The death toll which was said to be over 350 people has now been revised by the Sri Lankan government to about 250. Several hundreds were injured and these attacks have not only taken a huge toll across the different communities in Sri Lanka.
Shock and Sorrow
From my recent meetings and conversations with the Sri Lankan community in Auckland during the last few days, I know how shocked and saddened you are at the atrocities that were deliberate attacks on innocent people and children. Some of you have lost loved ones and I acknowledge that it must be a very difficult time for many of you.
As our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, New Zealand feels great empathy for Sri Lanka at this time due to our own recent experience of a terrorist attack that took the lives of many innocent people.
In both cases, a faith community was targeted while they were at prayer, in supposedly the safest of havens.
In Sri Lanka, the Catholic community was targeted on one of the holiest of days, a day that is usually one of great joy and hope in the Christian community.
Decades of anguish
Sri Lanka has gone through much anguish over recent decades. 32 years of civil war from which the country was only just emerging; a tsunami that took away many lives and now these atrocious attacks conducted by those who wish to re-create division.
Sri Lankans, irrespective of faith or creed need to be very strong and work with each other, supporting each other in these times.
I have seen many of my Sri Lankan brothers and sisters at various vigils and services over the last week and have been heartened by the way in which Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist, Christian, a Muslim Lankans have all been coming together to support one another and affirm their commitment to peace.
Prayer this weekend
I want to offer my sincere condolences to anyone who has lost loved ones in these horrific attacks. My thoughts and prayers are with each member of the New Zealand Sri Lankan community and if you need to discuss, please get in touch with my offices.
We have organised an event that includes multi-religious prayers for the victims of the attacks to be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019, and I invite the Sri Lankan community to attend. It will be held at the Bhartiya Mandir Community Hall, 252-254 Balmoral Road, Mt Albert at 4 pm. It will be attended by senior Parliamentarians and it would be great if you can let all your Sri Lankan friends know of it.
Michael Wood is an elected MP from Mount Roskill and Parliament Undersecretary to the Ethnic Communities Minister.
Dead Bodies being carried away for identification in front of the St Anthony’s Church.
Photo: AFP Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto. By Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz