“You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch . . . I hope that my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but as an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts . . . as for me, God knows I tried.”
These are the words written by Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the ex-president of Sri Lanka, published after Wickrematunge’s murder in 2009.
Wickrematunge’s posthumous piece is a powerful part of The Last Column, a new project from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that memorializes journalists killed in the line of duty.
The project, which includes a book and a documentary series, weaves together the final works of fallen writers, including Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and WaPo’s Jamal Khashoggi, murdered last year at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Speaking at a New York launch event, the CPJ’s Joel Simon said of the piece that Wickrematunge insisted be published after his death, “You realize what this brave man was willing to sacrifice for a profession that is dishonored, that is vilified, [and] you realize just how much is at stake.”
Guests at the launch hosted by Rebecca and Jesse Angelo included Margaret Hoover, John Berman, Kate Bolduan, David Rhodes and, most notably, widow Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge.