For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Free Media Movement pays its highest tribute to Sunila Abeysekera, who dedicated her entire life to the struggle for social justice and human rights. After an almost a year of fighting a cancer, finally she embarked on her last journey on 9th September 2013.
Sunila, guided by the slogan, “all human beings are inherently entitled to all human rights” , considered all struggles based on inequality, may it be based on class, cast, ethnicity or gender, as parts of one broad social movement. In short she had a holistic view on social justice.
While engaging in social activism at the grass root levels, Sunila also contributed to the world as a scholar. She communicated in written as well as spoken word both in English and Sinhala.
Sunila has been an active member of the Free Media Movement since the mid 90s. She make interventions in different ways, at multiple levels, to protect and ascertain freedom of press in Sri Lanka.
Sunila, who believed that freedom of art is an indivisible element of freedom of press, often guided FMM in this regard. She filed fundamental rights cases against the censorship at the Sri Lankan Supreme Court and take the same issues to the United Nations Human Rights Concil. We would like to state with gratitude that INFORM, Human Rights Documentation Center, an institution of which Sunila was a founding member and its executive director, always rendered a great support to FMM and continues to do so.
She was not only a social activist and a scholar; she was also an admirer of art and an artist herself. It is of no doubt that the songs she brought to life in her unique voice will last eternally.
She was not a mere liberal human rights speaker. She socially imbedded her firm dedication for press freedom with a close association of media activists and she transformed her dedication for freedom of art in to a practical bond with cultural activists.
Her unwavering opposition to a military solution to the ethnic issue was reflected in her dialogue with men and women in war affected areas at a very practical level, and also in her anti-war human rights activism.
Sunila Abeysekera’s ideological dedication was interwoven with the struggle in the streets swarming with humanity. Since her youth, over four decades she involved herself in a social movements aimed at social justice and human rights. She used her multiple skills and talents to realize this dream.