Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Amid increasing violence, murdered Sri Lankan journalist urges restraint

Sri Lankan editor Wickrematunge was murdered last week, but prediciting the government may try to silence him, had already prepared a final column in which he named his probable murderers and made his final argument against military aggression against Sri Lanka's minority Tamil population. From the Guardian:

Wickrematunge was shot in the head in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, by two gunman on a motorcycle as he drove to work on Thursday. More than 4,000 people attended his funeral yesterday, including opposition leaders and human rights activists.


The government has made a series of military gains over the [Tamil] Tigers in the last two weeks, capturing their political capital and reopening the main road from Colombo to Jaffna by seizing the important Elephant Pass. In the editorial Wickrematunge said this would not bring victory - a sign he wrote his article very recently. "A military occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering "development" and "reconstruction" on them in the post-war era.

"The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful diaspora to contend with," he wrote.


The editor ends his article appealing to his readers: "If you remember nothing else, remember this: the [Sunday] Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried."

Ugh, the article is just chilling. A man who was silenced by violence managed to get out one last plea for peace...and it will undoubtedly be ignored by the same people who likely arranged for his assassination...

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