Lasantha Wickrematunge was the editor of the Sunday Leader. He was shot in the head on the way to work. In many ways he was the de facto leader of the opposition, as the political leaders speaking at his funeral are generally failures. Lasantha broke stories of large scale corruption, injustice and tyranny ranging from the CBK’s Water’s Edge deal to the sketchy defense procurement of the Rajapakse brothers. He basically lambasted everyone in a country that needs a good lambasting and handed the opposition quite a few good plums (that they turned into prunes). He was thought by many to be too big to die, but they were wrong. He is dead, his wife is a widow and his children are fatherless. The opposition to the war and tyranny in this country is now reeling. But at least it is awake. These are some photos I took during the funeral procession.
There’s more to come, this gallery should update as I upload. Also got a lot of video, but that’s another thing to upload.
Firstly, I’m not much for protests or processions. I think they’re hot, muck up traffic and are generally pointless. This one though, I dunno, there was something deeply affecting about reading his posthumous editorial (dead man writing), or seeing the photos of his shot up car. I mean, I always took the Sunday Leader for granted. I didn’t even read it that much, but I always knew that there would be some voice ranting in the desert, constantly pointing out the corruption and tyranny that Sri Lankans have grown so cruelly used to. And that voice was shot dead in the streets.
And it hits home. Because I do live in Colombo, I do speak English, etc. Because he is a friend of a friend.
But to those who’d say this is a Colombo elite issue, it’s not, and I’m not. I’m not Colombo elite. Politicians are, as are their families and cronies. If only because they are physically safe. I’m part of the vestigal elite, that cadre which feels deserving by virtue of accomplishment or wealth or beauty, but who are still not physically safe in this country. So cocktail parties aside, if you don’t have guns you’re nobody.
But to return, Lasantha was a guy I am one degree of separation from. I am one phone call away. And it makes me scared because the creeping terror from his bloodied windshield shatters the illusion I have that me and mine are somehow safe. And that things will somehow be OK. Because he was fighting the good fight. And he died.
And that sucks. But the hope is, the burning ember is, after the curses and the railings have ceased, perhaps some of the people marching today will talk to each other, protect each other and rebuild the opposition in this country. And perhaps that opposition will – thru the fear that grips us today – push on to reclaim the democracy, freedom and rights that they say is the price of war. Because it’s not. Because we are fighting for a nation, not land, and while Mahinda may be conquering land, Lasantha pointed out all the ways he has abandoned our nation. And Mahinda has now abandoned his friend Lasantha, in this new era he has created, well, I think Lasantha said it best:
You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father. (His Last Editorial)
Below are a few of the photos that came out the best
I hesitate to aggrandize the average, but amidst all the washed up washed up communists and people yelling there are still a lot of average people who are like ‘WTF?’.
This I don’t really agree with, but probably one of the more interesting moments of the march. It’s Mahinda Rajapakse burning in effigy. I don’t support violence, insinuation of violence, or threat of. Partly because the Buddha said it’s a bad idea, partly cause reason shows it to be counter-productive, and partly cause I’m little and it’s not that much of an option.