Colombo, Human Security, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

Is the President hiding Lasantha Wickremetunge’s killers?

We reproduce in full a letter from Sonali Samarasinghe Wickremetunge to the IGP asking him to record ‘very important details’ known to the Sri Lankan President and at least one other senior government minister, based on the minister’s own admission, pertaining to the identity of her husband Lasantha Wickremetunge’s killers.

The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader and one of Sri Lanka’s best known journalists, Lasantha Wickremetunge was murdered on 8th January 2009 en route to work, in broad daylight and on a busy road. The murderers, whoever they are, have yet to be captured.

Groundviews was told that no newspaper in Sri Lanka was willing to carry this letter in full. Therein too lies a story of the pervasive nature of anxiety and fear in Sri Lanka, and the conditions facing independent journalists and media. We publish this letter in the hope that sustained domestic and international pressure to reveal the identity of Lasantha’s killers, especially as they seem to be known to the highest authority in the country, will help find and bring them to justice.

Letter 1

Letter 2

Groundviews captured the unequivocal condemnation of Lasantha’s assasination from many citizens, including former President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, winner of the Gratiaen Prize in 2007 and two other award winning poets Malinda Seneviratne and Indran Amirthanayagam, Lionel Bopage, a former General Secretary of the JVP and Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage.

View all these articles and more, including videos of Lasantha’s funeral, here.

  • The Underdog

    Yes he is.

  • Sri

    You should know better. Sri Lanka has nevr had a decent system of anything. This country should be taken over by UN and put through a rigotous rehabilitation process to decent human norms. Currently it is in the stae of Idi Amin’s Uganda, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Sadm Hussain’s Irag, and Kim Il Sung’s North Korea. You atleast are able to write this letter and get this published. Just think of the thousands abducted tortured murdered raped and their bodies torn apart in front of their children. Your country has lost culture. Probably it should turn into a wild satuary. I doubt even animals will be able to live there. Sri Lankan Sinhalease have become sadistic killers It a pity they have chosen this path a path of destructions. What the Sinhalease did to the Tamils who gave therir heart blood and sweat for Sri Lanka will haunt you for another thousand years you will never be looked at as decent humans A pack murderers rapists and pack of liers. Even Hitler didnt do some of the things you did. With all this Sonali I pray your husband rest in peace and God will give the strength to you and his children to carry on with your lfe. I wish all of you well. Please dont waste your time in getting Justice from the thugs of Sri Lanka.Didnt Lasanha tell you this!

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    This chap SRI has obviously forgotten the TELO boys burned alive in the Jaffna streets on April 30, 1986, and the killings of Sri Sabaratnam, A Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran, Mrs Yogeswaran, Rajini Thiranagama, K Padmanabha, Neelan Tiruchelvam, Kethesh Loganathan, Lakshman Kadirgamar…and Rajiv Gandhi.

    Rahul Gandhi isn’t condemning the Sri Lankan Sinhalese, is he?

  • jmn

    A murderer is a murderer when looking through a glass which hides race, religion, and reasoning.

    Where and who does Mrs. Wickrematunge look towards when our own government denies her justice? I hope Sri Lankans today recognise the dangerous trend of this government, where the “traitor” label is thrown out so freely to all those who disagree and the people are expected to cow down to authority.

    When one’s own government can openly label someone a traitor for merely disagreeing with it, does this not in itself lay the framework for rebellion and separatism?

    This case of Mr. Wickrematunge’s family shows that this is beyond a Sinhala-Tamil problem, but rather a problem of power which bodes ill for all Sri Lankans regardless or race.

    Martin Neomoller’s poem, which was quoted in Mr. Wickrematunge’s final article, rings loud and true…

  • RoscoPKoletrane

    Everytime someone anyone brings up Rajiv Gandhi demise as a
    naughty naughty done by the ‘boys’ I cringe.And shake my head
    in dismay and powerlessness.
    Because I wish that not the one photo or stills but all the 3
    videos showing an incompetent (probably egged on) subaltern
    Sinhala paid soldier/navvie try to Kill Rajiv by crashing the butt of his
    rifle on Rajiv Gandhi’ skull be played every day.(Or at least every time
    RG name mentioned in wrong context)
    What if for once the ……… ….. sucker succeeded?
    Would the outcome be like the World War One which commenced
    in the European Third World nation-city of sarajevo by the assasination?

    As for Moderate Neelam we will save it for another day.

    And Laksman – Every nation, group, ethnicity, family, even in so called
    animal kingdom has one. Study the Simians outside of Colombo
    and every time rogue Monkeys attacks a group at least one of the
    would be victims would rush up and and and show their behind to
    the attackers. At least he showed by example that there is no Limit
    to Loot(verb) in the FM and I am glad his successor is trying to Outdo his
    predecessor. Maybe play with the budget of the Perm Amb !!!
    BTW Raul C has finally got round to booting the cronies of bro Fidel
    2-3 weeks ago – Google it.

  • convenient

    if there isn’t enough evidence what can you do? convenient blaming aside it is no secret it was done by the lette. its a sinister twist of fate that he became a victim because of his vocal opposition to the very justice servers of his murderes. so the gov hammering the ltte isn’t enough justice for his murder?
    why should that letter be published in news papers? its a letter for an envelop not for papers..

  • Idealist?

    Both Sri and Mr. Jayatilleke… both continuing the same old practice of pointing fingers at the ‘other’, while your own have been equally responsible for more of the same!!! Until both sides STOP doing this and actually try out some introspection and look at where ‘WE’ have gone wrong rather than listing all the wrongs ‘THEY’ have done, SADLY nothing is going to change in Sri Lanka.

  • wilbur larch

    In these times in Sri lanka (and times before) it has been very hard for me as a Goygama Sinhalese to find any meaningful avenue to exercise my birth right. So first off I would like to thank Dayan Jayatilleka and thousands like him amongst my Sinhalese acquaintances for the opportunity to use my Singhalese-ness to say some thing useful, it will come as a question.

    Why do Sinhalese when faced with the racist brutality of a regime (like the present one in Sri lanka) fall back on comparing the government atrocities with the LTTE. This is simplistic school boy stuff like seeing who can pee further. If you dont know the LTTE is not a government. Next they will go on to tell me how their best friends are Tamil. This tells me nothing, I wonder, do these friends live in Killinocchi or Vanni?. Finally they point out to me how the same “best Tamil friends” have had the best opportunities to become doctors and lawyers, I am still not sure if this means that the priviledges should be taken back now or whether this proves that we Sinhalese in the government as we bomb and maim civilians are doing humanitarian work?
    Wake up machangs, our army was deported in disgrace from Haiti, our police force is essentially undervover thugs in uniform and we are rapidly becoming the most reviled country in SE Asia, and you defenders of “Sinhala Pride” are the enablers of the disintegration.

  • david

    Unfortunately, Lasantha was a man who tried to be 007-Mr. Bond to the UNP, the LTTE, and also the the GOSL. So he thought that he would be safe and that he could expose-trash any group without fear. Being a multiple agent is a great, exciting life-style. But if you are not 007, you get fixed. Then, no body wants to come out with the facts because there is too much dirty linen that neither the LTTE, nor GOSL, nor UNP, nor TMVP, nor any body (perhaps not even Sonali) would want revealed. So I am sorry Sonali, you should have bought a good life insurance policy for him from LLoyds international – but then, the insurance business is also bust, and so in the end we have to wait for Obama’s bailout!!!!

  • vanniman

    this is just a game to you isn’t it dayan?

    if you want to keep a scorecard then why just mention the famous people killed…?

    here are the SOME of the names of others killed by bombing & shelling from a couple of days in March:
    S. Raksan (age 09)
    Kamanthini (age 55)
    N. Muruhesan (age 28)
    K. Kajeba (age 24)
    K. Esaiya (age 12)
    A.Sellathurai (age 75)
    N. Prabu (age 16)
    E. Kilasini (age 30)
    M. Kunaseelan (age 24)
    S. Ramachandran (age 32)
    T. Narayanan (age 18)
    K. Kanmani (age 63)
    M. Kandasamy (age 50)
    T. Sornalatha (age 26)
    T. Sritharan (age 32)
    T. Naheswary (age 26)
    V. Nelsonkumar (age 34)
    V. Udayasekar (age 43)
    S. Balasubramaniyam (age 34)
    K. Balasingam (age 45)
    T. Tharumaluxmi (age 60)
    S. Maary (age 52)
    K. Rajiniganth (age 29)
    M. Tharsikan (age 06)
    K. Panchlingam (age 50)
    T. Atputham (age 60)
    T. Sriskantharasa (age 47)
    P. Chandradevi (age 40)
    V. Arumuham (age 75)
    V. Kunjupani (age 76)
    S. Shanmuhanathen (age 57)
    K. Kalaivaratharasa (age 54)
    V. Sasitharan (age 38)
    L. Sasitharan (age 37)
    T. Yohamani (age 36)
    T. Thevasahayam (age 59)
    T. Amaravathi (age 49)
    K. Naheswaran (age 21)
    K. Ranjith (age 28)
    Y. Tharsika (age 06)
    K. Kaviya (age 30)
    V. Chellaiah (age 78)
    S. Marimuththu (age 88)
    S. Thavarasa (age 45)
    T. Gowrie (age 25)
    M. Theenuja (age 03)
    N. Ithursekan (age 02 months)
    S. Laksana (age 08 months)
    T. Vipusan (age 13)
    S.Kalpana (age 05)
    S. Laksana (age 08)
    Sri.Nilani (age 13)
    M. Mariyamalar (age 13)
    K. Thusiyanthan (age 10)
    S. Yatheeswaran (age 04)
    S. Janatheesan (age 07)
    S. Sandrakala (age 17)
    N. Balakumar (age 11)
    S. Kalaivani (age 35)
    E. Kanmani (age 74)
    K. Rita (age 47)
    V. Veerammah (age 60)
    K. Kanesarasa (age 35)
    Avasanthakumar (26)
    amalachelvan Kasthoori (26)
    S.Suthas (5)
    Balasegaram Kajendran (10)
    Balasegaram Kajana (13)
    Selvanayagam kIli (31)
    Sinnappu Kenkatharan (45)
    Sinnappu Rasamalar (56)
    P.Jeevamalar (53)
    Thillaiambalam Manonmani (60)
    Nalliah Jeyashanthy (38)
    Muththiah Angamuthu (58)
    Suresh Marykiyusin (33)
    Sivagnanam Rasamalar (33)
    Sampasivam Kasin (22)
    Kanthan Nagarajah (45)
    Kanthasamy Yogarajah (26)
    Tharmakulasingam Bavaseelan (15)
    Selliah Mahendran (60)
    Selliah Rasammah (69)
    Mahendran Suloshanadevi (51)
    Mahendran Thayalini (25)
    Mahendran Sobitha (26)
    Mahendran Sanjeewan (20)
    Mahendran subajini (14)
    V.Pathmanathan (38)
    Pathmanathan Thamilini (01)
    Pathmanathan Renusa (03)
    Pathmanathan Kokilarani (06)
    Pathmanathan sothija (09)
    Pathmanathan Ketheeswary ( 31)
    Jegatheeban (16)
    Selvarajah Selvakumar (32)
    S. Thiruchelvam (33)
    S. Kukajini (35)
    P. Rasammah (55)
    S.Yoganantharajah (47)
    V.nishanthan (26)
    S.Gaminidevi (63)
    S. Nagavathani
    Karuppiah Perumal (49)
    Perumal Indra(40)
    Perumal Sinthuja(15)
    Perumal Thushiyanthini(9)
    Perumal Thamini (8)
    Perumal Kayalvily (08mth)
    somasuntharam Uthayakumar (45)
    Ragunathan Keerthana (10)
    Thankarasa Thavakumar(14)
    Vickneswaran Kajani (07)
    Sasikumar Thenilavan (05)
    Balakumar Vithusha (16)
    Dayanantha Ambikawathie (45)
    Thavam Benedict (61)
    Sinnathambi (61)
    Krasiyan Kiyurthan (08)
    Selvaratnam Nithurshika (11)
    Kirubakaran Mallika (47)
    Sathasivam Arumuganathan
    Sathiyapillai Krasiyan (32)
    Kanthiah Luxmi (70)
    Nallainathan Maathavi (34)
    Kirupakaran (47)
    Kanapathipillai Paramanantham – Akkarayan MPCS stores manager.

    and i can get you thousands more

    if you’re keeping a scorecard of people killed in this war… without a doubt a fact that the Govt of SL has killed far civilians more than the LTTE

  • Groundtruth

    Whatever decent values were fostered during 61 years of independence and betterment of the lot of the “people” have all been replaced by rotten values which aim ONLY at betterment, welfare and enrichment of politicians using various form of violence and hatred. Without doubt what the whole world witnesses is the final emergence of a murderous and corrupt regime which does not satnd for any type of criticisms or comment but only toadyism. The lid has been finally raised exposing all the frailties of an utterly rogue state. In fact, a “pariah” state. Sonali will never get justice for the brutal murder of of her husband. Neither will tens of thousands of others who paid the ultimate price at the hands of such murderers who have steered the ship of state into the mud.

  • ashan

    vanni man, you hold GOSL to blame for this name list, isnt LTTE who herded them like cattle to the killing grounds innocent?

  • vanniman

    let me think… shelling a so called “safe zone”… that’s a violation of international humanitarian law no matter what the LTTE is doing…

    AND the “safe zone” was UNILATERALLY declared by the GOSL and thus the LTTE do not have to respect it… only the GOSL has to because it was they who declared it… check your international law…

    and the LTTE and the people in the vanni have called for the international media to come in and determine if the people want to leave or not… why won’t mahinda allow it?

    i know if i were a civilian in the vanni & my mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, or friends were in the LTTE i wouldn’t want to fall into the GOSL hands…

    are you saying it’s ok to kill people if they don’t want to come out or if they are CIVILIANS who support the LTTE?

    look forward to your answer to the last question

  • rajivmw


    The LTTE may not have to respect the safe zone under international law. I’m no expert, I’ll grant you that point for argument’s sake. But the fact that they are not respecting it, that they are actually firing from it, what does that say about the LTTE?

    That the LTTE is using civilians as human shields is now beyond dispute. It is also well established that the LTTE is engaging in forcible recruitment, and most heinously, has killed or injured civilians attempting to escape. Even HRW acknowledges this.

    Ashan is not for one moment saying that it’s ok to kill anyone. He is pointing out that the LTTE must take its share of responsibility for deliberately endangering the lives of tens of thousands of civilians as a ploy for survival. It is people such as you who defend such disgraceful and cowardly action that have the explaining to do.

  • rajivmw

    Wilbur Larch,

    It’s not that I disagree with much of what you are saying. It’s just that I find that many people who possess your mindset (and believe me, you are not the only Sinhala Govigama who holds such views) also tend to condone the LTTE’s atrocities, even go so far as to romanticise them, all because they are ‘not a government’. Let me just note here that it is in fact the LTTE that has always argued for parity with the Sri Lankan state. And it has aspirations of being an internationally-recognised government. So comparisons are not entirely unfair.

    But I do agree that the GoSL must be held to a higher standard. The question is, what is that standard? Is it that of a peaceful and prosperous advanced Western democracy? That would be nice, but it’s hardly realistic or indeed particularly fair. We are a poor third world nation struggling to end a 30-year civil war with one of the most brutal terrorist groups in the world. The US and UK, two venerated models of democracy, suspended a host of civil liberties at home, and unleashed all hell abroad, all on the basis of a single terrorist attack.

    We still have a duly elected government, an independent judiciary, a battered but unbeaten press, a security establishment under civilian control, and a remarkably resilent economy. You can be cynical about all these things, and I am certainly not encouraging complacency. But remember, many other countries have done far worse under far less trying circumstances.

  • ashan

    to vanniman
    your ownstatement “i know if i were a civilian in the vanni & my mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, or friends were in the LTTE i wouldn’t want to fall into the GOSL hands… ”

    well then, wouldnt the GOSL also have the right to consider u a LTTE , as you KNOWINGLY GO AND STAND NEXT TO A LTTE (with the idea of helping them) and hence in war i think you would be called “COLLATRAL DAMAGE” – check some US war releases and you will find the use of this term.

  • It saddens me to see the state of our country. Although I am a Sri lankan, more correctly a TAMILIAN, am not accepted as a civilian of my OWN country where I was born, grew up and played around… I am treated as a second citizen, even remember being called “names” by a little sinhalese girl (I was much older than her) just because I am a TAMILIAN.

    Who can comment about the monks, so called holy priests, involving in politics and determines decisions by politicians?

    Whether a tamilian fighting as an LTTE or a sinhalese man from a poor village, fighting as an army force, both are human.

    Government “accuses” LTTE of treating tamil people in an “uncivilised” manner, what about the manner in which the government treating the innocent Sinhalese? People from poor backgraound are encouraged to join the force for “fighting for the country” for a “supposed” lump sum of money, which the soldiers’ family is not given because a soldier goes “missing in action”. This is a way of killing people legally.

    In such way, NOT only the Tamilians, the Sinhalese people are also fooled by the government, whose members have their own agenda and welfare to care for NOT a public welfare.

    In addition, government has killed so many innocent (Tamil) civilians in the name of “suspected terrorist” and still killing everyday.

    My own grand father, uncles, cousins, friends and so many were blatantly and brutally killed even though they were ordinary civilians minding their own business, NOT associated with LTTE in any ways.

    If government has true respect for all people including Tamils, and that they have only truth and nothing else to hide, why not allow external bodies to explore what is happening in real life?
    Not in a trillion trillion infinite years the government would accept Tamilians as civilians (one of them) and would treat equally. The Tamilians have lost trust in Government.

    It is sad to that Tamilians are wiped out brutally and the Government, our respected president, is running a holy war to save the country (by killing its own people) and so called “winning” by cheating (using tamilians in a cunning way and paying money).
    At the end of the day, even this simple issue, the government cannot sort by itself and needing the pathetic help of others (below dignity) to “win” against the “MINORITY” tamilians for such a long time.. still battling…

    At the end, if there is God, there will be justice… one day… We all Tamilians hope… there will be justice…

    Although, I want to be a proud Sri lankan, I am ashamed to call myself a Sri lankan. After all that bitterness… it is the Sri lankan government who made me to think that I am a TAMILIAN rather than a Sri lankan.

  • wilbur larch

    You said, “independent judiciary, a battered but unbeaten press, a security establishment under civilian control, and a remarkably resilent economy. You can be cynical about all these things, and I am certainly not encouraging complacency. But remember, many other countries have done far worse under far less trying circumstances.”

    To rajivMW

    Our Judiciary is appointed by the President and the fact that the Chief Justice Challenges the President once in a while is a credit to the individual. Nothing in the Sri lankan constitution can be credited for this. Any sitting President is immune to any charge. The Security services are certainly not under civilian control, they are actually extensions of the party in power. You can prove me wrong by giving me a few recent deaths of and crimes against civilians in Sri lanka (Sinhala and others) where a security service person was prosecuted. They are usually ‘promoted’ to another area. An unbeaten Press!!!! Where in Sri Lanka?
    Finally, what annoys the hell out of me is that if we Sinhalese (and in fairness to you rajivMW, you sound like a person capable of reason) who have a voice do not shine a light on these rotten aspects of Sri lanka, who else will!

    This is the true evil of small countries Like Rwanda, Burma, and Sri lanka. Their self appointed leaders create the worst hells, get drunk on power, carry out ethnic cleansing and go unnoticed.

  • Jank

    Hate has to stop within your own heart. Blaming a nation only bring more hate. As a Sinhalese I feel bad when someone hate sinhalese or Tamil as a whole. Many politicians are scum bags in our country, but innocent people have been used to come to power. This goes for all politicians including Prabhakaran. Race, religion, caste are the factors used by the politicians to divide and get votes.

  • Groundtruth

    All this hate and spite will stop when I feel sure Sonali can see or seen to be done plain justice to the killers of her late husband Lasantha. Is that too much to ask of a government?

  • justitia

    The present culture of impunity existed since 1951 when tamils were buchered
    periodically. These were the cause of tamil militancy which gave birth to LTTE in 1986.
    Later in 1971 and in 1987/88/89 thousands of mostly unarmed sinhala youth were buchered.
    Dayan Jayatillke conveniantly forgets all this.