Red firebrand dead


Former JVP leader and General Secretary of the Janatha Sevaka Party passed away yesterday at the age of 73.

He was found dead by his nephew. Somwansa was residing at No 192, Rajagiriya Road, Rajagiriya in a house belonging to his brother.

Somawansa underwent a bypass operation in 2006.

Born on June 05, 1943 at Ethagama, Payagala, Amarasinghe Kankanamge Somawansa Amarasinghe studied at the Kalutara Vidyalaya.

Later, he served as an Irrigation Department technical officer in Colombo, Galle, Kalmunai, Bibile and Rajangana.

Somwansa joined the JVP in 1969 and within party circles he was known by many names including Rosemead Amare, Siri Aiya, Shantha Colombage, Michael, Rane, Ranadeva, Regionald, Regi Aiya, Nimal Bandara, and Davidson.

He played a pioneer role in the JVP’s 1971 insurrection and was the third accused in the case heard by the Criminal Justice Commission.

He was released from prison with his comrades in 1977 by the then JR Jayewardene government under a special pardon for CJC convicts.

Somawansa contested 1981 Development Council elections and was elected to the Kalutara District Development Council. He was in the party’s politburo during the time the JVP launched its second abortive insurrection which was put down by the then Ranasinghe Premadasa Government.

Somawansa was the one and only politburo member who survived the crackdown by escaping to India first and then to Europe to live in exile in several places including London and Paris.

Somawansa’s wife Ayrangani Manel Ranasinghe’s sister was married to Sirisena Cooray, who was a powerful minister in the Premadasa government.

After working from London for the revival of the party, Amarasinghe returned to the country on 22.11.2001. Addressing a massive rally in Kalutara on Nov 27, 2001, Somawansa set aside the distinctions made between the JVP and Desha Premi Janatha Viyaparaya, and accepted that the "deshapremis" killed, attacked the Katunayake Air Base and the Dalada Maligawa police check-point, while apologizing to the kith and kin of those who had died at their hands.

In April 16, 2015 Amarasinghe left the JVP and formed his own Janatha Sevaka Party. He vehemently criticised the present leadership of the JVP and alleged that the party leadership was no longer following Marxism.

Several political colleagues of Somawansa and party leaders were present at Rajagiriya yesterday. Somawansa’s son Isuru Prabhath Amarasinghe is due to arrive from London. The funeral is expected to be held on Saturday evening at the Borella Cemetery. (SI)

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