BY Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) noted that the burning of the Jaffna Library evoked an empty space in the public’s consciousness, adding also that prominent Ministers of the United National Party (UNP) administration at the time had been complicit in the act of arson.
The Party’s Socialist Youth Union in commemoration of late revolutionary, Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara, donated books to the Jaffna Library which JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake and All Ceylon Estate Workers’ Union Leader Ramalingam Chandrasekar handed over to Jaffna Librarian Sugandhi Sadhasivammurthi.
Ratnayake, citing an eyewitness to the burning of the Jaffna Library on 31 May 1981 and 1 June 1981 who had given evidence to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission regarding the matter and was also a former Sinhalese government official working in Jaffna at the time, said that top Ministers of the government (Cyril Mathew and Gamini Dissanayake) at the time had had a hand in the burning of the Library.
“The Library was completely destroyed due to the burning and over 90,000 books were also completely destroyed as a result. Guevara was an educated man and a physician who in the thick of things in the struggles he fought, always kept a book in his satchel and read whenever possible. Thus we think it is appropriate to have donated books in his memory in the hope of unity between the ethnicities and religions in the country which has gone through a bitter past. We hope, that we can through this act to a certain extent, undo the immense damage done in the public mind by this tragedy,” he added.
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