Whether or not we had been passengers in a rickety tuk-tuk in Colombo, the bustling, leafy capital, or driving in an air-conditioned automobile throughout the countryside, armed males in olive-green uniforms would typically order us to cease. They might verify for explosives or for any signal that the violence that had plagued the nation over practically three many years would possibly once more threaten the peace gained at such an appalling price.
These scenes appeared relegated to the previous — till this week when terrorists killed a whole lot of individuals, attacking church buildings and main inns on Easter Sunday. Finally rely, greater than 320 individuals are confirmed lifeless and a whole lot extra injured.
A decade in the past, it made sense to me that journey brochures routinely referred to the nation as a “teardrop formed island.” Tears and Sri Lanka appeared to belong in the identical sentence. I believed that had modified.
I returned over time, witnessing a rustic emerge from tragedy. On my most up-to-date journey, 16 months in the past, I stayed at Colombo’s energetic Cinnamon Grand Lodge, one of many targets of the Easter Sunday assaults. I had breakfast on daily basis — fish curry and chilled coconut juice — in the identical restaurant the place a suicide bomber detonated his explosives. I watched the lavish weddings within the cavernous rear foyer, absorbing performances from conventional Sinhalese musicians and attempting to know the symbolism of the rituals.
I rejoiced as a witness to Sri Lankans having fun with the fruits of peace: a standard life.
Clearly, it is a sophisticated nation, formed by the sweep of empires and retailers who introduced their religions with them. For probably the most half, the totally different teams have and proceed to dwell in peace, however the exceptions have confirmed catastrophic sufficient to warrant alarm.
One of many biggest dangers now’s that in its absolutely justified effort to uproot the group that carried out Sunday’s assaults, the authorities could additional unfold the seeds of extremism, giving terrorists exactly what they need. Fanatics intent on sparking unrest, on boosting recruitment and weakening the state like nothing greater than to see the state make life worse for his or her potential supporters.
Decisive motion is required, however let’s hope cool considering prevails. Sri Lanka’s peace is fragile.
It is the right brew for extremism to thrive.
Over time I’ve met heroic Sri Lankans who fought to convey peace to their nation. I’ve met Sinhalese and Tamils working for reconciliation. And I’ve heard frightened Sri Lankans involved about politicians squandering the nation’s future. The checkpoints have been lifted. Peace has made inroads, however the shadow of the lengthy struggle has not utterly pale. Sri Lankans, heartbroken after the bombings, perceive higher than anybody how a lot is at stake.