By Abigail Roberts
On Easter Sunday in multiple locations in Sri Lanka, suicide bombings took place in hotels and Churches, killing over 250 people and injuring at least 500. 150 surviving suspected terrorists were arrested, and the perpetrators were Islamic State Fighters. As a tourist staying in Sri Lanka on the day of the attacks, I was surprised these attacks occurred, as Sri Lanka has experienced peace for over 10 years. It was shocking that various members of the government failed to act after being warned of the attacks prior to them occurring. Mostly, it was upsetting that people would feel enough hatred to attack Churches and hotels occupied by innocent locals and foreigners, which has heavily impacted the people of Sri Lanka. This has not only impacted families of lost ones but will also potentially impact their tourist industry and consequently their economy.
Some Shocking Aspects of the Attacks
1. A man believed to be the leader of ISIL (also known as ISIS), named al-Baghdadi, allegedly praised the Easter Sunday attackers whilst speaking in an 18-minute video. This man continues to destroy countless lives, and his hatred continues to cause millions to feel fear.
2. Members of the Sri Lankan government had ignored the warnings about the attacks 12 days before they occurred. The terrorist group planning the attack had also warned members of the government of a “possible suicide attack” however there was no action made in response by these government members!
3. The Catholic Leaders stated they would have not held the Mass if they had been warned of the attacks to come. Perhaps, if there had been more effective communication within the Sri Lankan government, the consequences would have been less devastating.
4. The perpetrators were allegedly all middle-class, well-educated people, including a particularly wealthy man who was educated in Australia.
Impacts of Attacks
1. The government-imposed curfews to its people across the country until the 27th of April, and temporarily blocked major social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and more.
2. Sri Lanka attracts a large amount of tourism which is a large contributor to its economy. In 2017, 2.1 million tourists visited Sri Lanka! The bombings will have a negative effect on the economy as they may decrease the tourism to Sri Lanka for a while, which is very detrimental to the Sri Lankan people. This is detrimental as Sri Lanka experienced such little violence for over 10 years.
3. I witnessed the impacts on tourism firsthand, as my family talked to a taxi driver on the way to the airport who informed us that he would be losing his job due to the predicted lack of visits from tourists to come.
Some Facts About the Country
Despite these devastating attacks, it is important to appreciate the culture of Sri Lanka, a country which will hopefully soon recover from these detrimental attacks.
4. There is evidence of pre-historic human settlements who occupied Sri Lanka, which may date back to 125,000 years
5. Sri Lanka experienced a 26-year civil war which ended in 2009
6. Sri Lanka has both a president and a prime minister
7. Sri Lanka is a large producer of Tea
8. The food in Sri Lanka is amazing – some particularly nice dishes include Milk Rice, Roti, Dhal Curry, String Hoppers, lots of papaya, and more.
Below are some images of my visit to the country demonstrating the rich culture. Some things we did during our visit included an Elephant Safari, visiting a baby turtle rescue and release sanctuary, climbing to the well-known Sigiriya Rock, visiting a Buddhist Temple which is believed to contain a tooth which belonged to Buddha, and much more.
Overall, this country has fallen victim to some devastating attacks, however we must continue to appreciate the culture and liveliness of this country, and we must hope that the country heals after these devastating events.