'Murdered With Impunity' - Sonali Samarasinghe on the Assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunga
Intro by Tim King Salem-News.com
Widow of Murdered Sri Lankan journalist shares candid information about a great man whose death remains unresolved.
Lasantha Wickramatunga was Murdered
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Journalist Sonali Samarasinghe, is the widow of the Sri Lankan journalist said to have "predicted his own death", the much loved and highly respected, Lasantha Wickramatunga. She appears in a video released by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), addressing many parts of his tragic killing.
We have carried two recent reports coinciding with the anniversary of the death of Lasantha Wickramatunga, who has the sad title of being Sri Lanka's most well known murdered journalist. Both were written by Salem-News.com's Sunalie Ratnayake, who worked with Lasantha as a journalist at Colombo's Sunday Leader.
He was attacked in broad daylight by eight men using poles to break out his car's windows, Sonali says. He was left mortally injured and died in hospital a short time later.
Over years of hard-hitting reports exposing both the government and the Tamil Tigers of sundry deeds, Lasantha and his family were continually threatened. His first wife eventually took their three kids and moved to Australia to remain alive. At the time of his death in January 2009, Lasantha was covering the beginning of the end of the thirty-year long civil war in Sri Lanka; and the series of war crimes against the minority Tamil population, the Tamil Genocide. Bombs were falling on top of hospitals, innocents were being laid to waste by the thousand, and Lasantha's newspaper, The Sunday Leader which he founded in 1994 reported it. A terrible loss, his death is not forgotten.
From Committee to Protect Journalists:
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has presided over a dark era of targeted media killings and complete law enforcement failure in addressing the crimes. All nine journalist murders in the past decade have gone unsolved, leaving persistent questions as to whether authorities have been complicit in some of the crimes. Illustrating the problems is the 2009 murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga, who, as one of the country’s leading editors, was a prominent critic of government policies. Wickramatunga was beaten to death by a group of motorcycle-riding assailants along a busy, suburban Colombo street on a weekday morning. The government staged investigative hearings without making any progress in apprehending suspects. As Wickramatunga’s wife, Sonali Samarasinghe, wrote on the CPJ Blog: “The government has stonewalled the investigation while passing it around like a hot potato from one investigating body to another.”
- Getting Away With Murder - CPJ
Background from Wikipedia
In 1994 Wickrematunge started the Sunday Leader with his brother Lal Wickrematunge. He reported critically on both the government and the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels, and the Leader soon "became well known as the island's best independent newspaper". He later stated that once the paper was started, he had intended to return to law, but found himself unwilling to give up journalism's excitement. He was also a reporter for Time magazine and host of the television show Good Morning Sri Lanka.
The paper quickly drew threats and attacks for its reporting on corruption by government ministers. In 1995, men pulled Wickrematunge and his first wife, Raine, out of their car and attacked them with clubs. Raine later stated that the death threats became part of the routine of their lives: "There were so many threatening calls. 'We are going to kill you. We are going to kill your children.'" In 2000, the government tried Wickrematunge for criminal libel of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, but Wickrematunge received no major penalties. In 2002, Raine left him due to the constant threats against their family, taking their three children to Australia.
The Leader was particularly critical in its coverage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In 2008, Mahinda Rajapaksa, furious over the paper's reporting, called Wickrematunge and shouted at him that he would be killed if the paper's coverage did not change; the president had also described him as a "terrorist journalist". The same year, Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa filed and won a defamation suit against the paper for a series of reports suggesting that he had made unwise arms deals, and the Leader was forbidden from mentioning his name in print.
In the weeks before Wickrematunge's death, a funeral wreath was delivered to him, as well as a copy of the newspaper reading "If you write you will be killed" in red paint.
- Lasantha Wickrematunge - Wikipedia
Articles about and referencing Lasantha Wickramatunga:
Jan-07-2013: Black January - Sunalie Ratnayake Salem-News.com
Jan-05-2013: ~ Dear LASANTHA, May Your Sweet Soul Rest In Peace - Sunalie Ratnayake Salem-News.com
Oct-18-2012: The Entrenchment of a Fascist State - Dr. Brian Senewiratne Special to Salem-News.com
Oct-07-2012: Eye Witness to Lasantha's Murder Abducted in White Van? - Nirmala Kannangara Lanka Standard
Sep-24-2012: Salley To Put An End To The Silence - Niranjala Ariyawansha Special to Salem-News.com
Sep-03-2012: The Dialectics of a Genocide (Graphic Photos of war crimes!) - Meena Kandasamy Special to Salem-News.com
Aug-26-2012: Shining Light on Sri Lanka's Dirty Secret: the Disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-04-2012: Sri Lanka: Halt Harassment of Media - Salem-News.com
Jun-26-2012: New Film Shows Sri Lanka's Media Battered, but Not Beaten - Alex Ortolani Special to Salem-News.com
Mar-01-2012: RSF Appeals to UNHRC to Denounce Sri Lanka Over Curbing Media Freedom - Salem-News.com
Jan-23-2012: World Report 2012: Sri Lanka - Salem-News.com
Nov-14-2011: Sri Lanka's Fear Psychosis - Frederica Jansz Special to Salem-News.com
Oct-26-2011: A case to measure good governance in Sri Lanka - Frederica Jansz Special to Salem-News.com
Aug-02-2011: Post-War Sri Lanka: Media Freedom Still Under Deadly Threat - Salem-News.com
May-21-2011: Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide: Killing the Messenger - Tim King Salem-News.com
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