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Amirthalingam on the Events of May-June 1981 and Army Behavior in Jaffna

by Sachi Sri Kantha, June 14, 2011

Amirthalingam in his interview highlighted this point: “Today [i.e., 1981] there isn’t even two or three percent of Tamil persons in the police and not even one percent of Tamils in the army. This has now become an army of occupation in the Tamil territories…”.

The need for separating fact from fiction is a problem we face now, when it comes to deciphering the Sinhalese politicians’ phony sentiments on how they treat the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The full text of the keynote address delivered by Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa (president's brother) at the ‘Defeating Terrorism-The Sri Lankan Experience’ Symposium on May 31, 2011 held in Colombo is a clear example for the phony sentiments and fibs dispersed with fanfare, and the urgent need for Hemingway’s crap detector. In a sense, such a crap detection exercise is made easier when one checks the interview Appapillai Amirthalingam (1927-1989), the Federal Party leader of Eelam Tamils, granted to the Workers Vanguard (New York) journal in 1981, well before teh LTTE came into prominence.

A. AmirthalingamThe outlandish, glaring fib delivered on May 31, 2011 was the accusation by Gotabaya Rajapaksa that “it was the LTTE itself that perpetrated such atrocities in its attempts to carve out an insular mono-ethnic state”. If Mr. Rajapaksa had ‘nuts and guts’, he’d have stressed what percent of the 200,000 army personnel in 2009 were Sinhalese and what percent of the 42,000 “proper paramilitary force” (“the able bodied men”) were Sinhalese. By establishing a mono-ethnic army by edict since 1962, it was the Sri Lankan state that discriminated against the Tamils. Amirthalingam in his interview highlighted this point: “Today [i.e., 1981] there isn’t even two or three percent of Tamil persons in the police and not even one percent of Tamils in the army. This has now become an army of occupation in the Tamil territories…”.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Amirthalingam

Five years ago, President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered copious crocodile tears to the memory of Amirthalingam. For record, I provide his lament of 856 words below, as it appeared in the Official website of the Government of Sri Lanka, with an alluring caption ‘Remembering a man of moderation’  ‘[http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/Current_Affairs/ca200607/20060713president_pays_his_tribute_to_amirthalingam.htm]

“Although we were contemporaries in Parliament for only a few months in 1989, when he came in from the TULF National List and I was re-elected an SLFP member from the Hambantota District, Appapillai Amirthalingam was such a dominant figure in the politics of Sri Lanka that no politician could have escaped being impressed by his political activity and his commitment to democracy and moderation.

My father, the late D. A. Rajapaksa, whose room in the old Parliament was later part of Mr. Amirthalingam’s office as Leader of the Opposition from 1977 till 1983, had told me of Mr. Amirthalingam’s skills in parliamentary debate.

It was unfortunate that when I entered Parliament for the first time as its youngest member in 1970, Mr. Amirthalingam, who had been there as the MP for Vadukkodai from 1956 was defeated by just 725 votes. He had been re-elected in March and July 1960; and in 1965. But, even though out of Parliament he was politically very active organizing the TULF, of which he was one of the principal architects. He returned to Parliament in 1977 from Kankesanturai, the seat held from 1947 by the late S. J .V. Chelvanayakam, with a majority of 22,000 votes, leading the TULF, and became Leader of the Opposition.

Votes and majorities do not show the real qualities of Mr. Amirthalingam, although they point to his popularity among the Tamil people, and their trust in him as a democratic leader. The true measure of the man can be seen by how he, as Leader of the Opposition, strongly opposed the move by the UNP Government, to strip the SLFP leader and former Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights. We in the SLFP, both within and out of Parliament, were truly impressed by his determined opposition to this crude attempt to throw out of the political arena the main opponent of the UNP government of the day.

More striking in his opposition to politically disarm Mrs. Bandaranaike was that he was defending on a matter of principle, the rights of the former Prime Minister who had placed him and his colleagues of the Federal Party under house arrest for their participation in the civil disobedience campaign in 1961. When it came to matters of principle and democratic rights he was not the man to put past antagonisms before current injustice.

Jaffna Public Library with ancient archives and stacks destroyed 1981

In 1956, Mr. Amirthalingam personified the new generation of Tamil politicians, similar to those from the MEP being the new generation of Sinhala politicians. He was educated entirely in Jaffna, unlike most previous Tamil leaders who were Colombo based. As a verti clad politician, he understood well his people and their aspirations. In his university days he was greatly influenced by Dr. N. M. Perera, and Mr. Amirthalingam did advance socialist thinking in the Federal Party, seen in its support of progressive legislation."

His commitment to democracy and the larger unity of the Sri Lankan people was such that although the TULF was returned with a mandate to establish a separate state of Eelam, he led the TULF into talks with the J.R. Jayewardene government on the setting up of District Development Councils (DDCs), a far cry from Eelam. His support of the DDCs was a political gamble, opposed by the rising militancy of Tamil youth who looked with suspicion on the Tamil leaders seeking a democratic solution to achieve their aspirations. Amirthalingam played a major role in getting the TULF leadership, increasingly distanced from the Tamil youth it had nurtured earlier in their militancy, to agree to DDCs.

Although the TULF won six of seven DDCs in the North, his hopes were dashed when the UNP government, despite its huge majority in Parliament, was not prepared to devolve power even at the District level to the DDCs, its own brainchild. The country still suffers the tragic consequences of this failure of the UNP to share power at the lowest level of the districts.

The tragic events of Black July in 1983, saw the home of the Leader of the Opposition too attacked. Later, his stay in Parliament and that of his colleagues from the TULF ended with the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, thereby virtually closing the door to dialogue with democratic forces among Tamils. Mr. Amirthalingam took refuge in India. He returned after the signing of the Indo-Lanka Agreement in 1987, when his influence had waned, and militancy had virtually smothered the democratic politics of the Tamils.

The return to Parliament in 1989 of this colorful, amiable, moderate personality was all too brief. On July 13, 1989, he was assassinated in his own home, with his colleague Mr. V. Yogeswaran, by LTTE cadres who came under the guise of discussing politics with an ever trusting man. It is part of the tragedy of our politics, poisoned by terror and violence that the LTTE which claims to seek liberation for the Tamils saw in Mr. Amirthalingam one of their biggest enemies. Irrespective of language or ethnicity one will always lament the loss of persons of moderation such as Appapillai Amirthalingam, and more so their forcible and violent removal from amongst us.”

House and car of Mr. V. Yogeswaran Jaffna MP razed as fires burned in Jaffna citywide 1981

A reading of this text reveals what a slick politician this Mahinda Rajapaksa was. He had conveniently placed the blame of Amirthalingam’s sufferings at the hands of UNP and LTTE. Not mentioned was the facts that Amirthalingam also suffered at the hands of SLFP regime. What was obliterated was the obnoxious 1976 Trial-at-Bar (a non-jury trial) hoisted against Amirthalingam (when he was out of parliament, and M. Rajapaksa was in parliament as a rookie MP) and three of his parliamentarian colleagues V.N. Navaratnam, K. Thurairatnam and K.P. Ratnam? I hardly remember that Rajapaksa delivered any message in support of Amirthalingam then. Amirthalingam in this interview had spoken clearly what the SLFP party represented by Mahinda Rajapaksa (from 1970 onwards) and his father D.A.Rajapaksa (from 1951 to 1965) did to Tamil rights.

Mahinda Rajapaksa distorted Amirthalingam’s views!

As a chronicler of Tamil history, it is my onus to provide a complete transcript of an interview that Amirthalingam gave to Workers Vanguard (New York), 30 years ago. In my previous communication [Text of an Uninvited Keynote Speech] to this website, I have inserted a segment of this interview, to satirize the pompous ‘Seminar on Defeating Terrorism – Sri Lankan Experience’. But a complete electronic transcript from the yellowing pages of the paper print deserves preservation. In this interview, Amirthalingam had reminisced about his experiences on the chauvinism of Sinhala leadership of all the national parties (UNP, SLFP, MEP, LSSP, CP and JVP).

Whether others noticed or not, I did notice a coincidence. That the so-called ‘Seminar on Defeating Terrorism- Sri Lankan Experience’ was scheduled on the days when Jaffna city burned 30 years ago and the worst bibliocaust or libricide in South Asia, along the lines of book burning orgy in Berlin [May 15, 1933] by the Nazis, was perpetrated by the Sri Lankan service goons. As Amirthalingam has recorded in this interview, even he (while holding the rank of the Leader of Opposition) was arrested by the police and army officers on June 4th 1981 morning 2:45 am on the charge “disrupting the democratic process”!

Interview with Ceylonese Tamil Leader

[courtesy: Workers Vanguard, New York, July 17, 1981, no.283, pp.6-7 & 11]

(Note by Sachi: The interviewer’s name was omitted in the text. It is replaced by WV, the initials of Workers Vanguard. I have transcribed the complete text of the interview. The words in italics, are as in the original.)

We print below excerpts from an interview with Mr. A. Amirthalingam, leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), currently the main parliamentary opposition to the government of President J.R. Jayewardene’s United National Party (UNP). Last month, in the predominantly Tamil Jaffna peninsula, cops and troops went on a murderous rampage and a state of emergency was declared throughout the island. A recent 8 million rupee bank heist ($450,000), allegedly by the underground Young Tigers Liberation Movement, and an incident of cop killing provided the pretext for J.R.’s wave of terror.

Jaffna TULF worker Balasothy of Thampalai shot in the head by Sri Lankan army at house of MP Sivasithamparam on the night before the 1981 elections

On May 31, marauding troops and cops burned to the ground at least 48 Tamil-owned shops, the Jaffna headquarters of the TULF and the home of a Member of Parliament (MP). The next day the Jaffna Public Library (one of the best in Asia), the Tamil-language independent paper Eelanadu and all the shops in the old market area was razed.

WV: The first question I’d like to ask is about the current wave of government terror against the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. How did it begin? Is it a significant escalation from before?

Amirthalingam: The police and army terror has been unleashed on them on several occasions. It actually started when, at the World Tamil Conference in 1974, the police attacked a peaceful, cultural meeting and nine Tamils died as a result. Then again in 1977 the police set in motion forces which caused widespread rioting and killing of Tamils throught the island. In 1979, under cover of stamping out guerrillas, again violence was unleashed on the Tamil youth.

The latest outbreak was on the eve of the elections to the Development Councils. It started on the 31st May and went on until about the 7th or 8th of June. I will say that the last one was the worst as far as the malicious destruction of cherished institutions is concerned; the destruction of the public library, the only newspaper office in Jaffna, the headquarters of the TULF, the house of the MP, the main shopping center in Jaffna city. All this shows a planned attempt on the part of the police to almost commit cultural genocide against the Tamils. Ninety-seven thousand volumes of valuable books being destroyed in the public library is an unprecedented act of vandalism for which there was no excuse. And no excuse of any type can be given in the future.

WV: One of the things that the government claims in its publicity for the Free Trade Zone is that Ceylon is a good model of democracy. And yet you are a Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition and you were arrested at the time of these attacks. Could you say a little about your arrest and when and why you were released?

Amirthalingam: You see, the claim that Ceylon is a good model of parliamentary democracy is far from the truth. Immediately after independence (1948) one million Tamil workers were disenfranchised and made stateless and up to date the problem of the stateless Tamil plantation workers remains unsolved.

Then the media is almost fully controlled by the government. The Prevention of Terrorism Law, the Public Essential Services law are all calculated to enforce under normal conditions things which were done under Emergency conditions under earlier governments. So that I reject outright the claims of the government that Ceylon is a democratic government. On the contrary, Mr. Jayewardene’s government is going fast on the road to totalitarian dictatorship of the right, on the model of the Philippines and certain other countries which are hangers-on of the imperialist powers.

As far as our arrest goes, that shows the extent to which democracy is perverted under this government. Police and army officers came to my house at 2:45 in the morning (June 4) and they said that the competent authority had ordered my arrest. When I asked for the charge on which I was being arrested a fantastic charge was mentioned. That was the charge of ‘distrupting the democratic process’. So I asked this officer, ‘Under what law is this an offense, and what have I done to disrupt the democratic process?’ The officer said, ‘Please don’t ask me these things.’ I had no alternative but to go with him to the army camp, where I was handed over the custody of a lieutenant. And then the president of my party and two other Members of Parliament were brought there.

Thereafter I think the government had realized that their boast of democracy will be exposed thoroughly if they kept us in custody at the time of the elections. So at about 9:00 the army officers came and said that the President (Jayewardene) wanted to talk to me. He said, ‘It has all been a mistake. I have ordered your release. I am sorry about it.’

But as an afterthought in order to get over the embarrassment, the government information minister issued a communique that we were taken into ‘protective custody’. I asked him the pointed question in parliament: ‘To protect us from whom? From the police and army. You ask the police and the army to take us into custody and take us to the army camp to protect us from the army. It is a fantastic situation.’

WV: The government claims that their actions and some of the anti-Tamil violence were being provoked by the actions of people they call ‘Tamil terrorists’ like for instance the Eelam Tigers – actions like the bank robbery and some killing of policemen. Do you have any comment on these accusations?

Amirthalingam: On the 31st night, there is no doubt that someone had shot a policemen and one policeman died immediately. But the reaction on the part of the police makes one suspect the real perpetrators because the rapidity with which the police arrived and the way they behaved make one suspect whether the shooting itself was not done by some agent provocateurs in order to give an opportunity for the police to run riot and attack pre-planned targets. The violence and terrorization that the police and the army resorted to was out of all proportion to the one incident that took place.

In Jaffna this was, to my mind, a preplanned affair and it was well organized. The D.I.G., Deputy Inspector General of police who was in charge of the Northern Region, a Tamil officer, had been removed one week before this incident. A Sinhalese D.I.G. was sent there to take charge of the situation. And these 300-odd men who behaved in this way were hand-picked and sent and they were housed in the stadium ostensibly for election duty.

WV: When I was in Jaffna, one of the things that struck me was the presence of soldiers and police on many street corners and a real sense of occupation. How long has the army presence in the Tamil areas been like that?

Amirthalingam: The army was first brought to the Tamil areas in the ‘60s for the purpose of checking illicit immigration from south India. There was no doubt at that time a certain number of persons who had been sent out from Sri Lanka used to come back that way. Today there isn’t even two or three percent of Tamil persons in the police and not even one percent of Tamils in the army. This has now become an army of occupation in the Tamil territories and their only function is to keep down the Tamil movements for the rights and liberation of the Tamil people.

WV: It’s not just in the north, though that the Tamils are being attacked. For instance in the education system they’ve stopped giving courses in Tamil at the other universities outside Jaffna.

Amirthalingam: Yes, certain Tamil streams have been closed down. The excuse they give is that there are not enough Tamil students. As you know, with the Tamils and the Muslims taken together, Colombo city is more thn 50 percent Tamil-speaking. In spite of it, even in the Colombo University gradually the Tamil streams are being dried up. But the worst discrimination has been in the numbers of Tamil students admitted to the universities. The Tamil students admitted to the various faculties got reduced even below their population ratio. Their ratio was much higher in the past when merit was the basis. Now only 30 percent (of students) are admitted on merit. The rest are admitted on a district basis with the result that the proportion of Tamil students admitted has been reduced very much.

WV: I don’t know whether you were aware of struggles against this at Colombo University. Some of our comrades played a leading role and there was, in fact, coordination between the Jaffna University Students Union and these students.

Amirthalingam: Yes, I am aware of that. In fact in matters like this we have taken up the cause of the Sinhalese students. Even when the recent strike of the workers took place, our union, the Tamil language unions, also joined in their strike and we tried our level best to get the government to reinstate the workers whom they dismissed. So that we also have taken up the cause of the Sinhalese students and the Sinhalese workers when they were penalized by the Jayewardene government.

WV: One of the things that the imperialists always did – and the British were very good at this – was to institute policies of ‘divide and rule’. Some observers point to the role that the early establishment of an English-language missionary education system in the North had in the Tamils playing an important role in the administration.

Amirthalingam: You see, the British no doubt played one against the other as is usual with imperialisms. But in the early British period, that is sometime in the early and middle parts of the 19th century, missionaries opened up the English educational institutions. American missionaries, Anglican missionaries, Methodist missions, Church of England schools. They were all opened in the North. Americans were the earliest. The first institution was opened – what they called the ‘Patikotta’ Seminary – in 1813 in Vaddukottai, near my own home. And the Tamil people who were normally very hardworking took to the universities. Because of the arid nature of their soil they cultivated their brains and they became cogs in the wheel of British imperialism. And not only in Ceylon, but in Malaysia, Singapore, Burma.

WV: I wanted to get a bit about the left movement in Sri Lanka, which has had a strong association with people claiming to be Trotskyist. It seems to us that the record of the Left has been very bad on the Tamil question. For instance, I believe that the LSSP, when it was a much healthier organization, at the time of independence, accepted a flag with the lion on it, which has a lot of Sinhala symbolism.

Amirthalingam: I was, as a student in the university, a very ardent sympathizer of the LSSP, and I studied Marxism in Dr.N.M.Perera’s house, and I even attended Marxist classes in Mr. Philip Gunawardena’s house. But when, at the beginning of independence, Mr. Philip Gunawardena, of all people, supported the adoption of the lion flag as the national flag of Ceylon, I felt that they were just politicians and not Marxist revolutionaries in that sense. But I even then continued to have some faith in Dr. N.M. Perera. In ’56 when the Sinhala Only Act was introduced, the LSSP headed by Dr. N.M. Perera and the CP, that is the Moscow wing of the Communist Party (of course, at that time they had not split into Moscow and Peking), stood for parity of status and they supported us in our struggle. But within four years, in 1960, after Bandaranaike died, they made an all-out bid to capture power through the polls. When that failed, the Communist Party was the first to capitulate. They accepted Sinhala only, subject to certain rights. And then the LSSP also capitulated.

The surrender to Sinhala chauvinism was complete in 1964 when Dr. N.M. Perera and the LSSP joined Mrs. Bandaranaike’s government. At that stage it was only Mr. Edmund Samarakkody and Meryl Fernando who broke with them. I was also in parliament at that time and we all voted together with Edmund Samarakkody and Meryl Fernando, and by one vote we were able to defeat Mrs. Bandaranaike’s government. From that time onwards the LSSP and the Communist Party started completely aligning themselves with the chauvinist SLFP.

In 1970 when they came to power, they themselves drafted a constitution. Colvin R. de Silva, one of the theorists of the Trotskyist movement, was the Minister for Constitutional Affairs. We met him and talked to him to include at least certain rights for the Tamil language in the constitution. He was worse than Mrs. Bandaranaike in these matters. He was so intransigent. They wanted to convince the Sinhala people that they were more Sinhala than even Mrs. Bandaranaike.

Mr. Edmund Samarakkody and others broke away and formed a group, which they then split into two, Mr. Bala Tampoe’s group and Edmund Samrakkody’s group, and they were nowhere as far as the elections are concerned in 1965 and subsequently, and they lost all popular support. I should say, to the discredit of the LSSP, in 1970 they were part of the government. For the first time, strikes by unions were completely smashed up and people were dismissed by the government with so-called Marxist ministers in office. So that their record, not merely on the Tamil question, but even on the general working-class question, after a certain stage is very, very unsatisfactory.

WV: We have always regarded the action taken by Samarakkody and Meryl Fernando in refusing to vote for the coalition as a very honorable and courageous stand and an important decisive break from coalition politics. The SLFP has been a party that has always been notorious for its Sinhala chauvinism, and so we see it as very bad to make alliances with them. I wonder how you can see the way free to make a bloc with them for last May Day?

Amirthalingam: No. You see, we had made it very clear. We are not entering into any electoral alliance or any alliance with them. To oppose the UNP government’s anti-peoples actions we felt united action by the entire opposition is called for. There were five matters that we placed before the people. One, the removal of subsidies, food subsidy and other subsidies. Number two, their anti-working class legislation in the form of the Essential Public Services law. And their so-called Prevention of Terrorism law. Fourth, their attempt to deprive certain opposition party leaders of their civic rights and political rights and thereby stifle opposition altogether and take the country on the road to a one-party totalitarian government. Number five, their action against the strikers last July in dismissing them. We felt that on these five matters only, we joined hands with all these parties, that is, the SLFP, the LSSP, the MEP (that is formerly Mr. Philip Gunawardena’s party) and Mr. Sanmugathasan’s wing of the Communist Party. We felt that united action was necessary; otherwise J.R. Jaywardene will install a dictatorship of the right.

WV: I’ve seen reports that in an independent Eelam, Trincomalee might become the capital. It’s one of the best naval harbors in the world, an historically very important strategic center, and there are a lot of reports about the Americans being very interested in having it as a base. I wonder what your attitude to that is and in particular what you think the attitude of the Indians might be to this, especially since India is in a military alliance with the Soviet Union.

Amirthalingam: I think that is one of the most important points of potential conflict in the South Asian region. I have openly said in parliament and outside that any move by this government to give any facilities to America in Trincomalee would be opposed by us, and I made that an issue because the prime minister issued a press statement on the 25th of May when he returned from the Philippines wherein he said that the defence agreement with Britain of 1947 is still in force as far as the UNP government is concerned. I know that India is very much concerned with that and very much alarmed and this will bring Ceylon, Trincomalee and the Indian Ocean into the vortex of big power struggle.

WV: There are many millions of Tamils in India itself. Do you think there is a real prospect of an Indian intervention if, for example, the independence struggle came to a major crisis in Tamil areas?

Amirthalingam: You see, the 45 million Tamils in south India are themselves not their own masters. They have been only part of the larger Indian set up. As to what may happen in the future, we know, taking all these matters together: Trincomalee harbor, the possibility of an American base being given there, the Indian attitude toward that and our struggle – all these things may create a situation of intervention by outsiders in this struggle.

WV: You certainly must be familiar with the Trotskyist theory of permanent revolution, which says that in order to end national oppression you have to go forward to the socialist revolution. I wondered how you envisage an independent Eelam. Is it going to be a capitalist state, or a socialist state?

Amirthalingam: In our manifesto in 1977 we categorically stated that scientific socialism is our objective. We did not want to just say socialism, because everybody calls themselves socialists. Even Jayewardene calls himself socialist. And we have said that the Tamil Eelam will be a fully socialist country where exploitation of all types and distinctions based on caste, all that is abolished. And it will give fraternal support to the Sinhalese to establish a socialist state in their part of the country.

WV: If there was created an independent Tamil Eelam in the North and Eastern provinces, what do you think would happen to the Tamil plantation workers and the other Tamils, for instance in the Colombo area. Often when you’ve had partitions of this sort, say India and Pakistan, they have been accompanied by forcible population transfers or communal slaughter.

Amirthalingam: But inspite of all the forcible population transfers, there are 100 million Muslims yet in India. After Bangaladesh and Pakistan separated, there are more Muslims in India today than in Bangladesh or Pakistan taken individually.

But as far as the plantation Tamils are concerned, once their status in Sri Lanka is decided, then we will know what the number is that we have to deal with. You know after every outbreak of violence against Tamils in those areas, more and more are migrating to the Tamil areas. So that there is a transfer of population daily taking place. We need not forcibly do such a thing.

WV: But you have to agree that what’s happening now brings a lot of hardship with it.

Amirthalingam: It does, and particularly in the context of there being no machinery to provide for them. But I think if we have the machinery to look after them, the bulk of them may be able to develop the lands in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

WV: What do you envisage as a settlement for the Sinhala settlers who moved into the Eastern province and into areas under the Mahaweli?

Amirthalingam: In our manifesto we put in ‘full language rights, full rights of citizenship in Tamil Eelam’.

WV: Our new group Spartacist League/Lanka has put a lot of emphasis on the effort to seek a joint class struggle between the Tamil and Sinhala working classes. We would like to see, rather than a partition, a bi-national workers state.

Amirthalingam: The unfortunate situation is that Left movements inside Ceylon, including the new Left, the JVP, they are all essentially Sinhala-oriented. The JVP, in their lectures delivered to their recruits in 1970, before their insurgency, one was on Indian expansionism. It was not Indian expansionism, it was essentially directed against the plantation Tamil labor and they believed in destroying the plantation industry and the plantation laborers. Even the Communist Party has at least said that the right to self determination should be recognized. Of course they say that the right to secede is not there.

I have openly said that if any revolutionary Left movement grows in the south which is prepared to recognize our right of self-determination, we are prepared to throw in our lot with them in a common struggle. But unfortunately I don’t see the prospects of a force like that emerging in the south. And in the meantime, before that happens, we run the risk of being crushed altogether. So we have to struggle by ourselves.

If there is a movement of sufficient strength among the Sinhalese which recognizes our right of self determination – including secession, as the Bolshevik Party in Russia under Lenin put forward before the revolution – we are prepared to join hands with them in a common struggle. Maybe at the end of it we may agree to work out some way of living together.

WV: We would certainly say that the rights of the Tamils to self-determination must be recognized and that the Tamil question is an acid test for revolutionists.

Amirthalingam: I have seen the document signed by your group. I appreciate very much the stand that has been taken there. But it will take a long time for your group to gather sufficient momentum to be a force with which we can align there. Certainly, on any common issues, we are prepared to join hands with them in struggle.

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