Over the weekend devastating attacks against western targets occurred in Sri Lanka. The devastating bombings at the weekend of hotels and churches in Sri Lanka by militants comes at the end of a a 10 year lull in violence following the end of their civil war in 2009. Thus far 300 are known to have died and another 500 have been wounded.
Unfortunately the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has admitted that his Government failed to heed warnings that militant violence was being planned. It is too early to really contemplate what punishment Sri Lanka will place on him and other relevant officials for failing to act.
It is also too early to determine what the impact will be on a country that is trying to turn the page after a bloody and brutal civil war. Recent tourists groups to visit had reported a hope that the tourism industry could look to the future, rather than over its shoulder at the legacy of past events.
There is concern that there might be communal violence in Sri Lanka following this. Sri Lanka has a history of scattered harassment of its Hindu, Christian and Muslim minorities, but the known violence on Sunday far exceeded any prior anti-Christian harassment. Six near simultaneous blasts occurred on Sunday and were followed a few hours later by two more.
What can I say that did not get said after Christchurch?
Arohanui (big love). Assalamu alaykum (Peace be on you). Big love to the Sri Lankan community one and all. May peace be on you in these dark hours. We in Christchurch can understand your pain, your grief. We stand with you just as you did with us a bit over a month ago.
I hope that we invite Sri Lankan officials to New Zealand so that they can see how we are handling the grieving process following the Christchurch attacks. It would be a chance for Sri Lanka, a country that has experienced terrorism in the past – numerous cricket tours of the country have been abandoned because of bomb blasts over the decades – to see how an approach built on empathy, a police response that is balanced and careful reform of intelligence is working. In return New Zealand officials might gain insight into how to deal with co-ordinated attacks should the unfortunate day arise when we have such horror.
Kia Kaha Sri Lanka.