An article of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge will always protect my conviction in the power of words.1 In his last column, Wickrematunge denounced his killers and linked it to the president Rajapaksa. He was aware of the danger of his editorial freedom and his last gesture stands as a temple of courage, intelligence and justice. His magazine’s mission, the Sunday Leader was the critical conscience of civil society in Sri Lanka. After his death, Frederica Jansz, took over and you can say she maintained the spirit of the founder.
In a famous article, she questioned the almighty defense’s minister, state brother Gotabaya on a petty incident. The reaction of the Rajapaksa was arrogant, brutal and violent. Few months after, the struggling Sunday Leader accepted a new owner. And in weeks, the new publisher sacked Frederica.
On the 18th of November it published an apology for the episode2.
But paradoxically this apology screams even louder the arrogance of power, the oppression over freedom of expression and the danger of criticizing the regime than a polemic editorial.
Sri Lanka is heading rapidly towards an authoritarian regime and this apology represents a desperate call for freedom.
I just hope that any member of the civil society in Sri Lanka realizes the danger of supporting the Rajapaksa regime, regardless of the short term benefit that could obtain. Any dissent is increasingly seen as anti-patriotic.
This article one time more is denouncing the climate of rising fascism in Sri Lanka. In a convoluted and sad way, the Sunday Leader is still accusing the government, but what a shame that we need to hear it with such oxymoron.