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
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
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
"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
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
Govt. urged to stop
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
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.
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
"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
"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,"
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
"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
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
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.
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
The statement published at the homepage
of the website in black background said…
In this land of the most compassionate
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
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
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!
Statement of deep
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
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.
demonstration in Colombo
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.