“The alleged involvement of the Rajapaksa family in the Easter Sunday attacks, especially Mahinda and Gotabaya and the alleged support extended by high ranking officials to carry out and cover up the attacks have remained in Sri Lankan society as rumours since the attacks in 2019.”

(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Morning”of 4 September 2023 under the Heading “The latest Easter attacks ‘conspiracy”)

This week, the United Kingdom (UK) based media outlet Channel Four announced that it is planning to make some shocking revelations about the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks in a programme titled ‘Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings – Dispatches’ which is scheduled to be broadcast today (5). It has already sparked debate among the people, as the trailer broadcast, describes what it is about to reveal implicates an official inside the Sri Lankan Government linked to the Easter Sunday attacks.

The UK based newspaper The Times had reported that in the said Channel 4 programme, a highly placed insider claims that he allegedly set up a meeting in 2018 between the State Intelligence Service Chief Suresh Salley and the Islamic State linked Easter Sunday bombers to orchestrate a plot to destabilise Sri Lanka and to thereby facilitate the Rajapaksas’ return to power.

It is reported that this informant is Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) Leader and former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militant Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan’s ex-aide, Hanzeer Azad Maulana. While Salley is reported to have denied these allegations as false in a letter to Channel 4, it is also reported that neither Pillayan nor the Rajapaksa family had responded to the Channel 4’s requests for comment.

While it is only a matter of hours until the said Channel 4 programme is to broadcast, most of what the Channel 4 report seems to contain is not new to Sri Lankans. The alleged involvement of the Rajapaksa family in the Easter Sunday attacks, especially former Presidents Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and also alleged support extended by high ranking officials to carry out and cover up the attacks have remained in the Sri Lankan society more as rumours since the attacks in 2019.

The main reason is the fact that it was the Rajapaksas who benefitted the most from the attacks politically, which sparked concerns about national security which then created a need for a leader who can ensure national security, resulting in Gotabaya Rajapaksa who had a military background becoming the President.

Some segments of the population are of the view that the Rajapaksas were quite capable of such a conspiracy, given the nature of the criminal allegations which have been piling up against the Rajapaksas.

That is what the people saw, thought, and concluded. They may or may not be correct. Regardless, many observations of the people about the Easter Sunday attacks are in fact based on hearsay or inadequate information.

The law enforcement authorities have stated that almost all the investigations into the attacks have concluded, and what is left to be done is taking legal actions against the remaining perpetrators based on the completed investigations. If the investigations have reached such a level, people would gain a great deal of knowledge about what has happened so far and what is to happen.

However, they are not convinced that the former and/or the current Governments have done enough to serve justice for the victims of the attacks, because, both the Governments have maintained a rather silent approach in this regard.

Needless to say, this situation has become a breeding ground for rumours and conspiracy theories, and the people have been compelled to continue to demand justice. The seeming lack of drive of the government to communicate what they have found as factual and the erosion of trust in the political and law enforcement agencies over the years, have helped fan conspiracy theories.

This is a dangerous situation. Even if the Channel 4 programme broadcast today is untrue, there is a tendency to accept it as the truth, because the former and present Governments have kept Sri Lankans in the dark concerning the attacks for too long. Because of many other issues, consecutive governments have shown the public they are not trustworthy.

The Government should take this situation, as well as its responsibility to be transparent, more seriously. We are talking about the biggest attacks that the country faced during the past decade, which goes beyond the country’s borders and a mere feeling that one’s religion or ethnicity is better than the others.

The Government cannot keep mum about the investigations into and findings about the Easter Sunday attacks by merely issuing statements from time to time just to inform the people that the Government has progressed in the investigations.

The people need to know more about what is happening concerning this national level disaster that cost the lives of almost 270 people, and the Government must reveal everything it can without jeopardising the investigations or legal actions. The failure to do so will pave way for more rumours and lies, and will prolong the pain that the victimised families of the Easter Sunday attacks goes through.

Courtesy:The Morning