Following on from the attack on a Sri Lankan TV station earlier this week comes another assault on the freedom of journalists: a newspaper editor, who was critical of the Government in the past, has been murdered:
Police say Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunga was shot by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to work in the city suburbs.
As with the 'unidentified' men who attacked the Maharaja TV station, there can be only suspicion over who was responsible for this atrocity against freedom of speech. But if, as some suspect, there is a connection between accurate reporting which upsets the Government and then being attacked, this is a very worrying development.
In his last editorial column, Wickramatunga wrote (it's worth reading the whole thing if you've got time, to see the kind of fearless journalist Sri Lanka has lost):
Winning the war? Then there must be elections around the corner. It is no secret that the war has become Mahinda Rajapakse's recipe for electoral success; but what surprises many is that he is able, time and time again, to persuade the Sri Lankan people - or at least his Sinhala-Buddhist constituency - that victory is but a gunshot away.
No one doubts that with an investment of nearly Rs. 200 billion per year, and the willingness to expend a few thousand lives and limbs, the government can in the course of 2009 credibly claim to have won not just Killinochchi, but all of the north. The Rs. 200 billion we plan to spend on bombing the life out of the LTTE's remaining 4,000 cadres, after all, should do the job. As for the lives, there's still plenty of space left on those stone tablets on the doormat of parliament for them. And as for limbs, where would Jaipur be if not for the steady stream of feet shipped to help keep the armed forces on the hop?
A violent campaign just before election time? Perhaps I was wrong the other day not to draw too many parallels with what's going on in Gaza. But it certainly is another deeply depressing day for journalists' freedom - at a time when those in Britain are concerned with making up lies about ethnic groups in order to flog a few papers. They don't know how lucky they've got it they don't actually have to do real work for a fucking living.