Nimalka Fernando – Sri Lanka

Linked with APWLD Women’s Alliance for Peace and Democracy, Sri Lanka, and with The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism IMADR.

She is a founding member of APWLD Women’s Alliance for Peace and Democracy, Sri Lanka. (full text, scroll down).

An attorney-at-law and women’s rights activist. She is President of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) and the Women’s Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka. Nimalka is a founding member of ARENA and was a member of the ARENA Executive Board 1994 – 1997. (full text).

And she is a member of the Democratic People’s Movement in Sri Lanka which is a coalition of people’s movements, NGOs and trade unions initiating action and dialogue for alternative development paradigms. (full text).

Nimalka Fernando - Sri Lanka.jpg

Nimalka Fernando – Sri Lanka

She says: “The issue here is that the sense of insecurity that majority Sinhalese feel is that most of the LTTE training camps were in India. This is not my position but this is a feeling that Sinhala extremists sometimes propagated.

There is a sense in the Sinhalese community that the LTTE training camps were in India. This is not my view but it is one that was propagated by Sinhala extremists. Sri Lanka also has a history of invasions from Tamil kings in India like the Cholas and the Pandians. Whenever the question of Tamil self-rule comes up, these histories are retold by such groups to instil a sense of insecurity. There is a sense that the Tamils have a community in India that will come to their aid. That was the point I was trying to make”. (full text).

Read: Background Paper of the Third Asia Pacific NGO Human Rights Congress.

She said also: “In Kathmandu last week, I met friends from the human rights community in Nepal coming out of a class on federalism. Over a decade ago, when I was an election observer here, I, like other activists, was delighted to see the emergence of a robust human rights and democratic activism in Nepal. As part of the international rights community, we nurtured these forces, which we also saw as supporting the aspirations of SAARC citizens. What we did not expect to see was these trends deteriorating slowly as political struggles took hold. What happened? Did the progressives became so state-ist that they removed themselves from the ‘people’ in order to sustain the regime?” (full text).

Request for emergency relief … .

Excerpts from an interview taken at the International Consultation on Women Human Rights Defenders, Sri Lanka, December 2005: At the time we founded APWLD, the main challenging theme was the issue of law and its impact on the lives of women. So in that sense, a regional body trying to grapple with the issue of laws and legal strategies for women was a heart breaking process that we managed to initiate within Asia Pacific. If we look at South Asia we found that while there were certain laws in place most of the laws were discriminatory or disinherited women and also these laws had the major connection to religious beliefs and practices. So by forming Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development we were making a political statement in aiming to look at laws affecting our lives, which disempower us. At the same time we were trying to develop new strategies for the development of new laws that would enhance women’s rights and also bring the national laws in our countries to respond to the international framework already in place such as the CEDAW. The APWLD’s contribution was that it has tried to bring down to earth the international frameworks or the international standards to be able to translate them into local needs. You have the CEDAW but there is no point in having the CEDAW at the international level unless it is translated into the realities at the ground level where women are fighting. So I think APWLD has been trying to breach this important gap and trying to make its contribution in a pioneering way. (full text).

Read: Note on South Asian Perspectives Network Association SAPNA.

Led by the convenor of the AP NGO Forum, Ms. Nimalka Fernando of IMADR, NGO representatives managed to arrange for a meeting with Ms. Mary Robinson, where there were many impassioned appeals made for the fullest inclusion of NGOs in not just the plenaries but as observers in the Drafting Committee’s deliberations. Many stressed of the importance of being included in the Drafting Committee’s deliberations as the most strategic way of influencing the outcome of the Provision Draft Declaration and Plan of Action being deliberated upon by Asian governments. (full text).

Meanwhile Kumar Rupesinghe of the Foundation for Co- Existence, UNP MP Rajitha Senaratne and Dr. Nimalka Fernando of the Women’s Alliance for Peace and Democracy and others met to plan a demonstration and a hartal against the brutal murder and the prevalent culture of violence. (full text).

links:

International Consultation on Women Human Rights Defenders, Sri Lanka, 2005;

Beijing Plus Five Global Feminist Symposia;

Mass protest rally today against Raviraj killing;

Asian NGO Meeting for the WCAR;

Recommended book: Human Trafficking and Racism, Exploring the Links between Marginalization and Exploitative Migration;

International Campaign on Women Human Rights Defenders.

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