International Committee of the Fourth International
Fourth International Vol. 15 No. 3-4 (July-December 1988)

Comrade P.H. Gunapala 1949-1988

As we were about to go to press, the International Committee learned of the brutal assassination of our Sri Lankan comrade, P.H. Gunapala. A long-time Trotskyist and member of the Revolutionary Communist League since 1969, was murdered in Kandy on the evening of December 23. He was 39 years old.

Comrade Gunapala was shot to death by JVP gunmen as he was returning to his quarters at Perednaya University, where he worked on the staff of the engineering faculty as a manual laborer. The time of the attack was approximately 8:30 PM.

A member of the executive committee of the United Workers Union, Comrade Gunapala had been in the forefront of the struggle to prevent the liquidation of the union by the fascist JVP.

The JVP assassination squad left a note behind, declaring that it had murdered Comrade Gunapala because he had been disrupting their “patriotic work”—by which they mean he had opposed their attempts to subordinate the organizations of the working class to their racist anti-Tamil program.

Comrade Gunapala was among the few to openly oppose the demand that the United Workers Union be merged into a student organization controlled by the JVP and placed under its discipline. The funeral of Comrade Gunapala was held on December 25. His family was unable to place the body in the custody of the Revolutionary Communist League because of death threats issued by the JVP. However, the RCL participated prominently in the funeral procession.

This is the second assassination of a member of the Revolutionary Communist League carried out by the JVP in less than two months. Comrade R.A. Pitawala was shot to death by the JVP on November 12. There is no question but that this fascist organization is attempting to physically liquidate the RCL.

The fascists have been enraged by the campaign launched by the RCL demanding a united front of working class organizations to undertake the defense of the labor movement against the JVP and the ongoing preparations for a military coup.

This call has evoked a strong response from rank-and-file workers, although the position of the leadership of the LSSP, Communist Party and NSSP is that no independent action should be undertaken by working class organizations to counter the growing fascist menace.

Comrade Gunapala’s activities in the socialist movement began in the mid-1960s, when he joined the LSSP(R). From there he was won to the revolutionary program of the Revolutionary Communist League, and has been active in the struggle to build the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International from its earliest days.

The International Committee of the Fourth International sends its revolutionary condolences to the family and comrades of P.H. Gunapala. We pledge that his memory shall be honored throughout the international workers’ movement and we have no doubt that his death shall be avenged.