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Human Rights Activist to Give Reading at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Award-winning lawyer, journalist and human rights activist Sonali Samarasinghe will present “A Voice for Freedom” at Ithaca College on Wednesday, April 9. Samarasinghe will read from her new poetry chapbook as well as her upcoming nonfiction book on Sri Lankan media and politics at 5:30 p.m. in the Handwerker Gallery. Her reading is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Since 2012, Samarasinghe has served as the International Visiting Scholar in Residence in the Ithaca College Honors Program and the Ithaca City of Asylum’s writer in residence. “The Land My Father Gave Me,” from the Ithaca press Vista Periodista, is her first book published in the U.S. It contains an introduction by Ithaca College Professor of Writing Katharyn Howd Machan.

A native of Sri Lanka, Samarasinghe practiced law there for 20 years and worked as a journalist focusing on human rights, including government corruption and women’s issues. She was forced to flee the country in 2009 after her husband — a high-profile attorney and activist for freedom of the press — was assassinated and her family threatened. Since coming to the United States, she has established the Lanka Standard, a website devoted to truthful coverage of events in Sri Lanka.

Among the numerous honors for her work are the International PEN/NOVIB Freedom of Expression Award, the Human Rights Prize of the International Federation of Journalists and the Global Shining Light Award from the Global Investigative Journalism Conference.

“In the short time Sonali has been with us in Ithaca, she has shown us what true courage looks like,” said Bridget Meeds, board chair for Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA). “We are thrilled to join in celebrating her work.”

Founded in 2001, ICOA supports writers whose works are suppressed, whose lives are threatened, whose cultures are vanishing and whose languages are endangered. It is part of a worldwide network of cities of asylum and is a project of the Center for Transformative Action at Cornell University. The Honors Program works with ICOA to support an International Visiting Scholar in Residence in the Ithaca College School of Humanities and Sciences.

For more information, contact Bridget Meeds at bm24@cornell.edu.



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