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  Dear Editor:
Since I do not know LB's email address I hope you would forward this email to him. I would like to get an answer from LB for following questions.

In his reply to HLDM he stated that 'It is the JVP leadership that discredits themselves when they sit under the chair of a priest who led the 1983 July riots which ultimately led to the killing of the JVP leader'

1. What is he talking about?
2. Who is the priest that he talking about? He should reveal the truth.
3. Does LB suggest that 1983 riot was carried out by JVP or at least JVP was involved in 1983 rots?
4. If he implied that JVP was involved, then why did he call for UNP to apologize for banning the JVP without any reason? (I remember, LB was interviewed by BBC immediately after Somawansa Amarsinghe came to Sri Lanka and addressed a public rally and apologized the people for JVP's mistakes. At that interview (BBC), LB accepted the apology and demanded the likewise apology from UNP for banning the JVP for no reason and killing thousands of innocent youth) has LB changed his story now?
5. Why LB is very silent about LTTE's atrocities and brutality? Why LB does not condemn LTTE racist stances for 'Tamil only Eealm'? Is that Marxism?

I hope I'll get some answers from him.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Dear Editor,
LankaWeb

First of all I wish to thank the reader who has asked for certain clarifications with regard to my response to HDLM. I will group the first three questions together and respond to those first. The reader asks:
"In his reply to HLDM he stated that 'It is the JVP leadership that discredits themselves when they sit under the chair of a priest who led the 1983 July riots which ultimately led to the killing of the JVP leader'
1. What is he talking about?
2. Who is the priest that he talking about? He should reveal the truth.
3. Does LB suggest that 1983 riot was carried out by JVP or at least JVP was involved in 1983 rots?

I am talking about two separate periods of the JVP movement, namely the period of 1983 and the current period. In my response to HDLM I certainly did not imply that the JVP was behind the July riots of 1983 against the Tamils. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that several cabinet ministers of the then government, with the connivance and assistance of their top leaders, were responsible for those riots. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that in certain areas, inciters including some who were wearing yellow robes had led those riots (For details refer my submission to the Truth Commission at http://www.fpsl.org.au/truth-commission.htm).

It is well known that the JRJ regime effectively did nothing to bring the 1983 riots under control. Apparently due to rising international pressure, JRJ had to telephone the leader of the riots wearing 'yellow robes' to put a stop to the racial riots. For details read the UTHR (J) publication 'ARROGANCE OF POWER' Ch. 12.3-12.7 also available at: http://www.uthr.org/Book/Content.htm. And according to the recent news reports the same person wearing 'yellow robes ' presided over in the Parliament a meeting of an alliance against the current peace process and the JVP was one of the members of this alliance that attended the meeting. This news report is available at: http://origin.island.lk/2002/04/11/news06.html

If I move to the next question now:

4. If he implied that JVP was involved, then why did he call for UNP to apologize for banning the JVP without any reason? (I remember, LB was interviewed by BBC immediately after Somawansa Amarsinghe came to Sri Lanka and addressed a public rally and apologized the people for JVP's mistakes. At that interview (BBC), LB accepted the apology and demanded the likewise apology from UNP for banning the JVP for no reason and killing thousands of innocent youth) has LB changed his story now?

This question does not arise in the light of the clarifications given above for the first three questions, I believe.

5. Why LB is very silent about LTTE's atrocities and brutality? Why LB does not condemn LTTE racist stances for 'Tamil only Eealm'? Is that Marxism?

It is incorrect to say that I have not been silent on the atrocities and brutalities committed by the LTTE. If you browse through the media releases at http://www.fpsl.org.au/pr-rel.htm you could clearly see that "The Friends for Peace in Sri Lanka", of which I am an executive committee member, have condemned use of terror by all parties to the current conflict. According to numerous findings of investigations, atrocities and brutalities are not exclusively attributed to the LTTE. The State security forces, the IPKF, Para-military vigilante groups and other armed Tamil groups opposed to the LTTE were equally guilty of this charge. We must remember that they are the symptoms of the problem rather than the problem itself.

Here lies the difference. It is that there are many, including so-called Marxist-Leninists, who condemn one of the parties to the conflict when it commits terror but condone it or ignore it when committed by the other side. Such a policy does not assist in the resolution of the conflict but becomes a party to the escalation of the conflict. If such a 'policy', ie, to support the terror of the state against the Tamil civilians or the terror of the LTTE against the Sinhala civilians is politically correct, then the same policy should apply to what happened during the 1988-89 period. No one could or should blame any of those who committed and supported the terror campaign of the state against the Sinhala civilians and the members of the JVP.

In this short response I cannot comprehensively explain the Marxist point of view on 'the National Question'. Very briefly, the Marxist analysis is based on the principle that a people being oppressed at the hands of an oppressor has the right to decide their own political destiny. This principle is also recognised and accepted by the United Nation's Charter and its Conventions. This principle is in concrete practice in the real world; even today it is practised all over the world, as seen in South Africa, East Timor, Eritrea, Quebec and Western Sahara.
During the period prior to the Russian Socialist Revolution, some of the Lenin's writings did not discuss, in detail, the question of "Right to Self-Determination". And this silence has been utilised by Comrade Rohana in his essay (in Sinhala) "What is the Solution to the Tamil Eelam Struggle?" - the English translation of which is available as "OUR SOLUTION FOR NATIONAL QUESTION" at the JVP international website, to present a distorted view on the principle of "Right to Self-Determination". This logic of Comrade Rohana is totally negated by the fact that the three Constitutions of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union included specific articles recognising the principle of "Right to Self-Determination" in the form of right to secession. Lenin in both theory and practice and Stalin at least verbally recognised and accepted this democratic right of peoples. My belief is that the current JVP leadership has moved even further away to the right from the position held by Comrade Rohana.

I have never advocated separation as a solution to the national question of Sri Lanka, as explained in the essay "A Marxist Analysis of the National Question of Lanka". However whether or not to separate is a decision that people should take voluntarily, on their own. Such a decision cannot be imposed from without. On the other hand the ground reality is that the country is already a divided land in terms of the hearts and the minds of the people. Our task is to find means to unite that divided land. My position, which is also the position of the Friends for Peace in Sri Lanka, is to find an appropriate constitutional model where all peoples could live with dignity, equality and justice as outlined at http://www.fpsl.org.au/position.htm. As a member of the JVP and also afterwards I have supported and recognised the right to self-determination of peoples. This was clearly laid out in the Policy Declaration of the JVP which Comrade Rohana and I drafted while we were incarcerated at the Magazine Prison, Colombo. The policy to the effect that 'autocratic separation and centralisation shall be opposed', in essence, represents a conceptual equivalent to the "Right to Self-Determination", ie, the people themselves have to voluntarily and democratically decide what their political future would be. My clear and unambiguous position is that that the people of the north-east have to decide their political destiny rather than handing over the administration to any one organisation. At the same time I accept the realpolitik that currently the people of the north-east are not in a position to determine their political future because they are held at the gunpoint of many parties to the conflict including the security forces, their para-military groups, the LTTE and their para-military groups.

Decentralisation of power is the only viable alternative that will re-unite the de-facto divided country. Many including the bureaucracy and the so-called Marxists oppose decentralisation of power. The bureaucracy opposes it because it takes away their power. The so-called Marxists oppose it because they believe this will go against the concept of centralised planning. The ideal society Marxists believe in is a self-governed society with highly advanced technology providing capabilities to fulfil the needs of the people. This will present a picture of "the unity of the opposites" - centralisation and decentralisation. For example, a federal state in general will have decentralised power as well as centralised power. This has been clearly laid out in the writings of Lenin around the year 1917. Therefore to state that decentralisation of power is against the grain of Marxism is incomprehensible and inadmissible.

A slogan of "Tamil only Eelam" is an extreme form of Tamil nationalism demanding special privileges for Tamils only. I reject special privileges for any people in terms of their ethnicity, religion and social class. It is against the basic principles of equality, fairness, justice and dignity. Any demand for a racially exclusive domain is completely against what I stand for. In fact I have publicly explained my position in this regard. This is available at: http://www.fpsl.org.au/uthayam-1.htm. However the opposition to such an exclusive demand does not automatically mean that one has to support the other side of the same coin which demands a "Sinhala only Lanka"!

I thank you again for your request.

Lionel Bopage
25 July 2002


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