BY Buddhika Samaraweera
While claiming that all attempts made by the Catholic Church to get justice for the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019 within the country have failed, Colombo Archbishop His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said that they are currently exploring the possibilities to reach out to the international community, including the United Nations (UN), to seek justice for the said terror attacks.
Speaking during a virtual forum on 23 January, he said: “We have tried our best to get justice from our people within our own context, but all these attempts have failed. Therefore, it does not leave us much room but to explore the possibilities of going international. That means that we will also be going to the UN.”
Noting that they, as the Catholic Church, have links all over the world, the Archbishop said that they would also try to influence some pertinent and powerful countries that are in contact with the church. In addition, he said that in case they would be reaching out to the international community, such efforts would also be supported by his fellow Cardinals around the world.
“Not only going to the UN, but we will try to influence some of the more pertinent and powerful countries that have a relationship with us, because, as the Catholic Church, we are an international organisation and we have our links all over the world. Also, at my level as a Cardinal, I have my fellow brothers who are Cardinals in different and important cities and countries with whom we will be able to do that.” Archbishop Ranjith said.
Archbishop Ranjith further said that while he did not seek to go for such action so far as he had hoped that this issue will somehow find a local solution, it has now become apparent to them that nothing is happening.
“In fact, the legal system operated by the Attorney General (AG) does not seem to consider the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday terror attacks. Therefore, we are left with no other option but to go to the international community.”
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.
Later, a PCoI was appointed to investigate the said terror attacks and the PCoI, in its final report, has made several recommendations including the filing of criminal charges against former President and incumbent Government Parliamentarian Maithripala Sirisena, former Defence Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, former State Intelligence Service Director Nilantha Jayawardena, former Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis, and several others. However, most of the recommendations made by the said PCoI have not yet been implemented. As a result, several parties including the Catholic Church have been insisting on the need to implement the PCoI’s recommendations.