Home » It was the heroes of April 71 that gave us the determination to till even on a rock– Tilvin Silva

It was the heroes of April 71 that gave us the determination to till even on a rock– Tilvin Silva


The heroes of April 71 gave us the determination to till even on a rock, says General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva.
He emphasized this while addressing the 53rd April Heroes Commemoration of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna held in Polonnaruwa on 05.05.2024.
Three main celebrations to commemorate April heroes were held in Galle, Puttalam and Polonnaruwa and speaking during the celebrations held in Polonnaruwa, General Secretary of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Tilvin Silva said, “We all are here in Polonnaruwa today for the 53rd commemoration of the April Heroes. Commemorations are also held at Baddegama in Galle and Natthandiya in Puttalam. At a time when we are working with the belief of gaining power in the hands of the ordinary people to change this society, we must remember our beloved Comrades who sacrificed their lives in the struggle of 1971 and get their experiences.
Even then, we saw the state of bankruptcy the country was going through. It has been bankrupt for two years now. It is necessary to move to an alternative system to get rid of this unbearable economy that the people are suffering from. The country has collapsed politically as well. The International Monetary Fund determines the country’s economic policies. The resources needed to build the country have been rapidly sold, and the country has been turned into a dependent state. Our comrades who fought in 1971 thought that they should get freedom instead of living on their knees. Even today, we have nominal freedom. Therefore, a new freedom struggle is necessary. The people have wholly rejected these rulers, including the political camp of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ranil Wickramasinghe and Basil Rajapaksa discussed holding a general election before the presidential election because the Rajapaksas do not have a candidate to put forward for the presidential election. There is currently in-fighting in the SLFP to gain the party’s power. Instead, ours is a struggle to gain power in the country. The team that left with Dallas Alahapperuma has also divided, and a part of it went to SJB. Because of this, there is confusion in the SJB and is preparing to break away and go to the UNP. Not only the economic collapse of the country, These elements who have engaged in ruling the country have not only created an economic crisis but have created a serious political crisis. Meanwhile, we are organizing the people to take power. We are organizing masses to get a definite victory at the upcoming presidential election. We are trying to establish a different regime. We need to build a strong and stable economy by rebuilding the country that has been made fallen under the existing rulers. It needs massive public participation to build the country. There is a need for a national awakening in which the entire people of the country participate. We are working with the determination to move the country to a new renaissance by mobilizing all the people. The wish of our comrades who fought in 1971 was to create a just country, a just society and a free human being.
The benefits of the economy we build should be fjustly distributed to everyone. Many people in the open economy have been drowned in the ice water of selfishness hav,e abandoned collectivity right from school, and have lost their humanity. We want to build a collective society with compassion that feels the pain of others. Women in our present society are not protected and respected. A country cannot be moved forward with people who have cynical views. Comrades of 1971 had the utmost humanity, respect, militancy and also love for people.
They taught us to love people. There should be love, not hatred, hypocrisy, oppression and rivalry in the society. We need to create a society where we can love each other. The only force that can unite Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims for the slogan of nation-building is the National People’s Power. Comrade Anura went to the North and said that we would rebuild the country that was destroyed. We are carrying forward the slogan of building national unity and building the Sri Lankan nation. We have to engage in a massive activity to achieve this.
If we do not think in a new way, we cannot build a new society. If we do not have collectivity, we cannot build a collective society. If we do not love others, we cannot build a society full of love. If we do not make sacrifices, we cannot build a country. The best place to learn to love humanity, make sacrifices and struggle collectively is the example of the sacrifices made by the comrades of 1971.
We are a group that has tempered by it. We have responsibility and accountability for a massive social transformation. Ours is a society that has been destroyed for 76 years, especially after 1977. Over the past forty years, a society has been created that knows the price of everything but does not know the value. Like everything else, there is a society that knows the price of people but does not know their value. We have a responsibility to deeply change society; it will not be a simple change of government.
For this, we are rallying, and the enemies are greatly alarmed. Because of this, on the one hand, an SJB group challenged us for a debate on economic policies. The same people who were in the government for five years under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took the highest foreign debt from international sovereign bonds and trapped us in a debt trap are asking us for a debate. We have said that it is the party leaders who stand as candidates that are important in a presidential election instead of those who have no policy and jump from one party to another. As such, we have asked their leader, Mr. Sajith Premadasa, for a debate with the leader of our party, Comrade Anura Dissanayake. Now, they want a debate between two groups of the two parties before the debate between the two leaders. Sajith Preemadasa has not come to TV interviews except to say something all by himself. We will be happy if Sajith Prevamadasa comes to the debate.
On the other hand, those who approve selling our country’s resources like selling oil in the Middle East are presenting arguments and talking about a debate. in the Middle East, they sell oil, not oil wells? They sell the product, not the oil field. Instead of selling milk, these people tend to sell farms. These guys don’t get it. To those who do not understand even that simple thing, we say that instead of the policy of selling, we should go for the policy of building the country.
We wouldn’t shun such a debate. But let’s have the debate of the leaders first as they are the candidates. Now, they also talk about the 88-89 period, especially in TV interviews when they cannot give factual answers. We have to talk a little about the distorted history related to 1971. History is written by the winner. According to them, we are called the Rebels of 1971. At that time, a slander that was spread was that people over 55 years old would be killed. All this slandering and repression started in the 1980s. They launched a massive repression, and they wrote history. We emphasize that we will rewrite the history that they wrote wrongly very soon. We are the generation that rewrites that history. Actually, 88 started much earlier, since 1978. For the knowledge of those who do not know, we say that there was a massive period from 78-90 when Jayawardena – Premadasa terror was carried out. We have to understand that history properly. JR Jayawardene, who came to power with a 5/6 majority at the 1977 election, changed the constitution and introduced the executive presidency with a new constitution. That day he said that he can do everything except make a woman a man and a man a woman. He took resignation letters from his own party MPs and put them in his pocket. JR did not even give democracy to his own party.
Now tell those jabbering gentlemen that essential service orders were imposed against the July 1980 strike. More than 100,000 government employees were thrown out after imposing an emergency. The government did not stop there and said that they would send the strikers to the graveyard. Separate mobs were formed to attack strikers and peaceful protestors. Upali Wijewardene’s Divyana newspaper named those thugs as “Thug Corporation”. Before the July 1980 strike, those thugs attacked and killed a worker named Somapala. And there was a group of thug ministers active all over the country. After 1978, we were pursued even when we engaged in politics publicly. Thug ministers like Mahindasoma in Kakirawa, Paul Perera in Kaduwela and Captain Seneviratne in Mahiyangana led a reign of terror.
When District Development Council elections were held in 1981, ministers went to Jaffna with thugs and set fire to the most valuable library in South Asia, creating election terror. Three were involved in that terror: Gamini Dissanayake, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, and Gamini Lokage. This situation also seeded a war in the north. In 1982, students who protested against the white paper brought by Ranil to destroy education were attacked by the mounted police.
The student movement under our leadership was able to defeat the white paper despite being attacked. Vivian Gunawardena of the LSSP, who was marching on International Women’s Day was attacked. Also, on the International Day of the Visually Impaired, thugs nourished by the government attacked a protest held by the visually impaired to present their fair demands.
Professor Ediriweera Sarathchandra, who wrote the book ‘Dharmishta Samajaya’, was thrown into a drain and beaten. Also, they went to the houses of the judges who gave verdicts not favourable to the government and threw stones at them. Gonawala Sunil, the thug rapist of the United National Party, was pardoned by the President and given the position of Justice of the Peace affecting the entire island. JR’s thugs forcibly partitioned the Gatambe Buddhist Temple with barbed wire.
Without stopping there, a referendum was held in December 1982 to retain power without holding the 1983 general election, and an extremely corrupt election in the whole history of this country was held. It was then that Black July was created in 1983. We are not talking about the UNP members in the villages. It is about the devastation caused by Jayawardene’s regime by creating Black July and killing innocent Tamil people. K. Venkat, who directed the movie ‘Siri Pathula’ was burned alive.
How much of the country’s property belonging to the Tamil people was destroyed? Using that Black July, the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna, the Communist Party and the New Sam Samaj Party were banned. The ban on the other two parties was later lifted, and the ban on the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna continued. We had done nothing wrong. There was no case against us. We ask those who point to 1988-1989 what do they say about the banning of the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna, which was engaged in democratic politics. They used the July riots they themselves created to ban us. It was a political conspiracy against us.
They did not stop there and offered rewards of Rs. 50,000 for information leading to the arrest of our party leaders. It was advertised that five people Rohana Wijeweera, Upatissa Gamanayake and Somawansa Amarasinghe, would be given fifty thousand each. No one in our country went to buy those fifty thousand. When our party was banned, we pursued the politics of getting the ban removed. When it was a year since the ban on “Janata Vimukthi Peramuna” we put up posters stating,“Lift the ban immediately” troughout the country.
The government surrendered to India in 1987 and signed the Indo-Lanka Treaty. There were protests against it all over the country. During a parade held for Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who came to sign the agreement, a marine attacked him with a rifle. He is not a member of our party. Hundreds of thousands of people marched across the country against this agreement. JR’s government killed 147 peaceful people by shooting at the procession that was held near Fort Bo Tree.
What happened was that we responded to the repression. We had to respond as a movement that had been banned. 1988/89 is not an action but a reaction. It was our reaction to the anti-democratic reign of terror. They created paramilitary forces to kill the people of our country. Goon platoons such as ‘Green Tigers’, ‘Black Cats’, ‘Yellow Cats’, ‘Ghra’ and ‘Pra’ were formed and thousands of young people were killed. Many murders were committed and imposed on us who were prohibited.
Chandrika Bandaranaike publicly said that the Presidential Commission of Inquiry had revealed that Vijaya Kumaratunga was killed by the United National Party. Later, she came out with different stories, but the facts were revealed in the Presidential Commission. Premakeerthi, who was a famous lyricist, was killed and left behind. Premakeerthi Alvis’s wife and children have told Mahinda Rajapaksa’s face that the killer who killed Prem was with Mahinda Rajapaksa. Around 60,000 people in our country were killed by carrying out such a terrorist campaign. We have accepted that things have happened that should not have happened when responding to their repression. At that time, Ranil Wickresamasinghe’s prime ministers ran a large number of torture chambers throughout the country. One is Ranil’s Batalanda. A large number of crimes and murders, such as the killing of Richard de Soyza, lawyer Wijedasa Liyanarachchi and many others, were committed during this era of government terror. Instead of distorting history, we ask those who question us to question the rule of JR and Premadasa.
After 1990, we have proved that politics can be done without violence, even in the midst of very difficult conditions. Chammika Sudantha, during a protest in Colombo District, Comrade Siridasa of Matale, Comrade Naiduwavadu from Ambalangoda and others were killed. At Katuwana, Julampitiye Amare shot and killed two people who were in a meeting at Katuwanadi. We did not use violence.
Let’s discuss 88-89 separately. Today, the enemies are worried. They are terrified, sensing their defeat. That is why they are trying to stop the path of the National People’s Power. We have a responsibility. History needs to be cleared up. Lessons should be learned from history. Janata Vimukthi Peramuna is the only political movement that can save the good things and cast away the things that should be removed.
The comrades in the 1971 struggle had faith. Instead of this rotten society, they wanted to build a good and just society. They had the desire to build a society full of humanity where there is brotherhood and togetherness. They fought for it. Now, after 53 years, our country has changed. The opportunity to create that society has come. That change can only be made with the whole people. A few leaders cannot change a country. A leader can lead a party. Today we have managed to organize a large number of people and turn it into a huge political movement. Leftist, progressive, democratic and patriotic forces have rallied. Society has accepted that the National People’s Power with Janata Vimukthi Peramuna is the only political movement that our society can finally trust.
It was possible to bring this movement to this position because of the sacrifices made by the comrades of 1971 and their vision. They believed that a good society should and could be built. That society is lined up before us now. Frustrated opponents can do many more things in the future as well. They are slinging mud at us. On the other hand, they are also trying to buy people.
The ruling groups always had two answers before the people: repression or allurement. At this time, because they have no power, repression has become difficult. And we cannot be bought. Now the goods have been distributed. A section of schoolchildren is given food. A few months ago, the children who had not had their breakfast fell down in the school assembly. The teachers had to help them. Ranil did not see all that.
Ranil, who said the biggest crisis in our country is giving freely, has now started distributing 20 kilos of rice during the festive season. They give us food for five days and eat the country for five years. We need principled politics. The 1971 comrades were the first group to teach that politics is needed to change the country based on a vision and principles.
We must tell society that we will not change our vote for five kilos of rice. We would like to assure you that we are a group of people who do not kneel down no matter what difficulties and challenges come our way. Insults do not sway us. England’s Winston Churchill said, “When you go on a journey if you stop to hit every dog that barks at you with a stone, you will not be able to go on the journey.” Comrade Lenin once said, “The cat Vaska listens but keeps eating and eating.” At the 53rd April commemoration, we assure you that no matter how many insults they raise and obstacles they create, we will not let this fight go back without a sign of victory.
We all have been holding a dream for a long time. It is to create a society for our children and the whole people to live happily, to create a society where there are people who care for each other’s suffering, have compassion and have warmth in their hearts. We have come a long and difficult journey to build a strong economy and build a society where its benefits are justly distributed to all. We want to make our country a strong country in the world.
As the poet Ratnasri said, “The journey is difficult – sometimes we fall -, but we needn’t stop there – we should not mourn – we should go forward”, and we believed it. We have come within sight of victory. We have to make our country the most beautiful country in the world. For that, let us gather experiences from the comrades who sacrificed their lives in the struggle of 1971. Let us gather courage, strength and faith. Let us gather the virtue of moving steadily towards the goal. Let us all come together and win this battle as one team.”

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