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Sri Lanka: Cardinal Calls for Clarity on Suspicion of Political Collusion in Easter Sunday Bombings

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says that the Church is waiting for answers as the victims continue to carry the scars of the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 269 people and injured more than 400 in Sri Lanka in 2019.

Easter 2019: in the church of St. Sebastian reigns chaos as an attack darkens the feast of the Resurrection.

Speaking at a press conference organized by Aid to the Church in Need International (ACN), Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says that from the very beginning there have been doubts that this was simply “the product of a group of misguided youths bent on terrorism. It was very well organized and coordinated; there were bombs in seven places which exploded within 15 minutes, although one of the bombs did not go off”.

A damning report for the highest authorities

Several commissions and inquiries were announced to try to get to the bottom of this tragedy and hold to account those responsible. Although some of these reports have been kept from the public and from Church leaders, what has emerged is damning evidence regarding the authorities.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka, consoles one of the victims’ relatives.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo, in Sri Lanka, is demanding clarity about possible collusion between authorities, including Government figures and information services, and the terrorists who killed at least 269 people in coordinated attacks on Easter Sunday, 2019.

“The report of the Parliamentary Select Committee makes accusations against the former President, former inspector general of police, former defence secretary, former chief of intelligence and other top-level officials, for not having prevented the attacks. They knew beforehand, from information they had gathered and also from warnings given by the Indian intelligence services, but they did nothing. In fact, the Government seems to have done its best to prevent the arrest of the attackers. There are indications that the authorities wanted the attacks to be carried out”, explains Cardinal Ranjith.

“People are experiencing a sense of frustration. We have many questions, and the general public is asking for answers. Why is it that those considered responsible are not being prosecuted by the legal authorities? There are also some points in the Parliamentary Committee report that the Parliamentary Committee recommends be further investigated, but they are not being investigated. Why?”, asks the Cardinal.

Covered with the blood of victims, this statue has become an object that recalls the memory of that tragic day. The photo was taken three months after the events, at St. Sebastian church.

The report of the Parliamentary Select Committee also points to collusion, suggesting that the motive may be for electoral gains. “A very serious finding by the committee concerning the status of the state intelligence apparatus showed that intelligence information known to a few was not shared with relevant parties. It also notes that further investigations will be necessary to understand whether those with vested interests did not act on intelligence in order to create chaos and instill fear and uncertainty leading up to the presidential election to be held later that same year”, says the Cardinal, quoting directly from the summary of the report.

Although justice, if it is ever served, will come too late for those who were killed, there are many survivors who still carry the scars, both physical and emotional, of these terrorist attacks. The Cardinal was moved to tears as he shared some of their stories. “A man who lost his wife committed suicide three months ago, leaving his three daughters orphans. Another man who lost his wife and three children was living with his mother-in-law, but he had to leave and he went and slept in the cemetery, where his family is buried. Another woman was a dance teacher, but the explosion left her bedridden. She has a small child, but meanwhile her husband left her. The suffering she is going through is tremendous.”

Having just returned from the Vatican, where he was received by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ranjith explained that he will not rest in his pursuit of justice and truth. “The Pope has been a great source of inspiration and hope for us. He has always told me to move ahead, fight with the people to get justice for them. That is the challenge I face.”

“Help us to demand a fair investigation in which our questions will be answered by the authorities. We do not want to present our country in a bad light, but we want to make sure the lives of innocent people are not played with for political reasons”, he concluded.

After the bombing attacks, ACN came to the aid of the Sri Lankan Church and its traumatized members, funding psychosocial support for the affected and bereaved families and helping to train priests, sisters and lay leaders to face tragic situations and give the most urgent and appropriate help when such tragedies occur. Since then, ACN has continued to support the Church in Sri Lanka, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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