05/22/2019, 14.56
SRI LANKA
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A month after the massacres, Sri Lanka commemorates the victims (Video)

by Melani Manel Perera

Yesterday, the country stopped to remember the 257 dead. Relatives and friends still struggle to overcome the pain of losing loved ones. Mary Selvamathy lost her husband and two children. Gloria, 17, lost her father, who " was bleeding”. She “begged for someone to help” but men were “filming and taking pictures” instead of helping.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – A month after the Easter Sunday attacks (21 April) that left trails of blood in many parts of the country, Sri Lankans met in prayer to remember the 257 victims.

Public ceremonies and vigils were held throughout the day yesterday, as ordinary Sri Lankans continue to struggle to find ways to understand the reasons that led to the unspeakable violence and overcome the pain for the loss of relatives and friends.

"We lit candles to ask God to change the minds of those who planned to destroy people's lives in vain,” some survivors told AsiaNews. “We ask the Lord to give us the strength to endure suffering for our dearly departed."

On 21 April, a number of suicide bombers blew themselves up in three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, plunging the country back to the days of terror and the decades of civil war (1983-2009), which ended ten years ago.

Two of the churches that were attacked are in Kochchikade (Colombo) and Katuwapitiya (Negombo): St Anthony's and the St Sebastian’s respectively.

In Negombo, the Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organisation and the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) held prayers in front of the Muhandiram playground.

In Colombo, where the church is undergoing renovation and is surrounded by scaffolding, the memorial service was held outside, with survivors, relatives and acquaintances of the victims lighting thousands of candles.

Some of the survivors are without hope and in total frustration. Mary Selvamathy, 56, lost her 58-year-old husband and two children aged 22 and 19 in the Kochchikade church explosion.

"I had moved away a few rows to see the statue of Saint Anthony,” she explained. “I was right in front of the saint when there was an explosion. I turned around but couldn't see them (her husband and children). I ran in their direction, but they were on the ground, with wounds and blood everywhere. Someone helped me take them to the hospital, but they didn't make it. I am alone now. I have no hope anymore."

Now, the Tamil woman wonders, "Why should we live? Why should we continue our life without our family, torn from us by the error and contempt of others?"

Gloria, 17, was also at the service in Kochchikade. She too survived the massacre. "I didn't want to come,” she says, full of tears. “We came only to remember our beloved father."

The young woman is accompanied by mother and her 14-year-old sister. She says she lost consciousness after the blast. "When I opened my eyes, I saw my sister crawling towards me and my father bleeding. I can no longer remember that moment ... the saddest moment when we lost our dear father ".

"I begged for someone to help us bring our father to the hospital, but nobody heard our cry,” she laments. “There were men filming and taking pictures of the scene (instead of helping). It's very sad."

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