Visaka Dharmadasa has been working to bring a peaceful end to the Sri Lankan civil war for over 20 years. After her son was reported M.I.A. in 1998, Visaka formed the Association of War Affected Women with the goal of bringing women together across divides in pursuit of peace. She also went on to establish the group, Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action. Visaka was instrumental in initiating peace talks between opposing sides in the conflict and designed the Track II dialogue process that helped broker a ceasefire and ultimate end to the civil war. In 2005, Visaka was nominated for a collective Nobel Peace Prize as part of the group, 1000 Peace Women Across the Globe. She was the recipient of InterAction’s Humanitarian Award in 2006.
Illustration by Albert Chang
Sri Lankan art is represented in numerous ways including wood handicraft, batik, and sculpture, among other mediums. An integral influence on Sri Lankan arts are the ancient caves of Sigiriya, where large fresco paintings have been preserved for centuries. Visaka Dharmadasa’s portrait takes cues from this ancient art form. The ornamental border around her portrait is a traditional pattern that decorates Sri Lankan paintings, while also referencing the stripes of a tiger. Her son went missing after an attack by the Tamil Tiger rebels.
65,610 km2 (122nd)
Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte