© Simone Ahrend, SAH-PHOTO
Sanath Balasooriya was born in Sri Lanka in 1970. His life as a journalist started in earnest in 1991, when he became the editor of the Daily Lankadeepa, a Sinhalese-language newspaper. In the following 20 years, he gained extensive experience as an editor and co-publisher of the Sunday Lankadeepa and as an editorial journalist and publishing editor for Dinamina. He graduated at the top of his class from the University of Jayewardenepura, with a Major in Mass Communication and Writership. Six years later, he took over as chairman of Dinamina and became a co-publisher. In 2005, he was elected president of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, the biggest organization of journalist in Sri Lanka. In 2007, he was reelected and was furthermore appointed as a member of the board of directors of the Sri Lanka Press Institute the same year. Sanath Balasooriya, together with his colleagues, organized numerous protests against violations of journalists’ rights. One of the most crucial protests led by Sanath Balasooriya was against Sir Lankan officials who tried to take over control of an editing room. This precipitated several death threats—he had to go into hiding upcountry. In 2009, after he was forced to leave his homeland and flee to South India, he was invited to Germany by the Hamburg Foundation for the Politically Prosecuted, where he stayed till 2010. From January 2011 – December 2013, he held an Elsbeth Wolffheim grant from the City of Darmstadt. He continues working as a journalist, author and translator and lives in Darmstadt, Germany, with his wife Devika Wadigamangawa. In March 2017, a text by Balasooriya will be published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer).