On the eve of the 1987-90 Marxist uprising in Sri Lanka, universities such as Peradeniya, Kelaniya and Sri Jayewardenepura were dominated by pro-JVP student unions, who exerted ideological dominance. At the heart of the capital, in the University of Colombo, three student groups with conflicting politico-ideological tendencies were vying for control. In the next two years, as the political situation worsened and the country was cast in a spree of violence, these frictions manifested and played out by the way of ‘hard choices’ and ‘controversial options’ – which included taking up arms against one’s own campus political rivals.
In the narrative Vihanga Perera writes set against the 1987-90 uprising, (pro-JVP) student activist ‘the Eagle Hawk’ has already for months been anticipating the emergence of revolution. In fact, he had been tirelessly working towards its enhancement. However, two killings at the wake of violence – one of a rival student union leader, and the other of a veteran social activist – leaves this zealous cadre hesitant and confused.
In his presentation, Vihanga re-visits the historical juncture from which he draws inspiration in moulding the character of the Eagle Hawk. He will also speak of the killings of the then-President of the Independent Students Union (ISU) Daya Pathirana, and the gunning down of social activist Nandana Marasinghe: two murders, as alleged, carried out by the JVP. The presentation will also include a presentation of Vihanga’s writing of the insurrection.
Vihanga Perera is a SLLL PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing, who researches on the representations of torture during Sri Lanka’s insurrection of 1987-90. As a part of the research, he is developing five narratives of conflict-memory set in a village close to Kandy, Sri Lanka.