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STATEMENT BY THE CENTRE FOR WOMEN’S RESEARCH (CENWOR) ON THE EASTER SUNDAY ATTACKS ON CHURCHES IN SRI LANKA

The Centre for Women’s Research (CENWOR) expresses its deepest sympathy to all those who suffered in the violence that erupted in various locations in the country on Easter Sunday. We condole with the families, and friends of victims who must now live their lives coping with these harsh realities. It is impossible to comprehend this disregard for human life, particularly at a place of worship.

The island-wide outpouring of grief, the solidarity witnessed in providing help to victims, community support to ensure investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice and strengthen security for all people, bring hope that we will overcome this national crisis. The majority of Sri Lankans have lived and worked in our communities in a spirit of unity, peace and tolerance, with respect for each other’s diverse ethnicities and faiths. We value and promote ethnic diversity and respect religious beliefs of communities and support a society that assures peace and harmony through co-existence and reject any violence and harm to cause pain and chaos of any kind. We must not allow any forms collective anger at these atrocities, and extremist violence, or arguments on national security, to place any community at risk of violence to their person and property. The violence of a small group must not undermine our long existing trust and goodwill for our communities. It is only by a shared sense of grief, and commitment to realise our common future in a united country, that we can destroy extremism in the name of religion.

With the current experience of terror we need to revisit the understanding of women’s ability, power and the freedom available to them to make decisions at domestic and societal levels. Research conducted by CENWOR and work in different communities  have shown the importance of   creating opportunities to get educated and  to make  decisions on own sexuality, marriage, socialisation and in becoming active members of social movements.

We expect those who hold public office to recognise the appalling lapses in national security and lack of adequate methods to address them. They should be followed by their actions rather than rhetoric and promote national unity. The challenge is to ensure responsible leadership and respect for the rule of law, so that these extremist and violent ideologies are not allowed to destroy our right as people to live in a peaceful conflict free Sri Lanka.