For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Hundreds of political and human rights activists on Wednesday questioned the Sri Lankan government’s will to solve the killing of an outspoken newspaper editor three years ago.
Platform for Freedom, which is comprised of opposition politicians and activists, lit lamps in remembrance and held a protest meeting against the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper.
Wickrematunga was a harsh critic of the government’s conduct in the long civil war against the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels and alleged human rights violations. He also wrote forthrightly on bribery and corruption.
The editor was assassinated by four men riding motorbikes on Jan. 8, 2009, while driving. A self-written obituary by Wickrematunga published by his newspaper days after accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government for his killing.
“We have been asking the government to do justice for Lasantha for the past three years. But now we wonder if there is any use in asking this government anymore,” said Britto Fernando, convener of the movement.
“The message is clear, the government has proven through its actions that it has failed to protect democracy and human rights.”
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said the failure to solve Wickrematunga’s killing places the responsibility for his death on the government.
The government has repeatedly said that it is keen on solving the murder.
Sri Lanka was especially dangerous for journalists during the final years of its 26-year civil war. Fourteen media workers were killed between 2006 and 2009, when the war ended, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
No media killings are confirmed since then, but a journalist abducted in 2010 still is unaccounted for.
KRISHAN FRANCIS Associated Press