National intellectual monks slam Government

  • Allege Easter justice delayed, seeds of conflict sown

By Dinitha Rathnayake

The National Council of Intellectuals, which said that two years on, the Government has not taken formal action to punish those involved in the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019, alleged that instead, the seeds of future religious tensions and conflicts were being sown.

Member of the Council Ven. Rajawatte Vappa Thera said that not only the Catholics in particular, but all Buddhists and non-Buddhists in general are waiting for the perpetrators of these barbaric attacks to be punished, adding that the present Government is carrying out a process of delay by appointing commissions concerning the matter.

Council Member Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera noted that an environment conducive for religious conflicts to arise was being created in the context of the current political climate.

He added that it appears that the raw materials needed for a large-scale bomb that could explode in the future are being added due to an attempt to misinterpret the activities of organisations, including the Catholic leaders, regarding the Easter Sunday bombings.

“The main theme of the current Government when it came to power was the Easter Sunday attacks. It was a basic policy of this Government, it was a promise, but now, more than two years later, we don’t see that promise being fulfilled. As a result, the Catholic community is deeply disappointed. The Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith was expressing that frustration, and they had every right to do so. So no one has the right to criticise them. It is the duty of the Catholic leadership to speak out against the injustice done to the Catholic people. That duty is not fulfilled through the Buddhist leadership. If the Catholic people don’t get justice at the national level, they have the right to go to the international level. Sri Lanka is not an isolated country. It has agreed to world conventions. It has joined international conventions. If justice is not done to us in this case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going international, because going international is not a loss or an insult to this country.”

He also said that at this time, Buddhists should join the action taken by the Catholic people. “With the attacks on Easter Sunday, the growing relationship and brotherhood between Buddhists and Catholics in the country must continue. Therefore, the policy pursued by Cardinal Ranjith is certainly one of the best.”

Council Member Prof. Agalakada Sirisumana Thera pointed out that instead of taking appropriate action in connection with the Easter attacks, the Police were attempting to imprison people who were free.

Addressing the media, Ven. Hadigalle Wimalasara Thera alleged that this Government is preparing plans to create religious unrest and religious conflict instead of fulfilling justice. He further claimed that the Government is making plans to create unrest, especially among Buddhists and Catholics.

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 Colombo, The Kingsbury Colombo, and Shangri-La Colombo) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated 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, excluding the bombers, were killed in the bombings, including about 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers in the attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) organisation founded by the suicide bomber at Shangri-La Colombo, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan alias Zaharan Hashim.