26 May, 2022


JVP’s Second Uprising And The Moral Breakdown Of The Society

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

The 13th of November (tomorrow) will be the 25th Death Anniversary of Rohana Wijeweera, the late leader of the JVP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuana (The Peoples Liberation Front). It is perhaps an appropriate moment to recall the cruelty and the violence engaged in by the JVP as well as of the government security forces in during the so called ‘second uprising’. I propose to do so through a short reflection on a poem which I wrote, of an actual incident that took place during this time.

The poem talks about a good man, who happened to be a lawyer, and whom I knew very well. I have only disguised his name but the rest of the details are photographically true.

The poem depicts not merely the utter senselessness and the unabridged nature of the cruelty which the JVP rank and file proved that they were capable of. They were in fact acting under the overall guidance of the JVP leadership including that of Rohana Wijeweera.



The JVP was molded on the ideological foundation created by Joseph Stalin and believed in the use of terror as a progressive instrument for change. What this meant was that intimidation and fear were necessary components  of success and all moral considerations should be abandoned in the pursuit of the objectives of the party.

The absurdity, to which such an ideology was lead to, became clearly manifested in over, literarily, thousands of incidents that took place throughout the country.

The security forces acted with even more cruelty and ferocity.

A sensitive citizen, such as my friend depicted in this poem, could see no purpose in adjusting to the social ethos created by this terror.

It was the government that took best advantage of this situation to achieve its own ends by creating conditions for suppression of each and every person, living at the time.

The impact, of this terror, still lives on.

How Gunadasa Died

Go, go, said he,
Laughing loud,
Smiling, his face radiating  happiness.
He was a villager from Baddegama.
Though lawyer with a subtle mind
Capable of making clever arguments,
He had a rural  soul
That had survived through centuries.
His name was Gunandasa Baddegama.

Yet one day
This man and his smile
Came to an end.

Having received a message
Of tragedy befalling
One of his brothers
Who walked
On a day the insurgents
Had declared a curfew.
He hurriedly left for his village.

When he went there,
What he saw
On the road,
Covered with a cloth –
A body cut into pieces.

It was a different man
That retuned.
Never was there a smile
On his face again,
Thinner he got each day.
His body shrunk
Like a lizard.
Some said “it’s   Cancer”
“ There’s no disease to be found,”
Said the doctors,
“There’s no medicine for this,
Except a miracle,”

Said a professor.
Thinner and thinner he wasted away,
In a final defiance against the inhumanity
He witnessed.

This poem was originally published in Sinhalese and it was translated by me into English.

*About the author: Basil Fernando, Director Policy and Programme Development, AHRC/ALRC

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Latest comments

  • 4

    Basil knows all about moral breakdowns.

  • 3

    I mean……. when people are told to start industrializing, and there are no other systems in place to rationalize the gross wealth accrued by so few a number, then will naturally come the inspired system of Communism (violent or otherwise- it is part of human actuality, so live with it….it won’t go away unless the 1% kills, tortures, lock-up the more disgruntled part of the 99%), to counterbalance such gross miscarriages of justice(viz. capitalism minus the structural-system appropriate to enhance capitalistic experience for the community on the whole e.g. appropriate taxation, and decent wages for workers).

    Likewise for Isis, in the current state of the world’s debauchery.

  • 0

    Yes I agree,

    “The impact, of this terror, still lives on.”

    Unfortunately concentrated and in the hands of the rulers.

    The cause for armed uprising is almost always due to vested interests; who by nature of their greed for wealth and power resort to misrule, state terror, plunder, suppression of expression and so forth. When a man is repeatedly beaten and when there is no end in sight he will rebel. Sri Lanka is well on its way to repeating the same.

    All evidence is that another blood bath is in the offing in this blood soaked thrice blessed land of Buddha.

  • 0

    The JVP just like the LTTE deserved to be destroyed . The Two head butchers Wejeweera and Praba deserved to be butchered.



  • 1

    The author showed his commitment to democracy and the rule of law in Sri Lanka when he left for pastures greener under the guise of being a victim of the UNP. Writing poems is not going to get the job done when people who have the courage to go out into the streets are dying.

  • 1

    Basil writes poems, and talks of the utter cruelty of the JVP, and yet he hob-nobs with Lionel Bopage and Father Emmanuel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Could it be that ex-Terrorists and terrorists are OK as long as they pay the NOGs that he is connected with?

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