Ghost of Sri Lanka’s troubled past

Blasts recall the island’s violent legacy

As Christians across the world were preparing to celebrate Easter on Sunday, the island nation of Sri Lanka was shaken by simultaneous explosions at churches and hotels across the country claiming 300 lives. A total of eight blasts took place at churches in Negombo and Kochchikade in the west and Batticaloa in the east alongside three luxury hotels in Colombo. The blast marks the worst violence experienced by the island nation since its bloody civil war ended 10 years ago. 

Sri Lankans have experienced decades of sectarian violence since gaining independence from the British in 1948. Back then, the country’s Sinhalese led government disenfranchised Indian Tamil migrants living within the country citing colonial favoritism toward the Tamils population. This led to the formation of the insurgent group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1976 which sought for a Tamil homeland within the island. As a result, a bloody civil war took place which prolonged for 26 years with as many as 40,000 civilian casualties. 

Since the attack on Sunday, law enforcement agencies have arrested 24 individuals in connection with the bombings. As of right now, the government has blamed National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known radical Islamic terror organization, for the attacks. Government has moved to block major social media platforms and messaging services in order to maintain communal harmony in the already troubled island nation. A dawn-to-dusk curfew will also be in effect across the country. 

Looking back at the country’s troubled past, it seems that the scars of Sri Lanka’s civil war are yet to heal. Terrorism in any form or guise needs to be condemned in the strongest of words as civilians have to pay heavy price; their properties get destroyed and they are forced to turn into refugees. The suicide attacks in Sri Lanka, especially in prayer halls, cannot be the work of any sane person or persons. We strongly condemn such heinous attacks and look forward to receiving global intervention in this regard.