Baker Institute Inaugural Global Fellow
Visaka Dharmadasa Parua of Sri Lanka is the Baker Institute’s first Global Fellow for 2009. Ms. Dharmadasa is the Founder and Chair of the Association of War Affected Women and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action. Ms. Dharmadasa educates soldiers and community leaders about international standards of conduct for war specifically to raise awareness about the importance of combatants’ identification tags and treatment of prisoners of war. She also works on disseminating the content of key UN resolutions such as Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. She is a member of Women Waging Peace as well as of the global advisory council of Women Thrive World Wide.
Ms. Dharmadasa has participated in certificate programs in negotiation and mediation skills from the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, and in women and security from Harvard University. She will be at Juniata from mid-March to mid-April and will be co-teaching in PACS courses as well as offering a campus seminar on gender issues, conflict transformation and the civil war in Sri Lanka.
A Washington Post article telling
her story begins, "After
five years of trying to get information about her son, missing after a fierce
battle in the heart of rebel territory in Sri Lanka, Visaka Dharmadasa learned
that 500 bodies of soldiers had been doused with kerosene and burned in
a pile on the killing field where they had fought Tamil separatists.
It was a victory, of sorts."