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sri lanka military presence 3The Tamil and Sinhalese community are still two divided community. Heroes of one side, are executioners for the other, terrorists here, liberators there. Every propaganda presents heroes as people who sacrificed their life for a cause, fighting. Until you’ll find a hero with guns, bullets and grenades, Sri Lanka will never converge towards a common name. In fact grenades for the cause were thrown against the other faction. The ideals of one side had to crash against the skull of people from the other side. One shared hero based on bullets and guns in Sri Lanka is a contradiction.

Unless you resort to people who were fighting with the sole courage of their words and ideas. These people can really become the light of rebirth for Sri Lanka. One of these heroes of justice and truth was Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Lasantha Wickrematunge (5 April 1958 – 8 January 2009)

Lasantha Wickrematunge (5 April 1958 – 8 January 2009)

He was a thorny journalist, from the Sinhalese side but undeterred to speak against his president and friends. He was fighting for a better society, for a Sri Lanka more inclusive and just. He attacked a ruthless and brutal regime also because he was part of the same community. Rajapaksa was a family friend and he started to criticize him as an old mate. He could say more than anybody else, because he knew the people very intimately. He reached the line and he was told so. When he crossed the line, he was eliminated. But with his death he was reborn a hero of Sri Lanka.

In fact he didn’t challenge the authority because of arrogance or imprudence. He didn’t die because of a miscalculation of risk.

On the contrary, he was perfectly aware of the offence committed against power. He confronted a violent despot with perfect conscience that he wouldn’t survive this trial. He decided to sacrifice his life, in a state of pure clarity of mind.

In one of the most touching article in the history of journalism, the day after his death, he wrote a posthumous editorial. He accused his killers and left his legacy. It is a testament for all the people with heart and mind, with the will to change society for the better. He gave his life intentionally, choosing truth and justice for a happy life with his son and daughters, his wife

Wickrematunge family

Wickrematunge family

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When you renounce to your existence for a cause, you deserve respect; but sometimes your sacrifice takes also the life of others and when they are innocents, your gesture is compromised. But if you give your life in a pure manifestation of generosity, of love for truth and justice, then you really become a light and an inspiration.

Lasantha Wickrematunge is an example for all Sri Lanka, the ultimate hero for a united sense of justice. If you think that justice must prevail in the country, if you think that violence must be left behind, if you think that the war is over, (but not oppression), if you think that guns should leave the way to words and ideas, if you think that heroes are those who lead the way, then please remember Lasantha and his sacrifice.

When enough Sri Lankans will consider true heroes people like him, when they will take him as their hero, the country will automatically become a better place.

Procession at Wickrematunge's funeral

Procession at Wickrematunge’s funeral

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.

It is clearly a heartache for me to read on the same column of Wickrematunge such cowardliness is painful.

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.

1http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/13/wickrematunga-final-editorial-final-editorial