You are the hundreds of activists from around the world (Great Britain, United States, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Hong Kong China, Zimbabwe, Togo, Italy, Germany, France) who have supported the international appeal in support of our people.
In this appeal, we stated: « She is right, this woman who, mourning the death of her husband, had to wait for more than 24 hours in a queue in front of a petrol station: ‘It is not me, nor my husband who contracted this debt, but it is my husband who paid it with his life. It is all the successive regimes that have contracted these debts and are the only ones responsible for my husband’s death.’ The debt contracted by the corrupt is not that of the people. We issue a solemn warning: it is for the Sri Lankan people to freely define their future. It is not for the leaders of the United States of America, or any other foreign power to decide the future of the Sri Lankan people. It is not for Biden to tell the Sri Lankan government what to do to ‘restore economic stability’. The IMF has no business dictating the economic program including privatization in Sri Lanka. »
Since then, an International Monetary Fund mission has arrived in Colombo.
In order for the debt to be paid, the IMF is demanding debt « restructuring » measures. They are terrifying.
The workers’ unions that called the general strike of 28 April and 9 May exposed these measures and denounced them at a press conference in Colombo on 15 August.
The IMF – and those who are its servants in our country – would like to dismantle 40 public enterprises. The banks would all be privatised. The Department of Labour would be dismantled.
The IMF also demands that the distribution of petrol be privatised, assigning the networks to foreign private companies. This threatens the security and sovereignty of the country.
The price of electricity will be increased by 275 %, as a result of government decisions taken on 8 August to please the IMF.
The goal of the State is to privatise electricity.
In the name of debt restructuring, they would like to steal the savings funds of individuals’ pensions and life insurance.
Seventy pension funds of various private companies would be involved. These include the EPF (Employers Provident Funds) and ETF (Employees Trust Funds), which will lose more than 600 billion rupees. The previous governments had looted and invested these funds in various stock exchanges around the world. The present regime wants to write off more than 25% of these State debts owed to the 70 funds in the name of restructuring.
And to monitor the effective implementation of this murderous plan, to impose the payment of the debt, they will set up a permanent monitoring committee in which will sit – along with the azurites of the country – the IMF. It is veritably putting the country in tutelage.
The unions indicate that these restructurings imposed by the IMF will affect more than 9 million workers in the country.
The unions denounce this as an armed robbery in broad daylight.
The workers are not responsible for these debts of the successive regimes. The workers, the simple citizens, will be the direct victims of these social plans imposed by the IMF.
Despite the unions’ warning, President Ranil Wicremsinghe publicly stated on 21 August that he « doesn’t have any use for the unions.”
He called the country’s civil servants « parasites » and called on them to quit their jobs.
In addition, in the name of restructuring the Department of Labour, he proposes to generalise night work for women and legalise child labour from the age of 14, to end severance pay, and to impose more flexibility.
Because it fears the people, because the mobilisation might resume at any moment, the government is organising repression at this very moment in Colombo.
After the state of emergency, we are now in a period in which arrests are increasing. On 18 August a great number of trade union and student leaders were arrested in the demonstrations. Teacher union leaders were also arrested.
So we are addressing this appeal to you: Can you in your respective countries organise delegations to the International Monetary Fund (and its representations) to demand the immediate withdrawal of this plan, to demand the cancellation of the debt of Sri Lanka so that these sums, which are being used to pay the debt to international institutions, can be confiscated and reoriented to provide food, electricity, transport, health care, and medicines. This is so that the people can live.
If you agree, we will prepare a memorandum for these delegations, establishing the facts and evidence to support our affirmation that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – after having pushed the country to bankruptcy – are preparing its total collapse.
We are certain that we can count on your solidarity.