Chairman of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), veteran Trotskyist, Wije Dias died this morning at the age of 80.
Wije Dias who was a leader of the ICFI and a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site died this morning at the Jayawardenapura hospital due to a heart attack.
Issuing a statement, the SEP said the death of Wije is a great loss for the party, in particular, the ICFI as a whole, and the working class in Sri Lanka, South Asia, and internationally. He was an intransigent fighter for more than half a century for the Trotskyist principles of international socialism that embody the interests of the working class in Sri Lanka and around the world.
Wije was a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the predecessor of the SEP, established in June 1968 to take up the fight for Trotskyism in the wake of the Lanka Sama Samaja’s (LSSP) betrayal in 1964 when it entered the bourgeois government of Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike.
Wije, then a young member of the LSSP, was a leading figure in the group of youth who opposed the betrayal and, under the ICFI’s guidance, drew the necessary political lessons and laid the RCL’s firm political foundations.
After the tragic and untimely death of the RCL’s founding general secretary Keerthi Balasuriya in December 1987, Wije was elected to fill the post. He was general secretary of the RCL then SEP right up until the latest congress in May when he was elected party chairman.
Wije Dias led the party in fighting for the political independence of the working class from all the parties of the political establishment, its pseudo-left hangers-on, and trade union agencies. Despite his age and weakened health, he played a key role in charting a revolutionary socialist course for the working class and rural toilers amid the current popular uprising against the Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe governments and their agenda of austerity and repression.
His loss is particularly felt amid this unprecedented economic, political and social crisis in Sri Lanka, the sharpest expression of the global crisis of capitalism. However, his powerful political legacy lives on in the cadre of the SEP and political work of the ICFI which continue his lifelong struggle for a socialist future for humanity.
Remains of the late Wije Dias lie at “Jayaratne Respect Home”, Kanatta Road, Borella for final respect from 9 AM on Thursday, July 28 to Saturday, July 30. The cortege leaves “Jayaratne Respect Home” at 2.30 PM on Saturday for Borella Cemetery for the funeral meeting at 3 PM and cremation at 5 PM. (