January 8th unfolds ; Two goings-on entwined :
Lasantha Remembered on his Fourth Death Anniversary & Sri Lanka’s hassled ramble towards the Slaying of its Judiciary
…………… Summery of this article : Play the Video ………
| by Sunalie Ratnayake
(January 8, Los Angeles , Sri Lanka Guardian) Another year has dawned, and the opening week of this brand New Year ‘Twenty Thirteen’ has already come to a hazy conclusion. And then comes along that horrific day of this ‘Black January’.
An appalling day in the hearts and minds of Journalists in Sri Lanka, however, such sentiments mostly confining to those who are sincere to their revered profession, which by now, has been unashamedly tainted by a few others, also representing the same field, living in the same land, yet, apparently the swarm that sing for their ravening supper.
They flagrantly do so, hiding behind the shield of their vocation, while conducting ‘laundry-work’ on the “wanna-be king’s” filthy rump. The rotten whiff, they don’t seem to mind, as their only greedy concern is to make hay while the sun shines.
You and I are very well aware, as if to, who and who belongs to this trashy throng in the Sri Lankan media industry, especially in the near-entire print media arena, as well as in some of the electronic branches of it. Yet, let us not picture their tags at this moment, as their conscience alone shall scar their souls, sooner or later.
They do what they do, like scumbags basking in reflected glory. And their unjustly celebrated lives shall be ephemeral. Much ephemeral than they could have ever imagined it to be. And such repellent merrymaking shall prevail, only while the sun shines on them. Sooner or later, evil shall be swiped away from any podium that it has dirtied, and along with it, these ‘hypocrites’ and ‘opportunists’ who are dancing in the nude inside glass chests too shall fade away, as the candid throng may await to witness that sanctified day.
Yes, the above was all about the shameless group of journalists who’s pens are controlled like coin-operated vending machines, operated daily and gaily by the phony king and his kin.
A gloomy month – Black January
Yes, it is the beginning of the second week of the year ‘twenty thirteen’ – January 8th to be precise. A gloomy month that brings undying chills.
As we clearly evoke, the month of January in 2012, had been designated as ‘Black January’ in Sri Lanka, by the Alliance of Media Organizations, along with its supporters in the national and international arenas. This particular campaign last year (2012) was in palpable response to the intolerable and cowardly attacks on the “media” that had occurred in the gloomy month of January in Sri Lanka, also known as the so called ‘Wonder Of Asia’ – ‘Asiawe Ass-charyaya’; an evidently unfitting term made mandatory by the sordid supremacy of the island, that nonsensically indoctrinates it’s portion of ignorant citizenry, day in and day out.
And this is done in terms of camouflaging the island’s actual and factual realities, from its own citizenry, as well as from the rest of the world, for illogical despotic agendas to be fulfilled, prior to the bogus ‘king’ and his ‘kin’, and their ‘henchmen’ losing their grip on ‘power’, sooner or later.
The aforesaid campaign in Black January of last year was a response to the attacks on the media that have occurred in the month of January in the three years prior to the last (especially, that has augmented extremely as of 2009), and the failure of the currently hysterical régime of Sri Lanka to bring to account, those responsible for attacks on numerous journalists.
Four years ago – A day like today
Four years ago, a day just as today, January 8th was the day that Sri Lankan media faced one of its cruelest and most spiteful cessations in recent history. Hence, January 8th echoes the murder of a Sri Lankan Journalist Par Excellence, to date, who requires no introduction by any means, not only on the segment of his once motherland Sri Lanka, but also, on the phase of the earth.
The dubious daylight hours of January 8th 2009 witnessed the horrendous murder of one of the most outspoken, clear-cut, intrepid, young and unwavering Journalists that may have ever set foot on planet earth, in aspects of a noteworthy epoch of time in history, to date. In Sri Lanka alone, a recurrence of such remarkable calibre in the field, remains vague, even in one’s wildest dream.
Four years ago, on a morning just as today, the aforesaid individual, the ‘original’ Sunday Leader’s founder editor, namely Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge was murdered on broad daylight, on his way to work, in a so-called ‘high security zone’ in Sri Lanka’s capital city.
That occurred in the jubilant watch of the ‘bogus king’, and his malicious ‘defence secretary sibling’ – in reality, just another government servant, yet one elevated to extremely higher statuses by himself, with borrowed powers from the supremacy. Quite often than not, utilizing powers running even higher than that of big brother chief.
Yet another ridiculous make-belief-concept in the island-nation, supported by the adage ; “when a lie is repeated enough it becomes the truth.” Hence, not only the ordinary citizen, but those holding higher rank in significant rings too are made to believe, that given the normal context in the island nation, the Defence Secretary is above God as well ?
Comical indeed. What about the rest of the Secretaries representing the rest of the ministries ? What kind of power do they hold ? Or, are they mere scarecrows, in comparison to the ‘grey-going’, ‘via-lense-gawking’, ‘rancorous’ Defence Boy ?
Nevertheless, (‘Aiya – Malo’ / Elder Brother – Younger Brother) both seemed to be overjoyed over the mysterious morning occurrence of that very day like today, four years ago, and later-on went on to prove their rejoicing temperament on same, over various interviews given to the outside world.
At certain moments, the younger one seemed to find it impossible to control his hysterical laughter, when significant questions were posted at him by professional journalists, on the murder of Lasantha. These included interviews given to reputed foreign media institutions as well, and that included the frenzied interview given by the Defence Boy, to Christopher Morris of the BBC, following the said editor’s world documented murder.
The above comportments of the said individual are not what the writer of this piece is generating. Instead, it was quite an evident fact, and anyone who may have watched those interviews (even currently available to be viewed on youtube as well) may come to the same conclusion, in aspects of the behaviours of the ‘guilt-ridden’. The body language alone told the tale. The only difference is, most may not have the prototypical style of vertebrae to say what they saw in it.
What goes around, comes around
‘Cold-blooded-murder’ is ‘cold-blooded-murder’, and it indeed is obnoxious, irrespective of whom the victim maybe, and the ‘guilt-ridden’ shall eternally be ‘guilt-ridden’, irrespective of the fact that they could “temporarily” shield themselves from apposite punishment for their deplorable brutality. Moreover, since I stated that it is only “temporarily” that they may hide themselves, ‘retribution-time’ is ‘retribution-time’, and it shall be shockingly sore when that pay-back-time shall arrive, sooner or later, and in the most bewildering manner ever.
Yes, that is when ‘Karma’ shall take its toll. That is when the “what goes around comes around” philosophy comes alive, notwithstanding one’s belief, doubt, acceptance or rejection on same.
Lasantha’s brutal murder in 2009, followed by a number of journalists being hammered to near death (some cases out of these, which took place immediately after Lasantha’s murder, clearly being fabricated to confuse and mislead the public, and to make them overlook the gravity of Lasantha’s murder, without giving adequate time to even mourn his death), also followed by pro-opposition website cartoonist/political analyst/journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda’s disappearance in 2010, and the continuation of the sequence of killings, and white van abductions of not mere anti-government media personnel, but ordinary citizens too has repeatedly proven and given one clear message, that is; under Rajapaksa rule, life can be awfully short, and death shall be treacherously ruthless to “all”, but the Rajapaksas’ and their kin.
And that “all” may include “all” who may dare speak a word against the power drunk reigning ‘king’, and his equally disorientated ‘kin’, and their intolerable ‘governing mechanisms’.
This is where the country has proceeded over the past four years, having systematically begun this evil route towards an unofficial tyranny, as of November 18, 2005, the day the phony king took to the throne, by hook or by crook. And those who were in their senses at the time, and may not be having the scatterbraine syndrome as of now, are perfectly aware of how the phony king bluffed the 2005 presidential election, going that appalling extra mile, in double-dealing with the foe (LTTE).
War with the deadly, malevolent, murderous LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is over, alright – a quite understood fact, and it’ll be only four months short to complete the four year celebrations of war victory this year, yet are we still to listen to the stomach-turning trumpet-blowing of the government at a rate, when numerous other hazardous, vicious and serious wars are undergoing undercover, all over Sri Lanka?
It’s about time that the phony king and the gang stored the war-victory-trumpet in its instrument case, and seriously got down to business.
|Lasantha Wickrematunge with Sunalie Ratnayake in 2007
Four years from Lasantha’s murder, and with the inconceivable increase of murders, disappearances, kidnappings, rapes, escalating drug trafficking, land frauds, grave mishandling in the education system, bribery and corruption at all possible levels, skyrocketing inflation, and been buried in massive loans at an objectionable rate, today the island nation seems to be clearly heading in yet another disastrous path. One, from which, it could not be easily hoarded. Yet, all this unwise recklessness is being conveniently covered by the ruling party, in the name of mere ‘development’.
Other murky plans for January 8, 2013
Be that as it may, now, the latest that had been occurring and continues to occurre in the land like no other, as of late, happens to be yet another awkward set of affairs, via which the judiciary too shall be artfully put to a plodding death.
The same day that Lasantha’s passing reverberates over the naked dodgy island air, and as the thought of his absence paralyzes those otherwise dominant nerves of the folk who knew the man well enough, hence truly loved and cared for him, January 8th sets forth the commencement of yet another spiteful set of events, deceitfully prearranged by the most devious government that ever saw daylight in Sri Lanka.
As today, the day (January 8th) may unfold, the phony king of Sri Lanka is to address a proposal to the parliament, to eliminate the incumbent Chief Justice (CJ) Shirani Bandaranayake. This shall be based upon a report produced by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).
Meanwhile, the mannerisms in which some of the members of the said PSC are reported to have behaved in aspects of gestures, as well as the vocabulary utilized in their face-to-face interactions with the CJ has not, by any means, enriched the confidence of the public, in terms of the integrity of their pronouncement.
Moreover, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has declared that the entire PSC progression as unconstitutional, hence null and void. While it being so, the illegitimate proposal is to be debated in parliament for two days, and on the 11th of January, it is to be put to a vote.
As the phony king’s fiddly government has the required majority to get it through the parliament, the CJ is to be detached by force, immediately following the passing of the resolution, and she will be prevented from entering the premises of the Supreme Court, for which a new CJ shall be appointed.
The said government of the immoral king, being a well branded government in aspects of illicit practices all throughout its existence, hence equipped with a traditional history for such practices, it is noted to be likely, that in the course of the aforesaid events, that the CJ may be arrested on some baseless excuse.
Furthermore, as a strong battle against this could be expected at the site, those representing the legal society, including judges, and others belonging to various political and civil society organizations too would likely to be arrested or dealt with, in a possible illegitimate mode, if the need may arise.
A possible state suppression
Subsequently, when a new CJ would be appointed, the usual friction towards such appointments, as part of the nature of the system, could lead to added ruthless suppression of the legal network as well.
All free media is most likely to be continued in its current mode of suppression, perhaps even accentuated, in terms of self-censorship as well, and the brazen state media will evidently be skyrocketed to further tarnish the image of the then detached CJ, in terms of her conducts and character.
By passing the resolution to eliminate the CJ, a period of grave subjugation is likely to be ushered thereafter, by the government, similar to such occurrings in the island’s categorical past, such as; following the JVP uprising in 1971, following the general strike in 1980, racial riots of 1983, the terror era from 1988 to 1991, and during the prolonged North and East suppression from 1983 to May 2009.
|Lasantha Wickrematunga lies in state during his funeral ceremony in Colombo. Photograph: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images
Destabilizing of the judiciary
In a Rajapaksa controlled Sri Lanka, such subjugation shall openly destabilize the judicial role in the country, that shall ultimately blow a grave alarm, where any legal member, including judges who may act to advocate the rule of law shall be prone to punishment.
State repression may lead to serious divisions as well, that shall be created in the judiciary, for the prevention of any possible future action that could ascend against the government, on the basis of rules.
As the government is headed on a crafty mission to remove the CJ through a legal process, which the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has acknowledged to be unlawful, the island’s judicial role shall be clearly displaced, and the Ministry of Defence is likely to become the most dominant institution, which via its branches may play a protruding role in controlling the society.
As the rule of law is relegated into an unimportant position, the activities of the Ministry of Defense will not be deterred by legal rules. Given that context, the Defence Boy will be above the law, conceited to the core, and overpowering as ever. Not that he is not any of that, at present, but things will turn from bad to worse.
LLRC confined to an idled thick volume
To toughen the Rule of Law, and for the government to respect the integrity of public institutions, which includes the judiciary was among the key recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Yet, what seems to be taking place in reality is quite the opposite of the featured recommendations, and the recommendations seem to be confined to the pages of the thick volume.
Hence, the breach of these recommendations can provide the international community with an opening for a tougher sanction that may pinch the government, as the next session of the UN Human Rights Council is to assemble in approximately another two months this year, in March.
In the context of an unofficial autocracy, such as what Sri Lanka is currently experiencing, (though some refuse to accept that it is so, due to various reasons), it would be much constructive for the entire nation as a whole, if this battle could be taken to the UN, as well as the Commonwealth, shedding the pointless and ever so convenient ‘traitor’ jingle, roared in such events. Especially in this crucial moment, for the sake of defending the judiciary at peril, from this psychopathic familial rule, international intervention could be accommodating, as well as the only existing option.
However, the shameless ‘jingle man’ of the ministry of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities, who opens his rowdy mouth in all possible arenas may intervene and try to prevent any international participation on same.
The impeachment comedy
However, having stated all the above, which indeed are facts pertaining to the appalling episode, this ‘impeachment comedy’, and the venom splattered all over, as it progressed over the past weeks too, happens to be self-explanatory, if one gives a thorough thought to it, while being mindful of all what took place as of May 2011, when the CJ, Shirani Bandaranayake was initially appointed by the deceptive king himself.
|CJ, Shirani Bandaranayake
She keenly observed, and cleverly adhered, way too compliantly, to each and every political demand of Rajapaksa, as a ‘Supreme Court Justice’, and then as ‘Chief Justice’, while satisfying such demands ‘to and fro’, bending backward and forward, and from side to side, at a time she chose to do so.
Moreover, it was she who headed the benches that rejected Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s petition for bail, within a mere 24 hours approved the 18th Amendment, rejected petitions against Leadership Training, gave open route to the Expropriations Bill, and the blocking of Anti-Government Websites.
In other words, Shirani was clearly a “Rajapaksa Loyalist” at one point in time, and amusingly, that obviously was not too long ago.
The Rajapaksaland ~ (Rajapaksalanthaya)
However, following all the obedient loyalty towards the malicious Rajapaksas’ it took only one ruling, which she made against the ‘Rajapaksa Desires’, the siblings could not put-up with it for a mere moment, and began violent attacks on her.
Had the Supreme Court approved the Amendment on the “Town and Country Planning Bill”, a.k.a the “Divi-Neguma Bill”, it would have acted in obvious, and brazen violation of the ‘Constitution’.
Notwithstanding, this is Rajakapsaland (or Rajapaksalanthaya) after all, where no such ‘evocative logic’, but ‘Rajapaksa Reasoning’ only is welcome. Each and everything happens according to the ‘Rajapaksa Norm’. The average citizens are to accept all such ‘insanity’ as ‘normalcy’.
Hence, in this bizarre land, it is not the constitution that is supreme, but the Rajapaksas’ and the Rajapaksas’ alone. They have the ‘final word’ – the ‘final say’, would it be a matter of high, low or average prominence. Nothing escapes their will, and their word shall be the last.
No one dare speak above it, or if anyone dares to do so, give-up even a slim desire to live life. Because anyone who dare speak above the Rajapaksas’, let alone act against them, shall be swiped away from planet earth, no questions asked.
It has happened before, but no one dare mention so, and it is more than likely to reiterate.
Therefore, the “moral of the story”, and the “lesson to be learnt”, and must be kept in mind, is the fact that Rajapaksas’ do not care too much for “loyalty”.
Even if they do, it would last only a brief period, just as that of the “CJ’s Loyalty” did. The moment one chooses to act independently, and righteously, he or she is done. In fact, his or her entire life is done. And life shall turn to a living hell. And there is no way out.
Consequently, the Rajapaksas’ only care for ‘spineless’, ‘mindless’, ‘self-sacrificing’ ‘prat-washers’, who will shampoo the Rajapaksa bums, even disregarding the stinking excrement.
The type of journalists that I mentioned, in the commencement of this article too belongs to that prat-washing shameless throng.
Far from the average throng
‘Lasantha’ was far from such shameless, prat-washing journalists. He was inimitable.
Could never be bought over (in exchange of finances, or any other possible perks, and/or benefits under the sun), by a Rajapaksa, or any other influential being, who held the supreme power of the day.
Lasantha’s journalism passed many diverse eras of numerous state heads. Yet, Lasantha remained the same. And he proved to be a thorn in the flesh of every wrongdoer of the day, regardless of agendas, friendships, colour, and/or party-politics.
“There was, and shall forever be, only one Lasantha Wickrematunge – He was larger than life !”
As I evoke pleasant memories, on this 8th day of January, (the month that also brings out the chills in me), of a great man, whom I have once dearly known; my mentor, my comrade, my confidante, my protective armor in the field of candid journalism, and of course, a ‘father figure’, not only to me, but to all who keenly, and honestly worked with him, for decades and more, from the inception of the ‘original’ Sunday Leader in 1994, until the paper’s ‘startling death’ that obviously began, immediately after it’s founder’s death, on January 8th 2009.
Be that as it may, it is nauseating to learn that there seem to be certain prat-washing disgusting journalists out there, serving under the ‘put-on king’ and his ‘spiteful kin’ as mere “eheyyas” to the so-called regal clan, those who seem to be still unable to get rid of their disgusting inferiority complexes, and goes on shamelessly hammering this dead man.
How could such prat-washers (bum-suckers), not come to terms with the simple fact, that whom they lost four years ago, as a result of serious subjugation in the Sri Lankan media, was a man who walked along the same path with them, and was way senior to most of them, in age, as well as in experience in the field?
After giving much thought to it, I now comprehend the reason for the above factor, because though Lasantha represented the same field (as that of today’s “Rajapaksa Eheyyas”), which is ‘Journalism’, he was perhaps the only one who did so, with an unbent backbone, at all given times.
And that included the dreadful times (which are hard to ever forget), in which his house was sprayed with machine gun fire, and he was attempted to be shot at, in one instance, even while his wonderful wife and the mother of his three beautiful children, Raine Wickrematunge was right next to him, and also got hammered in several other occasions/incidents that passed-by, in the watch of governments, other than that of the Rajapaksa regime as well.
And we all know who planned those cowardly attacks on him, and under who’s watch, and under which government that they were shamelessly carried-on. However, he was murdered on broad day light, under the vigilant watch of the Rajapaksa regime.
Lasantha was unique in every way, and he did it his way, and nobody could ever match his flairs.
Not all are gifted, after all. And, I’m proud to constantly recall the fact that Lasantha Wickrematunge was nobody’s “eheyya”, ever.
And those so-called journalists/editors suffering with inferiority complex, and hammering Lasantha with mere ‘words’, even following his death, as they could not hammer him with ‘aptitude’, when he was alive, seem to be non other than inexperienced servants of the Rajapaksa regime.
And the very ones that Lasantha could not care less about, and perhaps may have unintentionally overlooked, while he covered the ‘peace talks’, back in the day.
Usually Lasantha was a very friendly and cheerful person towards anybody. Even towards those whom he may have seen for the first time. And with or without an introduction, he would usually flash his captivating grin at anybody, even at his enemies.
But for some reason, Lasantha may have not noticed certain ‘low-ranking-folks’ in the field, now “Rajapaksa Eheyyas”, that had represented the same field. back then; hence the undying grudge towards him seem to continue, even following his death.
That’s yet another pathetic component in the story, and insignificant too. But, had to be addressed, to simply pass-on the message !
What is even more pitiable is, not only the founder editor of the Sunday Leader was cowardly murdered, by obvious parties that are still freely roaming, and merry-making (but, no one dare call their names), but also his blood, sweat, tears and finally, the entity that took his dear life – The Sunday Leader too was immediately murdered by a deceitful throng of so-called journalists that took over, and stooped down to any soiled gutter, in the mere interest of securing their well-being.
We all know who they are, as well. It’s shameful indeed, but it has happened within the past four years. The Sunday Leader did not die, when it was shamelessly sold to government related parties last year (2012), but it died an immediate death, on January 8th 2009 itself, along with the death of its “real man” – Lasantha. That is the ultimate, yet never recapped truth.
Today, on his fourth death anniversary (January 8, 2013), and always, I shall pray for his sweet soul to rest in eternal peace.
“Dear Lasantha, your absence of four long years surely has been a tough survival for all those who honestly loved and cared for you, but that very anguish, which stimulates with each passing day, has miraculously given a unique form of strength to carry on. That’s the magic you have left behind, alike your childlike smile that shall never fade from memory. ~ Nothing compares to you ! And thank you for all the meaningful lessons taught, in journalism, and in life, and thank you for teaching them right !”
Sunalie Ratnayake is a Sri Lankan Journalist based in Los Angeles.
She could be reached at :