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People's Liberation Front of Sri Lanka (JVP)

Balasingham Skanthakumar

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Asia » Southern Asia

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics Marxism, party politics, rebellion, revolution, student movements

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01172.x


  The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front) (JVP), Sri Lanka's largest self-defined left party and third largest parliamentary bloc, led two armed insurrections of Sinhala youth in 1971 and 1987–9. Both uprisings were brutally crushed with enormous loss of life, but the JVP has been described as “phoenix-like” and “hydra-headed” for its astonishing capacity to regenerate itself thereafter. Its origins lie in the schism within the Ceylon Communist Party in 1963 provoked by the Sino-Soviet dispute as well as tensions over the parliamentary road to socialism and accommodation to the “national-bourgeois” Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Rohana Wijeweera , drawn to Maoism while studying in the Soviet Union, joined the Communist Party (Peking wing – CP) of Sri Lanka in 1964 and quickly became leader of its youth front. Wijeweera's criticism of the CP of Sri Lanka's orthodox leadership and conceptions of revolution and class put him at odds with party leaders. He was expelled in 1965 after organizing an independent faction within the party. Until 1970 Wijeweera and co-thinkers, swelled by smaller groups of Maoists, conducted clandestine educational classes particularly among school-leavers, university students, and naval ratings of rural origin. The “five lessons” as they became known were analyses of the social and political order; Indian hegemony over Sri Lanka; the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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