UCA News

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Catholics step up struggle over Easter attacks

Protest that started on Black Sunday will continue until justice is done for victims of the 2019 bombings

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: March 15, 2021 10:11 AM GMT

Updated: March 15, 2021 10:24 AM GMT

Sri Lankan Catholics step up struggle over Easter attacks

Sri Lankan Catholics and Buddhist monks take part in a Black Sunday demonstration outside St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo on March 7, demanding speedy investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks that killed 279 people. (Photo: AFP)

Father Jude Chrishantha Fernando, director of social communications in the Archdiocese of Colombo, has urged all Catholics to continue a prayer campaign and seek God's intervention to expose all those involved in the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks and bring truth and justice for the victims.

Father Fernando said the protest, which started on Black Sunday on March 7, will continue until justice is done for the Easter attacks.

"These activities are not just a matter of religion or nation, they are a cry for justice for future generations," he said.

The Church declared Black Sunday to demand justice for the victims of the 2019 Easter bomb attacks. Thousands of Catholics dressed in black attended Mass and held demonstrations outside churches nationwide.

Father Srikantha Fernando, parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Kadawala, organized Holy Hour adoration with small Christian communities in the parish.

"As Christian communities, continue Holy Hours in the church from morning till 6pm and pray to God until justice is done to all those who have suffered," the priest said during morning Mass on March 14.

A five-member commission was appointed by former president Maithripala Sirisena in 2019 to investigate the attacks. The commission’s final report was handed to the president and religious leaders last month.

A group of suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, killing at least 279 people and injuring at least 500.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCL) said justice delayed is justice denied and urged all concerned to act without delay on the crucial matter.

"We are all waiting for the immediate and transparent process of justice which is to be carried out with a sense of urgency. In the name of truth and justice and for the sake of peace and security of all people in our dear country," CBCL president Bishop Winston Fernando said in a statement.

Thank you. You are now signed up to Daily newsletter

The CBCL urged the government to take immediate action in the implementation of those recommendations and as a matter of priority with regard to those individuals against whom criminal charges have been leveled.

"We appeal that the attorney general be given full power and the freedom to prosecute the perpetrators immediately," said the CBCL.

Non-violent campaign

Buddhist monks started a Satyagraha, a non-violent action campaign, at Independence Square in capital Colombo on March 11.

The monks said the purpose of the event was to condemn the banning of Buddhist organizations proposed by the Easter Commission report, punish the masterminds of the attacks and to seek justice for the victims.

Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera, general secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena, one of the organizations recommended by the commission to be banned, was also present.

The Buddhist monks asked the government whether it provided weapons and money to NTJ with the intention of spying during the war. They also demanded the revelation of those who sponsored the extremists involved in the Easter massacre.

"The report of the presidential commission is aimed at forcing Buddhist organizations to silence Sinhala Buddhist leaders, punishing the masterminds of the attack and forcing them to do justice to the victims," said Ven. Ulapane Sumangala Thera.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith went to the court to ask for an investigation into the import of 6,000 swords during the Easter Sunday attacks.

A large number of swords were found in mosques and other places after the suicide attacks. According to Sri Lankan law, persons possessing blades can be arrested. The Court of Appeal ordered to issue notice to the respondents regarding the writ petition on Feb. 18.

Ban burqas

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said steps will be taken to ban the burqa, the veil which covers the face and body of Muslim women.

"Following the discovery of a madrasa school that teaches extremist views, steps will be taken to ban them. Eleven extremist organizations operating in Sri Lanka will be banned soon," he said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has emphasized that his government has no interest in hiding the report of the presidential commission on the Easter Sunday attacks.

The attorney general has instructed the inspector general of police to start investigations into the five persons named in the commission's final report as being involved in the attacks — Abu Hind, Lakman Talib, Abu Abdullah, Rimzan and Sarah Jasmine.

Also Read

The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia