MADRE partner Sunila Abeysekera wins Human Rights Defender award
Posted on: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Keywords: Sri Lanka
Sunila Abeysekera, MADRE partner and Sri Lankan human rights activist, won the Human Rights Defender Award this September. Sunila was one of five activists chosen to receive the award by Human Rights Watch for their bravery and selflessness in the face of violence and injustice.
From the Human Rights Watch press release:
“Sunila Abeysekera […] has tirelessly fought against abuses by both sides in Sri Lanka's long civil war.
‘When I started working on human rights two decades ago, it was not easy,’ Abeysekera said. ‘One is regarded as a troublemaker, sometimes as a traitor. Questioning the role of the government and of the different political actors in destroying democratic structures and creating a militaristic environment led to attacks from all sides.’
With a rare ability to act as researcher, advocate, and spokesperson both within Sri Lanka and abroad, Abeysekera is internationally recognized as one of Sri Lanka's preeminent human rights activists. In a war driven by ethnic tensions, she refuses to take sides, denouncing abuses by both the government and armed separatist Tamil Tigers. Her neutrality and fierce commitment have won Abeysekera the respect of Sinhalese and Tamils alike. She has faced death threats for her work in an environment that has become increasingly difficult for human rights defenders, but remains steadfast in her work. Human Rights Watch honors Abeysekera for bridging the gaps between ethnic groups and upholding the human rights of all Sri Lankan citizens.”
To read the full press release, visit the Human Rights Watch website.