Sunila Abeysekera – Sri Lanka

Defying threats to her life, as UN award-winning Sri Lankan human rights activist she has brought abuses in Sri Lanka to the attention of the international community. (UNESCO).

She says: “I always hope for peace. That hope is what gives me the energy to continue with the work that I do. Even if I don’t see it achieved in my lifetime, I have to continue working for peace and justice in Sri Lanka because that is what my children and future generations who live on this beautiful island will inherit. I don’t believe that people are inherently violent or war-like. I know that it is a wide range of economic and social and political factors that push people to war and to conflict. I believe that as rational and humane beings we have the potential to create structures of non-violent forms of resolving conflict and of living together in harmony”. (full interview text).

And she says: “The human rights framework has enabled us to engage in most times constructive and sometimes very frustrating conversation with organizations like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, that focuses on the protection of refugees and people who are displaced as a consequence of conflict”. (full text).

Sunila Abeysekera - Sri Lanka.gif.

Sunila Abeysekera – Sri Lanka

According to a recent United Nations study, Sri Lanka is the country with the second highest number of disappeared people in the world. And yet there seems to be hardly any debate within the country about human rights violations. Why is this? (full text).

Sunila Abeysekera, executive director of the Sri Lankan rights group INFORM statement to the UNHRC, the number of disappearances and targeted killings in Nepal had dropped dramatically after the U.N. field office was set up there, argued more transparency in Sri Lanka would help much more than short visits from overseas officials and called for UN monitors to Sri Lanka. (full text).

Read: Sri Lanka’s Humanitarian Crisis discussed in Swiss seminar.

She says also: “The control of female sexuality is a critical element of patriarchy. In primitive societies, once the connection between reproduction and the male was discovered, the need to own and control the woman’s reproductive capacity as well as the fruits of her womb became an integral part of male being. At times one senses that there was also a fear, sometimes an awe, of female sexuality and fertility, in many communities, through time. This is obvious when one looks at a range of traditions, cultural practices, customs and religious injunctions that address the need to keep women under male control. The portrayal of woman as the Madonna and as the whore created a dichotomy which we still see reflected in works of art, literature, the cinema; the creation of stereotypes of the good woman as opposed to the bad woman. The bad woman is usually the one who is free with her sexuality, and sometimes with her sexual favors; she is sexy, while the good woman is chaste, virginal, and asexual”. (full text).

Read: Submission by Sunila Abeysekera, recipient of the UN Human Rights prize of 1998 and human rights defender in Sri Lanka.

What makes the Sri Lankan situation specific is that many of those who are displaced have been living in this cycle of displacement for over 10 years now. They have had to flee their homes several times in this period. They have had everything they possessed destroyed several times within one lifetime. They have had family members killed, arrested, and disappeared. There are adolescents who live in the north and east of Sri Lanka today who have never known a stable home or family life, who have no sense of community and whose only sense of the other community is that they constitute the enemy. (full text).

Read: Activists want U.N. rights outpost in Sri Lanka.

This year, Human Rights Watch honors Hollman Morris, a courageous journalist who is exposing horrific crimes by guerrilla, government, and paramilitary forces in Colombia, and Sunila Abeysekera, who has spent 20 years documenting vicious abuses by both sides of Sri Lanka’s civil war. (full text).

On Thursday for the first time in the history of the Human Rights Council, civil society groups sat in plenary on a shared platform with governments. The American, Charlotte Bunch, from the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, spoke on behalf of a coalition of NGOs on gender balance. But this victory for human rights defenders is tainted. Actually the American activist had to replace at the last moment her Sri Lankan counterpart Sunila Abeysekera. The latter, although chosen by the NGO coalition, had been prevented by the Sri Lankan mission in Geneva from speaking. (full text).

Bio and publications: on CDDC; on wikipedia; on .

Sunila Abeysekera, executive director of the Sri Lankan rights group INFORM, told a Geneva news conference on Monday 17 September “The national mechanisms don’t work”. She decried the prevailing “culture of impunity” in Sri Lanka among government and para militaries. Up to now about 70,000 people have been killed since 1983. Abeysekera said it was impossible to report a human rights abuse to police or other authorities because of terror. (full text).

Read: NGO allegations of Human Rights “Crisis” refuted.


Kumari Jayawardena;

cultural studies;

critical theory;

Sri Lanka: Govt.will not bow to pressure tactics from HR Monitoring Mission;

Koop geen kat in de zak! Lees dit goed;

Human Rights.

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