JVP steps up protests against autonomy for Tamils

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 January 2002, 17:27 GMT]
Hundreds of Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) cadres and activists demonstrated Tuesday in Colombo suburbs against granting regional autonomy to Tamils in Sri Lanka. The JVP emerged as a powerful third force in Sinhala politics with sixteen MPs at the general elections on 5 December last year. The JVP, a self styled radical Marxist party that draws on Sinhala nationalist sentiments to augment its popularity, says that it will oppose tooth and nail any solution to the ethnic conflict in the island based on federalism.

The JVP pledged to its cadres and supporters that it would escalate an islandwide mass protest against granting regional autonomy to the Tamils if the United National Front government did not heed its demands.

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"More than four million people voted for the Peoples alliance and nine hundred thousand for us against the conspiracy of the United National Party to divide Sri Lanka according to US imperialist dictates. The new government therefore has no right at all to claim that it has the mandate of the people to talk to the Tigers about handing over the northern and eastern province to them", said a senior JVP activist at the organisation's protest in Maharagama, an outer suburb of Colombo, Tuesday.

The JVP helped the President Chandrika Kumaratunga's government stay in power after the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, a major coalition partner of the People's Alliance, pulled out over an attack on Muslims in the central province town of Mawanella last year on condition that it wont discuss granting regional autonomy to Tamils.

The organisation has begun a mass campaign among the Sinhalese that a federal solution to the ethnic conflict would lead to the division of the island. Tamils say that none of their legitimate political aspirations can be realised as long as the Sri Lankan state continues to be strictly unitary as defined by its constitution.

The JVP insists that there is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka and that if the Tamils have any grievances they are solely due to "the US backed capitalist system" that is being promoted in Sri Lanka by the IMF and the World Bank. The party says that the island's current ills, including the war, would be resolved if Marxist rule is established in Sri Lanka.



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