Lasantha Wickrematunge Memorial Lecture in Support of Press Freedom
PEN Canada is proud to support the South Asian Journalists Association (Toronto chapter) and Sri Lankans Without Borders as they present the Lasantha Wickrematunge Memorial Lecture in Support of Press Freedom. The event will focus on press freedom and human rights in Sri Lanka and critical perspectives on the role of the media.
“When I am finally killed, it will be the government that kills me” – Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge 2009
Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge was a prominent Sri Lankan human rights activist, lawyer, and journalist. In 1994, he co-founded a weekly independent newspaper called the Sunday Leader with his brother and became an outspoken critic of government corruption and LTTE (Tamil Tiger) rebels. The paper’s brand of investigative journalism drew threats and attacks, including two instances of physical assault on Wickrematunge himself. In January 2009, he was murdered in a suburb of Colombo by two gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to work. Despite an outpouring of anger at the government’s repressive restrictions from press and civil society groups inside Sri Lanka, the case remains unsolved. Days later, the Sunday Leader published an editorial Wickrematunge had written earlier predicting his death at the hands of the Sri Lankan government. In 2010, Wickrematunge was declared a World Press Freedom Hero of the International Press Institute.
Join PEN in supporting the South Asian Journalists Association (Toronto chapter) and Sri Lankans Without Borders as they present a discussion on press freedom and human rights in Sri Lanka. Reserve your seat here.
Sonali Samarasinghe is an award winning investigative journalist, editor, and lawyer from Sri Lanka. She was the editor-in-chief of the Lanka Standard and the former consultant editor of The Sunday Leader.
J.S Tissainayagam is an internationally acclaimed journalist who was arrested and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in Sri Lanka for criticizing the government’s treatment of Tamil civilians affected by the war.
Sanjana Hattotuwa is the founder and curator of Groundviews–a citizen’s journalism website based in Sri Lanka that offers alternative perspectives on human rights, governance, and other issues.
Stewart Bell is an award winning Canadian journalist and author. Currently a senior reporter for the National Post, Stewart won a South Asian Journalists Association Award for his writing about the civil war in Sri Lanka.