As Sri Lanka celebrate Easter Sunday this year, it’s also time to remember those lives we lost one year back
Today, as Sri Lanka remains under an islandwide curfew, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we join fellow Sri Lankan’s who are celebrating Easter Sunday with their close family members. We also cannot forget that it is one year since the dastardly Easter terrorist attacks which took away the lives of over 250 innocent people while a majority of them were in prayer.
The attacks, not only shook Sri Lanka and the world but it also reminded us that terrorism is a threat which needs to be eliminated globally and countries must ensure that national sovereignty and security is always given highest priority for the safety of all its citizens.
Easter is a joyous day for all Christians across the world, including in Sri Lanka, but the Easter Sunday attacks have left nightmares to those who lost their loved ones. A year on, families are still devastated and searching for answers. They are unable to come to terms that their loved ones were taken away in such a horrific attack, in places of worship, all in the name of terrorism.
A year on, the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are giving utmost importance to the investigations of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks. To date, authorities have been able to arrest the main masterminds behind the attacks while all those linked to the attacks, and who are under custody are continuing to be interrogated. The latest arrest was on March 29 when the main suspect who was also the mastermind behind the bombing in the Zion Church in Batticaloa, was arrested by police in Mount Lavinia during an ongoing curfew. Investigations have only strengthened within these past 12 months and we can assure that not one perpetrator connected with the attacks will be unidentified and left free.
When President Rajapaksa campaigned for his election in November, he pledged to strengthen Sri Lanka’s national security so that not one civilian ever falls prey to terrorism again. Since being elected, he along with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has held frequent discussions with the Presidential Task Force, which was appointed by the previous government to probe the attacks and has been receiving updates. At the same time, law enforcement authorities are also working round the clock to further crack into the network of all those responsible or connected to the attacks, not only in Sri Lanka but globally as well, so that these perpetrators can be identified and arrested. Sri Lankan authorities are closely working with the authorities of other countries to identify all those in this network. For now, almost all who were behind the attacks in Sri Lanka are either dead or under custody.
Sri Lanka is a small nation, but a strong one. We defeated and eliminated a 30 year war from our shores, and under the strong leadership of this government we will leave no room for terrorism to enter our shores again. We are aware that the challenges faced by those who lost their loved ones a year ago remain. Their sorrow and grief can never be wiped away. My heart aches when I recall the tragedy and for those families who lost their loved ones including children.
The attacks also caused a severe blow to our economy, especially our tourism following the blasts in three star class hotels. While we were a destination which saw a drop in our arrivals, these past 12 months however our tourism sector has performed splendidly to win back the confidence of the tourist. Challenges however remain but we will overcome it and will work fully to ensure the affected industries are back to functioning in full swing in future.
Sri Lanka must move on. The government and authorities will ensure that families get justice. The terrorists will be wiped out completely. We will not leave room for them to strike again. Terrorism has no religion.
Today, one year on, we remember those who departed. Although we remain at home, we will light a candle in memory of them. Families will be encouraged to move on. We as nation have never fallen. We will not allow the memories of these attacks weaken us in anyway.
We are Sri Lanka, a proud nation which rich culture and heritage and home to many communities. We will continue our unity.