Church slams Shehan Malaka interrogation

  • Rev. Cyril Fernando claims attempt to silence voices demanding justice

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Catholic Church has stated that social activist Shehan Malaka Gamage, who recently expressed his views regarding the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019, being summoned to the CID and interrogated multiple times demonstrates that certain parties are trying to prevent people from talking about these terror attacks.

Speaking at a media briefing on Saturday (28), the National Catholic Centre for Social Communications Director and the Parish Priest of the St. Anne’s Church, Kurana, Negombo Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando said that it was very clear that the truth behind the Easter Sunday terror attack would never be revealed if those who speak about it are repressed in this way.

“Gamage was summoned to the CID because of a statement he made about the terror attacks, but there are people who know more about this attack and are people who have been recommended by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) that investigated the terror attacks, to know more about it. In such a background, doing nothing about them and acting in this manner gives us the message: ‘Don’t talk about the terror attacks’,” Fernando added.

Gamage, a Catholic council member and social activist, had claimed on Facebook that there was a political link behind the Easter Sunday terror attacks and that the Government should therefore conduct an inquiry into the matter.

Following said statement, Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Intelligence Unit Officer-In-Charge Kelum Karunaratne had informed Gamage in writing to appear before the CID Intelligence Unit on 23 August. The letter sent by Karunaratne said that the youth had been summoned to the CID to inquire into the fact since the CID has launched a special investigation into criminal activities in various parts of the country.

Accordingly Gamage appeared at the Intelligence Unit of the CID on 23 August and gave a statement. He also appeared at the Intelligence Unit of the CID on 28 August and several Catholic clergy expressed their views regarding the incident at a media briefing in Colombo on 28 August.

On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, three churches (St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, and Zion Church in Batticaloa) and three luxury hotels in Colombo (Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury, and Shangri-La) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated Islamist terrorist suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala.

A total of 269 people were killed in the bombings, including at least 45 foreign nationals, and at least 500 were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers in the attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) founded by the suicide bomber at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan alias Zaharan Hashim.