The Easter Sunday bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka brought back horrifying memories for expats living in Winnipeg.
Hasaka Ratnamalala, president of Friends of Sri Lanka Canada, helped organize a candlelight vigil Monday evening to remember the nearly 300 people killed in the bombings. For many of the people who gathered on the steps of the Legislative Building, the scenes back home looked frighteningly similar to the bloody civil war that ended 10 years ago.
“Everybody in the community is so upset,” said Ratnamalala. “We don’t want any more blood in that country. It is a very tragic situation, because we suffered too much, we suffered similar situations during that war.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the government has said they were carried out by a local militant group called National Thowfeek Jamaath, with help from an international network. In response, the government authorized sweeping new powers for the military to detain and interrogate suspects, measures used during the long fight against Tamil separatists.
“We thought that was ended. And this makes us so mad and sad at the same time, because this is too much for us,” said Ratnamalala.
The vigil Monday drew roughly 100 people from the diverse Sri Lankan community, which includes people of many faiths.
“Sri Lanka is a multi-religious community. Most of them are Buddhist but there are Christians and Muslims and Hindus,” said Ratnamalala. “[The bombings] happened in a Christian, Catholic church so most of the Sri Lankan Christians here are affected very much, because some of the people here are coming from the area where that church was.”