Portal:Communism/Selected biography/15

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Rohana Wijeweera (14 July 1943 – 13 November 1989) was the leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a prominent follower of Che Guevara and Sri Lankan revolutionary whose communist views of spreading wealth to the poorer classes earned him great popularity.

His father was an active member of Communist Party of Sri Lanka (pro-Soviet wing) and very close to Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe. Later he was disabled after an attack of the opponent United National Party (UNP) thugs. He went to Lumumba University to study medicine. He conducted revolutionary activities and felt that the system existing in the USSR at that time was not real communism. He was expelled from Russia as a result of this. He returned to Sri Lanka and gained a large following in his beliefs in helping the poor. On 14 May 1965 he formed the JVP after a discussion in a house at Akmeemana in Galle district southern Sri Lanka.

Like Che Guevara he raised an army but the Government found out and he was not prepared; the 1971 uprising followed: a brief but violent struggle that claimed 15,000 lives. Wijeweera was imprisoned but remained a popular figure. In the 1977 elections, J. R. Jayewardene promised to release him if he was elected. This earned him many votes and when Jayawardene was elected, Wijeweera was released. The JVP was offered a chance at democratic elections and gained around 4% of the votes in the 1982 presidential election. However, civil disorder and mistreatment of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka followed. Jayawardene blamed the JVP for this and the leaders of the JVP were captured. Wijeweera managed to escape, but in the violence that followed, Wijeweera was captured and killed.