Richard de Zoysa

Richard: The Storm's Eye

On 18 February, 1990 IPS editor and correspondent in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Richard de Zoysa, was abducted and murdered by an armed gang, believed to be a state sponsored death squad. He was 32 at the time of his death.

Richard De Zoysa was a multi-faceted personality who left a lasting impression during a short but prolific creative span. He was a media critic, announcer, teledrama and stage actor, author and journalist. Richard de Zoysa was awarded posthumously the 1990 IPS International Achievement Award. The IPS Award for Excellence in Independent Journalism was renamed in his honour.

Richard’s gruesome killing spurred his mother, Dr. Manorani Saravanamuttu, to launch a campaign for justice for the “disappeared” on behalf of the mothers who had lost their sons; wives who had lost their husbands; sisters who had lost their brothers. Dr. Saravanamuttu’s relentless campaign attracted international attention towards the plight of victims who disappeared without a trace during the 1988-90 terror period. In 1996, she was awarded the ‘Weera Mathru’ (heroic mother) title. (IPS)

The Poet

I am the eye of the camera
Can only reflect, never reject
Never deflect.

I am the eye of the Camera
Silent recorder of life and death
Eye that can only reflect
Never conjure up images
Probe the reality
Never reject.

I am the eye of the Camera
I reflect nothing, but the truth
The external reality
Can not deflect
The mind of the viewer
From the picture to passion.

I let them all fashion
Their truths through my magic
I can not reject, the external reality
That passes for truth

And what is rejected
By natural selection
Has nothing to do with me
When I am impotent
Robbed of my power
My eyes in the dark at the moment of crisis
See nothing, but well favoured men of the hour.

I am the storm’s eye
Ceaselessly turning around me
The burning the death the destruction
The clichés that govern the world of the words
Of the prophets and preachers, and may be the savior
Are lost to my peering
Blind eye in the dark.

Richard de Zoysa (1989)