“The President has the power to influence officers and judges. The law will only be independent if it is freed from the political powers. We do not have any faith that this government will give us justice,” says Sri Lanka’s powerful catholic religious leader, Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.
Addressing a press conference on Friday the 13th he further said that discussions are underway to seek the support of international Catholic organisations to garner justice for the victims of the terror attacks.
“We do not want to go down this route as we do not want to cause discomfort to the country on the international stage. However, we may have no option but to pursue this international option,” added the Archbishop.
A public letter sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks by the Cardinal had not received a reply signed by the President or Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundera.
“After waiting for 24 days the reply we finally received was not a letter signed by the President or even the President’s Secretary, but a trivial letter signed by a lawyer attached to the Presidential Secretariat”
The letter also requested the President to respond in a satisfactory manner within a month. In a letter dated 13 July, the Archbishop and the National Catholic Publishers’ Committee had urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the Easter Sunday attacks and to appoint an independent committee to investigate into any political conspiracy behind the bombings. At a press conference held on the same day the Archbishop specifically requested an investigation on former Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera’s parting remarks that the Easter Sunday attacks were a grand conspiracy.
On Friday, the Archbishop called on the Catholic community to stage a “black flag” protest on Saturday (21 August) over what the Catholic Church calls the continued inaction of the government with regard to finding the perpetrators behind the attacks.
“We hope to express our disappointment and protest through the black flag protest. If we could protest in the streets, we would already be on the street. However, at this moment, due to the pandemic, it is not possible,” said the Archbishop.
The Archbishop added that they cannot accept the current investigations done by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Intelligence Units as the Executive Presidency has allowed the President to interfere into certain aspects of the law.
He highlighted several unanswered questions at the Government about the attacks and the individuals involved.
“The Directorate of Military Intelligence and the team of Zahran Hashim had some involvement with each other. What were they? What were the relationships they had through the person called ‘Army Mohideen’? What is the story behind the murder of two police officers in Vavunthili? ‘Sonic Sonic’, who served the intelligence offices, had called Indonesia through Matale Zaharan and urged ISIS to take the blame for the attacks. Were they trying to deliberately mislead the people here by giving the responsibility to someone else? Who was the army intelligence officer who had gone to meet Jameel, who was assigned to set off the bomb at the Taj Samudra hotel?” he questioned.
Over two years have passed since the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April 2021, which targeted churches and hotels in the island. Since then, the PCoI report into the attacks has recommended criminal action to be initiated against a number of officials, the most high profile being former President Maithripala Sirisena for neglect of duty.
With the inputs from The Morning.