In a parallel universe far, far away…

Jacinda Ardern


Mr Speaker,

God bless you all

Peace be with you.

Mr Speaker the 21nd of April will now forever be a day etched in our collective memories. On a quiet Easter Sunday, men detonated bombs inside multiple churches and took away the lives of 215 people, injuring 450 others.

That quiet Sunday afternoon was the darkest of days for Sri Lanka.

But for the families, it was more than that. It was the day that the simple act of prayer ? of practising their Christian faith and religion ? led to the loss of their loved ones lives.

Those loved ones, were brothers, daughters, fathers and children.

They were Sri Lankans. They are us.

And because they are us, we, as a nation, we mourn them.

One of the roles I never anticipated having, and hoped never to have, is to voice the grief of a nation.

And in this role, I wanted to speak directly to the families. We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage. We can. And we will, surround you with aroha, manaakitanga and all that makes us, us. Our hearts are heavy but our spirit is strong.

Mr Speaker, if you’ll allow, I’d like to talk about some of the immediate measures currently in place especially to ensure the safety of our Christian community, and more broadly the safety of everyone.

As a nation, we do remain on high alert. While there isn?t a specific threat at present, we are maintaining vigilance.

Unfortunately, we have seen in countries that know the horrors of terrorism more than us, there is a pattern of increased tension and actions over the weeks that follow that means we do need to ensure that vigilance is maintained.

Part of ensuring the safety of Sri Lankans must include a frank examination of their bomb laws.

Mr Speaker, there are a number of people at the centre of this act of terror against the Christian community in Sri Lanka.

They are terrorists. They are criminals. They are extremists.

Mr Speaker, we will also look at the role social media played and what steps we can take, including on the international stage, and in unison with our partners.

There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new.

We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published. They are the publisher. Not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit no responsibility. This of course doesn?t take away the responsibility we too must show as a nation, to confront racism, violence and extremism. I don?t have all of the answers now, but we must collectively find them. And we must act.

Mr Speaker, we stand with the global Christian community.

Mr Speaker, I acknowledge that we too also stand with Colombo.

I have said many times Mr Speaker, we are a nation of 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. We open our doors to others and say welcome. And the only thing that must change after the events of Sunday, is that this same door must close on all of those who espouse hate and fear.

Yes the people who committed these acts are not from here. They were not raised here. They did not find their ideology here, but that is not to say that those very same views do not live here.

I know that as a nation, we wish to provide every comfort we can to our Christian community in this darkest of times. And we will. The mountain of flowers around the country that lie at the doors of churches, the spontaneous song outside the gates. These are ways of expressing an outpouring of love and empathy. But we wish to do more.

We wish for every member of our communities to also feel safe.

Safety means being free from the fear of violence.

But it also means being free from the fear of those sentiments of racism and hate, that create a place where violence can flourish.

And every single one of us has the power to change that.

Mr Speaker next Sunday it will be a week since the attack.

Members of the Christian community will gather for worship on that day.

Let us acknowledge their grief as they do.

Let?s support them as they gather again for worship.

We are one, they are us.

**These are Jacinda Ardern’s actual words from her speech after the Christchurch terror attack. I have simply substituted the word Muslim for Christian, Christchurch for Colombo, New Zealanders for Sri Lankans and changed the Arabic religious greeting at the start.