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East Ham vigil to remember Sri Lanka terror attack victims

PUBLISHED: 14:00 01 May 2019

Candles were lit to remember the victims of the Sri Lanka terror attack. Picture: Andrew Baker

Candles were lit to remember the victims of the Sri Lanka terror attack. Picture: Andrew Baker

Andrew Baker

The victims of the Sri Lanka terror attack have been remembered with a vigil in East Ham.

The Sri Lankan flag is flown outside East Ham Town Hall. Picture: Andrew BakerThe Sri Lankan flag is flown outside East Ham Town Hall. Picture: Andrew Baker

A packed congregation gathered at St Michael's Church, in Tilbury Road, for an interfaith service in tribute to the 253 people killed on Easter Sunday.

More than 500 others were injured when bombs were detonated at churches and hotels in Colombo, the country's largest city and commercial capital.

Newham has one of the largest Sri Lankan communities in the UK and many of those who attended the vigil have a close connection to the country.

Saturday's event saw a silent march to the church before speakers from different religions joined the police and the Sri Lankan community in sending messages of solidarity and support to all those attending.

The vigil also included a two minutes' silence, prayers and candles.

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It was attended by MPs Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown, as well as mayor Rokhsana Fiaz who said: “The reason we hold this vigil, is because our hopes, freedoms, and even the pain we suffer, individually and collectively, is inter-connected – what affects one part of the Newham family, affects each and every one of us.

“I am incredibly proud of the clear message of solidarity that we are sending out together – not just to the Newham family, but to our Sri Lankan family 8,000 miles away.”

She added: “I say to the Sri Lankan community, Newham is the place you chose to call your home – this is where you have chosen to live, and bring up your families. In providing Newham this privilege you helped create a rich social fabric of diversity and unity.

“Through our solidarity we will heal, and come through this together.”

Former Newham councillor Paul Sathianesan, who helped organise the event, said: “I was very pleased and humbled to see the display of solidarity and love as the people came together and stood together shoulder to shoulder in peace and unity.

“Newham has become a promised land for many people, this is their second home, so today people came to the vigil and took part in an interfaith service which reflects and celebrates the diversity, the unity and the peace we enjoy in this borough.”

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