The British High Commission in Colombo said that the British Government has consistently made clear its unreserved determination to fight the scourge of terrorism on the United Kingdom’s own soil, and to help others to fight it on theirs.
“It has also made very clear its view that the international community must remain firm in its determination to counter and defeat the poisonous ideologies that lie behind terrorist attacks around the world,” the British High Commission in Colombo said in a statement.
The High Commission said it issued the statement following reports in several newspapers on 1 May that suggest that His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, might have questioned the UK’s commitment to the fight against terrorism.
The High Commission said that on Tuesday 23 April, the National Day of Mourning in Sri Lanka, the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, led a debate in the House of Commons on the Easter Sunday attacks.
During the debate he had said that the the flags in Downing Street and on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are flying at half-mast following the horrific Easter day terrorist attack in Sri Lanka.
“These attacks were a primitive and vile attempt to sow division between people of different faiths. Religious tensions have caused some of the bloodiest battles in human history, and it is sombre and sobering that even in the 21st century attempts continue to set believers of different religions against each other. Our response must be to deny the perpetrators the satisfaction of dividing us by being united in our condemnation of the attacks and united in our support for religious tolerance – surely one of humanity’s greatest achievements,” he had said.
Jeremy Hunt had said that the UK will never stand by in the face of such evil. Today, we stand in solidarity with the Government and people of Sri Lanka, who have made enormous strides towards stability and peace following the conclusion of the civil war almost exactly 10 years ago.To attack Christian worshippers at Easter, which is a celebration of peace and the holiest day in the Christian calendar, betrays in the attackers an absence of the most basic values of humanity.
The High Commission also noted that Queen Elizabeth wrote to President Sirisena last week saying “Prince Philip and I were deeply saddened to learn of the attacks in Sri Lanka earlier today, and send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. I pay tribute to the medical and emergency services who are providing support to those who have been injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with all Sri Lankan’s at this difficult time. Elizabeth R.”
The Prince of Wales has written of his and his wife’s profound sadness on hearing of the attacks.
“Such acts of dreadful brutality, wherever they occur, are an appalling assault on our shared humanity, and our values of understanding and compassion. That so many men, women and children should be targetted for their faith, and so cruelly killed and injured in their places of worship on this most holy of days for Christians, is a despicable atrocity and an attack on us all.
“We did just want you to know how much our hearts go out to everyone who has been so cruelly bereaved or injured, and that all Sri Lankans are in our most special thoughts and prayers as you mourn those you have lost.”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also written to the people of Sri Lanka: “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives, to the Christian community, and to the people of Sri Lanka at this tragic time. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.”
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke last week. Mrs May told Wickremesinghe that the UK would stand with Sri Lanka in the fight to counter terrorism and tackle extremist ideologies. She reconfirmed the UK’s readiness to support Sri Lanka.
A Metropolitan Police team and British counter terrorism experts have been in Sri Lanka since soon after the attacks and are working very closely with the Sri Lankan authorities and other international partners.