Updated: July 22, 2021 08:40 AM GMT
Hundreds of rights activists including priests and nuns hold a demonstration to pressure the government to arrest the masterminds behind the Easter Sunday attacks in Negombo on July 21. (Photo supplied)
Hundreds of human rights activists held a demonstration to pressure the Sri Lankan government to arrest the masterminds behind the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.
Catholic priests and rights defenders took to the streets in Negombo on July 21 to demand the government carry out investigations in a transparent manner.
Father Rohan Silva, executive director of the Center for Society and Religion, said 27 months have passed but no satisfactory investigation has been carried out into the attacks.
"Despite the report of the Presidential Commission recommending that certain matters be reinvestigated, the government is about to file cases in the court without concluding investigations. Please take the investigations in the right direction so that we can find the masterminds and ensure that we will get justice,” he said, adding that the country is in danger if the masterminds are not found.
A group of nine suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath targeted three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday 2019, killing at least 279 people including 37 foreign nationals.
The government has denied any lethargy in carrying out the investigations and says nearly 700 people have been arrested and that it is ready to take legal action.
President Rajapaksa said he would bring all these criminals to justice within two weeks of coming to power
Catholic bishops sent a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week requesting he give a credible answer to their questions within one month. They also called for fresh inquiries to find the whereabouts of key figures linked to the attacks.
Thousands of Catholics nationwide attended Sunday Mass dressed in black and protested against the lack of justice for the Easter Sunday victims in March.
One of the banners displayed by protesters asked why the masterminds and the conspiracy have been covered up.
Herman Kumara, convener of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, said President Rajapaksa had asked for power to re-establish national security in the country.
"President Rajapaksa said he would bring all these criminals to justice within two weeks of coming to power. Now we ask you to fulfill the promise you made to the people. If the government does not do so, it means that people are still insecure. We have serious doubts about these investigations,” Kumara said.
Marian Pradeepa from Janawabodaya Kendraya said the main platform used by the government to come to power was the Easter Sunday terrorism.
"We urge the government to do justice to the victims of the Easter Sunday attack that was used to gain power," she said while holding a banner with other demonstrators.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo recently called on security agencies to conduct investigations into the alleged import of about 6,000 swords by a group of people near the time of the terror attacks.