This year marks two years since the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka in which over 260 people were killed, including some tourists. Among the tourists killed were Amelie and Daniel Linsey. The dual UK and American citizens were having breakfast at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo with their father. Amelie and Daniel were killed in the bomb blast at the hotel. Daily Mirror online spoke to David Linsey, the brother of Amelie and Daniel Linsey. Excerpts of the interview
- We don’t blame Sri Lanka as a country
- Cannot be intimidated by terrorists
- Great response to charity launched after attacks
- Maithripala and Ranil apologised for what happened
- Will visit Sri Lanka again after pandemic
Q We have read and heard about how your brother and sister got caught to the bomb at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Two years on, how has your family been coping with the loss?
Well, obviously things have been incredibly difficult. And we are doing our best to, not move on, but continue their legacy in everything we do. I think especially for my parents it’s been very difficult. It’s left a huge, gaping hole in their lives, as well as mine and my younger brother Ethan’s. So it’s been difficult, but we know the only option is to try and keep going.
Q And you were not here in Sri Lanka when this incident happened, am I right?
No. I was studying actually for my exams at that point.
Q And how is your 14-year-old brother coping?
He still finds it very difficult to talk about it. As would anyone at that age. But everything considered, he is doing very well back at school. He is making everyone proud.
Q And how is your dad? He had some injuries after the attacks. Has he recovered well?
He is ok. Physically, he actually had only a few scratches. It’s difficult to comprehend. He is doing as best as he can.
Q A lot of Sri Lankans are outraged that the Sri Lankan Government at the time knew that such an incident may occur and yet failed to act. What goes through your mind when you read and hear this?
Well, I prefer not to think about it. Now the priority has to be that actions are taken and that this does not happen again.
Q Since the attacks, you started a charity amelieanddaniel.org in remembrance of your brother and sister. Talk to us about that charity.
I realised as soon as this happened that this could not be the closing chapter in who Amelie and Daniel were and what they stood for. I knew I had to do something to continue their legacy. Also, to show how my family was responding to what happened. And to also make sure that the anger and grief over what happened to them does not translate into more retaliation and violence.
So, I thought it was very, very important to show a message of peace and unity in the aftermath. And to show that we don’t blame Sri Lanka as a country and that we are united by this terrible deed. So we must do our best to try and rebuild together.
Q And you came to Sri Lanka after the attacks right?
I did. A few months after the attacks.
Q Was it difficult to come to a country where something like this had happened?
I cannot lie. It absolutely was difficult. But I thought it was necessary for the message to be taken seriously. It was important to come back and try to make amends as best as possible.
Q And who did you meet when you came to Sri Lanka?
We met several people who worked in the hospital. We went to the main hospital in Colombo (Where Amelie and Daniel were taken after the blast). We also met some religious leaders. I also met the President and the Prime Minister at the time.
Q What was the message from the President (Maithripala Sirisena) and Prime Minister (Ranil Wickremesinghe)?
It was the standard message of condolence. We were kindly hosted at the Prime Minister’s house for tea. He said he was sorry about what happened. I think what’s most important is that no matter who was in office, they were helping us rebuild the country.
Q Apart from the politicians, what was the reaction you got from those affected by the attacks?
Well, at an event organised by Caritas, we met a few victims and their families. And that was extremely powerful. It’s difficult to describe how it feels to meet other people you never would have met if not for this. It’s difficult to find the right words to describe that but I am glad I had the opportunity to meet those people.
Q What has the response been like for your charity?
The response has been great. I’ve been overwhelmed by how positive people have been about it. I haven’t received a single negative sentiment from anyone. In Sri Lanka, even on social media I have got dozens of nice messages from people saying how much they appreciate what we have done. Which is incredible. I never expected that. So the response has been completely positive. I’m very happy about that.
Q Would the Easter Sunday attacks prevent you from visiting Sri Lanka in the future?
No. Because the point of terrorism is to terrify and to scare people. If you are intimidated then you have let them win.
Q What goes through your mind when you see and hear of people carrying out the attacks like they did on Easter Sunday to achieve some sort of goal?
I try not to think about it especially since it’s so close to what happened. But the most important thing is to try and get to these people early enough to try and change their mind. If not then early enough to try to prevent it from going ahead.
Q Would you ever forgive those people involved in the brutal attack?
Not yet. It would be a betrayal to forgive. For now.
Q Let’s talk a bit about you David. What are you doing these days?
So I am actually in Singapore at the moment. I’ve moved to Asia to build a company. My family is back in the UK. I’ve graduated from university. So I’m here to build a startup with my business partner. I’m very excited to have been able to move with Covid which is cool.
But actually, I would really love to come back to Sri Lanka when things open up. I want to come and see some of the equipment we have donated. Come and see the people of Sri Lanka again. We were so well-received the last time. It was so lovely to see everyone. Everyone was so hospitable and kind to us. It’s definitely a priority for me to try and come back.
Q You mentioned equipment. What sort of equipment have you donated?
So the last thing we donated was a ventilator to the Colombo North Teaching Hospital for the coronavirus. Before that, we donated some patient monitoring systems. And before that, we were in the process of donating 100 hospital beds to hospitals around the country. We delivered 50 so far. But because of Covid, the production of the final 50 was interrupted. So I want to get back and make sure that goes ahead.
Q Are there funds still coming into your charity?
It’s been difficult with Covid. But there is still a trickle coming in from some online events we organised. But we are really looking at new ways to raise money all the time.
Q With terrorism and the Covid pandemic. How do you see the world evolving?
One thing that’s important for me is that we don’t lose anyone else that we could have saved. Both with the pandemic and with terrorism. We all have to come together and realise that we have far more things in common than what separates us. It’s often forgetting that, which leads to conflict. I think Covid has made us realise that we can’t be safe unless everyone wants us to be safe.
The full video of this interview appears on the Daily Mirror social media networks
A happy family before the attacks
David (Left) with Amelie
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