24 June, 2024

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Historic Crimes Of The Chauvinistic Left: Horror Of Indian Military & JVP 

By TU Senan –

TU Senan

Following Thileepan’s death, the LTTE launched an attack on the IPKF. In response, the powerful Indian military retaliated with Operation Pawan, aiming to eradicate the LTTE and assert full control over the north. The horrors unleashed by the Indian military in the north were unprecedented. Instances of brutal murders, sexual violence, and torture became rampant. Young women were subjected to heinous acts of violence, and arbitrary arrests and beatings were commonplace. Some women are subjected to cruel violence. There were incidents of women stripped naked and shot in their genitals. Others were subjected to their breasts and lips cut open with knives and left to bleed and die. Arrested young men were told to run, then the army opened fire at them. Many houses and shops were burned down. Numerous arrests were made. The majority of those arrested experienced severe beatings and cruel torture. This continued throughout the presence of the IPKF in the North and East. Beating up anyone who dared to even disobey them became a norm.

The IPKF also used other militant organizations as paramilitary units to maintain control. As they did not have enough youth involved in these paramilitary militant groups, they formed a new group called Tamil National Army (TNA) and forcibly recruited young children as young as 12. Revenge attacks and sexual violence perpetrated by these groups, under the guise of collaboration with the Indian military, further exacerbated the suffering.

Amidst this turmoil, the first provincial election was held, but it was marred by irregularities and lack of genuine representation. The EPRLF stood in the election but received no votes in northern districts. All 19 members who were ‘elected’ from the North were declared to have won ‘uncontested’ to avoid embarrassment. The JVP in the south, on the other hand, threatened violence against anyone participating in the provincial election, demonstrating their commitment to their chauvinist propaganda. They had no forces in the North. However, explaining the details of what is going on in the North did not serve their propaganda purpose. They stuck to their chauvinist propaganda about how Tamils supported India and their military presence in Sri Lanka was to divide the country for Tamils. Their patriotic position, in essence, was a Sinhala-nationalist position – leading them to create a corporation with a section of the elite and military. All those seen as non-patriotic were named as traitors and marked for killing.

After being expelled from the CWI, Bahu formed an electoral alliance with the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya (SLMP), branding it as a workers’ party. The SLMP, at that time, portrayed itself as ‘left-wing’ and had a populist programme. Its leader, Vijaya Kumaratunga was a former member of firstly the LSSP and then the SLFP, a prominent actor, and husband of Chandrika, who is the daughter of the founder of the SLFP, C.W.R.D. Bandaranaike.

In 1986, Vijaya Kumaratunga visited LTTE-controlled areas in the North and met with key leaders—a bold move that no other politician was willing to make at the time. Chandrika, residing in London, also engaged with several militants, including LTTE representatives in London, as well as holding discussions with the CWI about forming a potential united front. Bob Labi, from the CWI’s International Secretariat, met Chandrika in London to explore solidarity work.

During this period, there was the potential for united front collaboration to advance workers’ programmes and work towards a political solution for Tamils, but the focus shifted towards forging an electoral coalition. This coalition also included the Communist Party and the now-defunct LSSP.

Vijaya Kumaratunga’s position in relation to a negotiated settlement of Tamils’ demands was vehemently opposed by sections of Sinhala nationalists in the south, including the JVP. Vijaya Kumaranatunga was shot and killed by an armed JVP group in February 1988. Bahu almost faced a similar fate when he was targeted by the same JVP armed group during an election rally near Colombo, narrowly escaping death despite suffering a neck wound. In response, a faction of the NSSP began to arm itself. While the source of their limited arsenal remains ambiguous, speculation suggests it was provided by the Sri Lankan government. Despite claims of self-defence, these weapons were also turned against left activists who opposed the NSSP leadership. Shots were once fired ‘accidentally’ at the NSSP office in Colombo, narrowly missing Siritunga Jayasuriya (Siri), a co-founder of the party. the who had been excluded from the NSSP for siding with the CWI leadership and voting at the IEC (CWI) in Belgium to threaten the NSSP with expulsion from the International if it did not end its support for the Indian intervention. That IEC meeting which debated Sri Lanka situation took place in January 1988. Later at the fifth World Congress of the CWI held in December 1988, the NSSP was given a deadline to change course and, if it didn’t, the CWI would regard the party as being outside of the CWI, an outcome which was confirmed at the July 1989 IEC meeting. Later, with the support of CWI, Siri established the United Socialist Party (USP).

As a backdrop to these events, the 1988 presidential election unfolded. Both main capitalist parties, the SLFP and the UNP, pledged to annul the Indo-Lanka accord. R. Premadasa clinched the presidency by promising to expel the Indian army. However, no elections were conducted in the North or even the East, as most of the North was under the control of the IPKF at that time. Premadasa struck a clandestine deal with the LTTE to cooperate against the IPKF. Even before the presidential election, the Sri Lankan military provided support to the LTTE, which later became official after Premadasa’s victory. The Sri Lankan government commenced supplying weapons and aid to the LTTE to combat the IPKF. As part of this agreement, many LTTE members were permitted to operate freely in the south. Youth who faced threats from the IPKF and EPRLF in the North were also allowed to escape to the south through various routes, including the military controlled Palali airport.

With assistance from relatives and others, a number of youths found their way to Palali airport. Upon arrival, they were taken into the custody of the military and transported in cargo planes to Colombo. However, the military treated them all as LTTE members, subjecting them to a harrowing experience. Positioned near the powerful engines of the cargo planes, they endured deafening levels of noise, leaving many unable to walk or function upon arrival. It took several days for some to recover, while others never fully regained their hearing.

This event served as a stark lesson for a generation of northern youth, instilling a deep-seated distrust in authorities bearing promises and gifts. It was during the late eighties that the northern population experienced such widespread human suffering for the first time. Of course it is no comparison to the suffering that took place in 2009. The suffering endured by the northern population in 2009, particularly during the so-called ‘end of the war’, was unprecedented in Sri Lanka’s history. More than ten percent of the northern population was wiped out in a matter of months. But this earlier horror of the Indian military left behind a huge scar.

At a very young age, without a full grasp of the scale of war or the political complexities of the time, I, like many others, was drawn towards so-called ‘radicalism.’ At that time, clarity of thought and organized platforms were lacking among Tamils. Most former leftists had either joined the LTTE or fled the North in fear of it, leaving a void of coherent ideology.

However, within the NSSP, a process began, facilitated by the intervention of the international organization they were then affiliated with, the CWI. While all capitalist parties focused on manoeuvring against the Indian government and propagating Sinhala chauvinism, so-called ‘Marxist’ parties such as the JVP, LSSP, and CP moved even further away from revolutionary ideals to champion outright Sinhala nationalism. As Kumar Gunaratnam, a prominent JVP leader who later split to form the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), aptly put it, they “dropped the red flag and raised the national flag of Sri Lanka”. This surge of Sri Lankan nationalism permeated all political parties, including Tamil ones, and even sections of the LTTE, where defending Sri Lanka was deemed strategically vital – a justification for full collaboration with the Sri Lankan state.

The NSSP, too, was not immune to this trend. However, it did not immediately succumb to Sinhala nationalism. Instead, a crisis erupted within the party. The NSSP managed to resist nationalist influences to some extent because it was the sole party exposed to genuine international developments. Nearly all Trotskyist internationals had some presence in Sri Lanka during that period. Most either collaborated with the LSSP or comprised a handful of individuals working independently, many of whom had to operate clandestinely for their safety. The prospect of sacrificing oneself for an ideology was very real at that time.

Initially, the NSSP emerged as a significant force opposing the nationalists. However, this stance was short-lived as the party itself descended into crisis. Intense debates ensued among leaders and members regarding the correct stance on the national question, the appropriate slogans to champion, the left’s strategic approach, and more. While there was an objective necessity for such discussions to occur within the broader left, including the leadership of all militant organizations, the reality was starkly different, primarily due to the nature of these organizations’ leaders.

Discussions within leftist circles at the time largely revolved around either endorsing the JVP or denouncing them as terrorists—regardless, no one strayed from their entrenched ‘patriotic’ stance. Sadly, few possessed a comprehensive understanding of international developments or a solid grasp of Marxist theory. Consequently, Marxism was swiftly abandoned, persisting only in rhetoric.

Understanding the significance of being part of an international Marxist organization is paramount. Without a robust organic connection to the struggles of the working class, both regionally and globally, every Marxist organization risks succumbing to nationalist tendencies. The Fourth International (USFI – United Secretariat of the Fourth International) during that era operated as a quasi-federal body, accommodating affiliates with diametrically opposing views, even on national questions. While this arrangement might seem functional in abstract scenarios where affiliates aren’t directly engaged in particular struggles, situations like those in Sri Lanka during this period demonstrate its limitations. When confronted with sharp circumstances demanding decisive positions, organizing together Indian nationalists and Sinhala nationalists becomes untenable. Developing a farsighted class position becomes imperative for the survival of any international organization.

Although the USFI formally expelled the LSSP in 1964 due to its class-collaborative coalitionism, its only remaining connection was with former LSSP members. Support for the USFI eventually waned in South Asia. Stalinist organizations like the communist parties in India lacked a history of genuine international engagement. Their understanding of internationalism typically amounted to national organizations convening, devoid of substantive debate or efforts to connect with workers’ struggles in other countries. Communist parties in India aligned with their bourgeois counterparts and made no attempts to foster solidarity with workers in Sri Lanka. Presently, their involvement has regressed to providing speakers for party events in other countries as mere ‘stage decoration,’ lacking political or programmatic substance.

A small faction within the NSSP courageously championed the Marxist position despite facing potential threats to their lives. The collective leadership of the Committee for a Workers’ International played a pivotal role in this period. Without exaggeration, this group of Marxists hoisted the banner of Marxism throughout the country, steadfastly advocating clear positions on various issues, including the necessary tactics to advance working-class interests and alleviate the suffering of the oppressed.

However, this was a marginalized debate, inaccessible to the broader working class or Tamil youth. Although all left parties counted Tamil members among their ranks at the time, none wielded significant influence. A Maoist organisation that had some influence by now had abandoned serious work, with several of its notable members joining the LTTE. Even its exiled leader, N. Shanmugathasan, underwent a complete ideological shift, endorsing the LTTE’s fight against the IPKF, not out of adherence to Mao’s ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’ doctrine, but rather due to his belief that ‘the main enemy is India.’ It is also worth mentioning here that Rohana Wijeweera, who founded the JVP, started his political journey as a youth leader of the Maoist party that Shanmugathasan was leading. He allegedly left after a disagreement about the allocation of resources for printing a Tamil leaflet.

Thus, it came as a personal revelation to me when I learned about the debates within the CWI two decades later. Although I wasn’t affiliated with any organization at the time, I had come to appreciate the imperative of ideological clarity needed, especially concerning caste and national questions, and was actively seeking out those who had them.

*To be continued..

Part1 – Did the Sri Lankan military aid Tamil youth in escaping from Indian troops?

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Latest comments

  • 13
    11

    Even now this racist chauvinistic policy aided and abetted by Hindia is still continuing. In paper Thamizh is an official language in par with Chingkallam and in the north were 98% speak Thamizh as their mother tongue and in the east where 79% speak Thamizh as their mother tongue, Thamizh should take precedence over Chingkallam, as this is the ancient homeland of the Eezham Thamizh nation. However, even here letters sent to government departments in Thamizh get a reply only in Chingkallam not even a Thamizh translation and all business are conducted by Chingkalla public servants, racist Chingkalla police and occupying armed forces only Chingkallam and if you try to use Thamizh you are ridiculed. Imagine what will happen in Hindia if some poor Thamizh or Telugu is forced to conduct their business in Thamizh Nadu, Andhra or Telangana not in Thamizh or Telugu but in Hindi only. There will be riots and public outcry. The TNA and other Thamizh and Muslim representatives, just sits there and does not do anything, just feathering their nests in Colombo. The tragic story of the island’s Thamizh. Cleverly divided by the Chingkalla state into three main groups.

    • 2
      6

      Panty Kutti, most fascist Tamils live abroad like yourself. There are very few in Sri Lanka, they have a hard enough time making a living with their poor Sinhala brethren to read your racist rants. What does the Punjabi think of all this, does he support Khalistan? Or is he a figment of your fevered imagination?

      • 2
        0

        The Punjabi is very well. No, he does not support Khalistan and is not bothered by it, even if he is nominally a Sikh. He was born in the UK and is half English. He is not a figment of my imagination but real. How is your Viking Sukkar Papa? Hope you are herding his reindeer, otherwise you will feel the wrath of his huge Viking Rod on your skinny Chingkalla Beach boy back, but I suppose you are used to it, this is why you come here in feverish pain and howl and be nasty.

      • 2
        0

        That is right as it is the policy of the racist Chingkalla Sri Lankan state and the Chingkalla armed forces occupying THamizh areas to keep the local Thamizh population in poverty and starvation level denying them any form of meaning livelihood, by stealing their homes, lands and farms. fishing and importing outside Chingkallams to all these jobs and even government jobs. Also deliberately flooding the north and east with alcohol and narcotics, so that the next generation of Thamizh youth will be good for nothing, alcoholics/drug users or both even better. So where do these people have time to think of their human rights or anything, other than their basic survival? Because any form of development is denied to the north and east and if there is any development the beneficiaries are not the local Thamizh but outside Chingkallams. Now even the TRO that was collecting funds to help develop and uplift the Thamizh North and east has been deliberately banned and called terrorist, and their assets and funds frozen, by a racist Chingkalla extremist, who is accused of war crimes by the UN and banned to enter many western nations, due to his war criminal terrorist activities.

  • 13
    11

    Even now this racist chauvinistic policy aided and abetted by Hindia is still continuing. In paper Thamizh is an official language in par with Chingkallam and in the north were 98% speak Thamizh as their mother tongue and in the east where 79% speak Thamizh as their mother tongue, Thamizh should take precedence over Chingkallam, as this is the ancient homeland of the Eezham Thamizh nation. However, even here letters sent to government departments in Thamizh get a reply only in Chingkallam not even a Thamizh translation and all business are conducted by Chingkalla public servants, racist Chingkalla police and occupying armed forces only Chingkallam and if you try to use Thamizh you are ridiculed. Imagine what will happen in Hindia if some poor Thamizh or Telugu is forced to conduct their business in Thamizh Nadu, Andhra or Telangana not in Thamizh or Telugu but in Hindi only. There will be riots and public outcry. The TNA and other Thamizh and Muslim representatives, just sits there and does not do anything, just feathering their nests in Colombo.

    • 2
      0

      Ironic a war criminal terrorist deliberately banning a Thamizh refugee organization, one of the few that helps the poor Thamizh in the north and east as they do not the Thamizh to be helped but wallow in poverty and be damned. No wonder you are so nasty and suffering in the west. Funny this racist evil state that had deliberately reduced the once prosperous Eezham Thamizh population to poverty and drug abused, with the aim of destroying them has also bankrupted the nation due to these racists polices and thieving on a large scale using Chingkalla Buddhism as a tool, as also now reduced most of the island’s Chingkallams also to poverty and alcohol and drug abuse. You reap what you sow. Good as most of these Chingkallams were very happy over what was happening to the island’s Thamizh and even voted en masse for genocidal racist war criminals and never thought what the evil they created for the Thamizh will also come to visit them. You sit and gloat in the west about the plight of the island’s Thamizh that many of your own people are now suffering due your racism and thieving looting habits.

  • 6
    6

    Not to dismiss the wrongdoings of the JVP, but you see the influence the UNP propaganda machine has had in shaping people’s perception of them when you read articles like these. The SLFP led camp is great at racist propaganda; the UNP outdoes them when it comes to bashing political opponents, likely because the urban UNP support base can’t bring themselves to acknowledge they’re just as flawed as the more rural blue/kurahan camp.

  • 10
    7

    A very interesting read …….. didn’t know much of these.

    • 0
      3

      Dear nimal,
      .
      PART ONE

      .
      I’m not spending more than another five minutes on the web. I made a comment here, about 90 minutes ago.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/postponing-elections-are-there-limits-to-popular-sovereignty/
      .
      It hasn’t appeared yet.
      .
      But look at these strange stories:
      .
      https://www.dailymirror.lk/print/front-page/Foreign-train-passenger-dies-after-hitting-tunnel-wall/238-284045
      .
      The headline is all right – and I feared that this sort of thing could happen, going on what I have seen myself when travelling by train – but read on!
      .
      The article seems to be saying that the tunnel suddenly took the initiative, darted out to hit the “foreigner” – man or woman? And doesn’t such person belong to some country?
      .
      And this:
      .
      https://www.dailymirror.lk/print
      .
      I have no doubt that the floods will take a day, or even two to subside, but for now, most of the rain seems to be over:
      .
      https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/14-days/bandarawela_sri-lanka_1250308
      .
      I must go into Bandarawela town and check. We’ve not been having rainfall that is all that heavy. But all schools in the country were asked to close yesterday, Monday. I have telephoned STC Gurutalawa both yesterday and today – working on both days.

    • 0
      3

      PART TWO
      .
      There is another STC school, in Bandarawela, of course. I haven’t checked with them yet.
      .
      Warning: meteoblue rainfall figures you will see are not what I’m now seeing. Figures are revised every hour, and I’ve been putting places like Maharagama and Jaffna into “Location Search”
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of 51B, Golf Links Road, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

    • 6
      1

      “A very interesting read …….. didn’t know much of these.”


      My comment was mainly about what the Tamils had to go through during the IPKF.

      • 4
        2

        nimal,
        India took advantage of our suffering, only to abandon us at their convenience, later
        .
        Prabhakaran was so mad that India humiliated him, he lost focus on his mission to liberate us, and reacted irrationally.
        I neither forgive him, nor India.

  • 4
    3

    It is interesting to read but should be treated as IRREVELENT at this present juncture. There are lessons to learn from the past BUT NOW we should take our FULL attention on getting RID of the Mafia Gang from power democratically. People should demand the Presidential election to be held in September/October 2024. It is very important for the Media, Judiciary and Defence officials to be vigilant and SAFEGUARD the democracy.

  • 2
    3

    “A very interesting read …….. didn’t know much of these.” Nimal Frnando”
    The insurmountable problem Tamils are facing is hypocrisy of theirvery own, leaders like Mr. Sumanthiran; are very much like their Southern brethren of the Sinhalese South, only interested in lining up their pockets.

    • 7
      0

      What is the basis of the claim that “leaders like Mr. Sumanthiran; are very much like their Southern brethren of the Sinhalese South, only interested in lining up their pockets.”
      I am no admirer of Sumanthiran, but is there evidence of such misconduct by him?

  • 4
    0

    “Amidst this turmoil, the first provincial election was held, but it was marred by irregularities and lack of genuine representation. The EPRLF stood in the election but received no votes in northern districts. All 19 members who were ‘elected’ from the North were declared to have won ‘uncontested’ to avoid embarrassment. “
    Let us get something clear: If there were no other candidates (as a result of intimidation I guess) how could there have been voting, and how can any candidate receive a vote?
    One should be factual in these matters before going on to make sensational declarations.
    The LTTE had intimidated the Tamil parties and only those who had IPKF protection dared to contest.
    In the parliamentary election that followed the LTTE order to boycott backfired and the EPDP ended up with 9 seats amid very poor polling.

  • 2
    0

    “potential for united front collaboration to advance workers’ programmes and work towards a political solution for Tamils, but the focus shifted towards forging an electoral coalition.”
    The only time that there was a chance of it happening was in 1963, not through the ULF but the solidarity around the 21 demands of the trade unions. The LSSP screwed it up in style by joining the SLFP government with NM Perera as Minister of Finance.
    *
    “Bahu almost faced a similar fate when he was targeted by the same JVP armed group during an election rally near Colombo, narrowly escaping death despite suffering a neck wound. “
    Kindly check the location of the wound.
    He underwent prolonged treatment I know.
    *
    “As Kumar Gunaratnam,… aptly put it, they “dropped the red flag and raised the national flag of Sri Lanka”.
    Have you checked KG’s stand on devolution and the recognition of Tamil speaking nationalities? The FLSP still has some JVP hangovers it has to work on.

  • 2
    0

    “Nearly all Trotskyist internationals had some presence in Sri Lanka during that period. Most either collaborated with the LSSP or comprised a handful of individuals working independently”
    Did they work with the LSSP?
    Could you kindly name a few of the (few dozen?) 4th or even the 4.5th and 5th Internationals?
    *
    If after 1978 any ‘International’ with a claim to left credentials took the LSSP seriously, some thing is seriously wrong with its reasoning.

  • 2
    0

    “Discussions within leftist circles at the time…no one strayed from their entrenched ‘patriotic’ stance.”
    The circles seem like ones drawn by the author himself.

  • 2
    0

    “R. Premadasa clinched the presidency by promising to expel the Indian army. However, no elections were conducted in the North or even the East, as most of the North was under the control of the IPKF at that time.”
    Nonsense.
    The main candidates were RP, Sirimavo B. and Ossie Abeygunasekera playing the spoiler (to wreck Mrs B).
    The serious boycott was the JVP imposed one in the South with Matara and Hsmbantota districts polling 20%.
    Despite LTTE bullying and even life threats, some ‘Maoist’ leaders and Kumar Ponnambalam dared to campaign for Mrs B. Jaffna polled nearly 45% and Vanni close to 34%. The low vote in the North was the handiwork of the LTTE— not the IPKF in any way, as it had minimal political say.
    The author has to fact check before making extravagant claims.

    • 3
      0

      SJ,
      The author was about 14 years old at the time. He could hardly have had any significant personal knowledge about what was happening at the time. Apparently he has picked up all this stuff from other teenagers.

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