Lasantha Wickramatunga is in critical condition now. As he was driving to work, two gunmen came and shot him in the head. What is happening to us? When I’m driving to work I see cops every 20 meters. Sometimes I don’t really feel like they’re there to protect me. I mean, the people that the government wants silenced end up silenced and the killers get away. I don’t know what’s worse, that the Rajapakses are doing this or that things are just completely out of control. Because it’s terrorism. It provokes terror in the media, and the people, and the result is that these people are silenced. Innocent men are shot in the head on the way to work for what they write. TV stations are burnt and grenaded for what they air. And average Sri Lankans live in fear, for what they believe. And the end result is ignorance and war. Not to depress, but bit of a charter scene.
Gotabaya recently sued the Leader for defamation. He’s released memos saying that the media should not report about the war at all, and the brothers have deemed any writing that doesn’t support their war unpatriotic and even treasonous. And the coterie of power has said that they can’t be accountable for what ‘people that love us’ do. He is, at the least, not shedding tears. The Rajapakse’s also keep Mervyn Silva in the fold. Most of the people who thrashed him at Rupavahini ended up stabbed in the bus. He lost a court case to Sirasa on some minor change, but then the entire control room was burnt down. It’s hard to see who’s done these things (partly because it’s foxes investigating the henhouse). It’s not hard to see who benefits.
Of course, what we lose is basic law and order in Sri Lanka. Which is, you know, important for a place you’d want to raise your kids in. As the latest Sunday Leader editorial says:
Who then survives to provide the public with a contrarian view? Much of the media has been bought, or cajoled and bullied into silence. Dozens of journalists are dead and others have been incarcerated without trial for months. The electronic media operate under the continuing threat of having their licenses revoked unless they toe the government’s line. After all, it has happened that they have been summarily shut down. New licenses, in turn, are issued only to that section of the business community subscribing to the government’s communal thinking
However, just as an asteroid killed the dinosaurs so that mammals might flourish, perhaps new media can slowly start to carry some of the weight that needs to be carried. I mean, what else do we have. In addition to being a globally tenuous business model, the government licensing antagonism and outright threat of death and arson makes traditional media extra difficult.
I don’t think they can bury the truth for ever, but I do wonder about the limits when they’re simply shooting editors in the street. One wonders what the rest of the week will hold.