Colombo, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Mervyn Silva publicly admits to killing Lasantha Wickrematunge and grievously attacking another journalist

[Editors note: The original page of this story and the entire site are blocked in Sri Lanka for publishing a report on the President’s son. We are therefore re-posting this story on Groundviews to flag enduring concerns over media freedom and the safety of independent journalists in post-war Sri Lanka and also the Sri Lankan Government’s continuing censorship of information on the web. See the Groundviews Special Edition on Lasantha Wickrematunge for the public outrage and comments over his murder earlier this year. No culprits have been brought to book to date.]

“Lasantha from the Leader paper went overboard. I took care of him. Poddala agitated and his leg was broken. Now a fellow in my electorate is trying to stand against me. I now tell him in his own hometown, I will give him only seven more days. If he does not resign as chairman of the Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha, don’t blame me later on. You’ll don’t find fault with me. If this fellow goes against what I say, I will send him to the place where I sent Lasantha,” Non-cabinet Labor Minister Mervyn Silva stated publicly at a meeting in Hunupitiya, Kelaniya.

Silva had made this statement addressing a gathering at the Jayanthi Mahal Junction at the opening ceremony of a Sathosa outlet in Hunupitiya, Kelaniya on Thursday (9).

A Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha member told Lanka News Web that the recorded versions of Silva’s speech have already been sent to the President and the SLFP general secretary. Silva while being critical of Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Prasanna Ranaweera and several other members has said he did not fear any one as long as President Mahinda Rajapakse was in power, as he could not be defeated by any force.

A few days after the Minister made this statement; an unidentified armed group stormed into the house of the Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman and attacked the house situated at Bandaranayake Mawatha, Kelaniya.

The Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman addressing the media following the attack said, “Minister Mervyn Silva openly scolded me and six other Pradeshiya Sabha members on the 9th. He made threats saying he would do what needs to be done. We have the recordings with us.

We have sent copies of the tape to the President and Minister Maithripala Sirisena. The attack carried out is a low act. My children are still in shock and my wife was admitted to hospital. The police cannot do justice as they are afraid of this politician. The President has to intervene to stop this thuggery.”

  • Lasantha

    What can we say?
    Remeber the last words of Lasantha?
    When they came to get me, there was no one to question.
    Send this to the great UN secretary general. Haha.
    God save Sri Lanka

  • Kenny Pavey

    Keep fighting guys. one day the people of sri lanka will take the power from these corrupt mafia in power.

  • PodiSilva

    Unless and until you can publish the so called “recorded video”, this is nothing more than mere hearsay.

  • kumara

    Watch this video clip:

    GR says that anyone could have killed Lasantha and laughs uncontrollably – this made me sick.

    The conduct of the rulers of the country….very frightening isn’t, it?

  • LankaLiar

    If this could happen to a Sinhalese how can a Tamil live in Sri Lanka. This is why they wanted a separate state. May be Mr.Pakse & Co can call this a humanitarian operation. The government was more focussed on getting rid of the tigers instead if they have got rid of the dogs the country would have gone far.

  • Ramayan

    What happened? I thought there was no doubt? Lasantha clearly mentioned who it was who killed him? Do you seriously think they would hand Mervyn a hit job to kill Lasantha? If you think so, it’s pretty naive.

  • Weera

    When murder, disappearances, abductions, shootings etc of a growing number of Tamils were carried out and are being carried out even now with impunity, we (the Sinhalese) didn’t speak out against it because we were not Tamils. But now Sinhalese are subjected to the same atrocities. Who will speak out for us? Unless the people wake up from this stupor and face reality, we are a doomed country. God help us all before we are condemned to eternal hell.

  • CheeLanka

    If the first round was tragic and second round was comic following Lasantha’s brutal murder, this must count as farce. Do you mean they are now trying to outdo each other in the government in staking a claim to killing Lasantha?

    It makes no difference who actually pulled the trigger. Don’t get distracted by sick jokes of this thug Mervyn. Lasantha’s last editorial made it pretty clear as to who gave the orders. Since some of us have short memories, here’s the link to go back and read it:

  • ibe

    keep it up mervin

  • james

    If the president has any semblance of a spine, he would get rid of this thug. Unfortunately, the ‘King of Sri Lanka’ who defeated Prabhakaran seems unable to discipline him.

  • randy

    I don’t think long way to go until sinhala masses realise ti truth.
    More to come Thuggary, Raod side dead bodies, election violance wait and see

  • he should be punnished…..
    mr hon.. president take an action against him…
    otherwise he will be a big terrolist…

  • George Gunasekera

    Lord Buddha practiced what he preached. Our leaders promote the establishment of Dhamma Schools and encourge their political stooges to eliminate all those who oppose them. It is clear as day light that the President Mahina Rajapakse is entrusting the dirty work of killing those who oppose him to Mervyn Silva. The billboards being erected by Mervyn Silva is enough to show the faith he has in his guru. Lord Buddha has preached that a persons who does not have any sence of shame is deaf to criticism and can go on doing deeds well below human dignity. What decency can we expect from a Preident who boasts of serving a period of time in a remand prison on a charge of shooting and killing another human being. Another stinking instance was the famous’helping Hambantota’ episode where the ex Supreme Court Chief came to the rescue. Anyone familiar with history of Sri Lankan judicial enactments knows how easy it is to dodge the hangmen’s noose for those with wealth and influence. Our ancestors have thought us the futility of humming tunes to a deaf elephants. The simplest way to get red of these thick skinned respectable thugs is to wait patiently and use the ballot wisely.

  • Rajeev Sreetharan

    Notwithstanding the conditional language alleging Mervyn’s liability, the ultimate point is: will there or will there not be legal consequences for the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga? If not, any journalist is disposable, a norm the majority supports. If not, this is not the fault of anyone in the Rajapaksa administration. It is the fault of the Sri Lankan people for accepting that Lasantha’s extra-judicial killing is one of thousands, and thus, like the thousands, need not go through a judicial process, and do not expect any form of justice other than consensus based on informal speculation. In a democracy, imperfect or not, the power is purportedly with the people. The administration knows protests in the streets will not reach the levels necessary to galvanize the political will for a trial. Thus, the administration does nothing, the Sri Lankan people do nothing, and Lasantha remains someone who tried to speak the truth as he saw it, was murdered for it, and will be forgotten, like the rest, as that sharp journalist who “crossed” the line. If Sri Lanka is post-war, this must change.

  • Grim Hope

    @George Gunasekera
    You are exactly correct.

    This is complete madness. They are taking away all the media establishments. Soon There won’t be any media to report on what exactly goes on in Sri Lanka. All of them are controlled either by Rajapakse family members or friends or close political friends. Once they started blocking the Internet also, nothing will get through to Sri Lankans who are already brained washed. Hopefully, people will wake up from this projected dream.

  • Rose

    Rajeev Sreetharan,
    Totally with you on what you said. The power is with the people, and they must come out in droves to protest. As you say, the government depends on the fact that the people are politically apathetic to continue with its killings and terrorising of citizens. What will it take to make them move?

  • Rose

    GR’s laugh sickened me too. His laugh is hysterical, the laugh of a person who has been intellectually and morally cornered (by the journalist’s questions) and is trying to pretend that it doesn’t bother him. It is a forced laughter and reveals that he is uncomfortable at being confronted. I think he did not expect to be asked about Lasantha’s assassination.

    The interview also reveals his murderer’s attitude towards human life. “Who is Lasantha?” he asks. “He is somebody who was writing for a tabloid,” he sneers. So, unless you are an important person, anyone can kill you? He has no respect for the inalienable right to life. This is Minister of Defence! He reminds me of village goondas in Tamil movies, not the gang leader but the hanger-on, the one who carries out orders, and is practically brain-dead except for the instinct for violence. Only instead of wearing a sarong and twirling his moustache, he is in Western dress and laughs like a hyena.

    You can see how he finds the decent person’s moral values and democratic values totally strange. He does not understand where the journalist is going with his questions, ie to show the audience that he is a dictator, a murderer, who will brook no dissent, who will use the laws of treason to his convenience. He stupidly answers the questions and doesn’t even see that he is digging himself into a moral hole!

  • PodiSilva

    “The interview also reveals his murderer’s attitude towards human life. “Who is Lasantha?” he asks. “He is somebody who was writing for a tabloid,” he sneers. So, unless you are an important person, anyone can kill you?”

    I think what he meant was that – and I agree with him – there are countless more worthy individuals who have died in Sri Lanka, many at the hands of the LTTE. Why should Lasantha’s death be so special. Why should we treat him like a martyr and hold rallies in his honour. Why should we brush off the deaths of thousands of innocent people who’ve had no involvement in the war, and give such importance to this politician/paparazzo/gossip masquerading as a journalist? Is it because he was anti-Sinhalese? Is it because he was anti-government? Does this mean that unless you’re either of these things, your death is insignificant?

    The response of most people of this country to his death was not so dissimilar to how the world received the news of the incident between Perez Hilton and Will.I.Am. After all, both were “journalists” of the same ilk.

  • Western Media

    Is not better not to have any media than having totally biased media stations like CNN, BBC, FOX etc who are on the payroll of the terror groups and western govt.s who have an agenda of their own to disrupt the rest of the world? But nice to see the victim countries now telling the west where to get off…

  • Dilkusha

    Read the President intends to establish a “Dharmista” nation just like JRJ. However if hearts are not examined and transformed, starting perhaps at the top, all the rituals of religiosity can be practised and observed by all religions but the State will continue to remain a “papishta” state where the rule of law is totally disregarded and there is blood on our hands. May we all examine our own hearts and do what is right according to our conscience in whatever way we can and according to the courage and ability we are empowered with from our belief.

  • Pragmatist

    I cannot believe that a thug and a goon like Mervyn Silva is being protected by the nations leadership. If what’s reported as his uttering is a true report, those responsible for law enforcement in Sri Lanka should have him arrested.
    I also feel that some journalists in Sri Lanka were not helping the govt in the fight against Tigers. These journalists used their mighty pens/keyboards to whip up anti govt sentiments in the middle of a deadly war. I challenge any reader of this post to tell me of one single US newspaper article that said anything against the US war on terror shortly after 9/11. None did for months. Even the National Public Radio (funded mostly by radio listeners) was very vocal in their support for invading Iraq etc. Of course now conditions have changed. If such public criticisms are not tolerated in the great US democracy where the second amendment guarantees freedom of speech, is it surprising that in a small nation (with a flawed constitution) engulfed in a 30-year war against a ruthless maniacal terrorist group someone/group would get very offended to the point to taking a life?

  • Des

    Here is an opinion – Mervyn helps any government come into power and he has dirt on leadership in govt and opposition. The UNP also didn’t do anything to clean up the goons that helped them to power and isn’t speaking up about it now.

    Cleaning up the system is slow, but lets see if someone has the balls to run with this one. Audio evidence of an admission should be presented to courts. If anyone is stuck doing it, they should speak up.

  • CheeLanka


    It’s never wise to make categorical statements like “I challenge any reader of this post to tell me of one single US newspaper article that said anything against the US war on terror shortly after 9/11.”

    There were many journalists, public intellectuals and social activists who opposed the ill-conceived US invasion of Iraq in 2003. They had the liberty and freedom to dissent in print, on the air, in campuses and on the streets. And they did, passionately and in large numbers. The more articulate and persistent ones also found expression in newspapers, radio and television. I was a student in California for much of that time, and speak with personal memories.

    The Bush administration dismissed this opposition with disdain or contempt, and did their best to twist the arms of the mainstream media to provide favourable coverage for their war drum beat and exclude the dissenting voices. But the US is just too large a country, and too mature a democracy, for such manipulations to succeed fully. Even with the world’s mightiest army at their disposal, the Bush Administration did not unleash terror on dissenting voices as is happening in Sri Lanka.

    True enough, Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld used the patriot card very effectively and they had many senior reporters and media owners eating out of their hands. Embedded journalism reached new depths and the American media on the whole emerged from the Bush years and Iraq war with their credibility and standing severely tarnished.

    But even in the darkest hour under the Dubya-Cheney-Rummy combine, there were journalists who spoke out, challenged them on assumptions and actions. Veterans like Walter Cronkite spoke out. PBS giants like Bill Moyers stuck their necks out. Media activists like Danny Schechter and Noam Chomsky commanded sufficient media attention and coverage. They all lived without personal harassment or repercussions.

    In his hard-hitting documentary ‘Buying the War’, Bill Moyers posed these questions: How did the mainstream press get it so wrong? How did the evidence disputing the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported?

    “What the conservative media did was easy to fathom; they had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked. How mainstream journalists suspended skepticism and scrutiny remains an issue of significance that the media has not satisfactorily explored. How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?”

    There’s plenty more online, some written at the height of the Iraq war, and the rest after it ended with more hindsight and perspective. Just do a simple Google for keywords like Iraq, war and US media.

    The above is the kind of questions we need to be asking, even at this late stage. But who among us can risk our life and limb to ask such questions of our own elected, supposedly democratic government? That makes pragmatists of us all.

  • James.
    You wonder why ” the king” who defeated Pirabakaren is unable to discipline this
    Simple Answer: Powerful nations who helped the king earlier case are not interested now in controling the thug.