By Chrishanthi Christopher
In the run up to the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday bombings on Wednesday April 21, the Catholic Church said there will be no major protest to mark the day, but Catholics would gather in prayer and worship seeking justice for the victims.
An Archdiocese spokesperson said holy masses, holy hours and prayer meetings would be conducted at St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade and at St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya where the bombings took place. Some 271 people died in the suicide bomb attacks during Easter Sunday mass on April 21 2019. Prayers would also be offered for more than 300 people who were injured, some maimed for life.
In a media statement, the Archdiocesan Committee said several demands had been made from the Government. These included the prosecution of political leaders and officials mentioned in the Presidential Commission report on charges they had shirked their responsibilities to prevent the massacres.
The Committee has also called for the prosecution of the Islamic extremist groups operating in the country and their local agents while deporting foreign sponsors and preachers who promote religious extremism here. It was recommended that their financial assets be confiscated and the weapons found in their positions be seized.
The media statement said the Church also sought the Government and the Opposition’s support to implement the judicial process without hindrance.
The Catholic Church issued an ultimatum calling on the Government to make every effort to implement the demands or initiate the first steps for the implementation before Wednesday, when two years would have been completed since the attack.
Otherwise, it warned, the Church would be compelled to intensify protests covering the whole country.
Following this, the Government on a re-conciliatory note has made efforts to appease the Church in the last two weeks, by banning eleven Islamic extremist organisations operating in the country.
The Government has also directed the Police Chief to begin investigations into the five persons alleged to be behind the nine attacks that shook the country on Easter Sunday. The names of these suspects have been mentioned in the report by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.
Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekera has sought cabinet approval to ban more than 300 madrasa schools operating in Sri Lanka.
A move to ban the burqa worn by Muslim women is also being considered.
In February, The Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith filed action in the Court of Appeal seeking a full probe on reports that more than 6000 swords were hidden in the homes of extremists and in mosques.
The victims’ families have also taken legal action seeking compensation from the Government for deaths, injuries and damages caused by the Easter Sunday attacks.
Previously the Catholic Church irked by the failure of the government to release in full the final Report on the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOI) on the Easter Sunday bombings organised a protest on March 7 with devotees coming for Sunday mass dressed in black.
Over the weekend the church called on all devotees to observe two minutes silence at 8.45 a.m. on Wednesday April 21.