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Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

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The Janathā Vimukthi Peramuṇa is a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. The party was involved in two armed uprisings against the ruling governments in 1971 (SLFP) and 1987-89 (UNP). After 1989, JVP entered into the democratic politics by participating the 1994 Parliamentary general election
Sri Lankan parliamentary election, 1994
The Sri Lankan parliamentary election of 1994 marked the decisive end of 17 years of UNP rule and a revival of Sri Lankan democracy.-Background:Democracy in Sri Lanka had seemed doomed as the presidencies of J.R...

.

History


The JVP was founded in 1965 with the aim of providing a leading force for a socialist revolution in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. By 1965 there were four other leftist political parties of considerable size: the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
Lanka Sama Samaja Party
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is a Trotskyist political party in Sri Lanka....

 (LSSP), the first leftist party in Sri Lanka and established in 1935, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka
Communist Party of Sri Lanka
The Communist Party of Sri Lanka is a communist political party in Sri Lanka. At the last legislative elections, on 2 April 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance that won 45.6% of the popular vote and 105 out of 225 seats....

 (CP) which was a break away from the LSSP, the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna is a left-wing political party in Sri Lanka. Today the party is led by Dinesh Gunawardena, son of Philip Gunawardena....

 (MEP) and the CP-Chinese faction
Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist)
Ceylon Communist Party is a political party in Sri Lanka. The party surged in 1964 following a split in the Ceylon Communist Party. Initially the party just called itself 'Ceylon Communist Party' as well, and was distinguished from the main CCP by denomintions like 'Ceylon Communist Party ', etc...

. This was a period when economic crisis in the country was deepening. Since independence from colonialism the main two parties UNP
United National Party
The United National Party, often referred to as the UNP ), , is a political party in Sri Lanka. It currently is the main opposition party in Sri Lanka and is headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe...

 and SLFP
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. It was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in...

 had governed the country, each for eight years, but according to the founders of the JVP they had been unable to implement even a single measure to resolve the crises Sri Lanka faced. The JVP considered the entry into the government by three left parties in 1964 as a conscious betrayal of the aspirations of the people and the working class.

Emergence of a Leader


During this period, Rohana Wijeweera
Rohana Wijeweera
Patabendi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera or Rohana Wijeweera was a Sri Lankan Marxist politician and the founding leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna...

 was studying medicine at Lumumba University in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. There, he read the works of Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 and Lenin, and became a committed socialist. He later broke with Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 orthodoxy and was not permitted to return to the USSR after a visit home in 1964.

By this time, Communist Party of Sri Lanka
Communist Party of Sri Lanka
The Communist Party of Sri Lanka is a communist political party in Sri Lanka. At the last legislative elections, on 2 April 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance that won 45.6% of the popular vote and 105 out of 225 seats....

 was divided over the Sino-Soviet split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

 and as a result broke down into two factions; the Chinese faction and the Soviet faction. The Chinese faction was led by Premalal Kumarasiri. Through his father's political activities, Wijeweera had come to contact with Kumarasiri on earlier occasions and now joined the party's staff. He made the trade union office of the Chinese faction his home and plunged himself in work. Before long, Wijeweera became a person known to everybody in the party.

Split


Wijeweera increasingly felt that the Left movement that had existed (which is now generally referred to in Sri Lanka as 'old left') up to then had not produced even a few professional revolutionaries. They had never made a meaningful effort to educate the masses on Marxism. The words mouthed by the leaders of the 'old left' were accepted by workers as the final word. Even more pathetic, to him, was that the leadership of the 'old left', aware of this aspect, utilized it to the fullest to blunt the militancy of workers.

Wijeweera and others decided in mid-1966 to launch a new party explicitly revolutionary in character. They had to literally start from scratch. This was in complete contrast to the birth of other political parties in Sri Lanka, which broke off of established parties.

In the period that followed the cadres engaged themselves in political activities that consisted mainly of trying to increase the political awareness of the working class. The economic hardships they faced were crippling. They walked miles for the want of bus fare and slept in bus halts or temples. Sometimes the only meal of rice for the day was got from the mid-day alms offered to temples. The mornings were spent earning money by carrying loads in the vegetable markets and the afternoons were devoted to political work.

Famous 'Five Classes'


One of the more important tasks was how best to approach the goal of politically educating the masses. Following deliberations on this issue, it was decided that an uncomplicated Marxist analysis of the socio-politico-economic problems of the country should be the introductory step. The Marxist analysis was staggered in to five discussions along with five main themes. Throughout the rest of 1968, Wijeweera walked the length and breadth of the country conducting political classes for the members of the party.

The five basic political classes were be followed by an education camp. Precautions had to be taken to keep this educational camp a secret to avoid alarming the government as well as the 'old left'. The lack of economic resources made it felt in no uncertain terms. The breakfast for the 25-30 people participating in the camp, cramped in a small room, consisted of tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

. Often there were only two solid meals per day. The classes, all conducted by Wijeweera stretched from 17 to 18 hours per day interrupted only by meals. Sleep was confined to five hours and it was not possible to have showers during the seven days of the camp.

Two years later, by 1971, the JVP had established itself as a political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 and offered an alternative to those disillusioned with the politics of the 'old left'. The majority of the members and supporters of the JVP, at this time, were in the young adult age group. Alarmed at the political potential and the political challenge of the JVP, the government and its leftist allies leveled a variety of slanders against the fledgling party. The JVP has later admitted that at that time, it was not a completely mature political party. There were many shortcomings of which they sought to rectify.

1971 Uprising



The 1971 uprising led by the party was an unsuccessful Marxist youth rebellion that claimed 15,000 youth lives.

The JVP drew worldwide attention when it launched an insurrection against the Bandaranaike government in April 1971. Although the insurgents were young, poorly armed, and inadequately trained, they succeeded in seizing and holding major areas in Southern and Central provinces of Sri Lanka before they were defeated by the security forces. Their attempt to seize power created a major crisis for the government and forced a fundamental reassessment of the nation's security needs.

In March 1971, after an accidental explosion in one of the bomb factories, the police found fifty-eight bombs in a hut in Nelundeniya, Kegalla District. Shortly afterward, Wijeweera was arrested and sent to Jaffna
Jaffna
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical...

 Prison, where he remained throughout the revolt. In response to his arrest and the growing pressure of police investigations, other JVP leaders decided to act immediately, and they agreed to begin the uprising at 11:00 P.M. on April 5.

After two weeks of fighting, the government regained control of all but a few remote areas. In both human and political terms, the cost of the victory was high: an estimated 15,000 insurgents- -many of them in their teens—died in the conflict, and the army was widely perceived to have used excessive force. In order to win over an alienated population and to prevent a prolonged conflict, Bandaranaike offered amnesties in May and June 1971, and only the top leaders were actually imprisoned. Wijeweera, who was already in detention at the time of the uprising, was given a twenty-year sentence.

The insurgency 1987-1989


This led to the post-1987
Insurrection 1987-89
The 1987-89 insurrection in Sri Lanka, in which around 50,000 lives were lost, was carried out by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a Marxist Sinhalese political party in Sri Lanka.-Leadup to conflict in the 1980s:...

 revolt of the JVP when, adroitly exploiting the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the widespread nationalist sentiments of large sections of the Sinhala people, the JVP began to terrorise both the state machinery and those sections of civil society opposed to its thinking and almost brought the State to its knees.

Organised in cells of three people and based around Matara
Matara, Sri Lanka
Matara is a city on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, 160 km from Colombo. It is one of the largest cities in Sri Lanka. It was deeply affected by the Asian tsunami in December 2004.-History:...

 in the south, the JVP murdered probably thousands of people and crippled the country with violently-enforced hartals (general strikes) for two years. Government forces captured and killed Wijeweera and his deputy in November 1989 in Colombo; by early 1990 they had killed or imprisoned the remaining JVP politburo and detained an estimated 7,000 JVP members. Although the Government won a decisive military victory there were credible accusations of brutality and extrajudicial methods.

The number who died is uncertain: the Government was fighting multiple Tamil insurgent groups at the time, using multiple official and unofficial forces, and in the resulting chaos it was said that the uniforms of those responsible for an action denoted only those who weren't actually responsible. In addition, many people took advantage of the chaos to prosecute deadly local feuds. What is certain is that the methods of death were appalling: the South African 'necklace' of a burning tire, victims eviscerated and left to die, and even the occasion of a dozen heads arranged around the Alwis pond of the University of Peradeniya
University of Peradeniya
The University of Peradeniya is a world renowned state university in Sri Lanka, funded by the University Grants Commission...

.

After 1971 Uprising


The brief conflict created turmoil in Sri Lankan national politics and international relations unparalleled in its recent political history. As a result of the struggle, the United Front Government in power proscribed the JVP in April 1971. Then it became an underground organisation.

In 1978, they participated in the local government elections. In 1982, the JVP participated in the District Development Council (DDC) elections, and the presidential election in 1982. The JVP was the only radical party that contested the DDC elections in 1982. The United National Party Government as a solution to the ethnic-conflict, had introduced the DDC. It was a kind of a decentralisation programme. The NLSSP, CP, and SLFP boycotted the elections, but the JVP contested and won a couple of seats in the DDC. During this period, the Election Commissioner formally recognised the JVP as a legitimate political party.

1982 Presidential election


During this period, the Government proscribed the JVP again. It was a blessing in disguise for the JVP, because at the Presidential election, they expected more votes. For the first time the charismatic leader of the JVP, Rohana Wijeweera contested as a presidential candidate. They hoped to win more than 500,000 votes, but managed to draw only 275,000. While receiving more votes than the candidate Colvin R. de Silva
Colvin R. de Silva
Colvin R. de Silva was a former Cabinet Minister of Plantation Industries and Constitutional Affairs, prominent member of parliament, Trotskyist leader and lawyer in Sri Lanka. He was one of the founders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party – the first Marxist party in Sri Lanka.-Personal...

, the party was disappointed by the results. The government again banned the party, and JVP membership declined as people began to doubt its electoral viability.

1983 Ethnic riots


However, the JVP was proscribed once again and forced to revert its operations as an underground organisation. In 1983, after the riots, the Government proscribed JVP, CP and NLSSP(Vasudeva Nanayakkara's & Vikrambahu Karunaratne’s Party) claiming they were involved in the Black July
Black July
Black July is the commonly used name for the anti-Tamil pogrom and attacks carried out by mobs in Sri Lanka which began on July 23, 1983. The riots occurred following a deadly ambush by a Tamil militant organization known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which killed 13 Sri Lanka Army soldiers...

 riots that killed thousands of Tamils. Tut by that time, the Government wanted to prove that it was a coup by pro-Russian parties, in order to attract the US and the UK, and it resorted to proscription of the three parties. Later, the proscription on the CP was lifted, but not on the JVP. The third phase of the JVP began in the post-1983 period and goes up to the end of 1989.

Democratic politics after 1989


At the last legislative elections
Elections in Sri Lanka
Elections in Sri Lanka gives information on election and election results in Sri Lanka.Sri Lanka elects on national level a head of state - the president - and a legislature. The president is elected for a six year term by the people...

, held on 2 April 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance
United People's Freedom Alliance
The United People's Freedom Alliance is a political alliance in Sri Lanka. The current leader of the United People's Freedom Alliance is Mahinda Rajapaksa and Susil Premajayantha is the general secretary of UPFA.The alliance was formed by:...

 that won 45.6% of the popular vote and 105 out of the 225 seats in Parliament. As the second-largest partner in this alliance it became part of the government. The JVP originated as an underground militant movement, which launched an armed rebellion in 1971.

2005 Presidential Elections


Mahinda Rajapakse was elected president of Sri Lanka with only part support of his own party, the SLFP. Majority support and endorsement came from the JVP and the JHU
Jathika Hela Urumaya
The Jathika Hela Urumaya is a political party in Sri Lanka which is led by Buddhist monks. The JHU was launched in February, 2004 by the lay-based, secular Sinhala nationalist political party Sihala Urumaya. Founding members include Kolonnawe Sumangala Thero, Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero, Ellawela...

 after their acquiring his agreement not to divide the country into federal states as the LTTE demanded.

Internal conflict of April 2008


The party had an internal conflict in April 2008, between the two factions of Wimal Weerawansa and the party leadership.

Party decided to suspend the membership of Wimal Weerawansa
Wimal Weerawansa
Wimal Weerawansa is the leader of the political party Jathika Nidahas Peramuna . He was entered into politics through the JVP during the 1980s and rocketed to the position of Propaganda secretary...

 from March 21, 2008. As in the media reports Weerawansa had an argument with the leadership based on the disarmament of Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) political party which contesting in the country's Eastern provincial council elections May 2008 under the banner of ruling United People's Freedom Alliance
United People's Freedom Alliance
The United People's Freedom Alliance is a political alliance in Sri Lanka. The current leader of the United People's Freedom Alliance is Mahinda Rajapaksa and Susil Premajayantha is the general secretary of UPFA.The alliance was formed by:...

 (UPFA).

Piyasiri Wijenayake the JVP MP, accused opposition party UNP for conspirating against JVP, told at a media conference held at Nippon hotel Colombo on April 8, 2008. He added Ravi Karunanayake, a UNP MP who held a meeting with senior JVP leaders at his home as the main conspirator.

Piyasiri Wijenayake told BBC, the official vehicles of himself and Achala Suranga Jagoda another dissident JVP MP, forcefully removed by the group led by Jayanatha Wijesekara a JVP Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

 district MP.

The dissident Wimal Weerawansa group visited the most senior Buddhist monks of Asgiriya and Malwatte chapters on April 20, 2008 to get the blessings for their new political movement. Weerawansa again accused the UNP Kotte leader for the conspiracy against the JVP.

The breakaway group of ten JVP parliamentarians led by Wimal Weerawansa formed a new political party called Jathika Nidahas Peramuna
Jathika Nidahas Peramuna
The Jathika Nidahas Peramuna or National Freedom Front is a political party in Sri Lanka was formed by the ten JVP parliamentarians led by Wimal Weerawansa, the breakaway group of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP, started their political activities on May 14, 2008...

(JNP). Party activities began on May 14, 2008 the same day in 1965 Rohana Wijeweera formed the JVP and also the day the LTTE killed 146 pilgrims during the Anuradhapura massacre
Anuradhapura massacre
The Anuradhapura massacre occurred in Sri Lanka in 1985 and was carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This was the largest massacre of Sinhalese civilians by the LTTE to date; it was also the first major operation carried out by the LTTE outside a Tamil majority area.-Incident:The...

 at the Sri Maha Bodhi in 1985. The party leaders who addressed the inaugural ceremony at BMICH Colombo said, the new political party is an alternative to two main political parties UNP and SLFP but not for the JVP. On 2008 December Jathika Nidahas Peramuna joined the government. They claimed that the government should be supported in this moment as it is successfully fighting LTTE in the North. Then onward JNP sat with the government in parliament. JVP commenting on this issue blamed the government that though the LTTE problem is a critical issue it is not the only issue faced by the country and as the government mishandles many other problems. They further alleged that the rival members joined government on personal gain.

Further reading

  • SRI LANKA - A LOST REVOLUTION? The Inside Story of the JVP by Rohan Gunaratna
    Rohan Gunaratna
    Rohan Gunaratna is an international terrorism expert. He is the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research ] at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore...

  • Insurgency – 1971 : An Account of the April Insurrection in Sri Lanka by Justice A.C. Alles
    A.C. Alles
    Hon. Justice Anthony Christopher Alles or A.C. Alles was a former Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and also a non-fiction writer.-Early life:...

  • Sri Lanka, the years of terror : The J.V.P. insurrection, 1987-1989 by C.A. Chandraprema
  • Rebellion, Repression and the Struggle for Justice in Sri Lanka : The Lionel Bopage Story by Michael Colin Cooke

Notable leaders

  • Rohana Wijeweera
    Rohana Wijeweera
    Patabendi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera or Rohana Wijeweera was a Sri Lankan Marxist politician and the founding leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna...

     (Founder)
  • Sanath Borluketiya
  • W.T. Karunaratne
  • Loku Athula
  • Lionel Bopage
  • Sarath Wijesinghe
    Sarath Wijesinghe
    Senator Sarath Wijesinghe was a Sri Lankan politician and businessmen. He was Cabinet Minister of Nationalised Services of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike Government and was a member of the Senate of Ceylon from 1956 to 1965....

  • Victor Ivan
    Victor Ivan
    Majuwana Kankanamage Victor Ivan is a controversial but well regarded Sri Lankan journalist. He was a leader of the 1971 insurrection of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and used the nomme-de-guerre Podi Athula Majuwana Kankanamage Victor Ivan is a controversial but well regarded Sri Lankan...

  • Sunanda Deshapriya
  • Jayadeva Uyangoda
    Jayadeva Uyangoda
    Jayadeva Uyangoda is a prominent political scientist and constitutional expert in Sri Lanka.As a leftist student leader and a member of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna movement in the 70s, he was arrested and imprisoned by the government. After the change of regime he went on do his doctoral research...

  • Upatissa Gamanayake
    Upatissa Gamanayake
    Don Upatissa Gamanayake alias Dias Mudalali was the deputy leader of the Jantha Vimukthi Peramuna during the 1987-89 insurrection. Not a prominent figure during the JVP’s 1971 insurrection, Gamanayake emerged as a leader only after the releasing of the JVP detainees in 1977...

  • D.M. Ananda
    D.M. Ananda
    Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Nandasena alias D.M. Ananda alias Amal Mahattaya was a senior leader and a politburo member of the Jantha Vimukthi Peramuna during the 1987-89 insurrection. A hard working man, D.M. Ananda had slaved indefatigably to build up the movement. He was captured and killed by...

  • Saman Piyasiri Fernando
    Saman Piyasiri Fernando
    Saman Piyasiri Fernando aka Keerthi Vijayabahu , was the military wing leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna during the 1987-89 insurrection in Sri Lanka, the JVP's military wing also known as Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya...

  • H.B. Herath
  • Shantha Bandara
    Shantha Bandara
    Shantha Bandara alias Mahanama was the first convenor of the Inter University Students' Federation and a key leader of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a Marxist-Leninist political party in Sri Lanka...

  • Somawansa Amarasinghe (Current Leader)
  • Tilvin Silva
  • Nandana Gunatilake
  • Wimal Weerawansa
    Wimal Weerawansa
    Wimal Weerawansa is the leader of the political party Jathika Nidahas Peramuna . He was entered into politics through the JVP during the 1980s and rocketed to the position of Propaganda secretary...


See also

  • 1987–89 JVP Insurrection
  • 1971 JVP Insurrection
  • List of assassinations of the Second JVP Insurrection
  • 1987 grenade attack in the Sri Lankan Parliament
    1987 grenade attack in the Sri Lankan Parliament
    The 1987 grenade attack in the Sri Lankan Parliament took place on August 18, 1987, when an assailant hurled 2 grenades into a room where government Members of Parliament were meeting. The grenades bounced off the table at which Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayawardene and Prime Minister Ranasinghe...

  • General Sarath Fonseka
    Sarath Fonseka
    Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, known as Sarath Fonseka is a former commander and General of the Sri Lanka Army and a former candidate for President of Sri Lanka. As Commander of the Army, he played an instrumental role in ending the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, defeating the...

  • Inter University Students' Federation
    Inter University Students' Federation
    Inter University Students' Federation aka anthare is a students' union affiliated to Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna , a Marxist-Leninist political party in Sri Lanka.-Overview:...

  • Assassination of Daya Pathirana
    Assassination of Daya Pathirana
    The assassination of Daya Pathirana took place on 15 December 1986. Daya Pathirana was the leader of the Independent Students Union of University of Colombo during 1985-1986. Pro-Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Inter University Students' Federation students are accused of his murder...


External links