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Christians seek justice for Easter Sunday bombings

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Christians, largely Roman Catholic, make up less than eight percent of the country’s population of 22 million. Writes Vijeta Uniyal

More than three years after the deadly Easter bombings of 2019, Sri Lanka’s tiny Christian minority is still waiting for legal justice.

Country’s Catholic Church on Friday urged the government to reveal the “larger conspiracy” behind the Islamic jihad suicide bombings that hit six crowded churches during the Easter Sunday service and three luxury hotels, killing hundreds of worshipers and tourists in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo and cities across the island nation.

Local Christian leaders believe that the masterminds behind the coordinated jihad attack have largely gone unpunished. The country’s “Catholic Church say they suspect a larger conspiracy and are demanding that the leaders be revealed,” the Associated Press reported.

Muslims, who make up nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s total population, have been at odds with practically every other religious community in the island.

In 2018, the island nation witnessed large-scale clashes between Buddhists and Muslims after Buddhist groups accused Muslims of forced conversions, desecrating their ancient holy sites.

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Christians, largely Roman Catholic, make up less than eight percent of the country’s population of 22 million. Despite being the smallest religious monitory, the jihadis targeted the Christians for the largest single terrorist attack in the Island’s history.

The AP reported:

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church urged the country Friday to criminally prosecute its former leader for negligence, a day after the top court ordered him to pay compensation to the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed nearly 270 people. (…)

Duthika Perera, an attorney representing Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said the church expects the attorney general to file criminal charges against former President Maithripala Sirisena and four others whom the court found to have neglected their duties to protect the people.

In its decision Thursday on a fundamental rights petition — filed by families of victims, religious leaders and well-wishers — the court said two top intelligence officials, a former secretary to the ministry of defense and Sirisena, who was also defense minister and commander in chief of the armed forces, failed to act on near-specific foreign intelligence that was received prior to the attacks. (…)

The government has prosecuted several people in connection with the attacks, but leaders of the country’s Catholic Church say they suspect a larger conspiracy and are demanding that the leaders be revealed. Ranjith on Friday called for a deeper investigation.

Weeks after the jihad suicide bombings, Sri Lanka’s government tried to enforce new emergency laws aimed at combating the threat of Islamic terrorism, including a ban on the Sharia-mandated burqa and other types of face coverings for security reasons.

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The international media, however, pounced on the government, accusing it of discriminating against Muslims. “Sri Lanka’s face veil ban stokes fear of Muslims,” the Washington Post claimed, quoting “experts”.

“That needless restriction means that Muslim women whose practice leads them to cover up now won’t be able to leave home,” then-Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth complained just days after the jihad massacre.

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