By Lionel Bopage –
When I left the JVP in February 1984 after submitting my letter of resignation, not a single issue raised therein had been taken up for critical discussion among the leaders or members. However, later came a lot of personal slander against me. During this time, a lot of falsification of history and personal slander had been used as weapons to destroy the political line I held. With time, the letter of resignation came into the public domain, and the JVP could not sustain its personal slander campaign in the longer term, but had to open up the ideological and practical issues, particularly related to the national question that I had raised in my letter. Still, the JVP did not reject the fact that I was part and parcel of the JVP until I tendered my resignation.
As was done in the Soviet era, certain previous writings, photographs and publications had been destroyed, suppressed or edited. In the latter part of the eighties, political opponents had been eliminated. For example, the JVP suppressed publications made in the latter part of the seventies and the early part of the eighties, such as, Comrade Rohana Wijeweera’s Avasthavadayada? Nirdhana Panthi Jathyantharavadayada? (Opportunism or Proletarian Internationalism?), Mine Jathika Gataluwa Gana Marxvadee Vigrahayak (A Marxist Analysis on The National Problem), JVP London Branch’s The Constitution of Sri Lanka and the National Question, the original songs of Vimukthi Gee (Songs of Liberation), the original photos of JVP rallies and marches etc.
The state led by President JR Jayewardena used Black July riots in July 1983 against Tamils as a pretext to ban the JVP. This drove the JVP underground and led to the subsequent episode of killings and reprisal killings by the armed wings and para militaries of the state and the JVP. The then UNP regime has been blamed for killing 60,000 youth during the 1988-89 insurgency, while the former leader of the JVP admitted nearly 6,000 people had been killed due to the JVP violence. The current leader of the JVP has apologised over these killings during the 1988-89 period.
In the latter part of the 1980s, the JVP claimed its first victim by assassinating a radical student activist Daya Pathirana, the leader of the Independent Students Union, University of Colombo. The next prominent progressive politician that the JVP assassinated was Vijaya Kumaratunga, the leader of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya (Sri Lanka People’s Party). Under the emergency regulations, alleging he was a Naxalite, Vijaya had been jailed even by then President JR Jayewardene. In this period, I had to leave Sri Lanka and live in exile, as death threats were proclaimed by both the state and the JVP.
Nevertheless, internal struggles within the JVP had come to a peak with the formation of the FSP. Obviously, this split was seen as based on political issues, the main one of which appears to be the JVP’s class collaboration politics. Only minor differences of opinion seem to exist regarding tactics used in dealing with the national question, I cannot see major policy differences between the two groups on this important issue. Yet, here again, the political culture of falsifying history and using personal slander had been revitalised with stories being planted against the erstwhile JVP leaders, and instigating physical assaults on them.
According to Kumar, he had not been in underground politics, but a member of the Politbureau of the JVP from 1994 to 2006. In 2011, he had come back at the request of his comrades, when the party internal crisis was brewing. However, at a press conference held on 9 April 2012 on the disappearances of Kumar and Dimuthu, the former leader of the JVP, Somawansa Amarasinghe had said that there was no one called Kumar Gunaratnam in the JVP. The current JVP leader had expressed similar views, to the effect that he was not aware of a member called Kumar Gunaratnam. However, on the same day, the former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told Independent Television Network that Kumar will be charged for his involvement in many crimes as a high-ranking subversive activist. It is also noted that in 2012, the JVP media unit had to be disbanded as many in the unit backed Kumar’s faction, giving lie to Somawansa’s contentions about the existence of Kumar and his faction.
This tendency to airbrush personages and parts of the history of the JVP has continued to the present day. In September 2015, the current JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake at a political talk show asserted that there never was a Kumar Gunaratnam in the JVP, he was not aware of an individual by that name engaged in JVP political activities even when he was participating in the activities of the JVP students’ union. Contradicting his former story about Kumar, the former leader of the JVP, Somawansa Amarasinghe, stated that Kumar was a leader of the JVP, but he had to reject acknowledging Kumar’s existence due to a decision of the party. In November 2015, at an interview to ‘Sathhanda’, former defence secretary said that he had abducted the FSP leader Kumar Gunaratnam in April 2012 at the request of JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Gotabaya alleged that Kumar was a threat to the JVP leadership and the JVP identified Kumar in photos, and also provided tip offs to trace his whereabouts that ultimately led to his abduction. Anura Kumara Dissanayake helped the then government’s defence ministry to find Kumar, he added.
According to this version of events, Anura wanted Gotabaya to arrest and deport Kumar back to Australia. In response to former Defence Secretary’s interview, the FSP asked the current leader of the JVP to explain his role in Kumar’s abduction and arrest in 2012. The JVP leader denied having provided information about Kumar’s hideout or his photographs to the former Rajapaksa regime for facilitating Kumar’s abduction. The JVP challenged Gotabhaya on this issue saying that he did not state this in 2012 when Kumar had been abducted. Whether the former Defence Secretary used this opportunity to ‘dig a pit’ for the JVP leadership, I am not sure. What is not in doubt is the fact that the state authorities had abducted Kumar, which they had not admitted openly until then.
 Wijeweera R. February 1978. Avasthavadayada? Nirdhana Panthi Jathyantharavadayada?, A Niyamuwa Publication, Shakthi Press, Colombo
 Bopage L. November 1977. A Marxist Analysis of the National Question. A Niyamuwa Publication, Shakthi Press, Colombo
 JVP London Branch 1979. The Constitution of Sri Lanka and the National Question. Ginipupura Publications, London