We must remain unafraid and go on living our lives respecting each other The Easter Sunday 2019 was the saddest day our nation has faced since the end of the war. As we mourn for those we have lost, and rebuild the damage caused by these attacks, it is now time to start thinking about [...]


Letters to the Editor


We must remain unafraid and go on living our lives respecting each other

Easter Sunday horror

The Easter Sunday 2019 was the saddest day our nation has faced since the end of the war. As we mourn for those we have lost, and rebuild the damage caused by these attacks, it is now time to start thinking about how we as a nation react and respond to this new challenge thrown at us.

Security comes first. The visible presence of additional Police and security forces may be a necessary short-term solution, but we must clearly recognise this as a stop-gap measure that is limited to the immediate aftermath of these attacks. The need of the hour is for effective intelligence. Would-be terrorists need to be identified based on their behaviour, affiliations and inclinations, and stopped well before they have the ability to attack. The technology to monitor, profile and predict such terrorist activity has already been developed. We need to deploy such technology immediately. Bag searches and checkpoints are not effective ways to stop a determined attacker. The Government needs to recognise this and provide adequate funding, exposure and latitude to our competent intelligence apparatus to carry out their jobs and safeguard the public. The visible security element must be toned down as soon as it is practicable to do so, thereby allowing public activities and business to return to normalcy.

Second, we must rebuild and strengthen the bonds between our communities. Terrorism feeds off  hatred and distrust. Without these twin sources of nourishment, any terrorist movement will become depleted and be unable to continue. It is the responsibility of both the Government and us, the citizens of Sri Lanka, to ensure this happens.

Finally, we must all aim to understand terrorism for what it truly is. The clue is in the word: terror. Terrorism is a means by which a weak party in a conflict can achieve an edge over a far stronger party by instilling terror in the minds of a population. Terrorism is psychological warfare, and we must identify it as such. It helps to contextualize. The loss of 253 people was a tragedy, but we must also understand that 3,097 Sri Lankans died in road accidents in 2018. 3,281 people committed suicide. In the last 12 months, we Sri Lankans were over ten times as likely to either kill ourselves, or die on the road, as we were to die in a terrorist attack. Terrorists can’t ‘win’ by reducing our numbers and wiping us out. They can’t even win by destroying our infrastructure-they are simply not strong enough. Terrorists can win by scaring us enough to make us stop living our lives. They can win big if they scare us enough to become bigoted and distrust our neighbours. As a population, we can defeat terrorism through defiance. Defy everything terrorists stand for-their hate, their bigotry and their love of violence.

By all means, let us be vigilant, but let’s not give these cowards the ability to scare us. If we remain defiant and unafraid, go on living our lives and respecting each other, we will never be defeated by terror.

Kanishke Mannakkara  Colombo

Let us eliminate threats and capitalise on opportunities

The Easter Sunday carnage was the worst co-ordinated terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, maybe even in the world. Hats off to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith there was no backlash and the people especially Christians and Catholics did not allow their emotions to get the better of their humanity. The other religious leaders and people should learn from the clergy of the Catholic Church how to face a situation like this without counter violence.If the people behaved like this in July 1983 Sri Lanka wouldn’t have faced a 30-year war.That was at a time when Sri Lanka was developing at a faster rate than most of the other South Asian countries. It is history now.

Today, the entire world has taken note of the positive behaviour of Sri Lankans. They are now very sympathetic towards our people. This is the silver lining in the black cloud. Besides it is heartening to see all three leaders President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa arriving at the chapel to express solidarity with the Catholic community immediately after Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith ended his sermon at the special Sunday mass conducted in the Archbishop’s House, one week after black Sunday. This could be a turning point. And it would have been nice and all right thinking Sri Lankans would have appreciated it if prelates from all four Nikayas and the priests of Hindu and Muslim communities also visited the Archbishop’s House on this day.

The world is now keeping an eye on Sri Lankan politicians and religious fraternity how they face the situation in the coming months. If we show them that we are a mature democratic society, the international community will certainly help us to build the nation. For this it is necessary for the majority Buddhists to take the lead role and build confidence among the religious and ethnic minorities. On the other hand the latter should understand the majority thinking and not indulge in activities that would antagonize and provoke them. For example Buddhists should not put up Buddha statues and Catholics their statues at every nook and corner and the Muslims should refrain from constructing mosques everywhere in the city and village. This applies to Hindus and other  religions too. There should be some regulation on such construction.

I am a Buddhist and always believe that when there are threats there are opportunities as well. Let us eliminate threats and capitalize on opportunities.

Rohan Abeygunawardena  Nugegoda

Points to ponder

I am a regular reader of the Sunday Times–perhaps the only newspaper I make it a point to buy and read every week. That is because, of all other news sources around, print and electronic, I have felt your newspaper has retained a degree of objectivity and impartiality over the years.

I was disappointed on two counts last Sunday (May 5) : one, an article on page 10 which in its first line speaks of ‘Tamil’ terrorism in Sri Lanka. I would have thought, 30-some years later and 10 years after the end of the bloody civil war, we would know that there was ‘LTTE’ terrorism in Sri Lanka, not ‘Tamil.’ This distinction is important given the ever-more fragile and fractious polity that we inhabit.

The second was in the centre-page spread in which the writer laid the blame for the ‘IS-inspired’ terrorism and bombing campaign in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, fairly and squarely, at the door of the Sri Lankan government’s dealings with the US military. The line goes this way: “IS leader’s remarks confirm what was revealed in these columns last week–the increasing military role of the US in SL…This was the cause for IS building a military machine with Muslim extremists and carrying out bombing attacks in SL” [my emphasis].

Both this newspaper and other national and international publications have engaged in more nuanced analyses of the multiple triggers of why Sri Lanka, why the Christians in Sri Lanka, etc. by the terrorists. Surely the cause and effect are not so direct and linear?

As many have pointed out, the radicalization began when the China-leaning and (ostensibly) anti-Western Rajapaksas were in power, that they may have unwittingly encouraged the ‘Islamici-zation’ or ‘Arabicization’ of SL Muslim identity to put a wedge between ethnic Tamils in the North and East and Tamil-speaking Muslims in the very same spaces–and using the latter for intelligence-gathering etc. Indeed, it has even been said that al-Baghdadi and IS were unusually late to take responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings and that the reference to Sri Lanka in his statement appears to have been later tagged on.

Prof. Carmen Wickramagamage   University of Peradeniya

We rise from the bloody ashes

You chose our Holiest Day,
To take your final flight,
You chose a Holy Sanctuary
To say ‘farewell’ world.
You chose our little Angels
To be your ‘body guards’.

Splattered blood of innocents,
Washed your unclean soul,
Little angels left grieving parents,
Sang you into the Saviour’s Presence.

‘Father, forgive them’
His anguished cry rose again and again….

You chose Blessed Ground,
You chose our Blessed Day
You chose praying angels
To wing you into the Presence of the Great I AM.

We rise from the bloody ashes,
We continue to sing ALLELUIAH’
To our Saviour
To our living loving God.

                                                                                                                                                      Sujatha Samarajiwa

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