Quintus Colombage, Negombo
Updated: April 23, 2021 07:34 AM GMT
People including priests and nuns hold a demonstration to urge justice for Easter attack victims at Katuwapitiya, Negombo, on April 21. (Photo: Quintus Colombage/UCA News)
As Sri Lanka marked the second anniversary of the Easter terror attacks, a Buddhist monk claimed that trained terrorists are at large in the country.
Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera was speaking at a remembrance ceremony at St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade on April 21.
"Hundreds of trained terrorists are still at large in the society. We fear that the bombs of those terrorists will ignite at any moment in the society. We have concerns as to whether such attacks will happen at a Buddhist or Hindu temple or a church or a procession," he said.
The monk said the primary responsibility of a government is to ensure the security of its people.
"It was not fulfilled by the previous government. There are allegations from all parts of the country that the present government has not paid adequate attention to this matter," said Ven. Sobitha Thera
The whole country observed a two-minute silence at 8.45am on April 21. In many cities there were white and black flags as well as banners expressing grief and calling for justice for the victims of the terrorist attacks.
Who is the mastermind? Who gained from the attacks? These are still unresolved issues today
On April 21, 2019, nine suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, killing at least 269 people, including 37 foreign nationals, and injuring at least 500.
Nationals from Japan, Switzerland, Spain, the UK, Denmark, Portugal, India, Turkey, Australia, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, the US and China were among the dead.
Civil society organizations held a demonstration at Katuwapitiya in Negombo and said many individuals and parties had gained political advantage and come to power due to the Easter Sunday attacks.
People including priests and nuns lit candles, organized prayer services, sang lamentation hymns, wore black and displayed posters and banners calling for truth and justice.
St. Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya was the worst hit in the suicide attacks with 115 faithful dying.
Brito Fernando, a well-known human rights activist, said the investigation deliberately neglected to take evidence from the most important people and did not present the evidence in a transparent manner.
"Who is the mastermind? Who gained from the attacks? These are still unresolved issues today," said Oblate Priest Father Rohan Silva, chairman of the Center for Society and Religion.
I urge our Muslim brothers and sisters to reject extremism
"The Church is calling for justice and fairness for the Easter attack victims and their families and for revealing where the backing and money for the campaign came from."
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called on Sri Lankan Muslims to stand up to Wahhabi teachings.
"I urge our Muslim brothers and sisters to reject extremism, to stand up against Wahhabi schools and organizations that brainwash and murder in the name of religion," he said.
The prelate urged the government to fulfill its promise to the people and take steps to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Attacks and to eradicate extremism.