A new, thousands-strong party has been launched in Sri Lanka. It is called the Frontline Socialist Party and has emerged from a split in the Janathā Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front or JVP). Its leaders have conducted a thorough-going criticism of the JVP’s political past and are genuinely seeking to adopt a fully socialist and internationalist programme. The biggest challenge for the party leaders is to work out a principled position on the national question and make progress in building a mass united struggle of workers to bring down the Rajapakse dictatorship.
The Committee for a Workers’ International welcomes this development. Three of its representatives spoke at the launch convention – Clare Doyle from the CWI’s International Secretariat, Siritunga Jayasuriya of the United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka) and a senior representative of the Socialist Movement Pakistan. All three condemned the kidnapping of two of the FSP’s leaders just days before the event and pledged to do all in their power to secure their release. A picket of the Sri Lankan embassy in London was organised jointly by FSP members, along with activists of the Tamil Solidarity Campaign and the Socialist Party (England and Wales). See report on Tamil Solidarity website.
Siritunga Jayasuriya was asked to chair an emergency meeting-cum-press conference on the day of the convention which brought together representatives of 39 different organisations - all the opposition parties (except the JVP from whom the FSP split), human rights lawyers, MPs and others. The kidnappings were roundly condemned as a planned attempt to sabotage the party’s launch. It had failed. An ultimatum was issued to the government to find and release Kumara Gunaratnam and Dimuthu Attygalle within 24 hours. The following morning, both the FSP’s leaders reappeared, dumped on road-sides. They had been separately beaten and abducted, both in white vans. Then they had been interrogated in the same camp-like place with their eyes blindfolded throughout.
After his release, Kumara Gunaratnum, who was due to become the general secretary of the new party, was deported to Australia. From there he gave a Skype press conference explaining the circumstances of his ordeal. He also declared that the Sri Lankan government could not intimidate the comrades of the FSP and that the struggle to defeat the Rajapakse regime would be intensified.
An unedited version of Clare Doyle’s speech at the convention is available on the web-site of the USP (here).