A letter from the grave

This is a truly moving editorial written by slain newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramatunga to be published in the case of his assassination. Please read the whole thing below. Here is an introduction by Emily Wax in the Washington Post:

Lasantha2 Across South Asia, it has become known as the letter from the grave.

Anticipating his own slaying, Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga, 52, a fierce critic of his country's government, wrote an editorial called “And Then They Came for Me,” a dramatic essay to be printed in the event of his assassination.

On Jan. 8, the father of three was shot in the head and chest on his way to work by two men on motorcycles. The editorial, published the following Sunday, has highlighted how dangerous reporting in Sri Lanka has become. Critics cite a growing pattern of intimidation by the government, especially during a recent push to wipe out the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, in a war that has persisted for more than two decades, one of the world's longest-running conflicts.

More here. And here is Lasantha Wickramatunga's actual editorial from Sri Lanka's The Sunday Leader:

And Then They Came For Me

LasanthaNo other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

More here. Read more about the man here.