City of Asylum/Pittsburgh Presents Sonali Samarasinghe

Wednesday, March 6, 2013: a reading by the exiled Sri Lankan journalist and human rights activist Sonali Samarasinghe. Ms. Samarasinghel read from a work-in-progress and conducted a two-day residency at The Ellis School.

About Sonali Samarasinghe
Sonali Samarasinghe is an award-winning journalist and human rights activist. Born in 1970 in Sri Lanka, Sonali practiced law there for twenty years and worked as a journalist, focusing on human rights, government corruption and women’s issues. She is currently writer-in-residence at Ithaca City of Asylum.

For five years she served as editor-in-chief of The Morning Leader, a national weekly, and as a columnist for The Sunday Leader, a weekly openly critical of the government.

In 2008 she married Lasantha Wickrematunge, founder and editor of The Sunday Leader. Wickrematunge was assassinated in 2009, and his assailants threatened her household and family. She and members of her family left Sri Lanka and emigrated to the United States, where she founded the online journal, The Lanka Standard. She remains its editor-in-chief.

Ms. Samarasinghe received journalism diplomas from Aquinas College in Sri Lanka and the Australian School of Journalism in Sydney. She has an LL.B. degree from the University of London and attended Sri Lanka Law College after which she was admitted to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka as an attorney at law. She also has a Masters in International Affairs from the Australian National University in Canberra. She has been a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University and an international journalist in residence at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Among the numerous awards for her work are the Images and Voices of Hope for Print and Digital Media (2011), the International PEN/NOVIB Freedom of Expression Award (2009), the Human Rights Prize of the International Federation of Journalists, the Global Shining Light Award at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (2008), and Zonta International’s Woman of Achievement (2006).

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