22nd  February, 2004 Volume 10, Issue 32

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ISSUES

Unmasking the real face of the JVP 

By Frederica Jansz 

The LTTE refuses to be drawn into a political confrontation with the new alliance, the United People's Freedom Party (UPFA) despite Wimal Weerawansa, spokesman for the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) stating that as far as the JVP is concerned no ceasefire agreement with the Tamil Tigers exists.

Chief of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat, S. Puleedevan said, "as far as the LTTE is concerned the MoU is between the government and the LTTE. We are not concerned with the statements of a political party who have just become democratic.  Wimal Weerawansa has no authority to state that the ceasefire agreement does not exist."

Scenes of the destruction caused
by the JVP during their reign of terror

Puleedevan added that the LTTE continues to remain fully committed to the peace process. "We are only waiting for the political situation in the south to resolve itself and then we are ready to begin negotiations again." Asked if the LTTE is willing to negotiate with the new alliance in the event it wins the April 2, general election, Puleedevan replied, "we are willing to negotiate with any party that comes into power."

But of course the LTTE maintains it must be recognised as the sole representatives of the Tamils and the new government must be prepared to commence negotiations for an interim administration in the north east.

He reiterated if the JVP helps form a new government in April this year, it would not serve to deter the Tigers from negotiating a political settlement to the ethnic conflict. Until then, he said the LTTE has every intention of honouring the ceasefire agreement it has signed with the United National Front government. He asserted that even after April 2nd, the Tigers have no intention of changing or altering the existing agreement.

The JVP's Wimal Weerawansa however continues to insist that no ceasefire agreement exists with the Tamil Tigers. Weerawansa maintains that the ceasefire agreement signed between the government and the LTTE has been limited to the document only, as the Tigers have during the time of the ceasefire continued to kill "hundreds of opponents, including officers of military intelligence and members of parties against the Tigers."

According to Weerawansa, the JVP he says is prepared to hold talks with the LTTE "based on reasonable and correct foundation." He refrains from detailing what exactly a "reasonable and correct foundation" would be. In our spotlight on the JVP's changing face last week, we summarised its different stances over the years, to its most recent rhetoric trying to portray itself as a Sinhala-Buddhist party.  According to Weerawansa the party was even founded on a poya day.

Anti-government onslaught

Whatever Weerawansa's utterances - history has been documented and it is important in the public interest to place them on record since this is a decisive election for the future of the country and the people should have the benefit of making an informed choice of their ballot. And, the fact of the matter is that in 1987, gearing for a violent anti-government onslaught, the JVP established links with the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE).  The introduction was made for the JVP by a PLOTE representative D. P. Sivaram.  And these close links with PLOTE were enjoyed by the JVP until 1990. During this time the JVP together with PLOTE, transferred weapons, explosives and landmines.  JVP members in fact underwent training in the north in camps run by PLOTE. According to state intelligence reports PLOTE also ran camps for the JVP in the south.

It is on record that the first landmine detonated by the JVP in the south that killed a police officer was the work of a PLOTE operative. Intelligence reports reveal that the JVP paid this man Rs. 50,000 for helping execute this particular operation. The link with PLOTE in 1987 was to establish the JVP's military wing. The JVP's military wing not only received training from PLOTE in northern and southern Sri Lanka but in South India as well.

Later it was known as the DJV and was responsible for a number of assassinations, ambushes and attacks. Statistics suggest that the JVP has directly or indirectly been responsible for the killing of more than 50,000 civilians during its reign of terror.

This arm of the JVP carried out raids on security forces installations for weapons and ammunition. They twice removed weapons from the Katunayake airbase, while also removing weapons from the Pannala National Auxiliary forces training center, the General Sir John Kotelawela Defence Academy, the Field Force Headquarters in Colombo, several police stations in Colombo and police stations in the south and elsewhere in the country.

The Sri Lanka Air Force base at Katunayake was attacked by the JVP on April 22, 1988 and again on June 7, 1989. In order to fund these attacks the JVP robbed several banks and institutions. According to intelligence reports the JVP robbed 31 rural banks, four town banks and three banks in the city.

In touch with RAW

There are reports that the EPRLF also approached the JVP during this time - but there is no confirmation if indeed, any talks took place. Even though the JVP was perceived as an anti-Indian outfit, India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) also kept in close touch with the JVP leadership after the death of Wijeweera. RAW officers have been quoted as saying that it was a tactical necessity to keep in touch with the JVP, with which they acknowledged that they had established significant links.

RAW has even arranged accommodation and other assistance to fleeing JVP cadres, in India, where nearly 400 were given sanctuary when they were forced to go underground in Sri Lanka during 1989-1990. Somawansa Amarasinghe, the worst anti-Tamil basher and now JVP leader, was assisted by RAW to safely flee Sri Lanka, and he was initially given refuge in India. Subsequently, he managed to emigrate with the help of RAW to the United Kingdom, where he continues to run a special international JVP cell.

What is of telling significance at this juncture is the rhetoric of the JVP on the agitation of the Tamils.  In May 1982 - a year before the 1983 anti Tamil riots - JVP Leader Rohana Wijeweera said at a rally held in Muttur, "the JVP would contest the TULF in all the electorates in the north and east in view of the support extended by progressive minded Tamils there."

Contradictory policies

Wijeweera asserted at this rally that the TULF had collaborated with capitalist forces namely the UNP and the SLFP to the detriment of the Tamil community. He thus maintained that instead, "Tamils should support a socialist party with a broad base in the entirety of the island with potentiality to form a government."

He added at this same rally that the LSSP and CP are spent forces asserting, "the JVP was the only left party that had stabilised itself in all 24 districts and was gathering momentum."  He further said at this rally, "the JVP was not committed to the declaration of any particular religion as state religion or any language as state language."

The JVP has over a period of time adopted contradictory and conciliatory policies. They always have had two conflicting policies on the same issue - one meant for public consumption, the other for future implementation. Accordingly, the JVP voiced anti-Indian views in public, while they looked to India as their potential partner in their effort to combat the Tamil Eelam militants. Again, the JVP vehemently opposed any move by the government to grant a certain degree of self-rule to the Tamils in the north east. But, privately, the JVP acknowledged that Tamils did have grievances that had to be redressed.

In the 1980's 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 it 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." Despite this rhetoric, the JVP confusingly was the most anti-Eelamist political group in the country. They have alleged that the government has only half-heartedly pursued an anti-Eelam campaign and their slogans gradually became more aggressive and anti-separatist. After being proscribed they said that the real reason that they were banned was because they resolutely opposed the Eelam demand of the TULF and the Tamil militant organisations.

Between July 1983 to 1985 when Rohana Wijeweera was underground, he wrote a 315 page book which included arguments on "what is the solution to the Tamil Eelam struggle."  Wijeweera maintained the ethnic conflict is a manifestation of the national problem the country was facing which according to him was fourfold. Economically, the crisis of the ruling capitalist class and the oppressed class, and an imperialistic strategy that was the root cause of the national problem.

Rohana Wijeweera wrote his book Solutions To Tamil Eelam Struggle in 1985, but it was only published in 1986. He expounded a theory that America was involved in breaking up India and Sri Lanka. According to him, America was involved in splitting India into pieces. He explained that separation of Pakistan from India and Bangladesh from Pakistan had proved to be a boon to America, because now both these countries were successfully integrated into the American network.

According to Rohana Wijeweera's analysis, the Americans, too, were seen wanting the separation of Sri Lanka so that they could control both parts of the island. He wrote that, therefore, the Americans were heavily involved with the leaders of the Tamil Eelam movement.

Support for secession

Wijeweera's analysis in similar vein to Weerawansa today, was extremely contradictory to the party's own statements.  The Ginipupura the journal of the JVP's  UK branch, speaking on these same lines in July 1980 wrote: "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 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," it reiterated.

The JVP has now of course changed its stance again, and acquired another dimension. Today it projects itself as a Sinhala Buddhist party, propagating concern about "unethical conversions" of Sinhala-Buddhists by evangelical groups allegedly financed by the West.

No astrological calculations are necessary to predict at this point that somewhere, at some point, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, if one is to judge their own track record will no doubt change their stance on this issue as well.

JVP's two faced stance on security forces 

 The JVP, since the start of their campaign of terror in 1987, and even before that, had hailed the security forces as the heroes who were preventing the separation of the country by waging war against the Tamil terrorists. In 1989, the JVP began to condemn to death not only these very heroes, but also members of their families. The JVP knew that they had made a fatal mistake. No sooner had they issued death threats to the families of the servicemen, posters appeared all over the country announcing, "Ape ekata thope dolahak!" (12 of yours for one of ours!) A vigilante group known as the Deshapremi Sinhala Tharuna Peramuna (Patriotic Sinhala Youth Front) under whose name the 12 to one posters appeared, also circulated a note to the families of the JVPers, which read as follows: 

"Dear Father/Mother/Sister,

"We know that your son/brother/husband is engaged in a brutal murder under the pretence of patriotism. Your son/brother/husband, the so-called patriot, has cruelly taken the lives of mothers like you, of sisters, of innocent little children. In addition he has started killing the family members of the heroic Sinhalese soldiers who fought with the Tamil Tigers and sacrificed their lives, in order to protect the motherland.

"It is not amongst us, ourselves, the Sinhalese people, that your son/brother/husband has launched the conflict in the name of patriotism? Is it then right that you, the wife/mother/sister of this person who engages in human murder of children should be free to live? Is it not justified to put you to death? From this moment, you and all your family members must be ready to die. May you attain nirvana! Patriotic Sinhala Youth Front."

*  *  *

Other notable acts of violence planned
and carried out by the JVP
 

The JVP was also responsible for the parliamentary bomb attack, the infamous Welikada jail break, and a number of robberies and murders, some of which we documented in our article last week. The JVP during its anti-government campaign controlled workers by initiating island-wide hartals, meetings, poster campaigns and demonstrations bringing to a stand-still trains, buses, the harbour, co-operatives, the health sector, posts and telecommunications as well as other government departments.

It has been revealed that, just before the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord, the JVP managed to get hold of weapons and these were moved to strategic locations in Colombo and other southern spots. On the day of the signing of the accord, the General Secretary, Upatissa Gamanayake came to a safe house in Hokandara, where a large haul of weapons was stocked. He met JVP activists and briefed them on the course of action to be taken. They were told to take positions in Colombo, Kaduwela, Welikada, Battaramulla, Homagama and Maharagama. It was reported that between July 28 and August 2, 1987, the anti-accord parties, including the JVP, SLFP, MEP, MSV, MSS and other splinter groups, including a section of the UNP, was responsible for nearly 2,527 incidents in the south.

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