of 40,050 rupees for the USP fighting fund. USP members appreciate the huge support from CWI members around the world, especially the Tamil Solidarity Campaign.