Mahinda burning in effigy. Watch in high definition on YouTube.
Please note that I don’t really approve of this and I suspect that many at the peaceful procession for Lasantha Wickremetunge’s funeral don’t. I don’t wish violence or death upon anyone in any form because, as Notorious B.I.G. said, there’s no coming back from that. I think burning Mahinda is tasteless and draws more trouble than it merits. But it still makes for interesting video. And one of the more interesting slogans at the procession was ‘Gathakaya Satakaya’, or ‘the guy wearing the sash is the killer’. I guess, ‘the sasher is the slasher’. But getting to the main point, is Mahinda responsible. I’ve been having an ongoing debate with Dayan Jayatilleke on Groundviews on the subject. The last summing comment of which I’ve posted below.
To sum, in my mind the chain of evidence is pretty clear.
1. Mahinda and Gotabaya go on record equating dissenting media with the LTTE and calling them traitors. A threat to national security, to be stopped, etc.
2. They retain people in their cabinet (JHU’s Ranawaka and Silva for example) who go even further, actually assaulting the media (both the threat of violence and actual violence). [Ranawaka is known for saying people will die for their wild donkey freedom. Mervyn is know for actually assaulting the director of Rupavahini and trashing Sirasa cameras]
3. Who those people retain is beyond me. But Lasantha ends up dead in the streets. Everyone gets what they want, and no one has responsibility.
4. The Ambassador to the UN (Geneva) blames it on the LTTE or JVP or other more serious, unspecified problems which need to be addressed later.
Does that mean advocating violence against Mahinda, or ever burning effigies? In my mind, no. Because we still have to work with Mahinda and his supporters like, apparently, Dayan. But to speak of responsibility, I think it’s pretty clear that the Rajapakse’s are responsible. Not in the sense that they ordered the hit, but a CEO doesn’t approve every street promotion either. They give general leadership, appoint people to carry out their vision, and then keep an eye on things and fire people when things don’t go as planned. The Rajapakse’s have called journalists a threat to national security, appointed people who threaten and assault journalists, and those people still have their jobs. And Lasantha Wickrematunge is still dead. The Rajapakse’s are the ones who set this vision of thrashing journalists as traitors, and I do consider them responsible.