18 September, 2019

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Lasantha, Ten Years On

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

Even though I wrote a regular column for The Sunday Leader for many years, I did so only after Lasantha Wickrematunge’s execution, an event that has become increasingly apparent to have been a politically-motivated act despite large amounts of information connected with the investigation being “disappeared” until after the change of government in 2015.

The very immediate circumstances of Lasantha’s killing proved, beyond any doubt, that it was an act of terror intended to warn off any potential critics of the government of the day and its acolytes. It was not simply intended to remove a burr under the saddle of a regime that was riding to unchallenged power.

I will repeat, probably for the umpteenth time, what transpired that fateful morning.

Lasantha left his home at mid-morning, alone, in his own vehicle for work in a different part of the city. Within sight of a check-point, in a high-security zone, in the capital city of Colombo, four motorcycles drew up alongside his car, two on each side, and Lasantha was shot to death by the assassins on each side of his vehicle.

Lasantha

One of the first things that struck me despite the sketchy description of the actual killing, was that it was not a pistol, revolver or assault rifle firing lead projectiles that was used for the purpose.  It appeared to have been an implement specifically used in abattoirs (livestock-killing plants) to dispatch animals such as cattle, hogs and sheep for subsequent human consumption.

How did I arrive at this conclusion?

Many years ago, I worked in one element of a small vertically-integrated livestock operation in Southern Alberta, Canada. While my employment was in a part of the company that manufactured livestock feed, we were given conducted tours of the other elements of the total operation from time to time. One of these was a killing plant and I have a distinct recollection of the display and demonstration of the weapon used to kill livestock prior to their carcasses being flayed and cut-up and hung up to “season” prior to dispatch to the meat departments of grocery chains. 

The weapon which was shown to us and the use of which was demonstrated to us could best be described as a pistol which carried within its barrel an arrow-like projectile with a very substantial short shaft and a large steel arrowhead. The end of the barrel of this weapon was pressed against the temple of the animal and, when the trigger was pulled, the “arrow” popped out of the barrel and penetrated the animal’s head causing instant death. For purposes of accuracy it should be stated that this “arrow” didn’t leave the weapon’s barrel entirely but could be used over and over again. 

The use of such a weapon to kill Lasantha could have had one single purpose: to frighten anyone else having the temerity to criticize and expose the monumental corruption and criminality of a regime that called the shots at the time, without any let or hindrance. Why else go to the trouble of using such weapons when sophisticated killing devices specifically intended to kill people were and still are, if regular media reports are to be believed, a-dime-a-dozen in Sri Lanka?

But, thanks primarily to some very brave female journalists (with minimal male participation in that opposition!) the Rajapaksa Regime did not succeed in riding the wave of LTTE-decimation to eternal power!

That the woman who took Lasantha’s place as the editor of the Sunday Leader had, ultimately, to run for her life, with her two young children, to the United States proved, if proof be needed, that Lasantha’s killing was not just an isolated instance of the elimination of a particular political nuisance. In fact, even innocuous writers such as the one penning this piece were subjected to all kinds of “inquiries” and attempted “visits” over the years leading to 2015 (and the disappointment that has followed!)

The manner of Lasantha’s murder was intended to instill terror as opposed to the surgically-executed murder of Lakshman Kadirgamar which was distinctly political, no matter which of the two commonly-held theories one accepts.

My contact with Frederica Jansz began with her finding some of my scribblings suitable for a glossy magazine she edited at the time called, if memory serves, “Montage.”

When she followed Lasantha as editor of the Sunday Leader on the latter’s demise, she invited me to write for that Sunday English paper, something I did till shortly after her having to seek political refuge in the USA.  In fact, despite my reluctance, it was Frederica who chose to append “Renaissance Man” to the columns I wrote for her paper!

The events that led up to her having to flee Sri Lanka have been dealt with at length elsewhere but it was her naivete with regard to a person whom she had helped in a very personal way and in, perhaps, a journalistically-unethical manner, that surprised me. And this is not a case of being wise after the fact because my reading of the situation at the time made it patently obvious what was in store for the Sunday Leader when something like 70% of the paper’s ownership was taken over by someone with close links to the Rajapaksa regime. I warned Frederica about what would be coming despite her assurances of journalistic integrity continuing to prevail after the takeover. To no avail.

While this piece is about a journalist martyr that Sri Lankans will do well NEVER to forget, no such description will be complete without some of what went on after his death. 

Rest in peace, Lasantha, you performed a signal service for Sri Lankans in their hour of greatest need.

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  • 4
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 8
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    Why is the IGNORAMUS who was holding the reigns at that time still
    not incarcerated? Who asked whom “Oluwatade Waduney” when, where and why? Maybe Ranilpaksha has the answer!

    • 8
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      Why is Bondscam Ranil protecting the Mahinda Jarapassa family of criminals and crooks who are implicated in so many murders? Why has US citizen Gota, who is suspect no. 1 in Lasantha’s murders not been arrested in LA by BondRanil’s Trumpland backers who took Lanka to the UNHRC?
      The US great game in the Indian Ocean against China is the answer. It is unfolding with Sri Lanka as its lynchpin – Heads I win, tails you lose’. Either way with US citizen Gota and Bondscam Ranil, American interests are secured. Washington-backed Ranil is the Trump deep state’s representative in Lanka, and if he loses, US citizen Gota will still be there to keep Mahinda Jarapassa on track!
      Hence the UNP-SLFP bi-partisan corruption racket and economic crisis that originates in the Cesspit of corrupt called the Sri Lanka parliament. This bi-partisan UNP-SLFP corruption racket is brokered by foreign players to Divide, Distract, loot the people of Lanka and further their security and business interests in this land like no other.

  • 8
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    “The use of such a weapon to kill Lasantha could have had one single purpose: to frighten anyone else having the temerity to criticize and expose the monumental corruption and criminality of a regime that called the shots at the time, without any let or hindrance. “

    My3 may be the President Ranil may be the PM
    but the dark state the rule Sri Lanka is the Rajapakse regime…..

  • 7
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    Many good people died trying to protect and educate us.

    Have we changed even a bit?

    We break law at every level in our society. Majority in and out the country are guilty of it. But only the poor gets punished.

    We have many excuses to justify. We know how to play the blame game at the highest level.

    We are quick to judge but the standards of judging won’t apply to us.

    Change your selves before advising others. Understanding the theories only won’t work, apply them as well

  • 6
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    mike

    Where is KASmaalam K A Sumanasekere?
    He has been missing in this forum for many weeks now.
    Has he now switched his loyalty to Batlanda Ranil?

  • 8
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    My God what is wrong with our Cardinal? He always make a statement totally contradictory. I am come from family of seven priests and 7 nuns. Recently he said all religions are living peacefully in Sri Lanka it is a lie. Recently Buddha statue was damaged and Buddhist are putting Buddha’s statures in the Hindu temples. He is our Ruspudin

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 10
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    Rest in peace Lasantha. I never knew you personally, but you will be remembered, loved, and admired for what you stood for. I believe in Karma and those responsible for taking your life will face their judgement day soon.

  • 4
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 7
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    This story alone should be told again and again to the outside world for people to know what was Lanka during MR days.This is just a sample of the then Animal Kingdom.What took place with Jamal in Saudi and what happened with Lasantha in Lanka are of the same magnitude except there was 40 more journalist either murdered or attempts were made to shut them up. This is what Democratic Socialist country like no other is about. At least the Saudis do not waste time in giving these long Titles. Then we have proxies like Mohan, Sarath and GLP who were active participants in these murders are known as constitutional experts going around explaining the nuances of law ( lies,lies,lies) to the outside world. Proxies in these forums who are on pay roll giving more explanations . Last but not least is our own presidential Thatha who is still going around raping the constitution and telling people he wants to save the country. MR the accused wants to come back to save people. Sounds Funny No.

  • 6
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    I hear MR got Mihin Lanka to give free cars for his personal minister cum astrologer.. Now there is unpaid bills for millions of rupees which our Lankan retards will pay. This is one example of the corruption and misuse .We already heard about GR getting puppy by plane. MR using all government facilities for his election/campaign purpose. (where in US Jaliya is found guilty on just one account of misuse finances for personal reasons,. imagine if MR was in US) What a bunch of JOKERS. Soon explanations will follow from the retards in these forums. Where was Thathas sword during those days.????? I guess blunted and rusted due to repeated use????? These SOB,s are going to save country and people?????. Right now I am watching CNS giving details of Trumps misuses soon to be taken up by House/Congress. In Lanka we have derana??? daily fuse/news????? Democratic socialist country , MY FOOT.

  • 6
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    Emil, I am sure within your self you are aware this broken down system has been gradually and meticulously built by our crooked politicians using religion and race cards. It is built on PSEUDO nationalism/ religion/patriotism and all other BS. Majority of Lankans are cannot see beyond their hatred, jealousy, vengeance and resentments , they want to keep as it is. After 70 years expecting a change is day dream and not pessimism. Now the neighboring super powers are brought in for extra fun.

  • 3
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    Shortly after the murder of Lasantha, it was reported that MaRa who was chairing a meeting of some Agriculture officers received a telephone call which he answered.Oluwatathe wathune? he queried.This was heard by those present at the meeting and seated closer to MaRa. Did he know beforehand the type of gun that was to be used, as described by Emil in the essay above. Gota asked the question who is Lasantha?
    A DECADE HAS PASSED, and Lasanthas killers may be still going on a shopping spree with the contract money they received.If not for Lasantha the public in this country would not have known that the defacto rulers were making money in the war against the LTTE.!
    At times,I often wondered, whether Lasantha should have relied on Discretion being the better part of Valour.
    But, perhaps he was made of a different psyche!
    Anyway, Plato salutes Lasantha.

  • 2
    9

    Ho hum.

    When are we going to hear the last aboutthis man’s death? Some people seem to have never enough.

    At least his wife Sonali, his brother, and his successor at the news sheet, whatever Jansz have forgotten all about him, safely domiciled in the USA and Australia (at public’s expense) after many fabrications such ‘then they will come for me’ and white flags. Fonseka is busy in politics, setting fire to any and everything he comes across.

    Anyway, we have to be thankful for his family keeping quiet, and expect the rest of the howlers to quieten down by kicking the bucket, not before too long! After all, its a decade now and many more worthies have died.

    • 8
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      T. Devendra:
      Your comment certainly is not deserving of a response except to suggest to anyone reading it that it seems to accurately define the kind of person you are.

      • 2
        3

        I feel I have achieved a great feat in shutting your foul mouth up, for once.

        The nation will thank me!

        • 3
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          T. Devendra:
          You will NEVER succeed in shutting my mouth, “foul” or otherwise.
          What nation will “thank” you? Your racist “Sinhala Buddhist Nation” that contravenes EVERY TENET of what Prince Gautama preached or have you found something even better?
          An accurate description of someone of your ilk would hardly bear publication in this or any decent publication.
          When are you going to launch your actual Hitlerite annihilation of everybody but the likes of you?

    • 2
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      Well said, Emil Vander Pooten

  • 3
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    There is a REASON for the UNP to block this investigation. There is a very powerful man who is in the UNP now. He got another journalist abducted, raped anally abd released too. If that man is a treated the truth will emerge. But because he’s needed by the UNP to bash the Rajapakses he will be protected by RW and others. Lasantha was not a genuine journalist but still he should not have been executed. His personal failings and other issues are not our concern . That is for his wives and kids not us. But he was a spy for the UNP at the time he was Mrs.B’s pvt secretary. He failed in his political ambitions and relent attacked only CBK but never RW.why?

  • 1
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    SF stands for Special Forces but also SF SF SF RW RW RW cabal is why the investigation is blocked. Do not be fooled. Everyone knows who was in-cahoots. SF is not just Special forces. Hint Hint. Emil refuses or is AFRAID to name names. That is quite clear. Blaming MR or GR is convenient now. We all KNOW who was in-cahoots. SF is not just special forces. Ask the journalist who was abducted, raped and dropped off; he was lucky to escape with his life for exposing Special Forces in an awards scam in the Army when a certain egotistical maniac gave himself awards he was not eligible to receive because of conduct unbecoming involving assaults and women and so many other issues. You UNP types are deaf-dumb-and-blind to the truth; including Emil aiya.

    • 2
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      Thassim (or is it Thassima within which your entire grey matter can be held?):
      You have the nerve to accuse people of not identifying the murderers of Lasantha when you seem to make a specialty of using initials instead of naming names with which you claim to be familiar!
      Speaking of cowardice, perhaps you’d care to come out from under that rock of a pseudonym and tell us who you are?

  • 4
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    Lasantha and Frederica knew too much; including where many of the bodies were buried. Frederica got away just in time, otherwise she too would have taken up residence in Kanatte.

    Many Sri Lankans firmly believe that dead men tell no tales.

    After all these years, it is proving very true in this paradise.

  • 0
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    Devendra, What a name. Bro, never say never. You may be the one kicking the bucket sooner than others. Anyway Happy New Year Buddy. Have a good one.

    • 2
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      Yes, the name certainly is better than yours Pro…..

      Have a rotten new year and let the land go to real owners.

  • 1
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    Dumbendra or sorry, Devendra looks like you already having a very pleasant new year. Enjoy when you can. By the way I heard resentments kills faster than cancer . Is that true buddy????

  • 0
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    Devendra initially all I said was your name (sounds serene and religious) did not match the writings. You right a way proved me correct with your answer. Thanks Buddy.

    • 3
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      I don’t have coward buddies who go by ridiculous pseudonyms like CHIV.Is it referring to your short antenna by any chance?

      So Count me out of your like-natured loser buddy list

  • 0
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    Dear Emil

    Did you know Lasantha personally?

  • 0
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    Devendra how dare you attack Emil, Sri Lanka’s foremost journalist?

  • 0
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    I don’t thin Emil belongs to any political party though some seem to say so.

    • 0
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      Josh Widanapathirana:
      You are right. However, I did volunteer to help set up a new political party that claimed to be “social democratic.” That was not a smart move because I discovered that the so-called “leading light” of that outfit was not only a blood-relation of the Rajapaksas but had had some very interesting conversations with his kinsmen that indicated that he was nothing but a stalking horse for that lot! This was confirmed by the fact that when I asked him for an undertaking that his friendship/relationship would not influence his conduct he went silent.
      Just a word of warning for anyone who might be similarly taken in!

  • 1
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    Lasantha married Sonali just one week before his death. Sonali Samarasinghe was a top most journalist at Leader. She and Frederica fought like cats, Lal got rid of Sonali. There was a nice piece by her last year under the caption To my dear Husband”. It was so heartwhelming as it is obvious she had written that masterpieces while sobbing.

  • 3
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    Rajapaksha family murdered Lasantha, Thajudeen and Ekneligoda. The blood will stick with them forever,

    • 0
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      Yes but not the blood of more than 145000 innocent Thamizh civilians and the cry of the mothers wives, sisters seeking their loved ones in the north and east as these are thamizh for you Chingkallam racists, only Lasantha, Thajudeen and others matter as they are not Thamizh. What a bunch of racist hypocrites, only crying about the human rights of the Chingkallams but when it comes to Thamizh , it is another story. This also includes the selfish Colombo based Thamizh elite , who are only Thamizh by name but Chingkallam in every way. Like the Parrot.

  • 2
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
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    Devendra my buddy your were thinking people have forgotten Lasantha .See for you self the pages of CT today, has writings only on HIM. You are not just stupid but pathetic.You must be praying now for all who remembered Lasantha today, to “kick the bucket”. Not just concrete but pervert thinking.

  • 0
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    So much is written about Lasantha. It’s a tough story for the family and his friends. I remember reading Lasanthas pages discribing how MR called Lasantha and used the best of Sinhale’ All in H’s and Ammata for writing about a trip to a South Indian temple by the president and his wife. Lasantha’s article was so elaborative, that the temple was washed with milk for seven days as entrance was not for females. The article also said that MR called RW and told him tell him” mage hati u Dane Naha mama okawa maranawa.” I am sure Ranil will recall this if this was correct and Lasantha mentioned that RW called and warned him. This was just after winning the election by MR. I wanted to take all you good people on a different path. Lasantha wrote very personal and degrading manner about MR, Chandrika, Harry J, but did he ever write about Ranil or Ravi K? He was one of the best investigative journalists in the country then. He may have thought that he would be protected by his powerful friends, political and the elite society in the city. Let me tell you It does not happen that way, why is RW just inactive on this matter ? Please understand the Different layers of our society. The top is full of corrupt, profitiering, pilfering the country, elite politicos, business families that lives protecting each other stealing money from the state and the people, then the next layer is who’s who, trying to pick the crumbs which falls from the top, sucking up,licking and begging for portfolios from the top layer. These are the names we heard in the FCID, COMMISSIONS last Three years stealing from CWE, port, vehicles, airline, real estate, hospital bills who got some leftover from the presidential funds. Then comes the state sector, private sector workers, executives and lowest being the labour farmer community. Nothing will ever happen till you realise these differences. Keep writing from overseas and make the people aware. By the way even MY3 is from the lowest layers thus the criticism and insults to this totally misfit character. Only people togeather can change this, even the Judiciary stood by the people’s voice

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