An Autobiographical Account by Basil Fernando
(Lanka-e-News -11.March.2021, 5.20AM) W.J. Basil Fernando is a Sri Lankan jurist, author, poet, human rights activist, editor of Article 2 and Ethics in Action, and a prolific writer. He was educated at St. Anthony's College, Wattala and St. Benedict's College, Kotahena. He earned a LLB from the University of Ceylon in 1972, registered as an Attorney-At-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1980 and practised law in Sri Lanka up to the end of 1989. He became a legal adviser to Vietnamese refugees in a UNHCR-sponsored project in Hong Kong. He joined the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC) in 1992 as a senior human rights officer and later also served as the Chief of Legal Assistance to Cambodia of the UN Centre of Human Rights (now the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights office). He is associated with Asian Human Rights Commission and Asian Legal Resource centre, based in Hong Kong since 1994. In 2014, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for "his tireless and outstanding work to support and document the implementation of human rights in Asia."
His new book is ''Body, Mind, Soul, and Society''. Some comments of the book as follows.
One learns invaluable lessons from this insightful book and, for that, one is grateful to the author for contributing to our understanding of what it means to be working for the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground and how this task can be taken forward in the future, especially in developing countries.
– Dr Bertrand Ramcharan previously Professor of Human Rights at the Geneva Graduate Institute; Chancellor of the University of Guyana;
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Ag.)
I have tried to draw from experiences of the descent into barbaric forms of violence in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal and several other countries in Asia in order develop new insights into some profound changes taking place in the world today. The body, mind, soul and society are enveloped in a tragic situation unprecedented in human history. More sophisticated means than Gas Chambers are now used to cause break down of human spirit.
There are a few scenes in the book, which are narrated in a style that touch our hearts deeply. The death of his sister Evelyn at 4, the deprivation of his scheduled vote of thanks speech after confirmation because of his caste at 7, Tamil father who dragged his two kids back to their car to be immolated together in the 1983 riots, the old man who enjoyed sitting by Hamilton Canal till human corpses began to float and upset him and the Vietnamese Buddhist nun in the refugee camp in Hong Kong, who lost her personality, after living there for a long period, are a few stories that melt the heart of the reader....The book is readable, rich in narration and could serve as an autobiography of a Human Rights Champion and a reference book on Human Rights in Asia.
Dr. Leonard Pinto
Book is available at Amazon
You may watch the interview as follows
by (2021-03-12 00:03:07)
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