We Are Ready to Contest Elections — Uvindu Wijeweera

I am confident that we possess the vision, plan, and capability to transform our country for the better.

9 mins read
Uvindu Wijeweera [ Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian]

by Our Political Affairs Editor

On this fateful day, reminiscent of the JVP’s historic armed assault on the Wellawaya Police Station on April 5, 1971, echoes of that tumultuous past still resound through Sri Lankan politics. Despite the dissolution of the earlier JVP amidst a flurry of internal discord, its legacy endures, casting a long shadow over the nation’s political landscape.

In 1987, the JVP initiated a second insurrection characterized by covert tactics such as subversion, targeted assassinations, and assaults on both military and civilian targets, differing from their overt rebellion in 1971. In October 1989, after the capture and interrogation of two prominent JVP figures, including its leader Wijeweera who had been living under an assumed identity, Wijeweera was subsequently apprehended. His demise on November 13, 1989, remains clouded in mystery, with various conflicting narratives circulating about the circumstances of his death. While the Sri Lankan Army claimed Wijeweera was killed during a confrontation between JVP members and the military, rumors suggested he was executed under questionable circumstances, possibly at the government’s behest. Following his demise, Wijeweera’s widow and children sought refuge with the government, residing under state protection until 2015, when they were asked to vacate naval quarters due to the absence of perceived security threats.

Amidst the encroaching gloom of the evening, as darkness descends to signal the close of yet another day, while most retreat to the comforts of home, one figure stands resolute, undeterred by the fading light. Uvindu Wijeweera, scion of a revolutionary lineage, emerges as a beacon of unyielding resolve. With a history marred by the tragic loss of his father at the hands of the authorities for daring to challenge the entrenched regime, many youths in Sri Lanka faced the brutal backlash of state oppression not once, but twice – first in 1971, and again in 1988, as they sought to spark transformation through armed resistance, only to be met with relentless force from both domestic and international quarters. Entering politics after studying in Russia, Uvindu now finds himself on a journey not only for course correction but for a much grander political vision.

Embarking on his own political odyssey, Uvindu Wijeweera, the eldest son of Rohana Wijeweera, now charts a course forward, rallying a new generation of youthful adherents, many of whom are the offspring of his father’s comrades-in-arms. Yet, the ranks of his supporters continue to swell, drawn by the magnetic allure of his grand vision to reshape the destiny of the nation.

“I have almost completed my PhD, albeit in the unique crucible of Russia, where the pursuit of academic distinction is a formidable endeavor,” he declares with an unbridled fervor for knowledge. “Even as I stand here, my siblings, too, tread the path of higher education, with some pursuing doctoral studies abroad in their respective fields,” he continues, his words tinged with a palpable sense of determination.

In the crucible of adversity, Uvindu Wijeweera emerges not merely as an individual, but as a symbol of resilience, a torchbearer for a new era of hope and change in Sri Lanka.

Here are the excerpts from this compelling conversation:

Question: May I know your full name?

Answer: Uvindu Vidura Wijeweera

Q: How old are you?

A: 36 Years

Q: What was your earliest memory?

A: Though I don’t remember my father at all, my earliest memories go back to our time in a military camp in Ganemulla. Then we moved to Trincomalee. We had no communication with outsiders, but later I learned about the outside world through my school friends. Therefore, I understood that we were not living a normal life.

Q: Where was this school located?

A: Well, it was inside the camp. However, not only children from military families but also certain civilians living nearby were allowed to study in the same school due to the security situation in the area at the time.

Most of the time, I asked my mother, why are we living like this? Why aren’t we allowed to visit our relatives and so on?

Q: That must be a significant lesson after all?

A: Indeed, those experiences shaped who I am now.

Q: How many members are in your family?

A: I have four sisters and one brother. Some of them are already married and enjoying their family life, while others are continuing their education, including pursuing PhDs and so on.

Q: When was the first time you were able to leave the military camp?

A: Each year, we were allowed to go out and visit Colombo for medications. Later, some relatives from my mother’s side were allowed to visit the military base in Welisara, where we were transferred from Trincomalee. Initially, we were granted a few hours to communicate with them, but later, we were allowed to spend a whole day with them.

Q: How about your mother now?

A: Well, she is staying in the Welisara navy camp, along with one sister.

Q: So does that mean they are still in custody?

A: No, no, the truth is, they don’t have anywhere else to go.

Q: Ah, if she finds some place to stay, will she move from the camp?

A: Most certainly. I’m trying my best to find someplace. However, I have just started my political activities, and if she needs to move, we have to consider her security as well. Moreover, we are not economically well-off, as my father never pursued politics for wealth accumulation. Therefore, I have to start everything from scratch. I must emphasize that I’m not engaging in politics for personal gain, unlike many others in today’s political arena.

Q: I think that’s exactly why we want to sit with you and listen to your story. We’ve seen the difficult journey you’ve been through.

A: I appreciate that.

Q: Is your mother doing well health-wise?

A: She is now in her seventies and doing okay. We are doing our best, while respecting the Navy officers who are taking care of her medication and well-being.

Q: Did she at any time discuss the difficulties she had gone through?

A: She used to talk with those who visited her, especially with female Navy officers, and later with others, about the situations she had to face.

She had four elder brothers and another sister. She never knew anything about politics, as it was an arranged marriage. However, her family members were very much involved in politics aligned with socialist ideologies. My father liked her because she was calm. And my father never discussed any politics with her either. She has some good memories of how the family moved from one place to another until my father was surrendered to the security forces.

Q: Have you asked her to write this narrative?

A: Yes, we have asked her many times. But she thinks it might hurt the sentiments of others.

Q: How did you understand your father?

A: I acknowledge that my father’s actions were contentious and caused pain to many. However, as a politician, I am endeavoring to comprehend the various dimensions of his conduct. I’m not seeking to emulate him blindly but to analyze his efforts to effect change in our country. If he hadn’t taken action at the time he did, the fate of our nation might have been markedly different.

But it’s facile to adopt a retrospective view of past events and assert that things should have been handled differently. Such assertions are illusory, and we shouldn’t scrutinize pivotal events in our society’s history through such a narrow lens.

Q: I understand that societal pressures often compel people to act in ways they deem appropriate; after all, we are not apolitical but deeply entrenched in politics. Isn’t that so?

A: Precisely. For instance, in 1983, they were banned from politics and forced into hiding. It’s worth noting that until 1988, they refrained from resorting to violence and instead focused on fortifying their political movement. However, when India coerced President Jayawardena to sign the Indo-Lanka agreement and dispatch peacekeeping forces to Sri Lanka, they viewed it as a national imperative to respond to this call to action.

Q: And what about 1971?

A: Similarly, we must examine the broader context. We were led to believe that we had attained freedom, but in reality, we hadn’t. Consequently, they deemed it necessary to instigate change; you may characterize it as a revolution or employing more palatable terminology. Charges were leveled against them, accusing them of “revolting against her majesty the queen.” However, my father asserted that their actions were not aimed at the Queen but at Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike. If we were truly a free nation, why were we being prosecuted for acting against our former colonial masters? The nuances of this statement elucidate their true intentions. I believe the 1971 insurrection contributed to Sri Lanka’s complete liberation from Great Britain.

Q: In your assessment, what went awry during those two uprisings?

A: It’s imperative to remember that Sri Lanka is deeply rooted in Buddhism. We cannot make significant decisions without considering this profound sentiment. Buddhism does not condone violence, which poses a challenge when it comes to societal upheavals, as many such movements have historically employed brutal violence, much to the public’s encouragement. Yet, we cannot disregard the influence of Buddhism and its repercussions in Sri Lanka. Whenever this line was crossed, history has shown that such movements have failed in Sri Lanka.

Q: Was there any disunity or disorder within your father’s movement during those pivotal events?

A: Indeed, that’s true. I’ve come across accounts suggesting that my father didn’t endorse the methods employed during those times. Moreover, there was significant discord among the members of the movement. In 1971, he was imprisoned when the insurrection commenced, which undoubtedly contributed to communication breakdowns. Though 1988 presented a different scenario, he still struggled to maintain control over the movement. Nonetheless, this doesn’t absolve him of responsibility. As the leader, he bore the ultimate responsibility. Even in his final moments, he acknowledged this, stating, “I’m responsible” for what transpired.

Q: Many argue that it was sheer recklessness to launch attacks against the state without adequate external support. What’s your take on this?

A: I disagree; I don’t believe it was a reckless endeavor. Many brilliant minds at the time joined the movement, and the majority of the populace yearned for radical change.

Q: Then why did no countries, including Russia (then USSR) or China, support him, while they stood firmly with the government to crush the rebels?

A: My father didn’t receive support from the USSR because he engaged in constructive criticism against it and was among the first to predict its inevitable collapse. During his studies there, he fearlessly discussed what lay ahead, which understandably irked certain officials. On China, he believed in the correctness of Chinese communism and even became a member of the Chinese Communist Party through its Moscow office. However, when ideological disputes arose between the USSR and China, he found himself caught in the crossfire. Consequently, he was sent back to Sri Lanka and was thereafter barred from returning. Nevertheless, he remained steadfast in his political beliefs, cognizant of the rising power dynamics in the region.

Q: Do you believe that many people only came to understand him belatedly?

A: Unfortunately, that appears to be the case. He foresaw many issues long before they became topics of public discourse, including matters concerning India, China, the Indo-Pacific, and NATO’s explanation towards Asia.

Uvindu Wijeweera [ Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian]

Q: If someone asked you to describe your father in one sentence, what would you say?

A: He was the greatest and most forward-thinking politician who loved his motherland unconditionally but was often misunderstood by many.

Q: Do you believe in astrology?

A: I do.

Q: Do you have a zodiac sign?

A: Yes, I do, but I prefer not to disclose it. However, I’ll share a secret: I study astrology in my spare time.

Q: Is there a particular reason for your interest in astrology?

A: In Sri Lankan politics, I believe it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of astrology. Not as a blind belief, but rather to comprehend its societal implications.

Q: So, you’re a Buddhist?

A: Indeed, I am.

Q: What does it mean to be Buddhist?

A: It means being willing to relinquish anything at any time.

Q: When did you first visit Russia?

A: In 2014.

Q: Was that your first trip abroad?

A: No, I had previously traveled to India and studied there for a few months. However, upon my return, I resided in a military camp. My trip to Russia afforded me greater freedom.

Q: How long did you stay in Russia?

A: Almost 10 years.

Q: Do you plan to return to Russia?

A: Certainly, I need to complete the remaining work to obtain my PhD.

Q: What was your thesis about?

A: It focused on Social Cultural Diplomacy and its impact in South Asia, written in Russian.

Q: So, what is your goal, and why did you call your movement the Second Generation?

A: Russia offered me the opportunity to stay, but I declined as my heart lies in Sri Lanka. Over 60,000 individuals sacrificed their lives for a noble cause of social change. Although it ultimately failed, I believe it is my responsibility to seek justice not only for those who lost their lives but for generations to come.

Q: Do you think the name of your movement will attract voters?

A: I believe traditional monikers have become obsolete, and our society yearns for new terms and a fresh political culture. Take, for example, Social Convergence (Convergencia Social), founded by current Chilean president Gabriel Boric. Through our actions, we can reshape public perceptions of politics, and I am confident they will begin to place their trust in us.

Q: Will your party be contesting the next election?

A: Yes, we will be submitting our nominations for the upcoming election, whether it be presidential or parliamentary.

Q: We are a bankrupt nation. How do you plan to overcome prevailing challenges?

A: Since gaining independence, we have lacked consistent national policies, relying instead on ad hoc ideas after each election. We have failed to grasp the essence of true nationalism and the role of political ideologies in strengthening our nation. Our moral principles and shared responsibilities have been compromised for petty personal gains.

Politicians exploit the nation’s resources for personal gain, while individuals in both government and the private sector prioritize self-interest. Without addressing these fundamental flaws, we are destined to repeat the same mistakes. Most political parties, both in power and vying for it, lack a long-term vision. Relying on superficial popularity to manufacture consent will not lead to achieving national objectives. Even if they attain power, sustaining it for more than six months will prove challenging.

However, I am confident that we possess the vision, plan, and capability to transform our country for the better.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog