Sonali Samarasinghe to speak at Wells

Ithaca City of Asylum Writer-in-Residence will discuss Sri Lanka and Women's Role in Peacemaking




7:00 p.m.


E. Margie Matthews Filter Hostetter ’62 Lecture Room (209), Stratton Hall

General Info

Wells College announces the first event of its 2012-13 Arts and Lecture Series, a talk by incoming Ithaca City of Asylum Writer-in-Residence Sonali Samarasinghe. Samarasinghe’s lecture, titled “Sri Lanka and Women's Role in Peacemaking,” will address her experiences as an award-winning investigative journalist, editor and lawyer who has spent more than twenty years fighting for justice, freedom and accountability in her country. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 6, 2012, in the E. Margie Matthews Filter Hostetter ’62 Lecture Room (209) of Stratton Hall on the Wells College campus. Admission is free, and the public is cordially invited to attend.

Sonali Samarasinghe has extensive experience in both journalism and law. Born in 1970 in Sri Lanka, she has dedicated herself to human rights advocacy, focusing on government corruption and women’s issues. She has a master’s in international affairs from the Australian National University, Canberra and a law degree from the University of London. In Sri Lanka, Samarasinghe served with the attorney general’s department and in private practice. Her journalistic roles have included editor-in-chief of Sri Lanka’s Morning Leader and columnist for the Sunday Leader, and she has served as a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University and an international journalist in residence at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

In 2009, Samarasinghe was forced to leave Sri Lanka following the assassination of her husband Lasantha Wickrematunge, founder and editor of The Sunday Leader, and continued threats to her household. Last year, Sonali launched her own news website, the Lanka Standard, which continues to fight for justice and accountability in her country. She is also pressing for an independent investigation into her husband’s murder and into the murders of several other journalists and activists. She is working on a book about her experiences in Sri Lankan politics and media.

Samarasinghe’s work has been recognized by many international journalism and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, the NGO Initiatives of Change, Images and Voices of Hope, Pen International, the International Federation of Journalists, Zonta International and the Global Investigative Journalism Conference. Throughout her career as a journalist she has received a record number of top national awards and was named Journalist of the Year four times in a decade. Currently living in Ithaca, N.Y., she is Ithaca City of Asylum’s writer-in-residence and a member of the faculty of Ithaca College’s Honors Program in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

Ithaca City of Asylum provides sanctuary to writers whose works are suppressed, whose lives are threatened, whose cultures are vanishing, or whose languages are endangered. ICOA welcomed its first writer in 2001; Sonali will be the fifth writer introduced to the Ithaca community since then. A project of the Center for Transformative Action and part of an international network of cities of refuge, ICOA is one of only four cities of asylum in the United States.

The Wells College Arts & Lecture Series brings a range of artists and intellectuals to campus to perform, to speak on relevant issues, and to represent the disciplines of theatre, music and dance. A committee composed of Wells faculty, staff and students selects groups and individuals annually. Sonali Samarasinghe’s lecture is the first Arts and Lecture event of this academic year. The next event in the series will be a performance of “The Taming of the Shrew” by Aquila Theatre Company on November 13.