Sri Lankan editor's killers still at large

About a year ago, my first entry was posted to this site, about the murder of the Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickramatunga on Jan. 8, 2009.   Mr. Wickramatunga had been an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan government and his paper, the Sunday Leader,  and its staff had previously come under attack before his killing.  President Rajapaksa ordered a police investigation into his murder.  As a recent report by the International Federation of Journalists makes clear, however, to date there’s been little progress in bringing his killers to justice.  At least 14 journalists and other media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka since 2006.  Will we see anyone punished for any of these crimes?  Or will impunity continue?

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98 thoughts on “Sri Lankan editor's killers still at large

  1. Well there was a minister who kind of claimed that he did it. This minister is a menace to the country. The people of the country as a whole are kind of pissed off with the president for still keeping him in as a minster after all the mischief he's being up to.

    As a nation we all do vehemently condemn the attack on Lasantha.

  2. Well there was a minister who kind of claimed that he did it. This minister is a menace to the country. The people of the country as a whole are kind of pissed off with the president for still keeping him in as a minster after all the mischief he’s being up to.

    As a nation we all do vehemently condemn the attack on Lasantha.

  3. Lasantha’s last letter from the grave
    —————————————————

    And Then They Came For Me

    No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

    I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

    Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

    But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

    The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

    The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

    Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you'd best stop buying this paper.

    The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let's face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka's ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

    Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that – pray excuse cricketing argot – there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing expos�s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

    Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

    What is more, a military occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering "development" and "reconstruction" on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen – and all of the government – cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

    It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government's sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

    The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President's House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

    Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

    You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

    In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

    Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

    As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

    As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I – and my family – have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am – and have always been – ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

    That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be – and will be – killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

    People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niem�ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem�ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niem�ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:

    First they came for the Jews

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me

    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/archive/20090111/ed

  4. The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader and one of Sri Lanka’s best known journalists Lasantha Wickremetunge was murdered on 8th January 2009 en route to work.

    He was beaten and shot repeatedly and succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

    In a tremendously powerful and moving editorial published posthumously the Sunday after he was killed, Lasantha notes that “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

  5. Lasantha’s last letter from the grave
    —————————————————

    And Then They Came For Me

    No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

    I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

    Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

    But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

    The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

    The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

    Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you'd best stop buying this paper.

    The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let's face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka's ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

    Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that – pray excuse cricketing argot – there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing expos�s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

    Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

    What is more, a military occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering "development" and "reconstruction" on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen – and all of the government – cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

    It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government's sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

    The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President's House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

    Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

    You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

    In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

    Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

    As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

    As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I – and my family – have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am – and have always been – ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

    That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be – and will be – killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

    People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niem�ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem�ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niem�ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:

    First they came for the Jews

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me

    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/archive/20090111/ed

  6. Lasantha’s last letter from the grave
    —————————————————

    And Then They Came For Me

    No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

    I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

    Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

    But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

    The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

    The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

    Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you'd best stop buying this paper.

    The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let's face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka's ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

    Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that – pray excuse cricketing argot – there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing expos�s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

    Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

    What is more, a military occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering "development" and "reconstruction" on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen – and all of the government – cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

    It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government's sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

    The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President's House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

    Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

    You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

    In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

    Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

    As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

    As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I – and my family – have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am – and have always been – ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

    That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be – and will be – killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

    People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niem�ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem�ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niem�ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:

    First they came for the Jews

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me

    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/archive/20090111/ed

  7. The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader and one of Sri Lanka’s best known journalists Lasantha Wickremetunge was murdered on 8th January 2009 en route to work.

    He was beaten and shot repeatedly and succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

    In a tremendously powerful and moving editorial published posthumously the Sunday after he was killed, Lasantha notes that “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

  8. Lasantha’s last letter from the grave
    —————————————————

    And Then They Came For Me

    No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

    I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader’s 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

    Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

    But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

    The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

    The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

    Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you’d best stop buying this paper.

    The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let’s face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka’s ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

    Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that – pray excuse cricketing argot – there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing expos�s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

    Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

    What is more, a military occupation of the country’s north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering “development” and “reconstruction” on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen – and all of the government – cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

    It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government’s sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

    The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President’s House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

    Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

    You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

    In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

    Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

    As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

    As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I – and my family – have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am – and have always been – ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

    That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be – and will be – killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

    People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niem�ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem�ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niem�ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:

    First they came for the Jews

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists

    and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me

    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/archive/20090111/editorial-.htm

  9. Wow !!

    Silva, Rohan, Jim !!

    We finally get to agree on a topic… :) !

    Indeed this was one of the worst things that happened to SL. Killing of journalists have occurred throughout starting with Richard De Zoysa – one of the coolest guys I have met as a youngster. Thinking of the world history, I guess, Journalism is kind of a risky job to do anywhere in the world as we hear stories like this from almost all the countries in the world. :(

  10. DUBLIN GOES IN FOR THE KILL : PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL ON SRI LANKA http://jdsrilanka.blogspot.com/2010/01/dublin-goe

    "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute" – Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908 – 1993) First African American to serve on the US Supreme Court.

    “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated stronger than evil triumphant” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  11. DUBLIN GOES IN FOR THE KILL : PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL ON SRI LANKA http://jdsrilanka.blogspot.com/2010/01/dublin-goe

    "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute" – Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908 – 1993) First African American to serve on the US Supreme Court.

    “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated stronger than evil triumphant” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  12. DUBLIN GOES IN FOR THE KILL : PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL ON SRI LANKA http://jdsrilanka.blogspot.com/2010/01/dublin-goe

    "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute" – Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908 – 1993) First African American to serve on the US Supreme Court.

    “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated stronger than evil triumphant” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  13. Wow !!

    Silva, Rohan, Jim !!

    We finally get to agree on a topic… :) !

    Indeed this was one of the worst things that happened to SL. Killing of journalists have occurred throughout starting with Richard De Zoysa – one of the coolest guys I have met as a youngster. Thinking of the world history, I guess, Journalism is kind of a risky job to do anywhere in the world as we hear stories like this from almost all the countries in the world. :(

  14. DUBLIN GOES IN FOR THE KILL : PERMANENT PEOPLES’ TRIBUNAL ON SRI LANKA
    http://jdsrilanka.blogspot.com/2010/01/dublin-goes-in-for-kill.html

    “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute” – Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908 – 1993) First African American to serve on the US Supreme Court.

    “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated stronger than evil triumphant” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  15. In response to Rohan's last two comments above, I'd ask that all those commenting keep to the topic posed in the original entry. Please don't abuse the opportunity to comment. Thanks.

  16. In response to Rohan’s last two comments above, I’d ask that all those commenting keep to the topic posed in the original entry. Please don’t abuse the opportunity to comment. Thanks.

  17. Hi Jim,
    sorry if You feel not irrelevant to the topic, u can remove that. but it is not abuse, only the truth inside abuse against Humanity.
    Thanks

  18. The violence is still being used to choke the voices of dissent in Sri Lanka.

    The editor of the Sunday Leader, a Sri Lankan editor, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to work.

    Following numerous encounters with the government, Lasantha Wickramatunga knew that his life might soon be cut short by those who wished to silence him, yet he pursued and exposed the truth regardless.

    His death is a great loss for the world of serious journalism.

    Such treatment of journalists, and those closest to them, has led to a paralysis of the media community in the Sri Lanka.

    Two trends were noted in Sri Lanka: lack of press access and independent information flow in the country, assaults on and intimidation of journalists covering the Sri Lanka.

  19. Hi Jim,
    sorry if You feel not irrelevant to the topic, u can remove that. but it is not abuse, only the truth inside abuse against Humanity.
    Thanks

  20. Attacks on the Media are extremely harmful to the democratic principles upon which any state is founded: murder, assaults, abductions, beatings and imprisonment of journalists and destruction of media establishments.
    There is an ample proof that the -freedom of expression -has been substantially challenged in contemporary Sri Lanka.
    Repeated attacks on the media culminated with the assassination of Mr Lasantha Wickramatunga, the Senior Editor of The Sunday Leader.
    This was preceded by an attack on the studio complex of SIRASA, one of Sri Lanka’s most popular television channels.
    Both Mr Wickramatunga and SIRASA’s news team share one feature in common. They constitute, together with others such as the editor of Ravaya, a segment of the media that strives to practice a form of journalism that differs from the state-owned media and other privately owned print and electronic media.
    As far as Mr Wickramatunga was concerned, he represented a clear voice of dissent, in an effort to bring the unsaid, inside story, place a contrary view and a view of dissent before the reader.

  21. The violence is still being used to choke the voices of dissent in Sri Lanka.

    The editor of the Sunday Leader, a Sri Lankan editor, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to work.

    Following numerous encounters with the government, Lasantha Wickramatunga knew that his life might soon be cut short by those who wished to silence him, yet he pursued and exposed the truth regardless.

    His death is a great loss for the world of serious journalism.

    Such treatment of journalists, and those closest to them, has led to a paralysis of the media community in the Sri Lanka.

    Two trends were noted in Sri Lanka: lack of press access and independent information flow in the country, assaults on and intimidation of journalists covering the Sri Lanka.

  22. Attacks on the Media are extremely harmful to the democratic principles upon which any state is founded: murder, assaults, abductions, beatings and imprisonment of journalists and destruction of media establishments.
    There is an ample proof that the -freedom of expression -has been substantially challenged in contemporary Sri Lanka.
    Repeated attacks on the media culminated with the assassination of Mr Lasantha Wickramatunga, the Senior Editor of The Sunday Leader.
    This was preceded by an attack on the studio complex of SIRASA, one of Sri Lanka’s most popular television channels.
    Both Mr Wickramatunga and SIRASA’s news team share one feature in common. They constitute, together with others such as the editor of Ravaya, a segment of the media that strives to practice a form of journalism that differs from the state-owned media and other privately owned print and electronic media.
    As far as Mr Wickramatunga was concerned, he represented a clear voice of dissent, in an effort to bring the unsaid, inside story, place a contrary view and a view of dissent before the reader.

  23. A Sri Lankan journalist, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for supporting terrorism after he criticized the government, will be released on bail pending appeal, his attorney said Monday.

    Isn't this a good thing to happen ?? Jim ??

  24. A Sri Lankan journalist, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for supporting terrorism after he criticized the government, will be released on bail pending appeal, his attorney said Monday.

    Isn’t this a good thing to happen ?? Jim ??

  25. Sri Lankan journalist Jeyaprakash Tissainayagam is freed on bail http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/

    This is a good news but still on bail, but after the election, will he be freed or jailed?
    There were many reporters killed, still await justice. Who is the real culprits behind the Killings? Why do they kill reporters?, they never write by Gun, but use only pen.

  26. Sri Lankan journalist Jeyaprakash Tissainayagam is freed on bail http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/

    This is a good news but still on bail, but after the election, will he be freed or jailed?
    There were many reporters killed, still await justice. Who is the real culprits behind the Killings? Why do they kill reporters?, they never write by Gun, but use only pen.

  27. Sri Lankan journalist Jeyaprakash Tissainayagam is freed on bail http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/

    This is a good news but still on bail, but after the election, will he be freed or jailed?
    There were many reporters killed, still await justice. Who is the real culprits behind the Killings? Why do they kill reporters?, they never write by Gun, but use only pen.

  28. Very good point Rohan :)

    Why many reporters have to die for telling the truth ………

    but the JVP student leader was quiet about the war.

    The leading student body in Sri Lanka has admitted that it did not protest when human rights violations were committed against Tamil students during the long conflict between the security forces and the LTTE.

    The pro JVP Convenor of the Inter University Student Union (IUSF) told journalist KS Udayakumar that the biggest student union in Sri Lanka had to "keep quite" while students were abducted and killed in a period of war against "separatist terrorism".

    However, he stressed that the student movement in Sri Lanka was "never racist".

    "The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda," he said.

    In TID custody

    In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the IUSF for the first time has urged the government to release a Tamil university student and other students detained in refugee camps.

    The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda

    IUSF convenor, Udul Premaratne

    It seeks immediate release of Rasaiah Dvaraka, an undergraduate at Peradeniya University.

    The IUSF is widely regarded as being controlled by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Many former IUSF leaders have later become JVP parliamentarians and activists.

    The IUSF also calls on the authorities to release all other school and university students currently in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).

    Addressing journalists in Colombo, the IUSF convenor Udul Premaratne said the continuous detention of Tamil students might result in Tamils being pushed towards separatism once again.

    Udul Premaratne stressed that the IUSF will continue protests until Ms. Dvaraka, currently detained by police Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), released.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2009/11/0

  29. Very good point Rohan :)

    Why many reporters have to die for telling the truth ………

    but the JVP student leader was quiet about the war.

    The leading student body in Sri Lanka has admitted that it did not protest when human rights violations were committed against Tamil students during the long conflict between the security forces and the LTTE.

    The pro JVP Convenor of the Inter University Student Union (IUSF) told journalist KS Udayakumar that the biggest student union in Sri Lanka had to "keep quite" while students were abducted and killed in a period of war against "separatist terrorism".

    However, he stressed that the student movement in Sri Lanka was "never racist".

    "The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda," he said.

    In TID custody

    In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the IUSF for the first time has urged the government to release a Tamil university student and other students detained in refugee camps.

    The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda

    IUSF convenor, Udul Premaratne

    It seeks immediate release of Rasaiah Dvaraka, an undergraduate at Peradeniya University.

    The IUSF is widely regarded as being controlled by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Many former IUSF leaders have later become JVP parliamentarians and activists.

    The IUSF also calls on the authorities to release all other school and university students currently in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).

    Addressing journalists in Colombo, the IUSF convenor Udul Premaratne said the continuous detention of Tamil students might result in Tamils being pushed towards separatism once again.

    Udul Premaratne stressed that the IUSF will continue protests until Ms. Dvaraka, currently detained by police Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), released.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2009/11/0

  30. Very good point Rohan :)

    Why many reporters have to die for telling the truth ………

    but the JVP student leader was quiet about the war.

    The leading student body in Sri Lanka has admitted that it did not protest when human rights violations were committed against Tamil students during the long conflict between the security forces and the LTTE.

    The pro JVP Convenor of the Inter University Student Union (IUSF) told journalist KS Udayakumar that the biggest student union in Sri Lanka had to "keep quite" while students were abducted and killed in a period of war against "separatist terrorism".

    However, he stressed that the student movement in Sri Lanka was "never racist".

    "The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda," he said.

    In TID custody

    In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the IUSF for the first time has urged the government to release a Tamil university student and other students detained in refugee camps.

    The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda

    IUSF convenor, Udul Premaratne

    It seeks immediate release of Rasaiah Dvaraka, an undergraduate at Peradeniya University.

    The IUSF is widely regarded as being controlled by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Many former IUSF leaders have later become JVP parliamentarians and activists.

    The IUSF also calls on the authorities to release all other school and university students currently in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).

    Addressing journalists in Colombo, the IUSF convenor Udul Premaratne said the continuous detention of Tamil students might result in Tamils being pushed towards separatism once again.

    Udul Premaratne stressed that the IUSF will continue protests until Ms. Dvaraka, currently detained by police Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), released.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2009/11/0

  31. In response to recent comments above concerning J.S. Tissainayagam being granted bail yesterday, please see my most recent entry on this site which addresses that topic directly.

  32. Very good point Rohan :)

    Why many reporters have to die for telling the truth ………

    but the JVP student leader was quiet about the war.

    The leading student body in Sri Lanka has admitted that it did not protest when human rights violations were committed against Tamil students during the long conflict between the security forces and the LTTE.

    The pro JVP Convenor of the Inter University Student Union (IUSF) told journalist KS Udayakumar that the biggest student union in Sri Lanka had to “keep quite” while students were abducted and killed in a period of war against “separatist terrorism”.

    However, he stressed that the student movement in Sri Lanka was “never racist”.

    “The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda,” he said.

    In TID custody

    In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the IUSF for the first time has urged the government to release a Tamil university student and other students detained in refugee camps.

    The situation was different then and today. There might have been human rights violations during the war and of course we had to keep silent at a time of war against a separatist terrorism. But the student movement never worked on a racist agenda

    IUSF convenor, Udul Premaratne

    It seeks immediate release of Rasaiah Dvaraka, an undergraduate at Peradeniya University.

    The IUSF is widely regarded as being controlled by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Many former IUSF leaders have later become JVP parliamentarians and activists.

    The IUSF also calls on the authorities to release all other school and university students currently in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).

    Addressing journalists in Colombo, the IUSF convenor Udul Premaratne said the continuous detention of Tamil students might result in Tamils being pushed towards separatism once again.

    Udul Premaratne stressed that the IUSF will continue protests until Ms. Dvaraka, currently detained by police Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), released.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2009/11/091123_lanka_students.shtml

  33. In response to recent comments above concerning J.S. Tissainayagam being granted bail yesterday, please see my most recent entry on this site which addresses that topic directly.

  34. Jim – not thanking them for the Links ?? :)

    It's an invitation to you I guess after seeing your Handsome face ;) !! click on their names and U shall see what they are getting at… Good luck and take a load of Butter !!

  35. Jim – not thanking them for the Links ?? :)

    It’s an invitation to you I guess after seeing your Handsome face ;) !! click on their names and U shall see what they are getting at… Good luck and take a load of Butter !!