English, Sinhala and Tamil newspaper editors and senior journalists, from all leading newspapers, were taken on a media tour to Kilinochchi, in 2002, to look into the LTTE's political activities. It was during the time when the peace process, facilitated by Norway, between the United National Front (UNF) Government, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was in progress.
The tour was jointly organized by the Norwegian Embassy and the European Union (EU), two of the four, co-chair members engaged in the facilitation process.
EU's former media coordinator and senior journalist Manique Mendis along with former Lankadeepa journalist and political columnist Upul Joseph Fernando, with the cooperation of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, coordinated this well planned tour.
According to Manique Mendis, the former Sunday Leader Editor late Lasantha Wickrematunge had been of great support to her and Upul Joseph Fernando in organizing the tour and played a key role in the logistics of the tour.
When the Norwegian facilitated peace process was in progress, Kilinochchi turned into a politically significant place with foreign diplomats and media personnel visiting frequently. This, once LTTE territory, became the location to meet the outfit's bigwigs as well as a place from which to gather news stories of the area.
However, it was for the first time that a large group of senior journalists went, together, in a luxury coach of a leading tour operator, from Colombo to Kilinochchi to meet the LTTE.
The media contingent from Colombo to Kilinochchi left in the early hours and reached Anuradhapura in time for breakfast. It was nice to see Lasantha walking up and down and coming out with jokes on political issues making everyone laugh.
After breakfast the journey continued and we arrived first at the Omanthai Army checkpoint. On getting clearance from there, the coach travelled a few kilometres more and reached the LTTE checkpoint in Omanthai.
Thereafter, the coach carrying the senior journalists from Colombo reached Kilinochchi and the media personnel were received by the LTTE's media spokesperson Velayutham Thayanithy alias Daya Master, at his office.
After the formal welcome the media personnel were taken to a guest house run by the LTTE in Mallavi where the outfit's biggest cemetery of its dead cadres was found.
Apart from the LTTE camps and other places run by the outfit, which were supplied with electricity from generators, there were no street lamps or electricity beyond Vavuniya.
As the big coach headed, through small gravel roads, towards Mallavi, in the night hour, Daya Master and two LTTE cadres accompanying the media team found the driver was going in the wrong direction and wanted the vehicle stopped.
Lasantha asked Daya Master, how far the bus had travelled in the wrong direction? Daya Master replied it was around four kilometres and pointed out, that as the road was a narrow jungle path it would not be possible to make a turn around.
Lasantha went up to the driver and spoke to him on the possibilities of taking the bus safely in the right direction to reach Mallavi.
So reversing the bus covering a distance of four kilometres, Lasantha came forward to navigate the reversing bus and sought the support of then Sunday Observer journalist Ananth Palakidnar, who was in the media team, to help the driver to reverse the bus with its tail lamps, in that pitch darkness.
Both Lasantha and Ananth kneeling on the rear seat of the vehicle looking through its wide rear screen went on directing the driver for nearly an hour to ensuring the bus arrived at the right spot to take the turn to continue its journey to Mallavi.
When the reversing was in progress Ravaya Editor Victor Ivan came near Lasantha and Ananth and jokingly said, be careful the jungle path may even have land mines.
A few hours later, the coach got on the right path and reached the guest house allocated for the media personnel, by the LTTE.
Next day after breakfast, the media contingent comprising Editor Lanka Deepa Sri Ranasinghe, Editor Virakesari A Sivanesaselvan, Sunday Times Senior Journalist Keith Noyahr, Virakesari News Editor N. Nadaraja and the other editors and senior journalists from Colombo were taken to the LTTE's Norwegian funded Peace Secretariat in Kilinochchi, where the outfit's political wing leader Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan was standing at the entrance to the building to welcome them.
With all the journalists agreeing on Lasantha representing them, as well as Sirasa and his newspaper The Sunday Leader, at the interview, the late editor conducted the interview, with S.P. Thamilselvan speaking extensively on the political stance of the outfit, to all journalists.
During the interview, Lasantha requested and gave time to the other journalists also to question Thamilselvan, proving himself a gentleman journo.
So, in the backdrop, this year, of the media fraternity mourning the ninth death anniversary of veteran journalist Lasantha Wickremetunge, who had been a prominent figure in the legal circle as well, the journalists who had the opportunity of travelling with him deep into the LTTE territory will remember him as a flamboyant personality with an accommodating nature.
- Iran’s response to security challenges in West Asia
- Gained dependence of Baltic States
- Religious buildings in Kazakhstan to be labelled 16+
- SEUSL ranked 7th
- Hakeem’s statement ridiculous - Bathiudeen
- LG polls HRCSL to monitor public officials and cops Violations to be dealt with sternly
- To free State institution heads held hostage 6 STF special units in Colombo
- Spanish assistance for ten flyovers
- Don’t forgive robbers of Public funds - Sirisena
- At St. Lucia’s Cathedral Kotahena Schubert’s G Major Mass on 18 Feb
- UNP backbenchers to meet Prez, PM and CIABOC To handover files of SLFP Ministers’ alleged fraud and corruption
- family members of ‘Kudu Suda’ arrested
- Thailand to assist SL agri sector
- Following Bonds scandal UNP internal crisis worsens - Sirikotha
- Alleged manhandling of principal:Premajayantha denounces Uva CM’s actions
- Markets in tumult over political uncertainty
- Susil explains why Prez wants to take over economy NEC’s success or lack may have played a role
- Muslim Matrimonial Law reforms Thalatha gets Marsoof Committee report
- EPRLF MP Sivashakthi Anandan alleges:15 TNA MPs bribed by PM’s Office
- Kataragama rioters cum looters given bail crowd control methods problematic –HRCSL Chair Reiterates call for the Police to come up with crowd control manual
- Long term conciliation in Korea
- Germany and Europe: A New Relationship?
- Key role to strengthen SLFP -Wijewickrama
- Blood donation at SEUSL
- Faizer Mustapha says Muslims must trust SLFP and President
- Mudannayake ‘Sir’ no more
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-19 Cricket Ranasinghe steers St. Anne’s to victory
- Failed attempt to justify Auditor General’s report regarding mismanagement of NOC Funds Maxwell accepts lapses in NOCSL Accounts
- Has Hathu caught a tiger by the tail
- Zimbabwe will look to improve
- 12th ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Canada and Zimbabwe win
- Kusal Perera asked to rest
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-19 Schools Cricket Lakshan steers DSS to sound position
- Chung dumps Djokovic
- LB Finance win Futsal tournament
- Federer and happy Halep romp into quarters
- New Zealand sink Pakistan
- Smith rejects ball-tampering suggestions after ODI loss
- Warner to lead Australia in T20 tri-series
- Real defy crisis talk as Barca extend lead
- Acceptance of new NSFs by NOC NOC Members expect further clarification from IOC
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-19 Schools Cricket Cambrians win by an innings
- 92nd National Boxing Championship Army retain men’s title MAS Unichela emerge women’s champs
- Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon Madumali finishes 11th with PB
- Man City back on track
- public debate misinformed
- World’s richest 1% gets 82% of global wealth: Oxfam
- Oxford Business Group, Ceylon Chamber to analyze SL trade strategy
- Sampath Samachara loans for rtd Govt servants
- Huawei’s nova2i updating to safe and accurate facial recognition unlock feature
- SLT Human Capital Solutions rewards employees’ children
- Scan Jumbo Peanuts concludes Scan Jumbo Bonanza
- World Economic Forum kicks off today Populism is waning, which is reason to party in Davos
- Cargills Bank pioneers IBM cognitive cyber security
- Practise the four roles of leadership
- Seylan Bank hosting ‘Tikiri New School Term Promotion’
- Amazon opens a supermarket with no checkouts
- Dengue awareness programme held in Piliyandala
- Meet the newest player in the global space industry
- Asian stocks falter as political developments unfold
- Sri Lanka Customs moots authorized dealer system Rs 31 M in counterfeit products destroyed
- 2017’s record exports nothing special - IC
- SL - Singapore FTA to be signed today
- Govt can’t even maintain a policy for two weeks
- VinaCapital, Ataraxia Capital launch $50M Sri Lanka Opportunity Fund
- The March of Folly A disgraceful Attorney General
- Kenyan doctor goes to Court To legalize female genital mutilation
- Foreign missions’ failure to correct Sri Lanka’s tarnished image Tamil Diaspora vilifications
- Concretes & Abstracts Pitipana Committee and Public Debt
- Achieving true lasting reconciliation
- Sparks fly over Power and Energy Sector CEB, PUCSL and Ministry clash as electricity crisis looms
- Vote for women this LG Polls
- Block law’s lacunae Not letting bond thieves go scot-free
- Europe prods homeless with spikes and cold showers
- UN warns of South Sudan’s ‘lost generation’ grinding conflict
- Govt has not lost a red cent from Bond transactions
- Participatory citizenship is important - Rosy
- I have a master plan - Salley
- All set for Free and Fair LG Polls – Mahinda Deshapriya
- If given power We’ll develop country in two years -Chandrasiri Mahagamage
- National Prosperity Turning the Tide
- Disposable coffee cups:British lawmakers call for “latte levy”
- If only we could crackdown on the root causes to effect sustainable solutions Herein lies a Nation’s progress
- Forecast your own destiny An astrological guide
- Kala Sarpa Yoga will test sustainability of government
- TIMING OF EVENTS –CHILD BIRTH
- Season for Marriage and Construction
- Cancer Causing Vastu Defects
- “Hail, Caesar!” Silliness as a virtue
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Indu & Sanwada We have so much in common
- The Writer’s Kitchenette Vietnamese Fusion Rice Wraps
- ‘Derana Champion’ Shines with OPPO
- A Possible Fallout as US freezes Funds for Palestinian refugees
- Jungle loving President Premadasa
- How Felix Dias became Bandaranaike
- IT IS MY CHOICE
- In your own skin be the barrel you want
- Dear Patriarchy,Dilshani Palugaswewa tells it like it is in this open letter