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Moving forward after the Sri Lankan Bombing

April 27, 2019

Moving forward after the Sri Lankan Bombing

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For the last week, since Easter Sunday, I have had a constant stream of contact with friends and inlaws from Sri Lanka.  Of greatest concern were my wife’s relations who we knew frequented the St. Sebastian Church in the Negombo area.  I am very familiar with this church and St. Anthony’s in the middle of Colombo and fully understand how popular these places are.  My wife’s first cousin, who we have travelled extensively around Sri Lanka with, just happened to be in Colombo for a funeral and as a result did not attend St. Sebastian’s on Easter Sunday.  Another two cousins we were not so sure about.  For two days my wife tried hopeless to find out whether they were okay.  Eventually we did receive a message that even they had attended the Easter mass at St. Sebastian’s church in the Negombo district when the bomb went off they avoided injury.  One cousin, who was sitting close to where the bomb went off, left the church to take his child outside to the bathroom just moments before the blast.  His brother had already decided to be outside the the main building, under the wide veranda of the church, because it was so hot and inside.  As a result he avoided being injured or worse.  Unfortunately, yesterday morning we received word that one of my wife’s second cousin’s had been killed in the blast.  I met this lady several years ago at a shop that she owned in Sri Lanka and as a result can sense that the senselessness of this terrible crime.  The loss must be devastating for her immediate family.

I was informed by another friend in the area that one of the main problems with burying the dead is that there are not enough coffins available yet.  In Negombo, there are a few coffin makers who would struggle to keep up with the sudden demand.  Coffins are traditionally hand made in Sri Lanka and take some effort to craft.  However, some funerals have already taken place.

The other problem is the embargo on social media that the government had imposed for security reasons. This has left many people in the dark about the status of their loved ones.  Curfews and heavy security have been enforced as precaution.  New that I receiving directly from Sri Lanka indicates that the atmosphere in Sri Lanka is tense.  The population was mentally unprepared for this sudden shocking attack after nearly ten years of peace.  Nor did they expect it to come from a minority group who had not expressed any major grievances.  The whole problem become more complicated when you consider international sponsorship, meaning that the objective of the terrorist has little to do with domestic issues.  Just murderous masters from overseas plotting to kill people that they have never met or know anything about.  It is the very definition of callousness. 

For the Muslim communities living in Sri Lanka this a wake up call.  Deep within their midst are extremists and radicals who have been plotting and planning mass murder in their name.  If the cannot route them out then they will suffer the same fate that Tamil population did when the LTTE declared war.  The innocent bystander will be caught in the cross fire.  And just like the LTTE, the radicals will target decent within the Muslim population ruthlessly. The most dangerous enemy to a civilian Tamil during the recent civil war was the LTTE who, murder their Tamil rivals; alternative community leaders; recruited their children as soldier and terrorised their Diaspora in western havens.  Peace and freedom or war and slavery to a caliphate.  Those are the choices.

Christians, in particular Catholics, were targeted precisely because of their faith.  As a tiny minority in Sri Lanka they are totally exposed to random terrorist attacks from well organised fanatics.  There is no justification for these suicide blasts and there had been no antagonism between Christians and muslims in Sri Lanka.  Suggestion that the attack was retaliation for the attack in Mosque in New Zealand that killed 50 muslims are a stretch.  There is no link between what happened in New Zealand and Christians living in Sri Lanka.  In fact, the attacker called himself and eco-terrorist, whatever that means?  The sophisticated nature and shear size of the co-ordinated attack would have taken months to plan, longer to resource and even longer to recruit the willing suicide bombers.  The motivation to kill large numbers of civilians existed long before the New Zealand attack that took place just a month ago.  At best this justification is just tacked on as a dot point to deeper and darker motives.

The immediate ramification of the emergency are still being felt, with high security throughout the island, random discovery of explosive laden vehicles, arrest of suspect and the discovery of a suicide vest factory yesterday.  Security services are warning that further attacks are likely and as a result Sunday masses have been suspended until further notice.

Right now Sri Lanka is in danger of descending into mindless terrorist violence.  How quickly its shuts down this threat will determine its future.

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