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World Affairs








Justice where art thou?

Angry protesters thronged Lake House roundabout in Colombo Friday demanding that the killers of The Sunday Leader Editor in Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge be produced before the law and intimidation of the media be brought to an immediate halt



Govt. urged to stop media intimidation


UNP calls for intl. probe on Lasantha’s killing


Elephant Pass captured


Joint opposition to hold street protest tomorrow


Lawyers come out in protest


Lankadissent goes silent in protest


Statement of deep regret


Pro-Palestine demonstration in Colombo

More News

Police yet to make a breakthrough

Police are yet to make a breakthrough in the investigations into the murder of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge last Thursday (8).

Police Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekara told The Sunday Leader that he had not received any details till Friday (9) evening on the progress of the investigations on the killing of Wickrematunge.

However, the Police Spokesperson said that investigators were pursuing several leads but did not elaborate for fear of compromising ongoing investigations.

He said that the IGP had assigned four police teams to investigate into Wickrematunge’s assassination.

"Four teams have been assigned to investigate into the killing. The teams have found some clues that would lead to the suspects. I have not been given a detailed report, as the investigating teams did not want details to be revealed since it would hamper the progress of the investigation."

Gunasekara added that the four teams were headed by the SSP Mt Lavinia.

He said that the investigations would continue and every one would have to wait and see what the outcome would be.

Wickrematunge was killed by unidentified persons last Thursday morning at Attidiya while on his way to office.

Witnesses say that Wickrematunge was followed from his house in Nugegoda. Wickrematunge had been threatened on previous occasions as well.

Wickrematunge and his wife were assaulted in 1995. His house was shot at in 1998.

The Sunday Leader press was burnt on November 21, 2007.

The culprits who burnt the printing press of the newspaper are yet to be arrested.

Soon after being shot on the head, Wickrematunge was admitted to the Colombo South Hospital, Kalubowila and succumbed to his injuries after nearly three hours of extensive surgery.

Wickrematunge’s killing happened within 48 hours after the arson attack on MTV/MBC station in Depanama. Wickrematunge had also visited the scene on Tuesday (6) morning.

Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapakse said during his address to the public on Television last Friday that there was a conspiracy behind recent attacks on the media and added that he would reveal them soon.


Govt. urged to stop media intimidation

The international community and human rights organisations have condemned the brutal murder of The Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge and called upon the government to take immediate action to stop the ongoing media intimidation.

The Indian High Commission in a statement has said that media freedom was an essential element for democracy.

"This deplorable incident comes in the wake of the series of attacks on and intimidation of media organisations and personalities in Sri Lanka including the recent bombing of the studios of Maharaja TV. We hold media freedom as an essential element of any democracy and such attacks are detrimental to the idea of democratic freedom in Sri Lanka." 


UNP calls for intl. probe on Lasantha’s killing

The UNP on Friday called for an international investigation into the assassination of The Sunday Leader Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The party staged a protest in parliament on Friday with several of its MPs sitting in the well of the house in front of the Speaker’s chair, with red and black shawls draped around their necks, holding placards and accusing the government of murdering Wickrematunge.

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe gagged his mouth with a red scarf whilst in the parliament chamber to symbolise the stifling of media freedom, and in a speech he warned of dangers to the country’s moral fabric if murders such as that of The Sunday Leader Editor were allowed to go unpunished.

Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera raised a point of Parliamentary Privilege on Friday, stating that he had received a telephone death threat from a caller threatening to deliver him the same fate as Lasantha Wickrematunge.

"He said I was too outspoken against the government, both in and out of parliament," Jayasekera told the house.

The government did not formally respond to the concerns raised by the UNP, however Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage led a chorus of government members taunting the UNP to take steps to protect its leader from becoming the next target of attack.


Elephant Pass captured

Troops from 53rd and 55th Divisions had reached Elephant Pass (EPS), President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday announced.

The Defence Ministry said that it had captured the entire stretch of the Jaffna-Kandy (A9) road for the first time in 23 years.

"Elephant Pass, the gateway to the Jaffna peninsula is now under the total control of security forces. Troops have also gained total control over the 325km long A9, Jaffna- Kandy road, after 23 years," the Defence Ministry said citing military sources.

The Ministry further said that the fall of EPS had deprived the LTTE the most crucial strategic ground at the Jaffna gateway, "following an eight year odd occupation, which linked the Wanni mainland with the Jaffna peninsula."

"With the fall of EPS, troops are now poised at launching a decisive blow at the remaining LTTE strongpoints at Mulliyan, Chempiyanpattuwa, Chundikulama and Kaddaikadu, defence observers state," the Ministry further added.


Joint opposition to hold street protest tomorrow

By Nirmala Kannangara

The joint opposition consisting of the UNP, SLFP (M) Wing, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Development People’s Front (DPF) has decided to hold continuous protest campaigns throughout the country against the Mahinda Rajapakse regime over the suppression of the media.

UNP MP John Amaratunga told The Sunday Leader that following the protest campaign that was held in Fort on Friday (9) against the brutal killing of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the joint opposition has planned to hold a massive agitation campaign tomorrow (12) at the Lipton Circus.

"Parallel to The Sunday Leader Editor’s burial we would hold a massive protest in Colombo tomorrow and hope to bring more than 100,000 people to the streets for it," Convener SLFP (M) Wing, Mangala Samaraweera told The Sunday Leader.

"In order to destabilise democracy in Sri Lanka the Rajapakse regime is carrying out killings by certain units associated with the Defence Ministry when our heroic soldiers are battling hard to win the war," Samaraweera claimed.

According to Samaraweera, many political parties that are not affiliated to the government and civil societies, human right activists and professionals have voluntarily come forward to join the joint opposition protest as they too have now come to realise that the best way to put a stop to this brutal killings and bombings was to get together to make a common voice.

"There has been a tremendous response to our call for a joint agitation and parallel to The Sunday Leader Editor’s funeral tomorrow the proposed protest would be the turning point to get back the lost democracy to the country," Samaraweera further stated.

Meanwhile, Amaratunge said that with the World Bank and the European Union remarks over the continuous killings of journalists and the recent bomb attack on MBC network the government would no doubt find it difficult and said that once the continuous agitations are initiated the joint opposition would be able to pressurise the government further.

"That was our main goal and we are positive that we could bring back the lost democracy to the country and to bring media freedom which will no doubt be a great tribute to the slain senior journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge," Amaratunge said.


Lawyers come out in protest

Concerned lawyers will gather at the gates to the Superior Courts Complex at Hulftsdorp on Monday January 12 at 1pm, as a sign of protest against the assassination of their colleague Attorney-At- Law Lasantha Wickrematunge.

It is emphasised that this is not a "political demonstration" by or against any one particular party, group or individual but a furtherance of the oath and duty to safeguard and protect the rights and liberties of the citizens of this Republic, to express absolute dissent and contempt of society against all moves to suppress, curtail or shut out the basic fundamentals of a democracy — such as the freedom and right of a citizen to form, hold and promote his/her own opinion without fear or being discriminated, persecuted or killed for it! 

All like-minded members of society from all walks of life, notwithstanding what segment or strata you belong to, who are led to expressing similar concern and dissent are invited to join in. Please pass this message on to other concerned citizens of Sri Lanka.


Lankadissent goes silent in protest

As a mark of protest against the brutal assassination of The Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge, the lankadissent website stopped its operations last Friday stating that it will not come back until the country learns to tolerate dissent.

The statement published at the homepage of the website in black background said…

In this land of the most compassionate Lord Buddha…..

Sinhala Buddhists who believe this land belongs to the most compassionate Lord Buddha and constitutionally calls it the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka", sing with pride "In wisdom and strength renewed / Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended / In love enfolded, a mighty nation / Marching onward, all as one / Lead us, Mother, to fullest freedom." as their National Anthem.

And….. in this compassionate, democratic Buddhist land enfolded with love, in wisdom and fullest freedom, media is forbidden to raise a dissenting voice. Media is forbidden to criticise the "law" of the ruling regime. The media is forbidden to speak for the people.

Many who thought they as the media have a right to freedom of expression, they have a right to information, that the people also have the same right and that it is a fundamental right in a modern civilised society, have been told very bluntly and at times most brutally, that it isn’t so in this land of the compassionate, democratic republic, run by a "patriotic" regime.

The Tamil media in the North were the first to have been told this bluntly and ruthlessly while the Colombo media did not want those dissenting voices in the North, heard elsewhere. They had to learn that lesson, first hand.

And….that was a lesson learnt by some, who are not with us to tell their story. That is a lesson learnt by some, who don’t have the right to say it, because they have a right to live some time more. For a lot, it was their station "Sirasa" that went ablaze with that lesson. It was their station that was smashed and set on fire to teach a lesson.

For Lasantha Wickramatunge, an editor with a passion for uncompromising media professionalism, it was a challenge to face. A challenge he never minced words, in meeting. He had his own aggressive style in meeting the challenge. Admired and respected but left alone without political backing.

And….. he, therefore, could not surmount this challenge, all by himself.

A lesson learnt, that needs no repeats to learn. This compassionate Sinhala Buddhist land does not tolerate "dissent." Those who would not want to learn that living, would have to learn that in death. We who live, would come back when "dissent" comes back as a democratic right, accepted and enjoyed in a modern land of compassion.

Till then, good bye!

Editorial Board



Statement of deep regret

We journalists of Nepal have been rendered speechless by the killing of courageous Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickrematunge on January 8. The editor of The Sunday Leader has always been at the forefront of the struggle for accountability, rule of law, human rights, and healthy, peaceful politics. In the end, Editor Wickrematunge had to pay for his ethics and high principles with his life. At the moment of this cowardly slaying, we extend our condolences to colleagues at the Leader Group as well as all journalists of Sri Lanka.

We believe that they will not let the lamp of free media and democracy die even as forces bent on destruction take recourse to the tools of violence and assassination. Lasantha Wickrematunge was a trailblazer for journalists all over South Asia, and his absence shall forever remind us of the value of free and fearless journalism in the protection of democracy.


Pro-Palestine demonstration in Colombo

By B.M.Murshideen

More than one thousand people including politicians and representatives of the civil society movements participated in the Pro Palestine demonstration held in Colombo against the Israeli occupation in the Gaza strip.

The Friends for free Palestine movement organised this demonstration at the Lipton Circus on Friday afternoon.

Governor of the Western province Alavi Moulana, SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem, Parliamentarians Sunil Handunetti, Wijitha Herath (JVP), M.Mahroof (UNP) Media Activist Sunanda Deshapriya and Secretary of the Friends for Free Palestine M.Mujiburrahman also participated.

Demonstrators were chanting the slogans of "Israel butcher of children, Stop-Israel state terrorism, stop killing Palestine."

Meanwhile, a press conference was organised by the FFFP on Thursday morning at Marine Grand auditorium in Colombo with the participation of the political leaders. Resolutions were passed at this meeting to submit a memorandum to the President Mahinda Rajapakse this week with the signatures of the political parties and the civil society organisations.


Admin. failures due to incompetent officers

By Nirmala Kannangara

The Railway Department’s failure to appoint permanent railway employees to the posts of Station Masters and above, has led to administration failures, the All Ceylon Railway Employees’ General Union (ACREGU) said.

With the government’s decision to restrict salary scales in the Railway Department to 36 through the controversial 06/ 2006 salary circular, all grades from the Station Masters’ post to the post of General Manager Railways were filled by party supporters who are above 55 years according to Secretary, ACREGU Sumathipala Manawadu.

According to Manawadu the post of General Manager (GM), Superintendent Transport and Deputy Superintendent (Transport), GM (Operations), Superintendent (Commercial) have been filled by the UPFA supporters and added that although they were entrusted with responsible jobs, they have failed to carry out their duties to the satisfaction of the departmental officials.

"When you take the post of GM (Administration) he would have to look into all administration work in the department and the same applies for the other posts too. Since the government has appointed its party supporters to the higher posts they do not want to discharge their duties up to the required standard," Manawadu told The Sunday Leader.

Speaking further Manawadu added that although this was brought to the notice of the department hierarchy nothing has been done to appoint suitable government officers to these posts. "This is the main reason for the incompetence in the railway department and if the government still fails to appoint able government officials for the higher posts, the fall of the railway department is inevitable," Manawadu claimed.


15 new power sets for railway

By Risidra Mendis

The Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) will strengthen the Colombo Suburban service by adding 15 diesel power sets to its service.

The nine diesel power sets will be in operation by early February.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader General Manager (SLR) Dr. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan said the power sets were brought down from China.

"Each diesel power set costs Rs. 300 million and the money is to be paid back on a monthly basis to China. We brought down the diesel power sets in four batches. At present six power sets are in operation. These six power sets were released in December 2008," Dr Gunaruwan said.

The GM added that the remaining diesel power sets were under going trial before being introduced to the existing fleet. When questioned as to how the six diesel power sets were fairing Dr. Gunaruwan said there were certain complaints by the engine drivers with regard to the new power sets.


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