A WORLD TO WIN    #19   (1993)


On the Death of Comrade Sanmugathasan

- Statement by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement

15 February 1993

It was with great grief that the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement learned of the death of Comrade N. Sanmugathasan, General Secretary of the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist) on 8 February at the age of 74 of natural causes.

Comrade Sanmugathasan devoted his life to the goal of achieving communism. He was a widely respected public figure in Sri Lanka and loved by broad sections of workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and progressives. His life was intertwined with the history of the revolutionary movement in Sri Lanka and the international communist movement. As he put it, "I became a Communist in 1939 and never looked back."

Comrade Sanmugathasan participated in the struggle to establish a genuine Communist Party in what was then colonial Ceylon. He fought against the Trotskyites that had dominated the Left movement in that country. He was an ardent defender of the accomplishments of the proletariat of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin.

Comrade Sanmugathasan was one of the first Communist leaders to rally around Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China in the great struggle against Khrushchevite revisionism. Comrade Sanmugathasan defended the need for the revolutionary violence of the masses and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Comrade Sanmugathasan was an ardent defender of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. On the basis of discussions with Mao Tsetung and other revolutionary leaders of the CPC, Comrade Sanmugathasan prepared a pamphlet entitled, "Hold High the Bright Red Banner of Mao Tsetung Thought". This publication, widely circulated throughout the world, helped popularize and spread some of the important teachings of Mao Tsetung.

In 1971 Comrade Sanmugathasan was imprisoned for one year by the reactionary regime in Sri Lanka.

In 1976 following the coup d'etat in China after Mao's death, Comrade Sanmugathasan was among the first to oppose the new revisionist rulers. When Enver Hoxha attacked Mao Tsetung Thought, Comrade Sanmugathasan stood firm while many others wavered.

Comrade Sanmugathasan attended both the First and Second International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations which resulted in the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. Comrade Sanmugathasan played an important role in this process, both through struggling hard for those positions he held firmly and in his striving for unity with others.

Comrade Sanmugathasan was one of the few living links between the revolutionaries who came forward under the influence of the Cultural Revolution in China and those who had come forward in earlier great battles. His maturity and staunchness was an important alloy in the forging of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement whose formation he hailed as a "milestone in the history of the international communist movement".

Comrade Sanmugathasan was a vigourous opponent of the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil people in the North and East of the island.

In 1991 Comrade Sanmugathasan personally convoked and led an important conference of the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist). Thus, even as his health was failing, and putting the cause of the proletariat and the revolution above personal interest, Comrade Sanmugathasan took an active role in promoting a new generation of leadership and assuring the future of the Party.

Comrade Sanmugathasan was an enthusiastic supporter of the People's War in Peru. His last public act was to speak at the first press conference in London of the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Dr Abimael Guzmán, of which he was a founder.

Throughout his long lifetime of revolutionary service to the proletariat and the people, Comrade Sanmugathasan never lost confidence in the ultimate triumph of the cause of communism. Although crucial problems of the revolution in Sri Lanka were not resolved in Comrade Sanmugathasan's lifetime, he laid down vital building blocks which the communists, proletariat and people of Sri Lanka will use in advancing toward their liberation.

The Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement extends its deepest sympathy to the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist), and to the family and friends of Comrade N. Sanmugathasan. We are sure that the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist) will honour the memory of Comrade Sanmugathasan by carrying forward in deeds the cause to which he dedicated his life.