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Sri Lanka: Ode to a detainee

On May 18, we posted about the stirring letter Sandhya Eknelygoda, wife of detained journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda sent to Sri Lanka's First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa. Check out the link: In Sri Lanka, a mother's plea to the first lady.

As if we needed evidence of how moving this case is, our virtual letter bag was full of responses to Sandhya and Prageeth's struggle. Sugi Ganeshananthan sent an email with the subject line "i seem to have written a poem re prageeth eknaligoda." You can find her poem, umbrella over bird, posted on the Groundviews site.  One need not be a literary critic to see it as a worthy testament to Prageeth Eknelygoda's disappearance.  Its tone is reminiscent of some of the quiet strength in many of Eknelygoda's cartoons.

Eknelygoda's case is now approaching 500 days old. The hope that it will just disappear is, of course, part of the government's tactic, when avoiding investigation of the silencing of a journalist. Eknelygoda worked for one of the country's few remaining critical media voices, Lanka eNews. CPJ knows there is tremendous global sympathy for Sandhya and her two sons, Sanjay and Harith. And we understand that the United Nations is continuing to take an interest in Prageeth Eknelygoda's case, even if there is little overt activity right now. Continued public expression of concern will help: Keep sending letters to Subinay Nandy, the United Nations Resident Representative - email address Info.lk@one.un.org. And if the spirit moves you, send verse to us.

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Some politicians are real murderers. Ranil Wickremesinghe was behind the burning of Jaffna Public Library in 1981. Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered and witnessed the execution of hundreds of innocent young men from Kelaniya area in his torture chamber in Batalanda in 1989 which was confirmed by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which comprised retired judges. The courts rejected charges based on technical issues, not factual issues. Since Ranil Wickremesinghe committed these horrendous crimes in Batalanda, Ranil Wickremesinghe had to abandon not only his electorate of Biyagama, but also the Gampaha District. Since these murders Ranil Wickremesinghe is an MP without an electorate - thanks to his uncle J. R. Jayawardene's constitution. After the 1989 Batalanda mass murder, Ranil Wickremesinghe recruited a convicted killer and multiple criminal Gonawala Sunil as his secretary. Ranil Wickremesinghe's secretary Gonawala Sunil went around killing and intimidating people Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted to be silenced. Several dedicated armed forces personnel were also threatened by Gonawala Sunil. Ranil Wickremesinghe's corruption in "LH Plantations" has been highlighted with excruciating details by his closest ally Mangala Samaraweera. Ranil Wickremesinghe's very close family members own several newspapers, broadcasting and telecasting stations which promote Ranil Wickremesinghe and help to prolong his political survival.

-Nalliah Thayabharan

Nalliah Thayabharan October 25, 2011 12:12:31 AM ET