1987–89 JVP Insurrection (Sri Lanka)


1987–89 JVP Insurrection (Sri Lanka)

The 1987-89 insurrection in Sri Lanka, in which around 50,000 lives were lost, was carried out by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a Marxist Sinhalese political party in Sri Lanka.

Background history

1971 JVP uprising

Leadup to conflict in the 1980s

During this period, and especially as the Tamil conflict to the north became more intense, there was a marked shift in the ideology and goals of the JVP. Initially Marxist in orientation, and claiming to represent the oppressed of both the Tamil and Sinhalese communities, the group emerged increasingly as a Sinhalese nationalist organization opposing any compromise with the Tamil insurgency. This new orientation became explicit in the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983. Because of its role in inciting violence, the JVP was once again banned and its leadership went underground.

The group's activities intensified in the second half of 1987 in the wake of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. The prospect of Tamil autonomy in the north together with the presence of Indian troops stirred up a wave of Sinhalese nationalism and a sudden growth of antigovernment violence. During 1987 a new group emerged that was an offshoot of the JVP--the Patriotic Liberation Organization (Deshapreni Janatha Viyaparaya--DJV). The DJV claimed responsibility for the August 1987 assassination attempts against the president and prime minister. In addition, the group launched a campaign of intimidation against the ruling party, killing more than seventy members of Parliament between July and November.

Along with the group's renewed violence came a renewed fear of infiltration of the armed forces. Following the successful raid of the Pallekelle army camp in May 1987, the government conducted an investigation that resulted in the discharge of thirty-seven soldiers suspected of having links with the JVP. In order to prevent a repetition of the 1971 uprising, the government considered lifting the ban on the JVP in early 1988 and permitting the group to participate again in the political arena. With Wijeweera still underground, however, the JVP had no clear leadership at the time, and it was uncertain whether it had the cohesion to mount any coordinated offensive, either military or political, against the government.

Outbreak of fighting

Adroitly exploiting the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the widespread nationalist sentiments of large sections of the Sinhala people, the JVP began to terrorise both the state machinery and those sections of civil society opposed to its thinking and almost brought the State to its knees.

Organised in cells of three people and based around Matara in the south, the JVP murdered probably thousands of people and crippled the country with violently-enforced hartals (general strikes) for two years. Government forces captured and killed JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera and his deputy in November 1989 in Colombo; by early 1990 they had killed or imprisoned the remaining JVP politburo and detained an estimated 7,000 JVP members. Although the Government won a decisive military victory there were credible accusations of brutality and extra-judicial killings.

The number who died is uncertain.

Aftermath

Since then, the JVP has been relaunched and has participated in electoral politics. At the last parliamentary elections, 2 April 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance that won 45.6 % of the popular vote and 105 out of 225 seats. As the second partner in this alliance it became part of the government. It also supported the winning candidate Mahinda Rajapakse in the Sri Lankan presidential election, 2005

External links

* [http://www.jvpsrilanka.com/ JVP's Official Website]

* [http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sem/IR/research/cstpv-old/Lostrevo.htm SRI LANKA - A LOST REVOLUTION? The Inside Story of the JVP by Rohan Gunaratna]

* [http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sem/IR/research/cstpv-old/IndiaIntervention.htm Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka : The Role of India's Intelligence Agencies]


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