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Church demands action over Sri Lankan Easter bombings

Cardinal Ranjith seeks implementation of the presidential commission of inquiry to win the confidence of Catholics
Church demands action over Sri Lankan Easter bombings

A policeman stands guard at St. Anthony's Church in Colombo on Aug. 21 next to a placard and black flags placed in protest at the failure to prosecute those responsible for the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings. (Photo: AFP)

Published: September 02, 2021 10:19 AM GMT
Updated: September 02, 2021 11:39 AM GMT

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has said the Sri Lankan authorities must win the trust of the people before any talks can be held on the progress of investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb blasts.

He sought implementation of the recommendations of a presidential commission of inquiry before meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris.

“The government should implement the recommendations of the final report of the presidential commission on the Easter Sunday attack in order to win the confidence of the Catholic community and the general public,” said Father Cyril Gamini, former director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communications, quoting Cardinal Ranjith’s letter.

He said Cardinal Ranjith would meet the minister only after the government agreed to these conditions and restored confidence.

On Aug. 31, the Foreign Ministry had claimed that Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, the Vatican’s ambassador to Sri Lanka, had agreed in a meeting with Peiris to arrange talks with the country’s bishops.

Cardinal Ranjith had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July seeking to know why no legal action was initiated against a former president and several police and intelligence officials for alleged negligence as recommended by the commission.

Sri Lankan Catholics have expressed their displeasure by hoisting black flags at churches as a silent protest 

The government claimed it had filed charges against 25 people in connection with the attacks. But Cardinal Ranjith rejected Rajapaksa’s response to his letter, saying it did not satisfy the Catholics.

Sri Lankan Catholics have expressed their displeasure by hoisting black flags at churches as a silent protest against the government’s inability to act against the mastermind behind the suicide blasts at three churches and three tourist hotels on Easter Sunday in April 2019 that killed more than 250 people.

“The recent statements made in the media by the legal director of the presidential secretariat and the inspector general of police did not build confidence in the investigations,” Father Gamini added.

D. Wickramaratne, the inspector general of police, had told the media that all suspects will be arrested after senior police officers met Buddhist monks seeking their intervention to “rectify the unjust verdict” given by the presidential commission into the attacks.

Ven. Galagodawatte Gnanasara Thera, secretary-general of the Bodu Bala Sena, a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organization, said: “This is a very complex issue and the government is identifying those responsible for the attack and creating an environment in which they can be punished by law.”

Pope Francis was paying close attention to the developments, said Father Neville Joe Perera, national coordinator of Sri Lankan Catholic migrants in Italy.

Political analysts said Cardinal Ranjith is likely to go international on the Easter attack investigations and so the attempts by the Foreign Ministry to meet him gain significance.

Several international conferences are due to discuss resolutions against Sri Lanka. The UN Human Rights Council will meet in Geneva on Sept. 12 and the UN General Assembly will be held in New York on Sept. 21.

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