07/03/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka, Christian activist wins National Peace Award

Melani Manel Perera
Nimalka Fernando receives 2011 Citizen's Peace Award. The woman stood out for her commitment to create citizens awareness of rights, and combating all forms of discrimination.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The National Peace Council (NPC) of Sri Lanka has awarded the Citizen's Peace Award 2011, to the Christian activist Nimalka Fernando, for her work for peace and human rights. The commitment to raising awareness among citizens of their rights in order to create a united society devoid of discrimination earned her this recognition. The awards ceremony - one of the largest nationwide - took place on June 26 last month in the Lakshman Kadirgamar cultural centre in Colombo, in the presence of various religious leaders, social activists and government personalities.

In her acceptance speech, Nimalka Fernando said: "In all honesty, I am just one of thousands of people and movements from the late '70s who have worked for justice and peace in Sri Lanka. This is above all the 'their' prize, more than mine, and I would like to dedicate it to all my compatriots. As the winner, this award puts me in front of a challenge. But it is also an encouragement for all of us to continue our work. Thank you for wanting to reward peace and human rights in Sri Lanka ".

Her commitment as an activist began in the 70s in the student movement. Human rights, defense of women and combating all forms of ethnic and social discrimination were just some of the battles fought in recent years by Fernando. Currently, she is president of the International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (Imadr), co-chairman of the South Asia for Human Rights, member of the Nepali South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (Saape), treasurer of the Mothers and Daughters of Sri Lanka. In addition, she is co-chairman of the Platform for Freedom (PFF), a civil society movement that works with the political parties in the name of the right to life and freedom of expression.

The NPC created the Citizens Peace Award in 2010, to honour and encourage those in civil society who have shown courage and determination to protect and respect human rights, to seek a peaceful solution to disputes and in creating awareness among different communities. The prize consists in a sum of money, that Fernando will donate among the associations with which she collaborates.

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