Not this guy, obviously.
The way Ministers roll tells you that the streets are not safe. At some point Sri Lankan media has to stop issuing press releases and simply defend themselves. We have to pool our money and hire security for people that we know are at risk. These high risk targets have to travel and live with private security. They have to learn self-defense. Because at this point it’s not about changing our rotten institutions. Something has to be done immediately or these people will simply be shot dead in the streets. I was driving around and I had a couple ideas. They’re all stupid and I can’t execute any of them, but what the hell.
Something good has to grow from the dirt Lasantha Wickrematunga is now buried in. There’s a window where people care, and it’s passing. So I dunno. I was driving around and thinking. There was a protest today but I didn’t go, cause it’s a working day. I also don’t necessarily understand what protests do anymore, and I don’t generally support blocking traffic while people are trying to work. Not to say. I also read the various press releases and I don’t know what that does either. Because institutional change takes years, and I don’t know who’s going to die tomorrow.
At some point journalists may have to just learn how to defend themselves, and for us to huddle around each other for some safety. Because they (we?) aren’t going to get it from our corrupted institutions. The most obvious thing is for journalists to carry guns, but barring that
Keep A Whitelist
Someone connected has a blacklist, and they’re checking people off. Keith Noyahr, Namal Perera, Lasantha Wickrematunga, everyone is being touched. Note that the former two survived, as did the editor of Sirasa’s online venture. We need to keep a list of people that are risk and update the threat levels on them so they can be given protection. Alternately, the writings of people on that list would make for an interesting website.
Man A Hotline For Help
Or a phone tree or whatever. Just some number you can call and say ‘I’m being followed’ and get some immediate security and safehouse or whatever.
There were signs of all of these attacks. Sirasa (MTV) reported a suspicious van to the police, though nothing was done. Lasantha knew he was being followed (as reported per TIME). I know other journalists personally who have been followed, and received warnings on their doorstop. You can complain to the police, but the police don’t do shit (besides block the roads for the people the same people that curse the media). The institutions and the state that is supposed to protect us doesn’t. It may actually be trying to hurt us. So for now we have to help each other.
If there’s a community hotline we’d at least know in advance when someone is in danger. That means they can swap their car, move to some safe house for a while, whatever. Alternately, as a community media could allocate private security to them. Every journalist or writer or whatever should be able to press 1 on their speed-dial and get some immediate help.
Hire Private Security
Low level government flunkies roll with bodyguards and convoys, blocking traffic as they go. You average journo rides with the windows down cause he’s got no A/C. If they have a car. You can literally just find out where they live, where they work, kill them en-route and drive away. The Rupavahini people who thrashed Mervyn Silva got stabbed on the bus. There are certain high risk targets who will continue to live this way until they die because they don’t have the money for private security. And because they can’t simply take money from the people like the government. At some point, if we don’t want these people to die, we have to raise money and hire security for them.
I suppose the security could be cycled based on threat levels, but if certain people aren’t protected, they can and will get shot in the streets.
Learn Self Defense
If any journalist wants it, I think it may be wise to get training in basic self-defense, evasive driving and maybe small arms. When they killed Lasantha they blocked his car and shot him in the head. If he was trained to know that he was being followed, to drive evasively away, or to react in some disciplined fashion maybe he could have protected himself. I mean, if he had a gun… but in a country where Mervyn Silva has a permit I don’t think that’s likely.
At some point journalists are either going to have to quit or be prepared to fight for their lives. It’s probably not ultimately that helpful, but some training as to what to do when you’re being abducted or killed might buy you a few minutes more on your feet.
Again, these all ideas are all probably silly and I can barely implement my own breakfast. Actually, I can’t even do that. But at some point I think we may have to stop treating this as a generally ‘bad thing’ and more as a clear and present security risk to human lives. To people we know, to people I know. I don’t think to me, but what the fuck, who knows. Changing these institutions and changing the political process is important, but at some point we have to simply defend the lives of the few people we have left.
This also means that at some point we have to meet, raise money, and hire some security for the people who are at risk of dying this year. This government is not upholding our constitutional write to speech or our human right to life. So it’s up to us to defend ourselves. The people talking shit about the media roll 20 deep with about three cars and roadblocks. At some point we have to hire some security ourselves. And seeing as we’re all broke, this is something we have to do together.