International Committee of the Fourth International
Fourth International Vol. 15 No. 3-4 (July-December 1988)

Sri Lankan Government Bans Fourth International Magazine

The minister of state of the UNP government has issued an order prohibiting the release of the January-March 1988 issue of the Fourth International magazine, the official organ of the International Committee of the Fourth International, sent by the ICFI to its Sri Lankan section, the Revolutionary Communist League.

This prohibition order is a most violent attack on the basic democratic rights of the Sri Lankan and international working class movement and the Revolutionary Communist League. The RCL calls upon the trade unions and the organizations of the working class and the oppressed to demand the immediate release of the magazine and rally in defense of basic democratic rights and defeat the UNP government’s attack.

When the RCL called on the post office to collect the parcels containing the Fourth International magazine on June 24, we were informed by the customs officials that the magazine had been referred to the Ministry of State for an order on its release. When the Ministry of State was contacted, our representative was informed by the permanent secretary to the Ministry of State that an order banning the magazine had been made on the orders of his office.

Later, on August 8, a letter was handed over to us by the customs department stating that the order had been made because the contents of the magazine were “considered controversial.” The real meaning of this unprecedented and spurious excuse is that the UNP government and the capitalist class is going ahead to strengthen its arbitrary powers to prohibit and suppress any newspaper or publication belonging to the working class and the oppressed. No organization of the working class can keep silent and tolerate this attack.

The Revolutionary Communist League, established in 1968 as the Sri Lankan section of the ICFI, is the organization that fights consistently to mobilize the working class on a revolutionary internationalist program. Its right to establish ties with the international working class movement, maintain relations and to obtain literature from the international labor movement is a right fought for and established by the working class in Sri Lanka through its vast struggles.

Moreover, the Fourth International, the organ of the ICFI, is also the international organ of the RCL as the Sri Lankan section of the ICFI. The UNP government has come forward to attack all these rights. If the working class movement does not take immediate steps to defend this right, the UNP government and the capitalist class will come forward with impunity to destroy the democratic rights of all the organizations of the workers and the oppressed.

The prohibition of the circulation of the Fourth International does not come at all as an accident. It was a decision consciously and deliberately taken by the Minister of State, who is notorious for his anticommunism and anti-Tamil racism, in accordance with the counterrevolutionary plans of the UNP government.

When one considers the contents of the prohibited magazine, it becomes clear that the deepness of the UNP government’s fear of the magazine is also not accidental. This particular magazine was especially devoted to the memory of Comrade Keerthi Balasuriya, the general secretary of the RCL who died on December 18, 1987 of a sudden heart attack.

Among its contents were the following articles: the RCL Central Committee statement on the death of Comrade Keerthi Balasuriya; “The Situation in Sri Lanka and the Political Tasks of the Revolutionary Communist League” by the ICFI; “The World Economic Crisis and the Struggle for Socialism” by the ICFI; and “Rajiv Gandhi’s Dirty War Against Tamil Eelam.”

Also, these documents and statements issued by the ICFI and the RCL expose before the world working class the counterrevolutionary conspiracy of the Sri Lankan and Indian governments, backed by the imperialists. They expose the barbarous invasion of the Indian Army, and the racist offensive against the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka. They demonstrate the way forward for the Tamil liberation struggle, and elaborate in precise terms the program to mobilize the workers and peasants under the leadership of the working class in Sri Lanka, Tamil Eelam and India to overthrow the grip of imperialism, to defeat the Indian invasion, to overthrow the bourgeois rule and go forward to the socialist revolution.

Behind this reactionary attack by the UNP government lies the concrete need to attack the program establishing the unity of the international working class and to isolate the working class of Sri Lanka and crush it under a military boot, imposing a bourgeois dictatorship.

This bankrupt and racist regime of the Sinhalese ruling class fears that the working class will arm itself with an international program and take the offensive against it. Having conducted the racist war against the Tamils for 11 years and having invited the Indian troops under the Indo Lankan Accord, the ruling class has completely failed to resolve its crisis.

On the contrary, its crisis has worsened. The working class has started a new offensive against the attack instigated by the imperialist bankers and against the imposition of the burden of the capitalist crisis on their backs. The resistance of the rural poor is intensifying.

To begin with, the ruling class is intensifying its counterrevolutionary preparation. The new draft law, named the Indemnity Bill, presented to the parliament, removes the right to take legal action against the murders and the other crimes committed between 1978-79 by the police, the armed forces and the counterrevolutionary bands and confers on the state forces a free hand to commit every conceivable crime. New decisions have been taken to arm the home guards and strengthen the UNP’s goon squads.

While these counterrevolutionary preparations are in progress, the treacherous LSSP, CP and NSSP leaders are throwing dust in the eyes of the working class with their fraudulent assertions that the UNP government has reentered the democratic process with the Indo Lankan Accord. It is only with the help of these treacherous props that the government could muster the strength to prohibit the revolutionary literature of the working class and attack its democratic rights. These betrayals are used by the government to attack all the basic democratic rights, including the prohibition of all working class literature.

In its attack against the working class, the UNP government has incessantly attacked the RCL. There are two well-known recent instances. In June 1986, Comrades Wije Dias, the present secretary of the RCL, Brutan Perera, an RCL Central Committee member, and Ruman Perera, an RCL member, were arrested and detained by the police while making preparations to hold a public meeting in Chilaw. In November 1987, T.N. Nihisan, an RCL Central Committee member, and party members, Sarath Chandrasiri and Gita Balasooriya, were victims of an attack by the UNP goons in Colombo, where an attempt was made to kill them.

A very strong campaign was launched in the working class movement in Sri Lanka and internationally by the International Committee against these attacks, particularly for the release of Wije Dias, Brutan Perera and Ruman Perera from detention.

The UNP government’s attack in prohibiting the Fourth International magazine reveals the virulent hostility of the ruling classes to the powerful development and carrying forward by the ICFI of the struggle to mobilize the world working class on the program of proletarian internationalism, against all forms of nationalist opportunism, since the split of the ICFI in 1985 from the renegades Healy, Banda and Slaughter of the British Workers Revolutionary Party.

The growing response of the working class of Sri Lanka to the scientific program which alone can liberate the international working class was shown in this year’s annual conference of the Central Bank Employees Union, where the RCL candidates defeated the NSSP-Stalinist front in the election of the leadership. This has led to the heightening of the hostility of the UNP government.

In this situation, where the UNP government has attacked a very basic democratic right of the Revolutionary Communist League and the working class, the RCL Political Committee calls upon the Sri Lankan and international working class movement to immediately and actively rally to defend these basic democratic rights.

The Revolutionary Communist League Political Committee earnestly requests that trade unions and other organizations of the working class and oppressed adopt resolutions demanding the immediate release of the prohibited issue of the Fourth International magazine and send such resolutions and demands to the Minister of State at the Ministry of State Consulate Building in Colombo and to organize other agitational actions. We also call on the working class to rally around the agitational meetings and other activities organized by the RCL.