Marxist women protest in Colombo
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 January 2001, 16:12 GMT]
A mass protest against the rising cost of living in Sri Lanka was led Tuesday in downtown Colombo by the women's wing of the radical Marxist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP - People's Liberation Front). Hundreds of women carrying placards and shouting slogans gathered in front of the city's main railway station in Fort, Colombo's bustling business hub from 4 p.m. this afternoon for the protest. The cost of living in the island shot up when the cash strapped Sri Lankan government devalued the rupee and hiked up fuel prices last month in addition to taxes and heavy borrowing to finance a massive war budget.
A woman MP, a Muslim who is a senior cadre of the JVP, led the protest. She said that the JVP's call to workers and women who were most affected by the rising cost of living to rally round the party to oppose the capitalist exploitation had had a very good response and that her party would continue to the protests in all parts of the country.
Two insurrections by the JVP to capture power were brutally crushed by Sri Lankan regimes in 1971 and 1989. Thousand of Sinhala youth were massacred during both armed uprisings. Although many assumed that the radical Marxist group was virtually extirpated by 1990, it emerged again as a force to be reckoned with four years later.
Today the party has become a powerful player in Sri Lankan politics with 10 members in the Parliament and a rapidly expanding membership among city workers and the growing ranks of disgruntled Sinhala youth from rural households hit by unemployment and the skyrocketing price of essentials.