Sri Lanka: Obituary – Life-long Sri Lankan Trotskyist dies in London, 4 August, 2007

Wesley Suthantharabal Muthiah 1930 – 2007

Wesley was born in Jaffna, north Sri Lanka, in 1930. His family background was middle class and religious. He went to Madras, India, for his higher education – to a Christian college.

Wesley joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) – the then mass workers’ Trotskyist party – in the early 1950s. He first started his career as a teacher and then became a labour officer. In 1952 he married Tencey and they had three children – two sons Ninesh,and Romesh, and a daughter, Rapthi. With deep shock at the loss of their daughter, Wesley migrated to the UK where he took up teaching until his retirement.

During the 1970s, Wesley became active in the British Labour Party and continued his interest in the Marxist-Trotskyist political movement in England. Then he was involved in the British Militant tendency, the fore-runner of today’s Socialist Party (England and Wales). At the same time, he was dedicated to working in the LSSP branch in London and then the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) branch of which he became the branch secretary. He joined the NSSP after the 1977 split in the LSSP, rejecting the class collaboration politics of the LSSP, and he was very active in the Labour movement.

In 1989, when the NSSP majority developed serious differences with the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), Wesley supported the minority faction in Sri Lanka which stayed with the CWI and later became the Marxist Workers’ Tendency. But with the 1990s collapse of the Soviet Union and the split in the NSSP, Wesley became less active.

After his retirement from work in the UK, he decided to settle down back in Sri Lanka and re-join the LSSP. Together with Sydney Wanasingha, he did a lot of work to bring out several books of historical value to the left movement. That included "The case for socialism" and "The British World War Two and the Samasamajists".

In the latter part of his life, Wesley maintained his beliefs in the basic ideas of Marxism and Trotskyism and, during the last presidential election time, renewed close contact with the United Socialist Party (CWI) in Sri Lanka. He supported the USP candidature on the theme of fighting against capitalism and against communalism. He also maintained a real concern for the safety of the comrades who stood out against the Rajapakse government, exposing the killings and kidnappings of Tamil-speaking people and fighting for an end to renewed war in Sri Lanka.

We of the USP and the CWI salute Wesley for the role he has played in our common endeavour to build a world socialist movement and fight for a socialist world.

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