15th January, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 31



















The JVP's new clothes

By Frederica Jansz 

The recent political events have served to bring into sharp focus the fascist character of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) or Peoples' Liberation Front. As the country gears for another general election barely two years after the last, what appears foremost, dominating the political scene this time, is the changing face of the JVP.

In the 1970s the JVP was a Marxist party. In the 1980s' it was more communal and became a Sinhala-majoritarian party opposing any concession to the Tamil minority and opposing federalism as a solution to the ethnic conflict.

The JVP's duplicity with regard to even this issue was in stark contrast to its own written statements by their UK branch. A booklet published by the JVP branch in London in July 1980 clearly states that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna accepts the right of the Tamil-speaking people to self-determination. The booklet adds, "we support that struggle to the extent of its current demand for secession." (See box)

The JVP has now once again changed its stance and acquired another dimension. This time around it is a 'Sinhala-Buddhist' one, propagating concern about 'unethical conversions' of Sinhala-Buddhists by evangelical groups allegedly financed by the West. This, coming from the party that first attacked the holiest of Buddhist shrines, the sacred Sri Dalada Maligawa just 15 years ago, during its brutal rebellion.

Stunning statement

JVP Spokesman Wimal Weerawansa recently made some truly amazing statements. He has gone on record as saying that the JVP was "shaped by Buddhist culture and not Marxism." He even stated that his party was founded on a poya day, attempting to prove its respect to the Sinhala-Buddhist calendar.

The JVP, he further said, was a 'nativist' party, taking only certain things from Marxism and adapting them to suit local conditions.

Weerawansa also claimed the primary aim of the SLFP-JVP alliance was to start a "cultural journey." He said the JVP intends to begin a pristine Sinhala-Buddhist culture which existed prior to 1505, referring to when the Portuguese landed in Sri Lanka and "forcibly Christianised and Westernised the country."

The historic MoU between the JVP and the SLFP signed on January 20, 2004, states the alliance is committed to establishing a Patriotic Broad National Alliance based on "five principal aspirations" of rescuing and developing the country. The official web page of the JVP maintains, "People in Sri Lanka warmly welcome the alliance and celebrates it as a national festival."

The truth is, the alliance has raised deep misgivings. The minorities are deeply suspicious, viewing the JVP as a radical Sinhala-Buddhist party, which will fuel communal disharmony and that too - violently.

Sri Lanka's law abiding citizens cannot forget the JVP's violent past in the 1970s and 1980s. The belief is that the JVP despite its new face is still capable of unleashing violence and is yet to trade their bullet for the ballot. Afterall, it was at such a time during the J. R. Jayewardene administration in the mid '80s it chose to bomb the house of parliament, killing Galle District Member Keerthi Abewickrema and seriously injuring then National Security Minister, Lalith Athulathmudali.

During the period 1987-1992 the JVP murdered hundreds of members of the working class in order to force them to join anti-government strikes. An official document marked 'top secret' lists that the JVP during this time, killed 1,735 government supporters, 487 government servants, 209 service personnel, 342 police personnel, 98 home guards and 70 political personalities out of which 35 were leading politicians.

The 35 politicians included two members from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, one from the Communist Party, one from the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, 22 from the United National Party (UNP), one from the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party, seven from the United Socialist Alliance and one from the Liberal Party. The JVP also killed SLFP supporters, UNP supporters, informants, and according to official records 3210 civilians.

In the year 1989 alone, the JVP murdered 24 members of the Buddhist clergy for refusing to bow to the dictates of the Marxists. In 1987 and 1988 the party also killed two Catholic priests. (See box for details)

Anyone who dared oppose the JVP during this time met with an early death. As a result, the JVP's bullets also killed 52 educationists including 50 school principals and two university professors. Among them were Prof. Stanley Wijesundara, who was then vice chancellor, Colombo University and Vice Chancellor, Moratuwa University, Prof. Patuwata Vithana

Leading politicians killed

Some of the leading politicians killed by the JVP during this reign of terror included Vijaya Kumaratunga, leader of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party and husband of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who was assassinated on February 16, 1988.

On May 15, 1989 the JVP killed the trade union leader, Lanka Sama Samaja Party, P.D. Wimalsena. Prior to this murder the party assassinated on June 27, 1988 the trade union Leader, Communist Party, L.W. Panditha at Dematagoda.  On January 10, 1989 the JVP killed the SLFP organiser for Kalutara, Indrapala Abeyweera and before that, on August 25, 1988 former SLFP MP and provincial council candidate, United Socialist Alliance (USA), S. B. Yalegama.

Seven other members of the USA were also gunned down by the JVP in 1988 and 1989. They were George Ratnayake, Weerasena Ritigala, Deva Bandara Senaratne, H. M. J. Herath, Ivan Jayasekara, G. D. Premachandra and G. Ranaweera.

On October 26, 1989 the JVP killed O. Kariyawasam, candidate for the Liberal Party. He was murdered at Wattala. 

It is against this bloody background that the JVP in its election manifesto appeals for the unity of "all the Reverend Holy Lords (Buddhist monks), Reverend Clerics (Christian priests), intellectuals, artistes, professionals and all those who love this land and the future of this country, to create a beautiful motherland capable of securing the religious and cultural freedom of all people, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims."

Given its previous track record, the JVP's trumpet call for "the defence of the motherland" is hypocritical if not ominous. Let us not forget that the JVP also slayed in cold blood, Chairman, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, D.L. T. Guruge on July 23, 1989. Popular announcer at SLBC and Rupavahini, Premakeerthi De Alwis was the JVP's next victim within the short span of eight days when he was shot dead on July 31, 1989 at Homagama.

Exactly 13 days later, the JVP wearing the assassin's cloak struck once more. This time their bullet killed Chief News Editor, Rupavahini, K. Amaratunge on August 13, 1989.

A month later, on September 13, the JVP assassinated another popular announcer at Rupavahini, Sagarika Gomes. A day before, on September 12, 1989 the party killed Chairperson, State Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Gladys, Jayawardene.

The JVP also killed Chief Engineer attached to the Ports Authority, D. C. Atukorala on November 17, 1988, wife of the Chief Minister, Southern Provincial Council, Esmie Amarasiri on June 7, 1989, Attorney-At-Law, Amara Wellappuli on May 8, 1988 and Leslie Yatanwala, also an attorney-at-law on June 15, 1989.

It has only been with the support of the People's Alliance and the NSSP, the Sri Lanka section of the United Secretariat, that the JVP has been able to enter the mainstream of bourgeois politics in Colombo since 1994 and dress itself up as 'left' and even 'socialist' party.


Apart from the mass murders it is pertinent to remember the JVP is also guilty of acts of sabotage and massive vandalism of public property.The party has destroyed 553 C. T. B. buses, 15 C. T. B. depots and a C. T. B. workshop.

The party has also vandalised 16 trains, 12 rail tracks and 24 railway stations. In addition the JVP sabotaged 132 electric transformers, 13 pylons, 69 power lines, two power stations, 25 electric meters and nine electricity sub stations.

The Marxist oriented party between 1988 and 1992 also vandalised 84 key telephone lines, 680 post offices, 18 postal vehicles, 12 telecommunication centres and CTO building. The JVP's thirst for violence fuelled the group to also sabotage 103 agrarian service centres including four paddy collecting centres and cultivation and milk collecting centres.

During its rule of terror the JVP in addition vandalised 73 tea factories, 38 estate bungalows as well as estate vehicles and tea leaf collecting centres. The party has also attacked nearly 40 banks as well as 21 different government offices and 294 offices of government agents. The JVP sabotaged and vandalised Timber Corporation depots, distilleries, weaving centres, mining buildings as well as government schools. The offices of the Building Materials Corporation, Plywood Corporation, Cashew Corporation and fertiliser stores were also not spared.

A detailed report on the damage lists 113 government vehicles as having been damaged as well by the JVP. Hundred and seven homes of service personnel were also attacked while 76 houses of police personnel came under JVP fire.

 Private property damaged

In addition the JVP attacked 20 houses of civilians, 33 private buildings, five Sarvodaya centres as well as homes of provincial council members, home guards, social centres and trade union offices. Even the offices of foreign construction projects as well as construction centres were not spared. According to the report, 29 private vehicles were also destroyed by the JVP during this time.

A number of the JVP's politburo and central committee members were taken into custody for these acts of felony. General Secretary of the party, Tilvin Silva had been the organiser of the military wing in Kalutara District and operated under the pseudonym 'Silva.' He was arrested by the Wadduwa police on September 3, 1987 with a T-56 rifle, whilst on his way to attack the Palliyamankada Special Forces camp. It is this same Tilvin Silva who, dressed in white, signed the alliance pact with the SLFP's General Secretary, Maithripala Sirisena at the BMICH recently.

Organising secretary, politburo member and MP for Galle district, C.D. Wijesinghe was the military wing leader of Ratnapura district.He was involved in the attack on Kahawatte police on December 30, 1987. He was arrested in 1989.

Administrative Secretary and politburo member, G. Kularatne was the military wing leader of Bandaragama area. He is known to police as being an explosives expert. He was arrested by the Dodangoda police on March 6, 1987.

Politburo Member and MP for Anuradhapura District, K. D. Lal Kantha was also a military wing member in Anuradhapura. He was arrested by the Maha Vilachchiya police and detained at Anuradhapura prisons. He however escaped but was later arrested again by the Polonnaruwa police and held at Boosa. 

Foreign Secretary, politburo member and MP for Gampaha district, Vijitha Herath was arrested by the Special Forces whilst he was studying at Kalupahana Vidyalaya, Haputale for enticing students to initiate agitation campaigns against the government.

Central committee member and MP for Polonnaruwa District, Nihal Galappaththi was arrested by the Borella police for JVP activity in 1988. He was detained at the Welisara Naval camp, Boosa detention camp and Welikada remand prison.He was finally released in 1992.

Central committee member and MP for Polonnaruwa District, S.K. Subasinghe was arrested by the Polonnaruwa police in possession of a DBBL gun in 1987, for having been involved in an attack on a police mobile patrol. He was held at the Boosa and Pelwatte detention camps and released.

Central committee member and national list MP, R. Chandrasekar was arrested by the Bandarawela police for JVP activity on March 3, 1987 and released after being detained for three months.

Central committee member and MP for Matara District, J. Kitulgoda was arrested in Colombo for JVP activity in 1989 and detained at the Colombo magazine prison.

The JVP during this time appeared to fuel its acts of terror based on its ethnic intolerance and militant readings of religious philosophy. Prior to the 1989 rebellion, the JVP was instrumental in leading a revolt in 1971, which also led to the deaths of thousands.  Their rebellion in 1989 orchestrated a series of strikes and political murders. The reason for the violence was the JVP's virulent opposition to the Sri Lankan government having signed an accord with the Indian government to bring in the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to the north.

The country was brought to a standstill. When the government's talks with the JVP failed during this time, the state unleashed death squads that killed JVP suspects and dumped their bodies in rivers. A three-year reign of terror resulted in at least 30,000 deaths.

The JVP however has once more changed its stance. Wimal Weerawansa, having screamed himself hoarse against anything Indian, was recently seen at a reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo.Dressed in Western attire, a full suite, and sporting a becoming smile on his face, Weerawansa is now only too aware of the importance of playing pooja to India - if, the JVP intends to sit in the hot seat of government.

However, whether Weerawansa, Somawansa Amarasinghe and Tilvin Silva will continue to play ball once the ballots are drawn and refrain from resorting to the bullet - yet, remains a great uncertainty.

Duplicity of the JVP on the ethnic issue

The JVP presently professes to champion Sinhala chauvinism, whereas in the 1980s' they supported the theory of self-determination, in respect of the ethnic question. The following excerpts from the booklet The Constitution Of Sri Lanka And The National Question, which was published by the JVP branch in London in 1980 (Ginipupura publications), exposes the duplicity of the JVP. This is what it says on the issue of self- determination for the Tamil people: "If one nation oppresses another, that oppressor is oppressed. The proletariat in struggle against oppression, must always acknowledge this observation. Marxists - Leninists within the oppressing nation must fight for the right of the oppressed nation to self- determination even to the extent of a separate political existence."

"The decision as to whether they (Tamils) are to live together with the Sinhala-speaking people, or separately from them, namely whether they are to form a unitary state or two separate states, is entirely in the hands of the Tamil-speaking people of this country.This is what the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna means when it says that it accepts the right of the Tamil-speaking people to self-determination. We support that struggle to the extent of its current demand for secession."

The Ginipupura, the journal of the JVP -UK branch, spoke on the same lines in their issue of July 1980: "The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna is continuing to agitate for the recognition and acceptance by all, of the right of the Tamil speaking people to self- determination, that is, including their right to establish a separate state will give correct leadership to that struggle and gain the understanding and trust of the Tamil speaking people."

* * *

Members of the Buddhist and Catholic
clergy killed by the JVP

Buddhist Clergy:

Rev. Poddalamulle Premaloka on 18.12.1988 Rev. Marambe Somaratana on 31.12.1988 Rev. Angunakolapelasse Upali on 07.01.1989 Rev. Kumbagoda Gunaloka of Mihintale Temple on 11.07.1987 Rev. Kotikawatte Saddhatissa on 03.08.1989 Rev. Hemaloka of Nandimithra Temple -Pallama on 04.08.1989 Rev. W. Pangnatisa of Athurugiriya Temple on 13.08.1989 Rev. Soragune Pangnasara of Rajamahaviharaya on 20.08.1989  Rev. Kirawanagama Pangnarama on 27.08.1989 Rev. Welltota Pangnadassi of Kithalagamuwa Temple on 30.08.1989 Rev. Pelpola Dharmapala of Jayasumanaramaya on 04.09.1989 Rev. Muditha of Sri Sudharshanaramaya - Hiniduma on 05.09.1989 Rev. Kahawa Wimalasiri of Bodhirajaramaya on 09.09.1989  Rev. Mahanuwara Dammarakkitha of Bambarangala Temple on 18.09.1989 Rev. Govunne Rathanajothi of Mawelagama Rajamaha Viharaya on 20.09.1989  Rev. Thiaranagama Rathanasara on 29.09.1989 Rev. Thambugala Anandasiri on 13.10.1989 Rev. Dikpitiye Angirasa of Sri Keththarama Temple on 05.10.1989 Rev. Kalutara Dharmarathana on 12.10.1989  Rev. Wimalakeerthi of Dangolla Temple - Horambawa on 20.10.1989 Rev. Nikapitiye Siddhartha of Deliwala Temple on 30.10.1989  Rev. D. Gunawansa of Mangalagama Pirivena - Molagoda on 05.11.1989 Rev. Welipitiye Pangnatissa of Viyaneliya Temple on 29.11.1989  Rev. Bamunupotha Somarathana of Medpitiya Temple on 10.12.1989  Rev. W. Pangnananda of Weulukannala Temple on 11.12.1989  Rev. Ambewela Chandrajothi of Kulubululanda Viharaya on 12.12.1989  Rev. Rekawa Pangnasiddhi of Ubhayaramaya Temple - Rekawa on 16.12.1989

Catholic Priests.

 Rev. Fr. Michael Paul Rodrigo of Subaseth Gedara, Kataragama on 11.10.1987 Rev. Fr. P. Lionel Jayasinghe of Lanka Deva Sabhawa - Tissamaharamaya on 25.03.1988.

   More Stories

News Politics


Editorial Spotlight Sports Bussines Letters Review Arts Interviews Nutshell 




Leader Publication (Pvt) Ltd.
1st Floor, Colombo Commercial Building., 121, Sir James Peiris Mawatha., Colombo 2
Tel : +94-75-365891,2 Fax : +94-75-365891

email : editor@thesundayleader.lk