20 May, 2019

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Veteran Sri Lankan Leftist Lionel Bopage On The National Question, Class And Revolution

Lionel Bopage, 68, has jailed twice and tortured for his roll as a former leader of a mass liberation movement in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, called the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front). He rose to the position of general secretary of the JVP but resigned from the group in 1984 over a number of differences, including his principled support for the right of national self-determination for the Tamil people. He was eventually forced into political exile together with his wife, Chitra. They now live in Melbourne, Australia, where they continue to be outspoken defenders of human rights and social justice.

Green Left Weekly asked Bopage to reflect on his political experiences in liberation struggle in Sri Lanka.

Read more in the Green Left Weekly

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    Along with JVP youth,many human rights lawyers too were arrested and killed during the second JVP insurrection. One of them Liyanarachi died after torture in two police stations.
    One police ASP arranged and exhibited a semicircle of about 21 heads of JVP militants,in front of his office.
    Both JVP insurrections were ferociously and brutally suppressed by army and police.
    These two mass murders were largely ignored by the international community.

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    What is the real justice , what has the JVP done to our country, do they do any good thing to our country, before blame any other ruling party ,JVP shoud get the blame, they are the ones who brainwashed innocent youg girls and boys and sent them to death, look at this guy now he is living in Australia still trying to spread the germs , what happened to the famillies of those young girls and boys who sacrificed their life for these idiots teory of social country, now this idiot is living in Australia with luxery life poor families still suffering in Sri lanka, [Edited out]

    Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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      thats very correct.
      If this man is a true leftist he should have gone to
      a socialist country for assylum. like his present leader somawansa these so called socialists end up seeking assulum in capitalist countries and live in NGO money talking human rights

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      not only that they never speak the word socialism the most hatred word in australia.
      listen to 2gb radio host allan jones and get allan jones to introduce this so called socilist and see where he ends up

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    Thanks to these Bopages thousands of our rural youth lost their lives.

    Even now the Bopage proteges want our rural poor youth to help them make our motherland another Cuba and live like Cubans.

    But Mr Bopage has settled in the comfy suburbs of Melbourne.

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      As Sumene indocted above, this Bopage should be ashamed of himself. This so-called liberator has done so much damage to our motherland. Thousands of young valuable lives were perished because of these so-called liberator goons. Now enjoying the joyeful life in one of the capitalist countires.

      The other libarating looser is Gunerathnam (aka Bomba Gunda). Another traitor of our motherland. They should be brought to the justice.

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      K.A. Sumanasekera:
      Typically and very conveniently, you choose to forget that it was those you serve now and their predecessors who helped the “misguided youth of the JVP” to do what they did and reap what they did. But then your memory is very selective as you seek to serve your paymasters.

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    I have read the comments of both readers Justice and Kris. What happened then (1988/89) was unfortunate. The late journalist Mervyn de Silva described the backlash of the armed forces (under Ranjan Wijeratne, mainly) “the Empire Strikes back” – using a Hollywood analogy of then.

    The JVP, that began on a racist and anti-Indian platform, went far beyond their acceptable level of seeking social justice. Wijeweera lost his equilibrium and thought the State had collapsed and history was his to make – the same mistake made in the North later. He began killing ordinary citizens for the minutest of reasons. He threatened the better organised and numerically larger army. The State hit back. Many citizens, like in the case of Pinochet’s Chile, sympathised with the State for saving the Nation. The JVP then was a lost cause and now almost irrelevant. It merely produced bogus political leaders – who went out to make illegal gains and amass wealth. The present lot will merely play a supporting role to the main parties and cannot be more than minor irritants to the main political structure.

    Bopage has later shed the party’s anti-Tamil stance in the
    liberal Australian political horizon where the Lankan Tamil community
    is well organised and enjoys the sympathy of the main political parties there. But, as they say, better later than never. The socialism he preaches is now outdated with Russia and China becoming part of the Capitalist world.

    Senguttuvan

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    It is wrong to make groundless allegations against Bopage as he left the JVP for good in 1983 or 1984 as his stand on National Question was rejected by chauvinistic Rohana Wijeweera and his acolytes.Thousands upon thousands of Sinhala and Tamil people got killed mainly due to the wrong policies of successive governments. A lot of Sri Lankans live abroad as they are hounded here. My complaint against Bopage is, he is doing little from Australia for a better Sri Lanka.We need a strong international organisation of Sri Lankan expatriates for justice and democracy in Sri Lanka. He has a role to play in forming such an organisation but it seems that he has not made any attempt towards it.

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    There are some important points both the JVP and FSP should clarify about their ideology.

    1. The idea that Parliamentary Democracy should be abolished as it is unsuitable and that instead, power should be handed over to the “oppressed”.

    Now who decides who the “oppressed” are? How are the leaders chosen? How are leaders changed if they are found to be unsuitable? How will they be replaced and by whom? How will these decisions be made if not through a regular ballot or referrandum? Will “democracy” under the JVP or FSP be anything like the “democracy” that functions in universities today, where decisions and student leaders are chosen not by the student body but by a closed cabal of FSP/JVP leaning students who are mostly politicians rather than students? In short, how can the JVP/FSP guarantee that the country will be governed according to the wishes of the people and not the whims of the JVP/FSP leadership should they diverge at some point? In short, what are the mechanisms in place to stop the JVP/FSP from usurping power on behalf of the “oppressed” and then imposing autocratic rule on the same.

    2. The policy that under no circumstances will there be power sharing for Tamil majority areas.

    The question is, how does the JVP square this with their desire to “hand power to the oppressed” if Tamils in those areas are overwhelmingly in favour of running their own affairs”? Do they not trust the Tamils enough to let them run their own affairs? Will they trust anyone other than a JVP/FSP apparatchik to hold any sort of power in the country? If not, how are they any different to the Rajapakse govt. in this respect?

    The JVP/FSP also voice a desire to change society from being a materialistic, cash chasing one to a co-operative, moral based one. This is fine as an ambition but how are they going to achieve it without prescribing to the people how they should live their lives? There are two examples in the recent past of regimes trying to achieve this in good faith and then going on to create a nightmare for the victims of those experiments. That was Mao’s cultural revolution and Pol Pot’s “year zero” solution of Cambodia. Anyone in China or Cambodia will attest to the catastrophic outcome to the people of those countries due to these policies. So whats to stop the JVP/FSP from visiting these misseries on us, given the similiraty of their ideology to Mao’s and Pol Pot’s?

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    Premalal,

    If Rohana wijeweera has rejected LB idea then the answer to that is not to leave the country and have luxry life in another country, what happen to to the girls and boys and their families ralied behind him in 1971 , he draged al those people to mysery and now he is having peace full life in Australia. if he is realy loved the country and people then should have stayed with those people in sri lanka

    All these JVP people are opertunistic people , they only belive in their outdated theories which are not happening in the real world if someone goes aginst their idea they attack them. that is what they did in 1988 as well. one of the JVP leader (Nandersiri) in Jayawardena pura university in 1988 gave all the JVP insider information to UNP to gain the financial benefits from Premadas govenment because of him hundereds of university students sacrificed their life. All these JVP people draged the SL economy and country back to many years

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      Hi Kris

      These JVP loosers are also responsible of killing Vijaya Kumaranatunge, the real human being with a golden heart. Not only that these idiots are also responsible for killing the best song writer ever to be norn in our motherland Premakrithi De Alwis.

      They wasted and dragged lives of uni students by 5 to 6 years in 1989s.

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    Strangely no comments by anyone on the Mass graves in Matale, and a guess
    is that these bodies came from Peradeniya Uni. Bopage who is also a
    journalist may be able to do some serious research as an obligation to
    his ideology?

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    There is no much difference between the JVP and the LTTE with regard to killings.The JVP killed their former comrades without an iota of mercy. it was Nandana Marasinghe who rebuilt the JVP after the failure of 1971 rebellion till Rohana Wijeweera , Bopage and other leaders were released from the prison. Nandana Marasinghe was also imprisoned in 1971 but he escaped from the prison twice and built the JVP. I heard that the prison guards broke his leg when he was captured.It was Nandana marasinnghe who organised the popular musical progamme of the JVP named Wimukti Gee.After 1983 Marasinghe and Bopage left the JVP. Marasinghe was assassinated by the JVP during the 88-89 period. Bopage is alive today because he left Sri Lanka.The JVP wanted to be the biggest entity in the south by killing their opponents and the LTTE wanted to be the only outfit in the Northeast by annihilating all its opponents.Until they admit these crimes people will not begin to trust them.

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    Both JVP insurrections were ferociously and brutally suppressed by army and police in the same manner the JVP conducted.

    Punchinilame…. Bopage is busy making statements for and onbehalf of NGOs to rake in his santhosams. He is another like Basil fernando of AHRC.THEY ALL SING FOR THEIR SUPPER.
    Bopage managed to defrock a catholic nun and flee down under. Real socialists.

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    There certainly will not be any more ‘political solutions’. There is already a provincial council system in place to resolve this issue since 1987.

    Besides Sri Lanka cannot afford to give over 28% of its land area and over 66% of its coastline to less that 12% of northern tamils at the expense of over 88% of the rest of the population. The coastline and the EEZ is critical for the existence and security of any island nation. Sri Lanka cannot afford to handover over 66% of its coastline and EEZ to less than 12% of its population and not gravely compromise its existence. Sri Lankans are stupid but we are not unbelievably stupid. It cannot happen under any circumstances, not under any circumstances.

    Will India hand over 28% of its land and over 66% of its conastline to less than 12% of its population at the expense of over 88%? I think not. India is stupid but not that stupid.

    Will the northern sri lanka tamils if they were the majority, hand over 28% of the land area and over 66% of its coastline to less than 12% sinhalese if the boot was in the other foot? I think not. They will laugh at us. It would be a joke.

    So there will not be any more ‘political solutions’. There is already a provincial council system in place to resolve this issue since 1987.

    About eelam or separate state why not grant a separate state in Canada, after all Canada is a very large country. I think it is the best solution. The population of Canada is only 35 million (Sri Lanka 21 million) but it is a huge country, huge.

    What about Australia perhaps population only 22 million (same as Sri Lanka) but a huge country. Surely eelam could be granted here.

    How about Norway (population 5 million) but a huge country. Or how about Sweden (population only 9.5 million) but a huge country.

    I think the TNA should demand that eelam be given in Canada, Australia, Norway or Sweden since these are huge countries with very little people. I think this is the best solution.

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      I do not think the TNA which immensely suffered under the LTTE ,is asking for eelam. To the best of my knowledge they are ready to live in a united Sri Lanka. They are fighting for the rights of the Tamils while Karuna Amman and KP,together with Thondaman and Douglas Devananda, are sleeping with the government.India where 1500 languages are spoken remains a united country due to its founders foresight while we remain a disunited country due to the short sighted and opportunistic policies of the Sinhala politicians.Yesterday a peaceful Sathyagrasha campaign of the Tamils was attacked by some hooligans.A psychological war has been waged against the Muslims by a gang of pseudo Buddhists.These are the very people who keep this country disunited.Sadly this will continue as we lack statesmen in this country. This is the tragedy of this island.

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      i dont understand monkeys 12% and 28% theories where he got it no one knows but it is nothing but hogwash.tamils of north and east who have been living there for centuries together want equality and they feel they can get it only if they have a government of their own kinsman.it is very simple and this has been agreed upon and in fact srilanka had a chief minister of north and east namely varadarajaperumal.13th amendment has to be implemented in letter and spirit and in fact it is a good precedent for other provinces also.since srilanka has been mired in ethnic conflict since its independence it never had time to look at federal set up with provinces enjoying powers so that development takes place in an equitable manner rather than being just urban centric like what it is witnessing just colombo centric with other cities and areas lacking infrastructural facilities to house its population.this explains the fact that 12% occupying 28% of the land.monkey who quotes canada,india and other countries should have a look at the federal structure of those countries.the countries quoted have a good federal structure unlike srilanka which has a unitary set up hence srilanka needs to change not other coutries.

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    Hi Kris,
    It appears you have a personal grudge against Mr Bopage. As far as I know he was a university student during insurgencies in 1971. These youths were inspired by socialist doctrine of the LSSP and the CP. Whether you like it or not young people will always fight injustice in various forms. So it’s very unfair for you to blame Mr Bopage for what happened since 1971. The blame should go to the rulers who have ruined the country for last 50 years. The current rulers are bunch of thieves and another youth uprise is on the card unless the current regime is thrown away soon.

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    Hi Raj

    I am not only against the LB , I am against the all JVP leaders, who put many life into death and mysary of SL people,LB is one leader who misguided many young life to the death and now he is having luxury life in Australia, how can he live peacefully in his owned mind , how are you going to justify his escape from SL and having luxury life in Australia while other poor mum and dads siblings of the dead people life in mystery. All these so called socialist didn’t do any good to
    Our country, Wjeweera had luxury life before he get killed while so many other poor fellows we’re suffering, JVP killed
    so many innocent people who go against their Orders, sellings Indian goods, opening a shop while JVP curfew is on, do you put all these to rulers of this country, we all know all SL rulers are corrupted because of that you can,t hide the truth that myserry that JVP brought our country

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    Hi KK,
    I am not a fan of the JVP. I too was afraid of the JVP in late 80’s as they were so brutal and killing people at their will. But most of the JVP leaders of 71 era, including LB had already left the JVP. Many had joined other parties such as the SLFP & the SLMP (Vijaya Kumarathunga’s party). In fact most of them were hunted down and killed by the JVP. So we can’t LB for what happened in 80’s. In a civilized society people have the right to change. For an example take the former LTTE carders who are going through the rehabilitation process. They should be given a chance to start a fresh life. You can’t keep calling them as terrorists until the day they disappear from this planet. What do you say to people like Karuna, Pilleyan, KP, Weerawansa, Ranawaka and the other JVP members who have joined the present government?. So what is the problem with BP leaving the country? I am sure he too could have joined the main stream politics and enjoy the benefits.

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    Hi Raj

    Exactly that is what i am saying ,Karuna,Pilleyan,Kp, Weerawansa they realised what they have done in past and gave it up and dicide to do the good thing for people therefore they still living in SL but this LB left the country after he lead the many people to the mysery, when Karuna or Pilleyan left LTTE they had the same threat in fact kruna’s bother killed by LTTE

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    Karuna, KP & Weerawansa doing good things for people? Now I understand where you coming from. So you will consider LB as a good man if he comes and joins the Rajapaksa regime.

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    You are day dreaming , did i ask LB to join the Rajapakse regime, why are you trying so hard to put white paint on this terrorist LB, you may be JVP symperthyser SL had enough trouble from these terrorists, we need peace for SL

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