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Sri Lankan cardinal prepared to launch protests

Cardinal Ranjith is ready to take to the streets if the govt does not bring Easter bombing culprits to book
Sri Lankan cardinal prepared to launch protests

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith introduces a special program for the victims of the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks in Colombo on Feb. 18. (UCA News photo)

Published: March 10, 2020 06:37 AM GMT
Updated: March 10, 2020 06:37 AM GMT

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says he is ready to launch street protests if Sri Lanka's government does not bring the culprits behind last year’s Easter bombings to book.

He said the administration has not taken action regarding the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed about 300 people, including 40 foreign nationals, and injured at least 500.

"The most senior person in the government should have been brought to the Criminal Investigation Department and questioned if he had been aware in advance of the Easter bomb blasts," said Cardinal Ranjith on March 8 at Tewatta Church.

"There are reports that police officers investigating the Easter Sunday suicide bomb blasts are currently being transferred."

The cardinal said the government should publish all the interim committee reports on the bomb blasts.

"Investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks have revealed that current government-related 'big people' have also been involved, and no action has been taken against them," he said. "We will take to the streets with our people whether we have this election or not."

A parliamentary election has been slated for April 25.

A group of nine suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath attacked three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21.

The suicide attacks became a turning point in the presidential election, bringing national security to the top of the agenda.

The government has initiated several investigations into the blasts, including one by a presidential panel and another by a parliamentary select committee.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed an independent commission to find the real culprits, supporters and all those responsible for the Easter massacre.

Cardinal Ranjith appeared before the presidential commission of inquiry on Dec. 6-7 last year.

The prelate said he decided to appear before the commission to represent the concerns, grievances and views of the victims, their families and the Catholic community at large.

He said those responsible should be brought to book and those who are linked to the attack directly and indirectly should be punished.

Earlier Cardinal Ranjith said that if he had known that an attack had been planned, he would have closed all churches and protected the faithful.

He said he has confidence in the present presidential commission.

Colombo Archdiocese has organized special prayer services and holy hours from 7pm at all churches from April 17-21 to pray for the bombing victims and their families.

On April 20, the vigil services at St. Anthony's in Kotahena, Colombo, and St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, Negombo, will be held at 8.45pm.

In a separate development, Father Lawrence Ramanayaka, director of Caritas Sethsarana, said the Church had distributed 71 million rupees (US$389,000) from the relief fund to 352 families three months after the attack.

Money allocated for the Christmas carol operation by the government in December has been used for the welfare of victims of the Easter bombing. Rajapaksa handed over a check for 3 million rupees (US$16,400) to Cardinal Ranjith.

"Those who have not acted in this connection are not eligible for our Catholic votes. We expect the president to make a statement in this regard," said Cardinal Ranjith. "We have witnessed persons involved in this incident leave the country."

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