Advocacy, Human Rights, Human Security, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War, War Crimes

Prospects for post-war human rights in Sri Lanka: Interview with Sunila Abeysekera

To commemorate Human Rights Day 2009 (falling on 10 December) Groundviews interviewed a number of leading activists in Sri Lanka to find out their perspectives on current challenges facing human rights in post-war Sri Lanka. In general, activists featured were asked to comment on the Sri Lankan State’s protection of human rights, the nexus between human rights and human dignity and opportunities for greater human rights protection over the coming years.

This video features Sunila Abeysekara, an award winning Sri Lankan human rights activist. The interview was conducted over a Skype video call.

Sunila talks about, amongst a number of other vital issues, the current state of media freedom and the freedom of expression, a fundamental difference between human dignity and human rights protection plus prospects for a greater emphasis on human rights in post-war Sri Lanka.

Also see:

  1. Human Rights in Post-War Sri Lanka: Challenges and opportunities
  2. The rights of the disabled in Sri Lanka: Marginal or mainstream?
  • Janak

    Great video. What is GBV? Tried googling but not sure of meaning.

  • Belle

    A gracious person. Love the way she kept pointing to the heroism and sacrifice of lay people in their contribution to the human rights struggle.

    We do tend to focus on the heroism of people who come from backgrounds of privilege such as Lasantha, forgetting that many other lesser-known people have also lost their lives in standing up against various forms of oppression, while others continue to court danger to themselves and their families. Are such stories of heroism and sacrifice of less-privileged Sri Lankans available now? Could Sunila write such a piece, naming such people so they can be included in the pantheon of people who inspire us? This could be one way of getting the public to respond to human rights violations–to make such incidents and experiences part of the life story of ‘ordinary’ people, and not just some abstract foreign construct that has nothing to do with them. We talk of “human” rights violations, often in some amorphous way as lots of massacres happening here and there, without putting human faces and names to these victims. That’s quite ironic–we both highlight and continually erase the human dimension of these violations.

    Perhaps SL civil society organizations need to embrace the public’s failure to respond to HR violations as THEIR own failure? Even as a perspective taken on for tactical reasons, it might help to urge the movement forward.

  • Heshan

    This lady, who has selflessly championed the cause of human rights for more than two decades, does not have any confidence in either of the main candidates contesting the polls. Need we further evidence that such an election is a farce?