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Lasantha: The Courageous Editor who Fearlessly spoke Truth to Power

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Remembering “Lassieboy” on the first anniversary of his death

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

It was on January 8th last year that Lasantha Wickrematunga the Editor of “The Sunday Leader” in Colombo was killed by “unknown” assassins. He was my colleague, editor, friend and above all a kindred soul.

Lasantha Wickrematunga

How I miss him.

There is big vacuum in the media scene after his departure

One whole year has passed but there has been no progress whatsoever in the investigations into the brutal murder. This was to be expected as those responsible are ensconced in the seat of power. Lassie Boy as I called him was one who spoke truth fearlessly to power

The powers that be waited for the right opportunity and got him killed. Thereafter they engaged in a massive cover –up exercise that is still going on.

Meanwhile the “unholy Trinity” that was behind this and other attacks on the media and journalists has come apart.

In the current frenzy to win the Presidential stakes the frontrunners are engaged in a game of blaming the other party for the earlier war against the media. Indirect references have been made to Lasantha’s killing too with both sides threatening to expose the truth

We of the fourth estate are not strangers to this verbal hypocrisy and can only take these assertions not with the proverbial pinch but a fistful of salt

We watch with concerned interest as more and more light is shed on the dark period of our Country during the course of this heated electoral infighting

We do not have illusions. Notwithstanding whatever promised or pledged the media will not get anything delivered on a platter

We have to struggle and fight for our rights

We have to face fearful odds in striving to unravel the truth behind various assaults on the media chief of which is the dastardly assassination of Lasantha

His killers may think that the gun has silenced the pen but as a fellow scribe and friend I want to remind his killers that the last word about his death has not been written yet.

There will come a time when justice would be meted out to his killers both the arrow and the archer. Until then, we who loved and admired “Lassie Boy” shall not rest.

This is not a challenge, threat or boast but a simple statement of fact.

On the first anniversary of his death I was planning to write a detailed article on the assassination and its aftermath.

Unfortunately I have not been able to complete it. I do not want to present a half-baked article to coincide with the anniversary
I think I owe it to Lassie that I write a comprehensive article to commemorate his death anniversary

Since that would take some more time and I very badly want to remember Lassie Boy publicly on his first death anniversary I am re-producing the article I wrote about him for “Daily Mirror” in Colombo immediately after his death.

It is mainly a personal account that provides some insight into Lasantha. I have edited it slightly.

Here then is the article written last year-

Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge was brutally assassinated in broad daylight on a public road. He was murdered on January 8 by cowardly minions for courageously speaking truth to power.

Refusing to be silenced by the powers that be, the fearless editor of “The Sunday Leader” fought valiantly against overwhelming odds to expose corruption, nepotism, mis-governance, racism and militaristic triumphalism.

The motto of “The Sunday Leader” was “unbowed and unafraid”. Lasantha personified the motto in every way and remained to the very end, unbowed and unafraid.

Fateful Morning

On that fateful morning, a domestic aide had detected signs of potential danger. Some unknown men on motor cycles were hovering around in the vicinity of Lasantha’s residence. The domestic aide warned Lasantha.

When Sonali Samarasinghe, his wife heard about the hovering motorcyclists she pleaded with Lasantha not to go out of the house at that time. But Lasantha refused to do so and started out in his car to office asking Sonali to come later in her car.

The motorcyclists had followed the vehicle and Lasantha had telephoned some friends on his mobile phone and told them of the suspicious activity of the “motor cyclemen”.

Lasantha’s car was on rd Attidiya near the “Bakery handiya” junction when the stalking assassins got into action. They converged around like predators encircling prey when the vehicle was close to the Malagalage junior school.

Four Motor Cycles

According to some eye-witness accounts there were four motor cycles in all. Two had cut across in front of the car blocking Lasantha and forcing him to brake suddenly. Two other motor cycles moved up on either side of the car.

The assassins in black wore helmets. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, these messengers of death closed in on Lasantha. A steel bar wrapped in newspapers was whisked out . The windscreen was smashed.

The assassins then yanked the door open. Pulling out their instruments of death the “black” souls launched their cowardly attack against the unarmed journalist whose only weapon was his pen writing the bold truth.

The assassins then mounted their bikes and sped away. There was a sentry point manned by the Air Force about 100 metres away. Several onlookers saw the terrifying assault. But the assassins simple vanished.

The unconscious Lasantha was bleeding profusely. He was first taken to the nearest Kalubowila hospital. An ambulance was prepared to take him from Kalubowila to the National hospital.

The doctors found his condition too critical to move him . So emergency surgery was done at Kalubowila with a team of doctors rushing to Kalubowila from Borella. The medical personnel strove hard for hours to resuscitate him. After four hours of battling for life Lasantha passed away.

Thus ended the saga of one of the bravest human beings I have ever known. Thus ended the life of a fearless scribe, crusading for justice and peace. An irredeemable loss for journalism and Sri Lanka. Cry, the beloved Country!!

Personal Loss

His death is a huge, personal loss to me.

He and I were colleagues on “The Island” in the eighties of the last century. We were also residents of Kotahena then. Later I was for many years a columnist at “The Sunday Leader” which he edited.

But “Lassie Boy” as I called him was a friend in every sense of the word. How I shall miss him!

I have interacted with most of his family members also. My heartfelt condolences to Sonali and Raine, his children Avinash, Ahimsa and Aadesh, his parents Uncle Haris and Aunty Chandra, his brothers Lal and Anil, his sisters Savitri, Rukmani and Kumudini , his brothers and sisters-in-law and all nephews and nieces.

Needless to say, Lasantha was a controversial-larger than life-character whose journalism evoked various reactions in various people. Some loved him, some hated him; Some admired him while others condemned him.

But the real Lasantha Wickrematunge was totally different to the “image” many had of him due to negative perceptions. He was friendly and easy to get along with. What I want to do in this column is to portray the lesser known side of Lasantha. Something close and personal.

Lassie Boy

It was indeed my privilege and good fortune to be closely associated with him for many years. Apart from a brief period of estrangement our friendship endured the trials of time.

This temporary break came in 2007 when I broke ranks from “The Sunday Leader” and switched to “The Nation”. This rift on a personal level lasted only a few months.

He extended his hand of friendship and I grasped it firmly. Once again we were buddies! I am glad and grateful that we reconciled as his loss would have been even more unbearable had there not been rapprochement.

I used to call him “Lassie Boy”. This was because there were two guys with the name Lasantha at “The Island” editorial those days. To differentiate, I shortened his name to “lassie” which amused many colleagues.

He objected vehemently saying “lassie” was a girlish name. To his utter chagrin I compromised by adding “Boy” after lassie to emphasise his masculinity. “Lassie boy” it was forever. Some others too followed suit.

Teetotaller Rarity

Lasantha Wickrematunge joined “The Island” in 1982 shortly after the Presidential elections in October. He had cut his journalistic teeth on the now defunct “Sun,” but joined “The Island” because he was given a very raw deal there.

When the presidential elections got underway, Lasantha was assigned to cover Hector Kobbekaduwe’s electoral campaign. This he did with gusto and passion thereby incurring the wrath of “Ward place” circles. There was much pressure and the management caved in. Hence, the crossover.

Our friendship began and grew while working as reporters on “The Island”. For some reason he took a liking to both Ajit Samaranayake and myself. Both of us were four years elder to him but we got on famously .We were not his mentors. He needed none.

Unlike both of us, Lasantha was a teetotaller , a rarity those days among scribes. Still that did not prevent his joining us sometimes when we quenched our thirst in waterholes. He would sip a soft drink while we imbibed the hard stuff, chatting away.

But Lasantha and I got even closer as we were reporters which Ajit was not. Also we were residents of Kotahena. I had moved from Wellawatte to Galpotha road to be within walking distance of Upali newspapers at Bloemendhall road. He was a native of Wasala road.

This enabled us to interact more closely. We were young and bachelors then. More importantly Lasantha had a car of his own. Thus we travelled about in his vehicle to many places and events having fun. I was also a frequent visitor to his home.

All-Party Conference

Among the pleasant memories of “The Island” experience was the time when the All-party conference was held in 1984. Both of us were assigned to cover it.

Unlike some scribes who depended only on the press conferences and press releases to write their news stories we delved deep into our sources about what really transpired in the conclave. Our editor at that time Vijitha Yapa who was himself bold and unconventional, encouraged our approach.

We pooled our resources and because of our friendship combined to write our stories. Our coverage was the best and the official spokesperson Lalith Athulathmudali would laughingly tell us at the APC press conference “You people don’t need me”.

Abiding Interest

He revealed to me then his abiding interest in politics. We were alike in that respect but unlike me he wanted to be an active politician. This was due to his family background.

Lasantha’s father, Haris Wickrematunge had been a municipal councillor for three decades. He was at one time deputy mayor of Colombo. Uncle Haris had also contested Colombo North as an independent and lost in 1970.

Lasantha also wanted to engage in politics. Uncle Haris had crossed over from the UNP to SLFP with AHM Fowzie and others. This and the bitter experience he suffered at the hands of JR and cronies propelled Lasantha into the SLFP. He was also assigned to cover that party for the paper thus developing his SLFP links further.

It was this which made him contest the 1989 Parliamentary polls in the Colombo district. He didn’t make it then. Later he worked as private secretary to the then opposition leader Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

In retrospect, I am glad that he couldn’t shine in active politics. Otherwise he would not have had his “avatar” as Sunday Leader Editor. He grew into his role and was really conscious of the historic role he was playing.

There was a time when he wanted to be a cabinet minister in a future UNP government. But when the prospect loomed large on the political horizon, Lasantha opted to remain as a journalist and editor rather than be a politico-minister. This was because he had become very fond and devoted to his editorial role. Despite the dangers he preferred that to full time law or politics.

Lasantha was not unaware of the dangers he faced. He had encountered innumerable problems in the past. After Richard de Zoysa was killed by former President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s henchmen, Lasantha was among the journalists whose lives were threatened.

The Sunday Leader

He went to Australia where he stayed for a while. He returned after a while and in 1994 co-founded “the Sunday Leader”. The newspaper under Lasantha’s unprecedented editorial drive and direction charted out a new course in Sri Lankan journalism.

He pulled no punches in a zealous quest to cleanse the Augean stables. Lasantha was no Hercules. Yet he went about his task with indomitable courage. Like Prometheus he defied the “gods” (with clay feet)

For a decade and a half the popular Sunday paper pitched into the powers that be. In the finest embodiment of journalistic values, Lasantha Wickrematunge and his “Sunday Leader” spoke truth to power. In the process he did not merely ruffle feathers but stripped the “birdies” bald.

One-man Opposition

From Chandrika Kumaratunga to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the highest in the land were all targets of his journalistic archery. He was a virtual one-man opposition. Under his editorial leadership his staffers and colleagues worked together as a dedicated team for the common good of this country by upholding liberal democratic values.

In the process he underwent much hardship and danger. Thugs assaulted him in the presence of his wife; machine gun fire was sprayed at his house. The paper was sealed under emergency regulations; numerous court cases were filed; the press was burnt down.a blatant attempt to arrest him was made, he was the target of hatemail, abusive calls and death threats. He and his loved ones were targets of vulgar attacks in sections of the media. Still he battled on, unbowed and unafraid.

Finally the end came in a gruesome fashion. In the Sri Lanka of old the barbarians were at the gates. Now they are inside the gates occupying positions of power. Lasantha fully realised the dangers he faced.

He could have gone abroad to save his life. He was a lawyer and could have simply donned the black coat; He could have capitulated and compromised his journalistic integrity. He could have allowed himself to be bought over by or co-opted into the power structure. These he did not and instead opted to go along the straight but narrow path.

Uncomonly Brave

He was uncommonly brave or foolhardy depending upon how one looks at it. The fact that he never had bodyguards or sought protection is illustrative of his defiant spirit. Except on rare “official” occasions he always drove his own car.

Each day he would walk 45 minutes for exercise, along the road sticking to the same routine. Even on the fateful morning he opted to go out alone regardless of consequences.

I was always concerned about the danger to his life and caution him. I am sure many others would have done so too. But he would flippantly dismiss them. “Machang” he would joke, “there are two things where you gotta go when you have to go . One is the toilet and the other is the grave”.

There was also another source of inner strength for this courage. Very few know about the “spiritual” side of Lasantha. Most people think of him as a hard-headed , cynically rational person. But there was a metaphysical aspect to him.

I was surprised when he told me face to face in Canada, “Dont worry machang. Nothing will happen to me because there is a divine power watching over me. That’s my protection”. I first though he was joking but later realised he was very serious. This was due to a spiritual experience he underwent

Spiritual Experience

Lasantha’s parents and all three sisters and families reside in Canada. One of his sisters had a “problem” of sorts, which was resolved through the prayers of an evangelical Christian mission. This made other members of the family to embrace the faith.

Lasantha himself on one of his trips to Canada underwent a spiritual experience. Thereafter he like Saul being transformed into Paul on the road to Damascus was changed. He even introduced me to his pastor Angelo once. This spiritual experience steeped him in faith and provided strength and solace to him.

Lasantha used to visit Canada every year during late spring to see his sisters and parents. This gave me annual opportunities to meet him in person and have heart to heart conversations. He would also call me when he was abroad in other countries. We would then engage in prolonged conversations without fear of telephones being tapped.

Four Phases

Professionally, my relationship with him has been of four phases. The first was our working together at “The Island”; the second was when he started “The Sunday Leader” and I wrote for the paper from Canada.

Since I was editing my own Tamil weekly at that time I couldn’t continue for long. But it was illustrative of Lasantha’s innovative outlook and confidence in me that he thought I could write a regular column on Sri Lankan politics from Canada for a Sri Lankan newspaper.

The third phase was when I began functioning in 1997 as the “Roving correspondent” of “The Sunday Leader” writing the “searchlight” column.

The fourth phase was in 1999 when I started writing under my own byline for his paper. This went on till September 2007.

The important point in writing for “Editor” Wickrematunge was the absolute freedom he allowed his columnist. He has never bluepencilled me. Except for rare requests he has never asked me what I was going to write upon.

There have been only two occasions during an eight year stint that he asked me not to write on two matters. One was about a Tamil politician and the other a Sinhala Army general.

Particular Empathy

What endeared him to me most was his utter lack of racist consciousness. In this he was influenced by his father and Kotahena upbringing. The ward contested by Uncle Haris is multi-ethnic. So too is Colombo north.

This resulted in Haris Wickrematunge having very good rapport with the Tamil, Muslim and Burgher communities in the area This rubbed off on Lasantha too I guess. Besides the cosmopolitian St. Benedicts College environment also was conducive.

As a result Lasantha was one who had no racist or chauvinist thinking in his psyche. He was fully aware of the problems faced by the minority ethnicities in Lanka. He had particular empathy for the Tamil predicament.

This worldview and mindset was reflected in his journalism and the general editorial thrust of his paper. The newspaper was boldly critical of majoritarian hegemony and strongly supportive of the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people.

This policy was not hypocritical based on attracting sales. It came from the heart. This naturally made him and the paper popular with readers from the minority communities who recognized a kindred soul.

On the other hand racist and chauvinist elements among the majority community resented this. They hated Lasantha vehemently.

Unlike many who pursue military solutions to political problems while paying lip service to the concept of a political settlement, Lasantha genuinely believed that there is no military solution to the Tamil national question. He boldly took on those militaristic proponents thereby incurring their anger and hatred

Investigative Skills

Another facet to his journalism was his investigative skills. I am not underestimating the talents and efforts of his staffers but it was common knowledge that the pivotal force in all exposures done by the paper was Lasantha himself.

In the days of old, newspapers worked on an investigation for weeks, One good investigative feature uncovering a corruption or mismanagement came only once a month or twice. But the “Sunday Leader” broke new ground with its investigative articles.

It was not merely one per week but a case of three or four in a single issue. From a journalistic perspective this was indeed fantastic.

A little-known fact about Lasantha is that he was a good cricketer like his brother Lal. Lasantha played for the under 16 at SBC and shone.

Unlike Lal who was a pacey Lasantha was a left arm leg spinner. But he went off to Britain when he was sixteen. Thus he could not continue his cricket.

I used to tease him frequently that he was now bowling his “googlies” and “dhoosras” in Journalism.

Dont Cry For Me

Lasantha was born on April 5th 1958. He had lived for only fifty years and eight months on this planet. Yet, he achieved many, many things in that short life-span. He changed single-handedly the state of journalism in this country. His name will be remembered when the history of journalism in Sri Lanka is written.

One of Lasantha’s favourite songs was “Dont Cry for me Argentina”.from the musical “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. This was before Madonna singing in the movie “Evita” in 1997.

He would often bawl out the line “Don’t cry for me Argentina” in a not so musical voice.

After his demise old memories come back and that line echoes again and again.

I can hear Lasantha singing out there “Dont cry for me Argentina…..but Argentina is now replaced by Sri Lanka.

Farewell Lassie Boy, I salute you my friend , I salute you, Lasantha

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53 Comments

  1. Lasantha was killed by the unholy trinity when they were together. Now they are blaming each other. Let’s hope that the truth about who killed Lasantha will be revealed as a result

  2. It’s a good well-written article DBS

    I read it when you wrote it last year but its well worth a second read

    My your friend Lassie boy rest in peace

  3. His niece has an article in the Guardian
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/07/sri-lanka-tamil-election-war?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

    and there is another article on the Comment is free section regarding human rights in Lanka (as the Guardian normally only publishes the views of the UK’s chief tiger apologist, it is rare to have two articles from neutral intelligent observers on one day).
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/07/sri-lanka-wickrematunge-human-rights?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

    It is to be noted that Sinhala racist scum are out on both threads claiming that Lisantha deserved to die as an LTTE supporter and traitor. They are mainly getting deleted, but as I’m going to bed now perhaps one of you lot could be pressing the abuse button on those threads to get deleted the posts that praise the murder

  4. I was an avid reader of Suranimala and yourself when you were writing for Sunday Leader. You stopped writing and Suranimala is no more.

    I felt nostalgic in reading you write about Lasantha

    I hope his killers are caught

  5. Investigations over the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge will now change its course towards interrogating General Sarath Fonseka for a possible involvement in the killing.
    General Sarath Fonseka continues to insist he has nothing to do with the killing of Lasantha Wickremathunge.
    A new turn of events was witnessed, when Secretary General Gotabaya told Lankadeepa, “Sarath Fonseka is bleating media freedom when his past actions were on the contrary”
    Speaking further Gotabaya said, “We kept quiet about Lasantha Wickremathunge killing because we wanted to save the armed forces. The reason is we did not think of personal matters since we had a common goal. My aim was to defeat the LTTE. I had already accepted the accusations made by the media on media freedom although we kept quite on the matter. I am stating all this because Sarath Fonseka is singing a different tune these days”
    It is anyone’s guess of a political mudslinging scandal for the upcoming presidential polls that might be revolving beneath the charges of Lasantha Wickremthunge murder investigation.

  6. On the 11th of May 2008, the deputy editor of the Nation newspaper, Keith Noyahr, wrote an article titled: “An army is not its commander’s private fiefdom.” It criticized the General for depriving senior, capable, and deserving officers of reaching command positions, and instead promoting junior officers with little battlefield experience. The article pointed out a whimsical (should we say dictatorial?) style of leadership where a Major General who spearheaded the victory in the East was thanklessly removed and kicked out of his official quarters, while the commander responsible for the Muhamalai debacle was rewarded with a promotion. When it came to nominating officers for service awards, the General was a scrooge, recommending a grand total of one person for the Vishista Seva Vibushanaya… himself. He determined that only he was fit to receive it, even though he was overlooked for a lesser decoration, the Uttama Seva Padakkama, by no less than five previous army commanders (they must have had their reasons, says Noyahr’s sources). The article clearly seemed to have the tacit cooperation of officers within the service: officers who felt that the army was transforming from an institution run by military professionals with an established procedural code, to one that operated on a cult of personality-the personality of Lt. General Fonseka.
    Less than two weeks after the article was published, Keith Noyahr was abducted and tortured. The Chief Opposition Whip, Joseph Michael Perera, said in parliament:
    “We are told by those in the army itself that journalists are abducted and subjected to grievous injury by none other than a special unit under the army commander.”
    The General’s opinion of Mr Noyahr:
    “If he has done some damage to our organisation or to a person, especially when he has done something which he is not supposed to do, then it is natural he must be living in fear. If they think that they have done something of that nature the best thing for them is to correct themselves and rectify the mistake…These so called media guys are not responsible to the people and they are not entitled to such media freedom.”
    So here’s what we have so far: a man who is racist, egotistical, dictatorial, and extravagant. Add to this a contempt for public freedom, an inability to appreciate other points of view, and a tendency to hold personal grudges against any who defy him.

  7. Killer is now competing for Presidency of SL. It is sad that the party accused government of killing hi is now supporting the killer!

  8. Murder for any reason is a crime, and no man is guilty unless proven so. Lasantha had many enemies in and out of the government.

  9. Lasantha was not well-known till the mid 90s until he started “Breakfast with Lasantha” daily TV show where he always cut the ruling party into pieces. This had a very high rating. He became popular afterwards,and also after he started the Leader newspaper which was a daily paper at the time.

  10. On the balance of probabilities the Military under Fonseka may be responsible for the demise of Lasantha.

  11. DBSJ wrote “There will come a time when justice would be meted out to his killers both the arrow and the archer. Until then, we who loved and admired “Lassie Boy” shall not rest”

  12. I will not post Comments again. Sorry DBS but I am going to do election propaganda. I will get paid well>its profuitable to do that without spending time writing comments here. I dont know why you waste time running this blog when you can make money like me

    Wish you the best in your mission to make money. See you after Jan 27th…………….DBSJ

  13. If Lasantha could have selected Politics, he could have easly became a MP of Col North not only because of his friends circle in COL North but the Good name earned by his family in Kotahena specialy Harris Marthiya. I beleive people likes of Lasantha should have taken up politics to change the face of Sri Lankan politics the way he changed the Jurno of Sri Lanka. We too missed another fine Kotahena boy. we are proud of you.
    Doing the duty that is to do, Bearing the cross with the crown in view.
    Lasantha the true Religio, Mores, Cultura, Motto of Bens

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  15. The truth will never come out, because our people take the secrets to the grave. Other people from other countries divulge the secrets and admit guilt even just before dying.

    May Lassie boy RIP.

  16. Raj you were with us too ??

    Lasantha statred with me @ Multi-Packs group in Blomendhal , then moved to nehibouring Upali group – Island as a professional journalist. Killers will be cught only if the present regime is changed- I mean there will be a scapegoat. My Salutation – On behalf of ALL Kotahenians

  17. There were threats to the individual journalists which no one can condone. But these threats did not come from the state alone. The terrorists in the JVP and the LTTE took the opportunity to target journalists who were opposed to them. The sacrifices and the courage of the journalists who stood up to all the forces that went all out to silence them – from the state to the terrorists – should be remembered and honoured.
    Journalists in the state and private sector media have faced identical threats from diverse sources, though the primary focus has been on the threats from the state. The failure to silence them is a promising sign of the vibrancy of the democratic grassroots that refuse to roll over and die. In the battles between the state and the private sector media there is no doubt that the latter has made tactical withdrawals under hostile attacks. Nevertheless, it has never failed to bounce back with each available opportunity. The resilience of the media is a tribute to the journalists who had shown exemplary courage to meet the challenges from powerful magnates, the underworld, the opposition and the state.

  18. #14-Thenuwara

    I will get paid well>its profuitable to do that without spending time writing comments here. I dont know why you waste time running this blog when you can make money like me
    —————————————————————————-

    You too o’ master have succumbed to filthy lucre. What will happen to us o’ master , we who rely upon you to provide us the strengh to go on and gift thy wisdom to those deserving.

  19. I do not believe that Lasantha did what he did because he had a love for the country, the people or he was fighting against corruption. But he did it simply because to take revenge from the government and the Rajapaksa’s and pleasing the UNP which he has fallen love with. So I consider him as neither a hero or a patriot.

  20. Dear DBSJ
    The past will haunt .Reminds one of Macbeth
    The wheels of God grinds slowly but it grinds very fine
    With Regards
    Revi

  21. DBSJ

    Thanks for this. We lost many great souls to the gun culture in Sri Lanka. “Lassie boy” top on the list.

  22. Thank you DBSJ for coming to know about Lasantha and I salute all courageous journalists as Lasantha.

    People like Lasantha are the pillars of the Democracy. In India when Rajiv came to power in 1985 with a brute majority his MPs were occupying more than eighty percent of Parliament seats there were no strong opposition.

    A trinity of opposition MPs comprising V. Gopalaswamy(DMK), Goswami(AGP) and Gurupadaswamy (Janata Dal) ensured the opposition views are aired in the Parliament.

    But the Hero was a journalist and none other than Mr. Arun Shourie who as the Editior of Indian Express exposed all the misdeeds of the Govt and ensured Rajiv was defeated in the next general elections in 1989

    I pray almighty more such courageous men are born in this world.

  23. SL is not the right place for the people who can only do or say the right things.

    If you have learned this truth and if you wish to live longer,

    a. Continue to Live in SL – But stop doing / saying the right things and run for president in the next election. ( Like MR, when he was doing the right things he was just a HR activist. When he stopped doing that he became the president).

    b. Get out of SL to continue to do /say the right things and be live.

  24. DBS I respect you but do not tell me Lasantha was a person who told the truth.He was not a proper journalist, he was always partial.But this does not mean that he deserves to be killed.

    Lasantha spoke truth to power fearlessly……………DBSJ

  25. Time heals and I too mellow. I am not a great fan of Lasantha, however I hope and pray that his wife and children will have the courage and Gods grace in the years to come.

  26. 27. Don

    You Too deserved to be Killed ,, Choose your Way- White Van MBRL.. Mahinda Type or Praba Type Or Karuna Type or Pillayan tupe or Mercy Doc Mervin Type.. or even SF type you got many choices ……

  27. Lasantha… yes! that his a rare item I do not agree with DBS.

    I do not say that killing him was right.

    But, the question remains. Was Lasantha a Journalist?

    How can he call himself a journo just because he’s an Ed? He was an insider of the United National Party.

    That may be his democratic right, yet it’s unethical to carry the journo tag in front to the world and whitewash Ranil & Company.

    A true journo is an impartial reporter, writing with balance coverage of both pro and opposite opinion allowing the readers to decide. Unfortunately Lasantha was not & had to pay the ultimate price.

  28. I agree with Don & Channa.
    I moan his death the way I would moan the death of anyone else that is not persnally known to me. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  30. It pays to keep up the charadeand, divide the majority community and pick up the spoils of chaos.There is a popular Sinhala saying”when the wild boars are digging up the Kekuna plant ( for its root) it is festival time for the (Habang Fowls) the jungle fowls ” who thrive on the seeds.”Lassie Boy” or Lasantha or however else he may be known, knowingly fished in troubled waters and perished.He was a destructive force at a time the country needed his support and consideration. His loyalties were misplaced.But the manner in which he was killed was despicable and brutal and no cost or trouble must be spared to bring the animals who killed him and many others like him to justice.

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  32. Yes we lost a very very brave journalist. In my life I have seen a lot of journalists and was lucky to keep very close company with most of them, Lasantha was different one, I would say he brought some kind of dignity to sri lankan journalism, he was always a clean suit guy, he rarely missed the tie, he wore full europian suit most of the time and unlike many others he was a gentlment wihtin than the outlook.

    I met him first in 1982 at Upali News Papers, I was a paste up boy ( page maker) in the production and he was in the editorial but we pasteup boys were very oftenly in the editorial section as we have to sit with editors to do the page making of the news paper, so most of the gentlment wer very friendly with us. Grgory,Gaminee Perea, Antony,Prasad, Vigitha Amarasinhe, Ajith Samaranayake, Gaminee Wijekoon, Zanita, Faima & even JeyeraJ ( that time with a huge beard, Not seen even a photo after he left UPNP).
    I thaught of writing this letter to prove what a Gem of man is Lasantha, He worked with us untill ’89 then he
    resigned to get ready for the general election hence he was contesting from SLFP. from that time on I never met him then I had to leave Upali News Papers for the sins of organising a Union , worked in middle east till ’99, by that time somany journalists who worked in Upali News Papers,doing good holding higher posts other news papers, I tryed to get some help from them as I didnot want to go back to middle east but sadly some people didn’t want even to meet me ( it is not good to mention names), finaly I got a job in Maharaja as the manager of sirasa Publications, thanks to Nimal Lakshapathiarachchi. There we printed 2 magazines & our biggest problem was to cerculate these magazins to outstations, even that time I went to so many old friends who even drank from the same bottle but again no body din;t even want to meet me, then i rememberd Lasantha I got his mobile number from Sanjeewa who was the advertising mananger of Sunday Leader ( also worked in the Upali news papers) and called him direct I was shocked to here the way he answered, after so many years he had not changed a bit mind you he was very very famous man in srilanka at that point of time, he had so much time to talk to me , what a gentlman told me to come & meet him, I went to meet him at his office in Boralla ( narahenpitiya road) when I reached he was not in , when he came I was with Sanjeewa an he came to me huged me took me to his brother( Lal) fix everything on that same day he was unbelievable, who is telling he is swaolen headed he is one of the best gentlmen I ever came to know in my whole life, MAY THIS GREAT JOURNALIST REST IN PEACE.

  33. Murderous regime on the rampage.

    Even if Lasantha was a partial, does that give the killers the license to kill ?

    Male lions kill the cubs that were not fathered by them so that they can mate and make their own cubs. An acceptable behavior in the beastly world.

    Following are some crimes punishable by summary execution in the blessed land of SL

    1. lying ( real & perceived )
    2. Partiality ( real and perceived )
    3. Exposing scandals
    4. Disagreement with the ruling family
    5. Speaking truth
    6. Knowledge of war crimes
    7. Carrying white flags
    8. Being kith and kin of LTTE
    9. Surrendering to soldiers in bad mood
    10. Exercising freedom of expression

    But there is one sure way to escape the impending danger. FLEE. If one has that luxury.

  34. I heard another journo who was writing against the government and its leaders during a previous regime was also killed.

  35. Yes DBS Lasantha’s name will be in our history. ” Courageous Journalism “…….. DBS you are and have been contributing so much by updating all readers of your articles which help people to increase the awareness of their social and political environment……Wish you all the best….

  36. Oh Boy,

    Ranil threatened Sunday Leader editor to retract the interview with Fonseka,for Fonseka putting the foot in his mouth.

    Now Ranil is threatening Sunday Lankadeepa editor to deny their interview with Sampathan,for Sampathan openly divulging the promises he received from Fonseka to merge the North and the East under the advice of the UNP leader.

    My understanding is both these publications are true blue cheer squads for the UNP and the elite.These developments seem to me to indicate desperate times,as someone said desperate situations need desperate measures.

    These developments don’t bid well for the freedom of the Press that the late journalist Lassantha espoused and fought for.

  37. Dear DBSJ,
    Some changes come in small doses.. though SF might have been one of the triumvirate that killed Lasantha he is only one of them while the other two are still together.. We leave it to you to give us the details of the archer and the arrow and the actual killer.. but from the looks of the BBC interview and his general reaction to Lasantha’s killing I have formed my opinion on who was more responsible (shit I’m still scared to say the name out loud).. any way I hope this moment of change can be seized.. it may not be the Obama after Bush or the dawn of light after four years of darkness but at least a small step towards a brighter day.. a day when we are free of all killers!!

  38. The unholy trinity who are responsible for Lasantha’s killing are MR, GR & SF. Now two of them are contesting for the presidential election. Can you imagine the plight of Sri Lankan voters? DBS, do you have any comments? if so, tell us before 26th Jan. If you can’t bake the full story before that, atleast we can settle for a half baked one.

  39. Incidents like Lasantha’s death are unacceptable and must be investigated conscientiously and thoroughly. It should not allow police officers to be led astray by oppositional criticism into thinking that government has something to hide, and therefore they can relax in their pursuit of the criminals.
    There can be no substitute for the rule of law. Since the war is over, priority should be given to the restoration of law and order. The Secretary of Defence had shown the way in dealing through the Courts with what he saw as unfair criticism, and his success in that respect may well have irritated those at either extreme who preferred violent and anarchic confrontation. National security obviously cannot be ignored, but in the long run the restoration of the rule of law all over this country should be a matter of urgency, and the police in particular should be well aware that establishing the facts and prosecuting the guilty in this instance is the most important contribution they can now make to a durable peace.

  40. #47-Jayakumar

    The Secretary of Defence had shown the way in dealing through the Courts with what he saw as unfair criticism,
    —————————————————————————-

    Well, the Secretary of Defence says he knows who killed Lasantha but the environment is not right at the moment to divulge it. So what is the courts there for, when he is aiding and abetting the killers by not divulging their identity. He should be arrested as an accessory to murder if the courts are not kangaroo courts.

  41. Hello Jeyaraj

    This article is very good, but I think Lasantha would have become a very good journalist if he didnt go after politicians, he would have been still living.

  42. Here is an excerpt from an article. It may be just a red herring, we don’t know. Political witchhunt is going on at the moment. Only time will tell whether we have the correct culprit.

    “Meanwhile, the authorities arrested a serving brigadier for the murder of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramathunga in January 2009. Brigadier Duminda Keppitiwalana, who is reportedly a Fonseka supporter has been arrested on Friday night at his home in Panadura. He is the commandant of the combat training school in Ampara”.

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  44. In my opinion I am ashamed of the way that General Sarath Fonseka is being treated. HE fought the war and even risked his life. We have no law in this country, especially now and if the General was elected which he should really have been (as the whole world knows the election was rigged) we would have law and order which sri lanka does not know and sri lanka would be the place to live. why do young people in sri lanka want to go abroad leaving their mother country, well that must answer everyones question,. I do hope the world gets involved and helps the General before it is TOO late.

  45. Comment #47 is attributed to my name. I did not write this comment. Either there is someone else with the same name and spelled exactly or impersonating.

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