Chulawansa goes on his final journey on Monday


Veteran journalist Chulawansa Sirilal, who had served as a journalist for more than four decades, died after a brief illness on Saturday. He was 68-years old and his birthday also fell on Saturday.

Chulawansa was not only a journalist, but also a leading media rights activist.

Throughout his career, Chulawansa fearlessly campaigned for safeguarding democracy and freedom in Sri Lanka.

He played a key role in journalists’ struggles to safeguard the freedom of the media and safety of the journalists whenever the media freedom came under threats during different regimes in Sri Lanka over the last few decades.

His role as the Convener of the Free Media Movement, during a very crucial and challenging period for the media freedom, in Sri Lanka, has been highly appreciated.

Chulawansa began his journalism career from "Aththa" newspaper published by the Communist Party of Sri Lanka in 1970s and thereafter, served in "Lankadeepa", "Yukthiya" and "Ravaya" newspapers.

As an activist, he played a key role to change the UNP government in 1994 and following the government change, he was offered the post of Media Secretary to president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. But he served in that post only for a very brief period and again went to back to his preferred career. This time, when the media came under severe threat, he even joined hands with the United National Party and worked toward to protect media freedom and the safety of the media personnel.

Born in Kelaniya, Chulawansa lived in Sedawatta, Kelaniya and studied at the Gamini Maha Vidyalaya, Sedwatta. He later moved to Wickremesinghepura, Battaramulla area and lived there until his demise.

Despite his illnesses, Chulawansa continued to work as a journalist freelancing for several news organizations. At the time of his death, he was serving as the editor of Lankapress News Agency.

Chulawansa had vast experience as a Parliament and political correspondent. One of his unique characteristics was that he was always ready to help other journalists and was very keen to share his experience with the budding journalists. He had a good memory and was always available to clarify any doubts on incidents that took place in the past.

He is survived by his wife Kanthi, daughter Charmie Bamunusingha Arachchi Attanayaka who is a medical doctor and now domiciled in Canada and son Ranga Sirilal, who serves as senior journalist at the Reuters news agency in Sri Lanka.

His remains are now lying at 19/2 A, 1st Lane, Wickremesinghepura, Battaramulla. Funeral will be on Monday at 5.30 p.m. at the Borella crematorium.

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