Fourth anniversary of the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka Fourth anniversary of the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka  (ANSA)

Sri Lankans mark Easter Sunday attacks demanding transparency and justice

As the Church in Sri Lanka commemorates the fourth anniversary of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings on 21 April, men and women of all creeds joined to form a 30-kilometer human chain from Colombo to Negombo where the most deadly attacks took place.

By Marie Duhamel and Linda Bordoni

Men and women of all faiths joined hands and observed two minutes of silence on Friday, 21 April,  giving voice to their support for the Catholic Church’s quest for truth and justice over the attacks that killed over 370 people and injured at least 500 on Easter Sunday 2019.

The human chain initiative, on the theme “We are watching until justice is done”, was spearheaded by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo who has been tireless in his push for a transparent investigation and demand for accountability.

On the eve of the anniversary, he told Vatican Radio the human chain would symbolically unite St. Anthony’s church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s church in Negombo where the attacks wreaked most death and destruction.

Listen to Cardinal Malcom Ranjith

So far, he added, “The government, the security authorities, the intelligence services, have not done anything much on this matter and they have tried to put the blame on the Muslims and to say that it is the Muslims who did it.”

But, the Cardinal continued, there is evidence and we have indications that the attacks were carried out by some fundamentalist extremists who were “facilitated by government sources and political parties in order to create Islamophobia in this country.”  The idea, he explained was to make use of this [Islamophobia] in their push for power by gaining the votes of the majority Sinhalese community, by fuelling anger against the Muslims.

“Now this attempt has been exposed, but we want that to be firmly and clearly found out.”

That is why, Cardinal Ranjith said, “We are asking for a fresh investigation, a transparent investigation,” and the human chain aims to highlight that determination.

Interfaith enterprise

The Cardinal of Colombo confirmed that members of all faith groups would be participating in the human chain.

In particular, he said, “The Muslims have declared, publicly, that they are with us,” especially as are the ones who have been instrumentalized by what happened, so they are coming in large numbers because things have been clarified.

“We have said it is not the Muslims who have done it.”

Reiterating that the attacks were perpetrated by extremists, the Sri Lankan Cardinal said behind them “There is a political force we want to identify.”

Meanwhile, it is clear the authorities are unhappy about the human chain, he said and have done their best to try and stop the initiative by creating diversions “by saying that some Muslim mosques are under threat from attack and so on.”

But, he explained, these are tactics they have always used and the people in Sri Lanka are well aware of what he called “this kind of false strategy.”

The people, Cardinal Ranjith concluded, will not accept this so “the politicians will have to understand that they cannot carry on doing things like that.”

“We are not happy about that.”

The people of Sri Lanka commemorate the Easter Sunday bombings and demand transparency and justice
The people of Sri Lanka commemorate the Easter Sunday bombings and demand transparency and justice


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21 April 2023, 17:48