PASSWORD RESET

Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Sri Lanka: Repressive regime forced to release abducted activists

The brutal government of Sri Lanka is undoubtedly behind the abduction of two activists, Premakumar Gunaratnam and Dimuthu Attygalle of the Frontline Socialist Party.

After three days of interrogation at some kind of camp to which they had both been taken separately, they were released yesterday. Dimuthu Attygalle was dropped by her captors from one of the infamous white vans, only when the Sri Lankan police had put Premakumar Gunaratnam onto a plane. He was deported to Australia where his wife and children live. Premakumar has since reported that he was tortured and abused.

Mr Gunaratnam and Ms Attygalle were abducted on the eve of the formation of a new party – the Frontline Socialist Party.

The abduction and persecution of the two was condemned by both Sinhala and Tamil activists in the country and in the diaspora.

Amidst international protests and in fear of uniting the fight-back, the Sri Lankan government backed down and released Premakumar Gunaratnam and Dimuthu Attygalle. But the fate of two other activists previously abducted, along with a number of others, and all the Tamils still cruelly held in detention camps, are not known.

See also this previous article published on socialistworld.net

Sri Lanka: Top leaders of Frontline Socialist Party abducted on eve of inaugural convention

On the night of 6-7 April, two of the most prominent leaders of a new left party in Sri Lanka were forcibly abducted, just two days before the launching of their party – the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP). There is no trace of them to date and huge anger is rising at the attitude of the Rajapakse regime. It has washed its hands of the incident and the police force has moved extremely slowly to make even a pretence of investigating what happened.

This new party, the FSP, has developed from a substantial split away from the arch nationalist JVP (People’s Liberation Party) whose old leaders remain in the Rajapakse government. It has gone through a long process of ‘self-criticism’ examining the party’s huge mistakes of the past and has resolved to abandon the ‘nationalism’ of the previous period to form a new force for workers’ struggle and socialism.

On Sunday evening, 7 April, a packed meeting of MPs, human rights lawyers and left organisations heard the details of how the abductions took place and resolved to organise an unprecedented campaign of protest starting with a meeting the following day of all opposition forces in front of the press.

Dimuthu Attygalle, a long-standing activist, was due to be elected to the leading body of the new party at its inaugural convention on Monday 9 April. She was violently attacked as she walked home from a bus-stop in Kiribathgoda, North of Colombo. She had been attending a planning meeting for the launch of her party and was due to discuss with international visitors to the convention on the following day (7 April). Disappearances and extra-judicial killings are on the rise once more in Sri Lanka.

Kumar Gunarathnam, had been at the same planning meeting as Dimuthu on the 6 April and then returned with his body-guard to the place he was staying. After eating together, the bodyguard left Kumar to sleep. At four in the morning, neighbors in the village were asked by some outside characters to turn off their lights and put Kumar’s house into darkness. At about 5am thugs slashed the tyres of his car ransacked the house and seized him.

Kumar had recently returned to the country from Australia and was widely expected to be at the convention this Monday in some guise or another. He was to be elected into a top leadership position.

After the public session of the FSP convention today, Siritunga Jayasuriya, secretary of the United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka) chaired a meeting with representatives of 39 different organisations and all the main press in the country. All non-governmental parties were there plus many lawyers, activists from women’s organisation, some trade union leaders and members of the Frontline Socialist Party itself.

Blame for the abductions was laid squarely at the feet of the Rajapakse government. “We are living under a more and more ruthless dictatorship which is devising ever more vicious ways of trying to maintain its rule. This was an obvious attempt to sabotage the new party and intimidate its members and supporters. All agreed to organise protests and issued an ultimatum to the government to release within 24 hours of the ‘disappeared’ leaders.