17 July, 2019

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Black July: The Testimony Of Lionel Bopage, Then General Secretary Of The JVP

By Rajan Hoole –

Rajan Hoole

Sri Lanka’s Black July – Part 6 –

In the morning of 25th July he was near Angoda at their press, proof reading their journal. A crowd coming from Colombo advised people to close up and go home. Bopage drove home to Kelaniya, passing through Colombo. In Kelaniya cars were being stopped on the road opposite the Tyre Corporation and vehicles carrying Tamils were being burnt with their occupants. (Sources from Kelaniya University told us that one Omar, a well-known thug of Cyril Mathew’s, was responsible for killing a Tamil doctor and burning him along with his vehicle.) The thugs wanted to remove some petrol from his car. Someone recognised him and waved him off. He then got into the road to go to his home in Mawarandiya. A Ceylon Transport Board breakdown truck came towards him with 25 to 30 passengers wielding clubs and long knives.

About five of them got down and asked if he were a Tamil. He got down and shouted, “Are you fellows mad?” They went off. This and his experience over the next few days and testimony from JVP officers elsewhere convinced him that the State was the main party to the violence. Following the ban on the JVP he was detained and taken to the CID Building. The reasons for the arrest of JVP-office bearers, Bopage said, was ‘complicated.’ The house of a Tamil DIG, Vamadevan, was burnt during the riots and he had accused the JVP of burning his house. Vamadevan had earlier made a report that the JVP was re-arming, and this had been referred to on JVP platforms. Bopage felt that this was only a pretext. The real target he believed was the election petition against the 1982 Referendum filed by Wijeweera, which had a strong chance of succeeding, since these same charges were later confirmed in the Election Commissioner’s report.

At the CID building, ASP Chandra Jayawardena was one of the officers interrogating them. In his statement to the CID, Bopage denied any JVP involvement, and charged that according to reports from their officials sent to the Party, Prime Minister Premadasa was behind the violence in Pettah, the violence in Nuwara Eliya had started only after Gamini Dissanayake arrived on the scene and that Cyril Mathew was involved in a big way. He challenged the CID to bring in these three ministers and question them. The CID, he said, did not contradict what he said, but as far as he knew, these ministers were never questioned. He asked the CID if they had apprehended one member of the JVP who was involved in the violence. They replied that one looter caught in Mount Lavinia admitted to being a JVP supporter.

Tyrell Gunatilleke, SSP (Special Investigations), CID, Bopage said, had within two weeks cleared the JVP of any involvement in the disturbances. But they were not released. One day Bopage was called to the office of SSP Rajapakse, Director, CID, who delivered a long harangue against the Tamils. Then he suddenly came out with an invitation to Bopage to join the UNP and added, “Orders from the top”. This he firmly declined. The invitation was repeated by Athulathmudali in 1985 after he, Bopage, had left the JVP over differences pertaining to the ethnic question, and was detained again on suspicion. He refused again.

Wijeweera’s petition which was dismissed by the District Court then went to the Court of Appeal where the lawyer Prins Gunasekera appeared for Wijeweera. The Bench comprising Justices B.E. de Silva and T.D.G. Alwis in their judgement on 4th December 1984 upheld the contention of the Solicitor General K.M.M.B. Kulatunga, that none of the grounds of the application was valid, since the District Judge had dismissed Wijeweera’s action on the grounds that he had not answered the interrogatories.

Part one – Sri Lanka’s Black July: Borella, 24th Evening

Part two – Sri Lanka’s Black July: What Really Happened At Kanatte?

Part three – Black July: ‘Api Suddha Kara’ – JR’s Failure To Declare Curfew

Part four – Sri Lanka’s Black July: The Cover Up

Part five –  30th July 1983: The Second Naxalite Plot

*From Chapter 9 of  Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power  – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To be continued tomorrow ..

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Latest comments

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    The JVP? These communists are no better. They advocate for violent revolution. And, they have no faith at all. You have to surrender your individuality to live under these communists because individuality conflicts with the state. Anyone who follows the JVP should go to North Korea to see what the ideal JVP state looks like…

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      Mr.Wyatt K!
      Have you been to North Korea?
      AS Marxists are humans they too make mistakes.But remember your good capitalists are more violent than Marxists.Who dropped the atomic bomb onto Japanese?Who killed 50 million Jews during the second world war?Communists or capitalists?
      Marxists have not fattened their bank accounts through state power.Lenin Stalin,Khrushchev, Mao Zedong ,Fidel Castro,or Sri Lankan Marxists have not amassed wealth.Their sole aim was to serve the poor though some of them have made mistakes.When resources are limited and mouths are unlimited is there any other solution other than banning of ownership of resources by individuals?

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        I don’t need to go to North Korea to know that it is a dictatorship based on a cult of personality which operates six camps for political prisoners. Despite having a starved country, Kim Jon Il was the biggest single buyer of Hennessy Cognac in the world. As to dropping the atomic bomb, it probably saved more Japanese lives than it killed. The Japanese were arming women and children to fight a last battle on their mainland. In fact, less people died in the atomic bomb blasts in Japan than died in the bombings of Dresden with conventional bombs. As to the killing of Jews, I would agree that this was done by Hitler who was actually motivated by Marxist propaganda such as the Protocols of Zion. Hitler’s Nazis were socialists. You argue that Marxists have not fattened their accounts? Yet, Kim Jong Il enjoyed a substantial lifestyle in North Korea while his nation starved. Castro lives in an exclusive hacienda. In Fact, in North Korea, party leaders lead a life that would be foreign to most. The aim of the Marxists is not to serve the poor. The poor are not served when their individuality is surrendered for a merge state ration. No wealth has been created in communist nations. Even China departed from pure communist doctrines after its experiences under Mao. They only succeeded by adopting capitalist policies. Every communist country has not been able to provide much in the way of necessities let alone creating wealth.

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          I know that America pays those who continue writing against socialism.And also for those who justify its crimes against humanity.

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            No country on Earth has done more to advance democracy and freedom than the United States. And, I would also add no other country has given away more charity on Earth than the United States. Also, I notice that your communist countries make so few contributions in advancements in art and that is because communism takes away all individual initiative. It crushes the individual because a strong independent individual is regarded as a threat. Even in China, where they have adopted a capitalist model of economics, the communist system ensures that there people cannot even go on Facebook because they have to be on their own social networking site that is monitored by the government. Communist countries do not want their own people to see the outside world and get its news. They don’t trust their own people. And, you support that type of system? Any one who supports such a system hates themselves because how can you love yourself and advocate for a system that crushes individuality.

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    “Tamils were killed”. who are they? Any records? Names? nothing.. then what is this?

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      ah its all fiction mate just like your name ;-)

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    How many were killed by Bopage and his JVP goons. That does not justify the July ’83 . But Bopage is a good for nothing person living happily in a capitalist country.

  • 0
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    Who cares about Black July?

    Talk about Black August by Tamils against Sinhalese and Muslims in 1977 and 1990.

    There was no Black July. There only were 2 Black Augusts.

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