13 July, 2020

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Who Is Afraid Of Lasantha?

By Raine Wickrematunge

Raine Wickrematunge

Raine Wickrematunge

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Lasantha’s murder.  Five long and painful years have passed but apart from producing a few red herrings in a flurry of publicity in the first year and a half-hearted attempt at solving the murder, to date, nothing has come of it.

Following the murder, President Mahinda Rajapakse informed the country a proper and speedy investigation would be carried out on the assassination of ‘his friend.’ He personally assured me the same. “His children need to know the truth” he said at the time gesturing at Lasantha’s 10-year-old son. Five years on, no one can claim that a serious investigation was ever carried out.  It would be safe to surmise that no significant developments in the case would take place in the lifetime of the current regime. If and when those responsible for Lasantha’s cowardly murder are brought to book, it will indeed be a gold letter day in the blood soaked, tear-stained media history of Sri Lanka which has such a deplorable ranking in the World Press Freedom Index.

People talk of development in our country in the form of fine new roads and ornamental parks but these cosmetic changes mean little when you consider that in this same land human rights receive scant regard, those protesting for their rights are fired at and people live in the grip of uncertainty and fear. True development will come only when democracy operates in its purest form. That an honest and unbiased investigation will take place and justice will prevail when a crime is committed is an assurance that those who live in a free land enjoy. Unfortunately that right seems to elude those who live in a land that is democratic by name but where, if you have the right connections, you can get away with the most heinous of crimes.

LasanthaLasantha’s murder and the resultant worldwide exposure may have inspired others and created awareness of the plight of journalists in our part of the world but his murder was such a tragedy, such a waste. His killers didn’t just murder Lasantha, they destroyed the people’s right to be informed. Sri Lankan journalism was so much richer for Lasantha Wickrematunge.

People still ask us how life has been for us these past five years. On different occasions, my children – especially Ahimsa – and I have expressed how hard it has been; how fraught with difficulty the journey to recovery has been. I don’t want to sound boringly repetitious; suffice to say that each of our children has felt acutely, the absence of their father. Our youngest, Aadesh, was just 10 when Lasantha was killed; he is now15 and growing up to be a fine young man. I have seen how much the absence of his father has affected him.

In these past few years there has also been much talk of the plight of The Sunday Leader since Lasantha’s death. It was an accepted fact that The Sunday Leader would never be the same without the clout of Lasantha’s journalistic brilliance. He carried the Leader on his shoulders. As for the current situation, it can be described as the tragic fall of a mighty giant of the media industry. A fearless and fiercely independent voice has been stilled.

Most of the staff who were like an extended family and a clever and wonderfully gifted team of warriors, have left. Many young journalists missed the dynamism and leadership Lasantha provided. He was a wonderful boss and the staff adored him and after his death many were too disheartened to continue. And when the paper changed hands, more people realised this wasn’t what they had signed up for. The Sunday Leader under Lasantha’s stewardship had revolutionised the media by introducing fearless journalism and naming and shaming the devil whatever office he or she held and the journalists who worked alongside him at the Leader imbibed the great principles Lasantha embodied.

In May this year I released Lasantha’s biography which unfortunately is not sold in Sri Lankan bookstores. When Ceylon Today contacted me for a quote for an article titled ‘Who is afraid of Lasantha?’ on this subject, I declined to comment. I felt it would be unfair of me to blame bookshops for not stocking the book knowing full well the repercussions they may face if they did, even though I don’t consider it to be a controversial book. Suffice to say it is a sad reflection of the state of the right of expression in our country. The white van culture has instilled such fear among people. As we know, the powers that be don’t need to place an official ban on a publication; the insidious threats and harassments will act as an effective muzzle anyway. We all know that Lasantha died as a result of ignoring such threats and carrying on with his work unbowed and unafraid.

Today will be a difficult day for Lasantha’s family, especially his children, his brothers and sisters and his nieces and nephews who all loved him so much.  All his friends and colleagues too will remember him today with much love. His brother Lal and ex Sunday Leader colleagues have organised commemorative events and opposition political parties are due to hold protest marches.

As we look back on the life of this remarkable journalist, we can only hope that Sri Lanka will one day witness the dynamism of an independent and fearless journalist of his caliber again.

*Raine Wickrematunge was Lasantha’s wife and co-founder of The Sunday Leader. She is the author of Lassantha’s biography ‘And Then They Came For Me’ released in May 2013.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    7

    Nobody afraid any one, sinhala budhist mafia never going to learn. all criminals using sinhala people their own benefit…..come on wake up….who is running u….sinhala shit mafia….of u dont listen u end up in hell…..

  • 19
    3

    Murderer cannot be expected to do an investigation because all footprits lead to him.

    He is skilled to hug your kids and make promises, hug Bo trees and offer prayers.

    He is not as charming as Stalin, Hitler or Moa Tse Dung, but charming enough for even Hirunika Premachandra to be satisfied with protecting her father’s killer.

    • 1
      0

      He is a “God Father”. Just like in the film.

  • 28
    3

    Deepest sympathies Raine, to you and your family.

    Loke Uthum Rata Lankawai – a joke

    Sinhala Bhuddhist nation – my foot

  • 11
    0

    What has he fulfiled sofar ? Just any single promise made to anyone in terms of human losses ?

    Quoting from the article:

    “His children need to know the truth” he said at the time gesturing at Lasantha’s 10-year-old son. Five years on, no one can claim that a serious investigation was ever carried out”.

    Who and why has he been deceiving own folks in this way ? This has become a part of his show, but for the folks it is just lip service only. How would they clear all these to upcoming UNHRC session (March,2014)? What genuine efforts the govt has made in this regard etc ?

    • 3
      7

      As I see it today, nobody would be afraid of Lasantha.

      But many of us today are afraid of “MR AND HIS ADMINSITRIATION “.

      This is the tangible, common fact when reading many of the comments.

  • 32
    1

    Raine, you must soldier on. Despite your immense journalistic talent you have a side nobody knows about. Wasn’t it you who gave a beggar Laskpray milk packet openend so she would not sell it and starve her children?
    And wasn’t it you who gave your gold bangles to a distressed friend without Lasantha’s knowledge?

    Journalism apart you are the salt of the earth and if people do not appreciate you I pity them.

    I am sure Lasantha is looking down from heaven above on you and the darling kids he adores.

    All I can say is Shorty and you made Sunday Leader a media revolution and your lobby column is far superior to Lassie’s. (Sorry Shorty, we females are better at expressing ourselves)

    • 28
      0

      Raine we share your pain and the loss of your family is a loss for all Sri Lanknas who deserve to know the truth. Since Lasantha’s death there is no journalism in Sri Lanka. But there are prostitutes working and publishing news papers who are crying for their supper.

    • 1
      26

      RIP Lasantha.

      But this is very confusing. Didn’t Lasantha have a wedding at Taj Exotica a month before he was killed? I also remember reading someone called Sonali (one of Ranil’s friends he sent to the Sl embassy in Australia)was his wife and he had a family living in Australia.

      So who is going to meet him at the “Pearly” Gates?

      Please clarify.

  • 28
    2

    >
    MaRa said, “His children need to know the truth” he said at the time gesturing at Lasantha’s 10-year-old son.
    >
    >
    Now I know why they killed VP’s 10 year old son.
    >
    :-)

  • 6
    15

    Raine.,
    its good that the family have moved on with this day light assassination and just curious why you have to visit the alleged killer of Lasantha on his abode with the full limelight of the waiting cameraman just after he killed his ‘best friend’

    as a avid reader of the Sunday Leader, i would like to get an answer.

    It all reminds me how the killer RP after ordering the assassination of Richard de Soyza then went with a flowers to his funereal, another classic Sri Lankan story.

  • 27
    0

    The murder of Lasantha will continue to haunt MR for the rest of his life. If he does not pay in this world he will certainly pay in the next. No amount of temples and statues will save him from retribution.

  • 7
    25

    Raine Wickrematunge

    I unequivocally condemn the killing of Lasantha, and would like to convey my sincere sympathy to you and your children on this occasion. No human being deserves to be killed, period. Having said that I beg to differ with your assertion regarding Sri Lanka’s “deplorable ranking in the World Press Freedom Index.” With due respect, I would like to point out, if what you say is true, then it is mainly due to pseudo-journalists like Lasantha Wicrematunge abusing the profession.

    Contrary to what you and his other starry-eyed fans claim, he was not a journalist; he was a man with colossal political ambitions who used journalism as a tool to achieve them. And this generally is the malady with journalism in Sri Lanka. Sadly the legacy left behind by Lasantha is a kind of highly partisan, sensationalistic and inflammatory journalism that is still continuing to intrude and disrupt the legitimate political processes in the country. Instead of facilitating the democratic process, Lasantha’s minions are still trying to derail it and hijack politics from the public with his sinister brand of journalism. This must stop.

    • 8
      5

      Just Me, Good for you. I presume you are quite satisfied with the sedate, obedient, and subservient journalism that you have helped evolve in Sri Lanka. As for me, I prefer the crusading, rumbustious style that Lasantha popularised. But then that’s me.

    • 9
      4

      Just me,Lasantha exposed a lot of corruption and malpractices by the government.What do you say to that?Anything wrong doing that for your maladjusted brain?isn’t it through the press that people get to know about how their hard earned wealth is being plundered.Or is it through you?Just like bumping off journalists if we also bump them off then they can plunder the country with impunity as they are doing now.They don’t need to worry about anyone trying to expose them because by doing in lasantha in broad daylight the message has been sent loud and clear that they can do anything they want to anybody in this country.What a country you want to live in you spineless freak.

    • 2
      4

      Well said “Just Me”. You have hit the nail on the head. While condemning the brutal murder of a human being – no one deserve to die like that – its pertinent to examine what Lasantha stood for.

      As you have point out, he had high political ambitions for himself and latched on to the UNP (although he started out as a leftist!) to achieve his goals. First, he denigrated the Kumaratunge administration and then the Rajapakshe regime, plunging journalism to a very low level. He had scant respect for the office of the President, which deplorable practice is continued even today by some journalists with political agendas.

  • 31
    2

    Mahinda Rajapaksa is behind it no one in sri lanka questions this

  • 0
    28

    So which wife came first? Sonali Or Raine? Not trying to insult anyone, just trying to understand who was ex and who was current. Does anyone know?

    • 25
      0

      Raine Ex. & mother of his kids. Sonali wife at time of murder. As far as I understand. Seems both loved him much.

      • 1
        3

        Thanks Ben.

    • 13
      0

      Why so inquisitive to find ex or current????.
      That is their family matters.

      Are you going to fish on muddy waters??????.

      • 30
        2

        “their family matters” are played out in public. Lal writes about financial difficulties, Sonali writes about having to leave the country, and now Rainee about her heartbreak. Somehow it doesn’t come across as being a “private family affair’. This is as public as it gets. don’t know much about fishing but do you drive a second hand car? Perhaps reconditioned?? I like mine brand new.

        • 1
          7

          I forgot to add that the great Lasantha welcomed the election of MR in an editorial. He would proudly meet MR for late night chats and they treated each other with respect, so said Lasantha. Then MR fucked him. Lasantha got played, plain and simple. Shit son, that’s life. When you lie with dogs….

  • 25
    0

    The Wickrematunge’s still own 30% of Leader publications

  • 20
    0

    Dear Raine,my thoughts and prayers are with you and your precious children.

  • 1
    2

    afraid of who loves the motherland. Thanks to SF.

  • 2
    16

    Sorry to ask… Did’nt Lasantha marry someone else shortly before his killing? Is this my imagination ? I doubt it. If I am correct, why the hell is everyone treating Raine as his widow/wife. I remember she was living in Australia with his children and he would travel often to visit the kids.

    Is this history being rewritten- Sri Lanka style. I take nothing away from the life long loss Lasantha’s loved ones must feel. That still should not justify the convenient amnesia CT editors seem to be suffering from.

    If my memory has fooled me, I extend my apologies in advance.

  • 2
    9

    People are indeed afraid of Lasantha and Praba posthumously

  • 12
    1

    “His killers didn’t just murder Lasantha, they destroyed the people’s right to be informed”. Very aptly stated. Although is no more May Lasantha’s memory live for many years to come in Sri Lankan journalism. His inordinate love and affection for his children has been very touching. Benson

  • 3
    23

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    • 18
      3

      How dare you speak ill of a dead man.
      Shame on you
      Even if you hated Lasantha or thought he was a tiger as you go on and on saying you never talk about a dead man.
      Lasantha Wickrematunge was a great man

    • 1
      2

      how can you say such a thing when you are still here though thankfully your frequency is waning a bit.Does your master check how many comments a day for a buriyani packet?

  • 1
    1

    As in most tragedies in South Asian society, there are always volunteers who will jump on the bandwagon and sing hosannas for their pennies…

  • 24
    1

    From where can I purchase Lasantha’s Biography? Can’t it be sold online?

    • 17
      1

      its on amazon

    • 11
      1

      Please contact fathima fukushima A.k.A lorenzo of lankaweb fame.He will give the details for a packet of cigarettes.

    • 16
      1

      you can purchase it on-line. you can order hard-copies from either AuthorHouse or Amazon.com. the kindle version is also available.

    • 19
      0

      I have a unused copy; signed by Mahinda in blood, if you are interested let me know.

  • 15
    2

    Raine,

    Time is the best healer and no doubt with the passage of time you will forget but you can never forgive.
    How can you expect Justice under a Man who was responsible for your fathers killing.
    I have read that when your father became an irritant of MR and his record he was summoned to Temple Trees( the House of Horrors) and MR told him in unequivocal terms that he was going to take over the paper.
    Your fathers fate was sealed at that meeting. It doesn’t matter who was Guilty of the actus reus but it is almost certain that MR was responsible for the Mens Rea and after March 2014 you will have your day in Court and you can include your fathers (who was a Brilliant Journalist) Murder which was premeditated to the charge sheet.
    I am certain that justice will be meted out and you can move on.

    GOOD LUCK and BEST WISHES.

    • 17
      0

      kali,you donk,Raine is not the daughter of lasantha,she is the ex wife and i’am not sivananthan too and siva is not a muslim.Don’t confuse the shit out of everybody here.Get back to ankota.Radika will take care of the barbed wire in your arse issue very robustly,don’t worry.

  • 28
    0

    I met your ex husband Lasantha Wickrematunge when I was at a wedding reception at the Hilton hotel in Colombo in 2007 I remember when I saw him with my family and friends the whole room and all the people stopped stared. We were staring at Sri Lanka’s most influential and honest voices. It is chilling to think we were in the presence of the very man who will be assassinated and who’s murder will forever scar our nation the man who has shaped sri lanka through his voice. I went over to Lasantha and shook his hand and told him how proud I am to have him as an idol to look up to. He was very friendly and nice and I feel so proud and will forever cherish the fact that I actually stood next to him and got to meet him. It’s one of my proudest and most wonderful memories I have a lot of respect for your family. I am most proud that i can even say I stood next to the actual and real Lasantha Wickrematunge and got to meet him

  • 0
    22

    Who the F* is Lasantha?

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