In defence of SEP: Countering the purge of Comrade Amaratunga from Ambalangoda Local

By L.P. Udayaprema, for SEP-SL Left Faction 

Amaratunga at a SEP May Day demonstration 

The letter posted below was sent on November 16, 2022 by Comrade Udayaprema of the Ambalangoda branch of the Sri Lanka Socialist Equality Party (SEP) to its General Secretary Deepal Jayasekara to defend the party from the anti-democratic and conspiratorial activities of the party leadership.  Such efforts by the members were frowned upon by the party bureaucracy and led to the party leadership’s disastrous decision that there was no other option but to expel a large number of comrades.  It should be noted that the first time even the party members were reading this letter was when this was published originally in Sinhala language here on August 7, 2023.  Dozens of letters sent by the SEP-SL left faction to the party leadership were thrown into the dustbin without any discussion within the membership.


Comrade Jayasekara,

Regarding the expulsion of Comrade Amaratunga of the Ambalangoda Local Council by Comrade Ratnasiri, the secretary of the Local, abusing his authority

Comrade Ratnasiri, claiming that comrade Amaratunga has left the party, has barred comrade Amaratunga’s participation in the Local meetings since 7th July 2022. Comrade Ratnasiri considers a statement made by comrade Amarathunga protesting the arbitrary suspension of the three comrades Nandana, Sanjaya and Wakkumbura as the reason for this criminal act, which was carried out arbitrarily without any discussion in the Local assembly. What Comrade Amaratunga said was, “If things are being done this way, there is no point in being in this party any longer”.

As reported to the local council, Ratnasiri’s action was approved by the political committee without any inquiry!

The conflict between Amaratunga and Ratnasiri arose out of Ratnasiri’s continuous wrong political practices in the Local. To understand these differences of opinion, let us bring to your attention of 3 incidents.

It is unconstitutional for the Political Committee to suspend Comrade Nandana’s membership while he was a member of the party Central Committee. Comrade Udayprema cited our constitution and raised these issues in the local assembly. Ratnasiri making a phone call to Amaratunga specifically for this purpose said that there is no such paragraph in the constitution. Later at a subsequent discussion of the Local, Ratnasiri had to admit that what he said was a lie. Amaratunga intervened on that occasion condemning this irresponsible act.

Despite the fact that there were many issues that needed to be resolved, the leadership’s attempt to hold the party conference, without allowing for a discussion, in violation of the constitution, led to a controversy in the Ambalangoda Local committee. 

Ratnasiri said that the constitution is not decisive. To confirm this, he lied that Lenin did not implement the April thesis following a decision in a congress. He further argued that the October Revolution would not have happened if conferences had to be held like that. We pointed out that the above thesis was presented to the Bolshevik Central Committee on 6th April, 1917 and to the Party Congress on April 10 and was adopted by the Congress, but Ratnasiri continued to defend his incorrect position.

Three members, including Comrade Nandana, requested that the Local commitee, which was to be held on 15 th June, be convened on another day as they were not in a position to attend. Despite this , secretary Ratnasiri assembled the Local commitee without the relevant comrades and proceeded to pass a resolution to suspend Comrade Nandana. Condemning this anti-democratic act, Comrade Amaratunga insisted that he is against holding this vote and therefore will not participate in it. Later, he informed the political committee that the Ratnasiri’s resolution was approved by a majority vote and that Amaratunga was neutral and the political committee implemented that decision. Amaratunga was not neutral, but was opposed to holding the vote.

Amaratunga, like many other comrades, was confused by this provocation which the party leadership consciously implemented. Amaratunga suggested to the committee to take steps for political clarity in order to correct these mistakes. Under these circumstances only, came Amaratunga’s remarks that he could no longer continue under this leadership. But Ratnasiri took this as an opportunity to advance the current situation in which actions are being taken to hunt down the party members who do not support anti-democratic, anti-tradition and anti-theoretical actions.

Through the intervention of Udayaprema and Geetha in the local committee, a consensus was reached that the problem should be resolved by discussing with Amaratunga.

Accordingly, Udayaprema was assigned to meet Amaratunga. Amaratunga told Udaya that there is no solution (politically speaking) other than the party; and that he is waiting for the date of the local committee meeting to be announced. It was reported to the local assembly, but Ratnasiri did not agree to invite him. He said that Amaratunga should make a written request to join the party as a new member. Ratnasiri rejected that Amaratunga did not leave the party.

Our party had a tradition of trying to solve problems such as this by sending a representative of the political committee to participate in the local committee. Such practices have been abandoned since many years. Now this is another example of uprooting the traditions and accepted practices needed for gaining political clarity. An important fact here is that the leadership worked to sweep away like dust a worker with a continuous history of 46 years in the party. When Amaratunga was working as a miner, he came forward to oppose the betrayal by the LSSP trade union and, the union leadership and the employers conspired together to sack him. He lost his job. He turned to RCL with this experience. The party has now given him the same treatment as the leaders of that trade union. He was greatly shocked and it affected his health. If not for our intervention and explanations made at the request of his family members, even his life would have been endangered.

He fought tirelessly against the 30-year war and against the JVP’s tyranny. He is a much respected and loved fighter in the area as well as within the party. He has a record of being true to the International Committee and the Party at all times. Since 1989, he has been suffering from a severe heart disease and he did not consider this condition as an obstacle to any of party work. Neighbors regard him as a leader because of the life he spent as a man who does not bow down to backwardness and always standing by principles.

When in 1978 Basil Fernando and Siriwardena rejected party perspectives outright, the RCL discussed with them for 6 months and tried to get political clarity. Such actions were

based on the decisive lessons of the struggle that Trotsky and Cannon had with Burnham Shatman group. When we raised these issues, Ratnasiri denounced this historical experience as mistakes made during the time of Healy. These statements, and the dismissal, shows the petty bourgeoise disregard for the history of the movement. This fact has been confirmed by the way in which the comrades Nandana, Sanjaya and Vakkambura have been treated as well as Amaratunga. What is important is to develop the party and thereby intensify the class struggle by raising the issues regarding perspectives and programme and clarifying them. Instead of that, such behaviors open the doors of the party to petty bourgeoise opportunism. We insist that it is necessary to realize this without delay.

In the first local meeting after 3rd Party conference (on 25.5.2022), Comrade Ratnasiri tried to appoint office bearers, keeping Comrades Nandana, Geetha and Udayaprema away. This has been informed to you by Comrade Nandana in his letter dated 29.5.2022, but you have chosen to ignore it.

Comrade Ratnasiri had informed the above comrades that the meeting would be started at 7.30 PM and, started it at 7 PM informing only the other members of the branch. After that, officials were appointed before the political discussion with an anti-traditional haste. Comrade Nandana’s opposition in this regard was introduced as sabotage. Comrade Amaratunga and the above three comrades left the meeting opposing the suppression of discussion and threatening of the local leadership. 

We warn that it is extremely dangerous for the leadership to continue to disregard the old traditions and constitution of the party in the current intense class struggle, and to expel the comrades who have been members of the party for a long time without any discussion  is opening the door to the reaction.

Comrade Missaka, who was a member of the Central Committee until he left the party, and a young Comrade Hirun, who demanded a discussion about the arbitrary actions of the party leadership have left the party, because even the 3rd Party Congress last year too defended these actions. Even though they have made written submissions to the leadership, no discussion whatsoever had been held within the party regarding them up to this date.

Dismissal of political, theoretical and organizational issues emerging within the acute situation of the contemporary class struggle, without any assessment or clarification is a clear indication that the party is being driven by pragmatism. For this reason, we understand that, it is required to have a genuine democratic discussion on the problems that have arisen regarding the comrades who have been kept away from the party including Amaratunga, which would be an essential requirement in order to understand the tasks of the party at a higher level and to create the necessary organizational preparations in implementing them. For that, we propose all four comrades mentioned here should be reinstated as members immediately.

We suggest that this letter should be shared among the party membership and a discussion should be commenced. 


Udayaprema, Geeta 

Local Council, Ambalangoda. 


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