Yahapalana power struggle facilitated Easter Sunday carnage – Catholic Church

Malcolm Ranjith

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, in a statement, in Sinhala read out at churches, on Sunday, Feb 23, called for a thorough investigation to find out why the political leadership and the security authorities had failed to act in spite of having specific intelligence on the Easter Sunday carnage.

The Cardinal said the political leaders responsible for the lapses that had led to the Easter Sunday tragedy should be probed.

Former spokesperson for the Catholic Church Rev. Father Cyril Gamini, parish priest of St. Anne’s Church, Kurana, quoted the Church Leader as having said that the Catholic community felt deepening pain every time they heard that the political authority had acted irresponsibly as for the threat to them.

In an obvious reference to the political battle between the then President Maithripala Sirisena and the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith alleged that their power struggle had facilitated near simultaneous suicide attacks. They were also accused of playing politics with the issue.

The Cardinal questioned why the political leaders had failed to act though they had been aware of the destruction of Buddha statues and Wanathavilluwa terrorist training facility.

The Church issued the statement following a police media briefing on the status of the investigations. The police revealed that 153 persons had been held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in connection with the attacks carried out by the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ).

Reiterating a thorough investigation into perhaps deliberate lapses on the part of the political leadership, the Church leader alleged that authorities had tried to protect the officers concerned.

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a three-member committee to inquire into the Easter Sunday carnage before Speaker Karu Jayasuriya set up a parliamentary select committee to inquire into the same. In the run-up to Nov 16, 2019 presidential election, President Sirisena appointed a presidential commission. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa decided to continue with the same commission. The Church has declined to name new members to the Commission.

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has said that some of those responsible for establishing the truth instead tried to protect those responsible for the heinous crime and their sponsors.

Commenting on the sitting Presidential Commission, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith emphasized that it would be the responsibility of the investigating body to identify those who planned the operation, provided required funds, facilitated the operation and received weapons training etc. He said that a 26-year-old unmarried woman from Jaffna wounded in the blast at Kochchikade St. Anthony’s church had succumbed to her injuries several days back. The Church Leader said that the victim never opened her eyes during the time she had been receiving treatment.

The Catholic community was watching the progress of the investigation as well as the conduct of political leaders, the Cardinal said.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)

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