Category Archives: JVP

Discontent and Confrontational Violence in Sri Lanka, 1948-2009

Gerald Peiris, being Chapter 7 from his book Political Conflict in South Asia (2013, University of Peradeniya)  — a chapter based on his previous writings  [1]

 The survival of the principle of representative government based upon universal adult franchise since its introduction to the constitution more than eighty years ago while ‘Ceylon’ was still a colony of the British Empire is a feature often accorded prominence in scholarly discourses on the political history of Sri Lanka. Over the first three decades after independence (1948) the regularity of peaceful transfers of power from one regime to another, based upon the will of the people as expressed at national elections, was also widely acclaimed as a feature that made Sri Lanka unique among the emergent nation-states of the post-colonial era. The radiance of that achievement has, of course, dimmed considerably in the more recent past, due mainly to the violation of democratic norms in affairs of governance, and the intense rivalry that features the sub-national disputes which often find expression in confrontational violence.

1958-riots-22  Scenes in Colombo from 1958 riots after OEG led crackdown1958-getty

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Ranil and USA, 2001-06: Forerunner for USA and Ranil Today?

Reproduced below are the first three paragraphs of Jeffrey Lunstead’s “Introduction” within his “Executive Summary” in the official document The United States’ Role in Sri Lanka’s Peace Process, 2002-2006 (Asia Foundation, 2007). Its authors conceived of this survey as “A Supplementary Study to the Sri Lanka Strategic Conflict.” Lunstead himself was a career Foreign Service official from 1977-2006 who had been US Ambassador to Sri Lanka from August 2003 to July 2006 before moving to the position of Assistant Vice President of International Affairs at American University in Washington D. C. So, what one sees within these covers is a significant document.[1] Michael Roberts

LUNSTEAD Lunstead  Wickramasinghe Wickramasinghe

Executive Summary: The United States has been deeply involved in the current phase of the Sri Lanka peace process since it began in late 2001. This is in distinct contrast to U.S. engagement in earlier phases of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict since it erupted into armed conflict in 1983. While the U.S. was supportive of peacemaking efforts in the 1980s and 1990s, it played a relatively low-key role, deferring to India as the lead outside actor. With the end of the Cold War, U.S. interest in Sri Lanka waned. As recently as 2000, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was planning for significantly reduced development assistance levels. Continue reading

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Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary Elections = Vote for Continuing Change

UYANJayadeva Uyangoda, courtesy of The Hindu, 19 August 2015

There are two significant political consequences following Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections. First, the majority of voters have given a verdict in favour of completing the partial political change that began with the presidential election of January 8 this year. Secondly, and no less important, it has dashed the hopes of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to return to power as Prime Minister.

Parliament was dissolved on June 27 under some peculiar circumstances, although it could continue till April 2016. President Maithripala Sirisena and the coalition that backed him had promised during the election campaign to call fresh parliamentary elections after 100 days of assuming office. In any case, the new coalition was a minority government, with only about 65 members in the 225-member legislature. Regime stability required a parliamentary majority through fresh elections.

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Chandrika in Lively Q and A with Lakshman Gunasekara

Lakshman Gunasekara in Sunday Observer, 28 June 2015: “I am now an activist for my country  …[and] I’m ready to take to the streets [if the need arises]” says CBK

Celebrating her 70th birthday, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga reminisces about the past, and looks ahead to the future with a promise she will take to the streets to push through reforms: At 70 years age, she is still chubby-cheeked and grins mischievously or, scowls expressively as she recalls some politico’s annoying action. Press photographers loved her for her animated face that rendered her photogenic, like her equally famous mother.And it was by no means just photographers. Millions loved her while some either were disillusioned or even hated her – often because she did not live up to their expectations or ambitions or desires. After all, who wouldn’t glamorize her for her meteoric rise to political power and fame? ‘Meteoric’ because, after years in exile during the ‘terror’ of the second JVP insurgency and equally ferocious counter-insurgency, with her husband assassinated, she returned to re-build her mother’s party and successively defeat the government at provincial, parliamentary and, presidential levels. chandrika 33 At her husband’s funeral Continue reading

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The Poet Richard Murphy’s Account of Killings in the 1980s in Sri Lanka

Padraig Colman, Extracts from his Rambling Ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka,” at http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/richard-murphy-long-version/

MURPHY 2 ………. I was surprised to learn that Murphy spent a great deal of his childhood in Ceylon where his father, Sir William Lindsay Murphy was the last colonial Mayor of Colombo (and first Municipal Commissioner from 1937 to 1941). Richard was taken to Ceylon at the age of six weeks, having been born in a damp, decaying big house in the west of Ireland. The young Richard Murphy spent holidays in Diatalawa, which is not far from my home. After leaving Ceylon, Sir William succeeded the Duke of Windsor as Governor of the Bahamas. Continue reading

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The JVP Insurgency in the late 1980s and its Death Toll

Dharman Wickremaratne, in the Daily News, where the title is “JVP uprising II killed 396 undergrads, while 227 students disappeared”… http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/jvp-uprising-ii-killed-396-undergrads-while-227-students-disappeared

JVP-02 DJV Slogans calling for the death of President Jayewardene (“Let’s kill J.R.”) written on walls

The second JVP insurgency began in 1986. Two were killed on May 1, 1987 when the banned May Day was commemorated. The insurrection was baptized near the Bo Tree, Pettah on July 28, 1987. The first to die there was Moratuwa University Engineering student Clifford Perera. The writer saw him lying on the ground with fatal gunshot injuries. The two of us studied in the same school. A brilliant student in the engineering field he was drawn to the JVP by Sudath, a second year student of the Colombo University’s Medical Faculty. I remember in the same group were Hiranya, Asiri, and Godagampola among several others.

Clifford was dying. His last words were: “Motherland or death.” No one dared to rush to the spot because gunfire was heard from all directions. When I appealed to Pathegama Mathupala, the caretaker of the pro-JVP Samastha Lanka Trade Union Federation, he responded promptly. He carried Clifford with the help of another. The next moment a bullet struck Mathupala’s hand. As soon as our photographer Chandrasiri Weerasinghe took a photo of the scene, we left the place. Continue reading

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Behind the Scenes: The American Contribution to the Current Crisis in Sri Lanka

Rajiva Wijesinha** responding to an Editorial Request to comment on Daya Gamage: “The American Agenda for Sri Lanka’s National Issue,” …. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-american-agenda-for-sri-lankas-national-issues-1970s-2014/

The request to write an article on US Policy towards Sri Lanka in 2008/2009 came at a timely moment, for I had been reflecting in some anguish on the crisis that the Sri Lankan government is now facing. I believe that this crisis is of the government’s own creation, but at the same time I believe that its root causes lie in US policy towards us during the period noted.

Nishan de Mel of Verite Research, one of the organizations now favoured by the Americans to promote change, accused me recently of being too indulgent to the Sri Lankan government. I can understand his criticism, though there is a difference between understanding some phenomenon and seeking to justify it. My point is that, without understanding what is going on, the reasons for what a perceptive Indian journalist has described as the ‘collective feeling that the Sri Lankan State and Government are either unable or unwilling’ to protect Muslims from the current spate of attacks, we will not be able to find solutions. Continue reading

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