Sri Lankans hope for answers, justice and peace

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Hours after the explosions that killed more than 200 people, two women–both professors at Michigan State University–say they’re grateful to know that their families are safe. But thousands are still waiting for that same relief.

The Sri Lankan government imposed a curfew on Sunday night in addition to blocking certain social media apps and websites, all in the name of stopping misinformation from spreading. 

“I don’t think it’s normal either, but in a way having too much information could confuse people,” Cholani Weebadde said. “So I don’t know if that’s what’s going on.”

Both professors say nothing about the situation is normal. You can find dozens of religions and ethnic groups in the country who have gotten along without issue despite a civil war that spanned more than two decades.

“I have a mother who’s Buddhist, a father who’s Christian,” Hashini Galhena-Dissanayake said. “So there are many families like that who have, you know…who are from different ethnic groups, different religions. We try to live together as much as we can, in peace.”

And both women say peace, patience and understanding have to pave the way forward to bring the country together and heal.
 
“We have overcome many challenges by working together, and as we are overcoming those challenges we never look into like one group versus the other,” Weebadde said. “We’ve been working together…and we want to work together. The same thing would probably happen with this challenge as well, where it doesn’t matter who was affected. Everybody went in to help out.”

One professor was supposed to take a group of students from Michigan State to Sri Lanka on a study abroad trip a few weeks from now. That trip has been cancelled due to safety concerns. 

The MSU Sri Lankan Student Association is planning a candlelight vigil on Tuesday in memory of those who were killed last night. We’ll share the exact details of when and where as they become available.
 

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