SEP public meeting in Colombo

Fifteen years since the death of Keerthi Balasuriya

20 December 2002

The Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka) is holding a public meeting on December 21 in Colombo to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of comrade Keerthi Balasuriya, the founding general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL)—the forerunner to the SEP.

His untimely death from a heart attack in December 1987 at the age of just 39 was a tragic loss to the RCL and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) as a whole. He became a Trotskyist at 17 in the difficult political conditions following the Lanka Sama Samaja Party’s (LSSP) entry into the capitalist government of Mme Bandaranaike in 1964—a betrayal that was to have profound consequences for the working class in Sri Lanka and internationally.

While others turned their back on Marxism and became infatuated with various forms of middle class radicalism, comrade Keerthi was one of a relatively small band of youth who drew the conclusion that the LSSP’s betrayal was rooted in the complex issues associated with the ICFI’s fight against Pabloite opportunism. At 20, he became the RCL’s general secretary when it was formed in 1968 as a section of the ICFI.

Comrade Keerthi’s writings take on a particular relevance today for a new generation of youth, who are appalled by the destructive impact of capitalism and seek the political means to fight for a socialist future. His political insights into the class nature of the various radical tendencies spawned by the LSSP’s betrayal have a broad significance for anyone in Asia, Africa or Latin America seeking to understand the decay and collapse of bourgeois nationalist organisations such as the PLO or the ANC.

The SEP invites workers, intellectuals, and particularly young people, to attend our meeting commemorating comrade Keerthi’s life and work.

Time: 3pm, Saturday, December 21
Venue: YMCA Hall, Fort, Colombo, Sri Lanka