Name: Suriya Wickramasinghe
Where: Sri Lanka
What she does: Secretary of the Civil Rights Movement of Sri Lanka.
Impact: Promoted human rights protection and monitoring as an essential component of peace settlements.
Emerging from a decade-long brutal civil war, the human rights record in Sri Lanka has been under the spotlight. Women human rights activists in Sri Lanka have played an important role in lobbying, both for women’s rights as well as for a more robust rights culture where all people are respected – regardless of ethnicity, gender or caste. Suriya is a courageous and longstanding figure in that movement. With Suriya as Secretary of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) of Sri Lanka the organisation became one of the first to suggest that agreement on human rights protection and monitoring should be an essential component of peace settlements and should pave the way for agreement on other issues: “It has always been the firm conviction of the CRM that the proper securing of human rights throughout Sri Lanka, both in law and as a practical reality, must be an integral part of any political settlement of the conflict.” Suriya has also played an active role in advocating for the abolition of the death penalty.