Information on the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

Information on the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna - Sri Lanka

Centre for Documentation on Refugees, UNHCR, Geneva

(Date: Jun 1993)

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is a pro-Sinhalese group whose campaign of violence in Sri Lanka during the 1980s was itself violently suppressed in 1989-90 by a combination of government and vigilante action (Agence France Presse, 23 Aug. 1992; Asia Watch 31 May 1992, 6). The UN Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances, which visited Sri Lanka in October 1991, reports that a conservative estimate of the number of deaths during this period is 40,000 (Nations Unies, 8 Janvier, 1992, 7). For general information on the group in question please consult the attached copy from Revolutionary and Dissident Movements of the World.

In addition we have been able to find the following information.

According to Asia Watch, after November 1989, when the JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera and his principal deputy, Upatissa Gamanayake, were killed in custody by security forces, "JVP activity all but ceased. Nonetheless, despite the lack of any armed insurrection, intermittent disappearances continue in the South" (Asia Watch, 31 May 1992, 6). The UN Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances reported that victims of disappearances in the south come from a wide range of backgrounds, although young Sinhalese males are still the principal targets (Nations Unies, 8 Janvier 1992, 24). According to the Sri Lanka Monitor, Sri Lanka's Human Rights Task Force is monitoring the welfare of some 5,865 detainees in five camps and nine rehabilitation centres following the JVP uprising. Charges against 2,000 JVP detainees were reportedly dismissed by the Attorney General earlier this year, although the individuals remain in custody under Emergency laws, while "another 7,000 detainees have been released and officially rehabilitated" (The Sri Lanka Monitor, June 1992). The article goes on to report that human rights NGOs have charged that another 5,000 individuals are being unofficially detained in police stations, and that in the south "detainees disappear before and after release but in reduced numbers as the JVP threat evaporates" (Ibid.).

In May 1992, however, President Premadasa reportedly warned against a renewed JVP threat in the form of a leaflet and poster campaign against the government (Lankapuvath, 27 May 1992), and he repeated the warnings in August 1992 (Agence France Presse, 23 aout 1992).

The latest information that could be found is from the U.S.Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1992. The report mentioned the group in the following context:

At least a dozen court cases are known to be pending against police officers or others accused of murder during the height of the campaign against the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), an extremist Sinhalese revolutionary group. These cases, which date from 1988-1991, have proceeded slowly owing partly to killing and intimidation of witnesses and partly to a large backlog in the judicial system and the fact that such cases are not given special priority (1993).

In addition, the Sri Lanka Monitor wrote in its February 1993 issue that the late president Premadasa blamed the "opposition politicians, newspaper and 'foreign elements' [of] conspiring to revive the JVP. . .whose violent insurrection cost 40,000 lives between 1987 and 1990" (4). This publication continues by stating that though "the JVP threat has receded, almost 5,000 suspects remain in custody without trial. Another 3,000 have been rehabilitated and released. Six leading JVP cadre escaped from Pelawatte detention camp in late January [1993]" (Ibid.).

Further information on the topic is currently unavailable to the CDR in Geneva.

Further references

Revolutionary and Dissident Movements of the World, An International Guide, Longman, Harlow, 1991, pp.320-321


Agence France Presse (AFP), "Sinhalese Rebels on Comeback Trail in Sri Lanka: Premadas" (NEXIS), 23 August 1992

Asia Watch, "Human Rights Accountability in Sri Lanka", New York, 31 May 1992

LANKAPUVATH (Colombo, in English), "Premadasa: Elements Working to Subvert Democracy", 27 May 1992, (FBIS-NES-92-103 28 May 1992, p. 57)

Nations Unies, Conseil Economique et Social, Commission des Droits de l'Homme, "Rapport sur la visite … Sri Lanka de trois membres de Groupe de travail sur les disparitions forc‚es ou involontaires (7-18 octobre 1991), E.CN.4/1992/18/Add.1, 8 January 1992

The Sri Lanka Monitor, "Task Force Without Teeth", London, June 1992

The Sri Lanka Monitor, "Government Gags Independent Newspapers", February 1993

U.S.Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1992, Washington D.C., 1993 (electronic format)