See More on Facebook

Analysis

A newsroom conversation about the Sri Lanka attacks

From the Newsroom: The Sri Lanka Attacks.


Written by

Updated: April 30, 2019

On April 21, a group of terrorist militants bombed several targets in Sri Lanka including Churches and hotels. At least 253 people were killed in the attacks. Immediately in the aftermath, speculation arose as to whether Sri Lanka was headed back to a dark period of civil instability. In our newsroom, we thought right away that the pattern of attack didn’t fit in with anything that came before in Sri Lanka. Here is our reasoning why:

Right after the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings everybody was looking for a motive and a claim of responsibility; to us the attack didn’t seem like an extension of the civil war from a decade prior.

Ishan Joshi: Perhaps we have become the victims of our own big-picture bias. Nothing wrong in that, especially when it’s a marked improvement over complete ignorance. But still. Sri Lanka? Ergo, rush to the usual suspects. The LTTE has been comprehensively defeated, though, so the gut says it can’t be an extension of the civil war against Tamil separatists.

Ditto, the JVP/Sinhala extremists who have neither the capacity nor the raison d’être to do this. So, were conflict-watchers including the international media missing something? Hmm. Clue: Christian churches and upscale hotels frequented by allegedly debased Westerners and/or deracinated local elites were the targets of the suicide bombers… rings a bell? On balance, however, not jumping to conclusions without adequate credible information is a good thing. We don’t need to beat ourselves up about it.

Cod Satrusayang: I remember texting you as the attacks were unfolding and both of us agreeing that it didn’t feel like the Tamils. The attack were focused on three (at the time) Christian churches and the hotels. That didn’t seem like a group whose main vendetta was against the majority Sinhalese Buddhists.

We both said it felt like a ISIS attack but I am glad we didn’t put anything to paper right then and there, it would have been premature. But it looks like both our guts were proven right in the end.

The newsroom did agree that if this is indeed an ISIS attack as the group claims, it’s a startling escalation.

IJ: ISIS-inspired, possibly mentored as opposed to ISIS-operationalised. That’s the consensus. The attacks were carried out by nine affluent, well-educated and one would think, by any classical definition, empowered Sri Lankan citizens.

The suicide bombers have been described as self-radicalised Salafists who were directed at soft targets by ISIS. We aren’t saying anything new in pointing out that a well-connected world and the internet which gives crazies disproportionate power has played a role in the self-radicalisation process.

A conflict can fairly said to have been escalated when soft targets who may or may not have even a tangential link with the core issues of contestation between two sides are targeted. The Easter Sunday attack is proof beyond doubt of that having come to fruition. The escalation is startling also because it shows that it doesn’t matter if, like in Sri Lanka, there has been no significant history of strife between Muslims and the state and/or other communities.

And even when, numerically, those professing the Islamic faith comprise barely 10% of the population and are in the main a moderate, well-integrated community. That’s truly scary.

CS: Not only is it scary but like you said this sets a precedent for attacks all around the world not just where ISIS has roots but where people can be inspired by their terrible ideology.

Sri Lanka is a soft target, there is no ancient animosity between its various religions. It did not participate in the war on terror, its Christians have been oppressed by imperial forces alongside the Hindus and Buddhists that live on the island. To attack Sri Lanka, shows how depraved, how misguided and how utterly ridiculous this branch of belief is. There is no excuse or justification for this attack.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Asia News Network
About the Author: Asia News Network is a regional media alliance comprising 24 media entities.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis

We will never abandon people of occupied Kashmir, says Army chief during LoC visit

The army chief said that the Pakistan army will fulfil its role no matter the cost. Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa while visiting troops stationed along the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday vowed “to never leave Kashmiris alone” in their fight against Indian oppression. “Kashmiris in IOJ&K are bravely facing Indian atrocities under continued siege. We shall never leave them alone and play our rightful role at whatever cost”, said Gen Bajwa. Gen Bajwa’s remarks followed a briefing of the “deliberate targeting of civilians” by Indian troops and the response by Pakistan’s armed forces. A day earlier, at least three civilians died and eight others were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir after Indian troops resorted to “indiscri


By Dawn
October 17, 2019

Analysis

Thai labourers face uncertainty over cost of production

The trade war has not left Thailand unaffected. The slowdown in global economy has dampened growth of the support industries in Thailand in its role as a part-producer for foreign investors, with all finished items shipped out to target countries or the parent companies. When investing companies add value to their products and sold at higher prices, Thai producers receive less profits, resulting in low wages for labourers. Production of industrial parts could be easily relocated to other countires, said Chalee Loysong, president of the Confederation of Electronic, Electrical Appliances, Auto and Metal Workers (TEAM). A clear sign of the move emerged when companies started to reduce costs through cutting down on the numbers of both full-time workers and those engaged in outsourced work, he said, adding that the latter are especially prompt to being discarded, given the absen


By The Nation (Thailand)
October 16, 2019

Analysis

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters throng Hong Kong’s Chater Garden

The protests have escalated in violence and crackdowns in recent months. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered at Hong Kong’s Chater Garden in Central district near government headquarters on Monday evening (Oct 14) for the first approved rally since a face mask ban came into effect on Oct 5. The rally, which came a day after an improvised explosive device was detonated during unrest,  was called in support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a proposed US legislation aimed at reviewing the territory’s special trading status and potentially sanctioning some Chinese officials. Protesters urged


By The Straits Times
October 15, 2019

Analysis

Nepal and China sign and exchange 20 agreements

Chinese President Xi Jinping returns after concluding his two-day state visit to Nepal. Nepal and China signed 18 memorandums of understanding and two letters of exchange on Sunday on the concluding day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit. Officials from Nepal and China signed the agreements on various issues in the presence of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Xi on Sunday morning. The instruments are related to the partnership between government bodies including the ministries of home; foreign affairs; physical infrastructure and transport; agriculture and livestock development and industry, commerce and supply. Foreign ministers from Nepal and China as well as finance, home and foreign secretaries and secretaries at related ministries and the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yaunqi signed and exchanged the memorandums of understanding and lette


By The Kathmandu Post
October 14, 2019

Analysis

How governments can manage the risks of digitalisation without hindering innovation

The world is moving towards an algorithmic economy, which depends largely on data and data-driven innovation. The United States Embassy in Hà Nội yesterday held a discussion on data mobilisation and how authorities can manage the risks of digitalisation without hindering innovation. The speaker of the event, Daniel Castro, vice president at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and director of ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation, said in the past 10 years, the world had been shifting to a data-based economy. “The economy has been focused on mobile technologies, big data analytics technologies, and social networks,” Castro said. In the latest trend, the world is now moving towards an algorithmic economy with new technologies such as AI, the Internet of Things, blockchain, etc. In this stage, the economy depends largely on data and data-driven innovation, whi


By Viet Nam News
October 11, 2019

Analysis

HK on verge of chaos due to ‘One Country, Two Systems’, Taiwan rejects it: President Tsai

“The overwhelming consensus among Taiwan’s 23 million people is our rejection of ‘one country, two systems,’ regardless of party affiliation or political position,” the President said in her National Day address. President Tsai Ing-wen rejected the “one country, two systems” model proposed by Beijing as the future path of cross-Taiwan Strait relations during her National Day address to the nation on Thursday. “The overwhelming consensus among Taiwan’s 23 million people is our rejection of ‘one country, two systems,’ regardless of party affiliation or political position,” Tsai said at the Double Ten celebration, which commemorates the start of the Xinhai Revolution on Oct. 10, 1911 that led to the founding of the Republic of China. She said that there would be no space for the ROC’s existence if that framework were to be imposed in Taiwan, citing the violence in Hong Kong as an


By ANN Members
October 11, 2019