President Mahinda Rajapaska has a track record when it comes to making threatening phone calls. In 2006, as we reported in our media freedom briefing, he telephoned Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickermatunga to yell:

”F**k your mother, you son of a bloody whore! I will finish you! I treated you well all this while. Now I will destroy you. You don’t know who Mahinda Rajapaksa is. You watch what I will do to you!” It turned out Mahinda was angry about an article in the Morning Leader about the first lady which simply didn’t exist. Lasantha’s response was to say “Mahinda, just because you are President, do not talk in that threatening way. We don’t get intimidated by threats. Tell us what it is we are supposed to have written.”

This did not calm the irate President who continued,

“You are not scared! I will show you what it is to be scared. I will rest only once I have destroyed you. You wait and see. You don’t know who Mahinda Rajapaksa is.”

Three years later Lasantha Wickermatunga was tragically murdered on his way to work. His self-penned obituary rates as one of the finest pieces of human rights writing of all time.

Now Rajapaska is at it again. According to this report from the Sri Lanka Guardian:

“According to Sunday Leader, on 19 July 2011 President Mahinda Rajapaksha had called the chairman of The Sunday Leader, Lal Wickrematunge and yelled at him. The president threatened the chairman by saying, “You are writing lies, outrageous lies! You can attack me politically, but if you attack me personally, I will know how to attack you personally too.”

The reason for the threatening phone call was an exposure by the Sunday Leader that China had given the president and his son, parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksha, US dollars 9 million to be used “at their discretion” . Within days after the threatening telephone call, posters appeared around the newspaper office with slogans, “Do not lie!” and “The gods will punish you””

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