Home » EASTER SUN­DAY BOMB­INGS AND THEIR IM­PACT

EASTER SUN­DAY BOMB­INGS AND THEIR IM­PACT

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*Below is an article published by Gen­eral, Dr Boni­face Per­era on Daily Mirror on 21.05.2019 providing an in-depth scientific analysis as to who should be held accountable for the April 21 Easter Sunday carnage that took away more than 270 people. In his elaboration, Perera explains the grounds on which these parties should be held responsible as designated government officials at the time of the attack. LNW recirculates this feature in compliance with the recent Supreme Court ruling pertaining to the Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions filed over the Easter Sunday genocide, enabling our readers to bridge the events from a perspective of past-and-present comparison.

A series of bomb­ings struck churches and ho­tels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sun­day killing more than 250 peo­ple in­clud­ing 40 for­eign­ers and wound­ing more than 500 oth­ers fol­low­ing the Easter Sun­day sui­cide at­tacks that also dev­as­tated the liveli­hood of the en­tire na­tion. The at­tacks were the dead­li­est since the end of the civil war 10 years ago, and tar­geted three churches as well as four tourist ho­tels in Colombo.

These at­tacks were car­ried out by a lit­tle-known Is­lamic or­ga­ni­za­tion named Na­tional Thawheed Jama’ath (NTJ), which sent shock waves across all di­rec­tions in the coun­try.

WHO SHOULD BE HELD RE­SPON­SI­BLE?

At the out­set, I would like to place a ques­tion be­fore cit­i­zens of this coun­try – who should be held re­spon­si­ble for the Easter Sun­day at­tack for not tak­ing prompt ac­tions?

Ma­jor­ity of Sri Lankans be­lieve that the Pres­i­dent, the Prime Min­is­ter, the Sec­re­tary of De­fence, the Com­man­der of the Army and In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice.

WHY THE PRES­I­DENT?

Be­cause the Pres­i­dent is the Com­man­der in Chief of the Armed forces, head of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and Min­is­ter of De­fence and also Min­is­ter of Law and Order.

The in­for­ma­tion of a pos­si­ble bomb at­tack had been brought to the no­tice of the Pres­i­dent many a time at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil by In­tel­li­gence Chief and re­spon­si­ble De­fence and Po­lice Of­fi­cers.

This will be fur­ther proved by the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by In­dian au­thor­i­ties.

In­dian in­tel­li­gence man­aged to break into Na­tional Thawheed s com­mu­ni­ca­tions and be­gan tap­ping into the plot, ac­cord­ing to Ajai Sahni, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Con­flict Man­age­ment in New Delhi.

“That is why the kind of de­tail­ing of the in­ci­dent they re­ceived was very, very spe­cific,” Sahni said.

“They knew the group, they knew the tar­gets, they knew the time, they knew the where­abouts of the sui­cide bombers, and all of this was com­mu­ni­cated to the Sri Lankan Gov­ern­ment.”

Top Sri Lankan of­fi­cials also have ac­knowl­edged that some of the is­land na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence units were given ad­vance no­tice about the at­tacks and that lit­tle was done to pre­vent them. Ac­cord­ingly, al­though am­ple and ac­cu­rate pieces of in­for­ma­tion were pro­vided well in ad­vance, the Com­man­der in Chief failed to take ei­ther pre­emp­tive nor pre­ven­tive ac­tions caus­ing a mas­sive hu­man dis­as­ter in the Sri Lanka his­tory cre­at­ing a lot of un­cer­tain­ties, ten­sion and panic among peo­ple and ru­in­ing the na­tional se­cu­rity, na­tional econ­omy, na­tional cul­ture, na­tional in­tel­li­gence, which have a cor­re­la­tion with po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship di­rectly im­pact­ing na­tional sur­vival.

Fur­ther­more, Jonah Blank a prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor and se­nior po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist for the RAND Cor­po­ra­tion said, “In this case, it does ap­pear as if there was a po­lit­i­cal fail­ure which led to a poor Gov­ern­ment re­sponse. The warn­ing from an ex­ter­nal in­tel­li­gence agency ( al­most cer­tainly In­dia) was re­ported re­layed to the of­fice of Pres­i­dent Sirisena. It seems as if these warn­ing were not acted on suf­fi­ciently and were not re­layed to Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe. There are two rea­sons for this! First, the Pres­i­dent doesn’t trust the Prime Min­is­ter (He tried to have him ousted in Oc­to­ber 2018), and there is bad blood be­tween them. Sec­ond, the Pres­i­dent be­lieves that In­dia favoured the Prime Min­is­ter over him, so he may have dis­counted the in­tel­li­gence on these grounds.”

There­fore, Pres­i­dent Sirisena can­not wash his hands off from his re­spon­si­bil­ity for na­tional se­cu­rity sim­ply by sack­ing the Sec­re­tary of De­fence and the Po­lice Chief. As per Ar­ti­cle 30(1) of the Con­sti­tu­tion, “The Pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic-of Sri Lanka who is the Head of the State, Head of the Ex­ec­u­tive and of the Gov­ern­ment and the Com­man­der – in Chief of the Armed Forces.”

Ac­cord­ingly, the SC judge­ment re-19th Amend­ment, na­tional se­cu­rity is an in­alien­able part of peo­ple’s sovereignty re­posed on the Pres­i­dent in trust. As per the opin­ions of le­gal ex­perts, in­ac­tion of com­man­der in chief has amounted to vi­o­la­tion of fun­da­men­tal rights of vic­tims and cit­i­zens.

Sim­i­larly in France, the cred­i­bil­ity of King Louis XVI was deeply un­der­mined and the abo­li­tion of the monar­chy and the es­tab­lish­ment of a re­pub­lic be­came an ever in­creas­ing pos­si­bil­ity. Louis XVI was the last king of France and the first part of his reign was marked by at­tempts to re­form the French Gov­ern­ment in ac­cor­dance with en­light­en­ment ideas like ya­ha­palanaya.

The king failed to ful­fil prom­ises made in­clud­ing to pro­vide ba­sic need bread which was the sta­ple food. It says when peo­ple asked for bread, the queen replied “Why? Don’t they have cake?” This am­ply demon­strated and knowl­edge he had on peo­ple and to­wards hu­man­ity. King’s in­de­ci­sive­ness and con­ser­vatism led by some el­e­ments of the peo­ple of France to view him as a sym­bol of the per­ceived tyranny in ad­di­tion to be­ing in­ef­fec­tive, in­ef­fi­cient and use­less to the na­tion.

The king was ar­rested and tried by na­tional con­ven­tion, found guilty of high trea­son and ex­e­cuted by guil­lo­tine on Jan­uary 21, 1793 as a de­sacral­ized French cit­i­zen.

WHY THE PRIME MIN­IS­TER?

Af­ter the 19th Amend­ment two sources of au­thor­i­ties were cre­ated. In terms of prac­ti­cal­ity the in­cum­bent PM is the key re­spon­si­ble per­son be­hind most of the pol­icy is­sues of the Gov­ern­ment. As the PM, who is likely to have the com­mand of Par­lia­ment and the leader of the po­lit­i­cal party who formed the board of min­is­ters is un­der the ef­fec­tive con­trol of the ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers in­clud­ing the na­tional se­cu­rity. There­fore, Prime Min­is­ter is also re­spon­si­ble for the hu­man dis­as­ter for fail­ing.

THE IGP AND THE DE­FENCE SEC­RE­TARY

Both of them were asked to re­sign as they were held re­spon­si­ble and were pend­ing in­quiries. It is un­fair and un­re­al­is­tic to hold Navy and Air Force com­man­ders re­spon­si­ble as ex­trem­ists car­ried out a land at­tack and there was no vi­o­la­tion of air and sea.

WHY THE ARMY COM­MAN­DER?

The Army Com­man­der is per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for han­dling, di­rect­ing, man­ag­ing, con­trol­ling and com­mand­ing mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence.

Mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on other coun­tries’ mil­i­tary forces, plans, and op­er­a­tions gained through a va­ri­ety of col­lec­tion meth­ods. It helps civil­ian pol­i­cy­mak­ers and mil­i­tary lead­ers un­der­stand po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary trends around the world, the sources of po­ten­tial re­gional con­flict, and emerg­ing threats to the global and re­gional se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment, and pro­vides rec­om­men­da­tions on how best to em­ploy in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies. All these process fails when mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence is ne­glected.

The Sri Lanka Army is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of neg­li­gence of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence by the Army Chief.

It has re­duced the mil­i­tary ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency and put the mil­i­tary into a darker side al­low­ing the en­emy to cap­i­tal­ize on the weak se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion. The Easter Sun­day at­tack on Sri Lankan Chris­tian churches and tourist ho­tels killing more than 250 civil­ians in­clud­ing 40 for­eign­ers proved the con­se­quences of neg­li­gence of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence where Army com­man­der him­self should be held re­spon­si­ble and he can­not blame po­lice say­ing that po­lice didn’t pass down the in­for­ma­tion. It is the prime re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Com­man­der of the Army to find, an­a­lyze and take ac­tions against a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity, where he failed. There­fore, in­ex­pe­ri­enced Army com­man­der who lacks re­quired knowl­edge in na­tional se­cu­rity same as dis­missed the Sec­re­tary of De­fence, should re­sign with­out fur­ther prov­ing to the world his in­abil­ity.

Sim­i­larly, In­dia’s Naval Chief Adm. D.K. Joshi, re­signed af­ter a Rus­sian-made In­dian sub­ma­rine caught fire off the coast of Mum­bai, in­jur­ing seven of­fi­cers and leav­ing two miss­ing. Af­ter the ac­ci­dent, Adm. D. K. Joshi, the Chief of the In­dian Naval Staff, sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion, “Tak­ing moral re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ac­ci­dent.”

Like­wise in USA, the Air Force’s Gen­eral Ron­ald R. Fogle­man, top of­fi­cer re­tired cit­ing “a va­ri­ety of rea­sons” that in­cluded dif­fer­ences over re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ing to de­fend against a ter­ror­ist at­tack that killed 19 U.S. ser­vice­men last year in Saudi Ara­bia.

“I do not want the in­sti­tu­tion to suf­fer and I am afraid it will if I am seen as a di­vi­sive force and not a team player,” Gen. Ron­ald R. Fogle­man, the Air Force chief of staff, said in a writ­ten state­ment. He be­comes the first of 16 Air Force chiefs to step down vol­un­tar­ily be­fore com­plet­ing his full term.

The chief of France’s armed forces re­signed in a dis­pute with Em­manuel Macron over de­fence bud­get cuts. In a state­ment, 60 year-old Pierre de Vil­liers said he had tried to keep the armed forces fit for an ever more dif­fi­cult task within the fi­nan­cial con­straints im­posed on it, but was no longer able to sus­tain that.

“In the cur­rent cir­cum­stances I see my­self as no longer able to guar­an­tee the ro­bust de­fence force I be­lieve is nec­es­sary to guar­an­tee the pro­tec­tion of France and the French peo­ple, to­day and to­mor­row, and to sus­tain the aims of our coun­try,” he said.

Above ex­am­ples am­ply demon­strate qual­i­ties of an of­fi­cer and a gentleman of pro­fes­sional Armed Forces in the world, more than com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity.

One must un­der­stand that, one can­not de­mand re­spect, but that it should be com­manded. This is the most im­por­tant mo­ment in Sri Lankan his­tory. It was proved be­yond doubt that the per­son who holds the of­fice of Com­man­der of the Sri Lanka Army lacks competency and ex­pe­ri­ence to tackle Sri Lanka Army, which had an im­mense rep­u­ta­tion in de­feat­ing the world’s most ruth­less ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion and there­fore, he should not try to fur­ther stay in the seat for per­sonal ben­e­fits at the mercy of politi­cians spe­cially the Pres­i­dent.

PRES­I­DENT’S PROM­ISE TO CHANGE HEADS OF DE­FENCE FORCES

Sri Lankan Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena said he ex­pected to change the heads of the coun­try’s de­fence forces within a day fol­low­ing their fail­ure to pre­vent the Easter Sun­day bomb­ings, de­spite the fact they had prior in­for­ma­tion about the at­tacks.

“I will com­pletely restruc­ture the Po­lice and Se­cu­rity Forces in the com­ing weeks. I ex­pect to change the heads of de­fence es­tab­lish­ments within the next 24 hours,” Sirisena said in a tele­vised ad­dress to fam­ily mem­bers. They may strug­gle with or face new chal­lenges fol­low­ing the event and they may suf­fer from post stress trau­matic dis­or­der (PSTD) which au­thor­i­ties must take prompt ac­tions. In­tereth­nic anx­i­ety has also risen in the af­fected dis­tricts as well as in the coun­try.

There are a lot of un­cer­tain­ties, ten­sion and panic among peo­ple, due to on­go­ing threats of an­other round of ex­plo­sions, on­go­ing se­cu­rity check­ing across coun­try, sus­pi­cion about ter­ror­ists and state of emer­gency be­ing is­sued and au­thor­i­ties warned that the coun­try still faces the threat of ISIS ter­ror at­tacks.

IM­PACTS PO­LIT­I­CAL

The In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice, Pu­jith Jaya­sun­dara, came un­der heavy crit­i­cism fol­low­ing the bomb­ings with the United Peo­ple’s Free­dom Al­liance urg­ing that he re­sign for this to­tal fail­ure to pre­vent the bomb­ings. Later, for­mer Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Field Mar­shal Sarath Fon­seka claimed it was un­fair to blame the IGP and claimed it was a con­flict be­tween the func­tion­ing of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tors, and called for bet­ter in­tel­li­gence mech­a­nisms and se­cu­rity clear­ances to be stream­lined.

In a speech de­liv­ered in Par­lia­ment, for­mer Pres­i­dent and Cur­rent Op­po­si­tion Leader Mahinda Ra­japaksa slammed the Gov­ern­ment for weak­en­ing the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices over the years.

He stated that in Jan­uary 2015, he handed over a se­cure and peace­ful coun­try with a strong na­tional se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus.

He claimed the present Gov­ern­ment was squarely re­spon­si­ble for the 2019 Easter Sun­day bomb­ings, stat­ing that on an im­por­tant oc­ca­sion such as Easter, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Gov­ern­ment usu­ally at­tend Mass; on this oc­ca­sion, no rep­re­sen­ta­tives were present in or near churches.

He blamed the Gov­ern­ment for di­lut­ing the pow­ers of the na­tional se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus and claimed this ter­ror­ist at­tack would never have oc­curred un­der his ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Gov­ern­ment was pre­par­ing to re­peal the Pre­ven­tion of Ter­ror­ism Act; he ques­tioned what kind of po­si­tion the Gov­ern­ment would have been in to re­spond to the in­ci­dent had they been suc­cess­ful in hav­ing the Act re­pealed.

On April 24, 2019, Pres­i­dent Sirisena promised ma­jor changes to the lead­er­ship of the se­cu­rity forces within the next 24 hours and pledged a “com­plete restruc­ture” of the po­lice and na­tional se­cu­rity forces in the com­ing weeks. These changes come amidst al­le­ga­tions that a rift be­tween the Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter con­tributed to the fail­ure to ef­fec­tively re­spond to threats that un­der­mine na­tional se­cu­rity.

The in­ci­dent also caused a ma­jor set­back for the Gov­ern­ment and for other po­lit­i­cal par­ties just be­fore the 2019 Sri Lankan pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe later apol­o­gised for fail­ing to stop the at­tacks is­su­ing a state­ment on twit­ter stat­ing “We take col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity and apol­o­gise to our fel­low cit­i­zens for our fail­ure to pro­tect vic­tims of these tragic events. We pledge to re­build our churches, re­vive our econ­omy, and take all mea­sures to pre­vent ter­ror­ism, with the sup­port of the in­ter­na­tional community.

ECO­NOMIC

Tourism in Sri Lanka is the coun­try’s third largest for­eign ex­change earner and em­ploys around 135,000 to 150,000 in the in­dus­try. The in­dus­try had ex­pected three mil­lion tourist ar­rivals and a rev­enue of $5 bil­lion in 2019. Due to the at­tack on tourists, The Ho­tels As­so­ci­a­tion of Sri Lanka es­ti­mated a loss of $1.5 bil­lion in tourism earn­ings for the year.

The Gov­ern­ment’s plan to grant visa-onar­rival to vis­i­tors from 39 coun­tries has been sus­pended due to the cur­rent se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

SO­CIAL

Min­is­ter Patali Champika Ranawaka called for the Bat­ticaloa Cam­pus and Is­lamic Study Cen­tres (Madrasas) in Beruwala, Ma­haragama, Trin­co­ma­lee and Ad­dalaichchenai be brought un­der the con­trol and su­per­vi­sion of the Univer­sity Grants Com­mis­sion (UGC) and the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry.

On April 27, 2019, Sri Lanka Cricket called off an un­der-19 tour of the coun­try by the Pak­istan cricket team, sched­uled to take place in May, say­ing “We didn’t want to take any chances”.

In the wake of the at­tacks thou­sands of Sri Lankans bought ter­ror­ism in­sur­ance. Is­lamic chan­nel Peace TV, which is run by preacher and tel­e­van­ge­list Za­kir Naik was of­fi­cially banned in the coun­try by the main satel­lite cable op­er­a­tors Di­a­log TV, PEO TV and Lanka Broad­band Net­work fol­low­ing the at­tacks even be­fore the Govern­men­tal in­ter­ven­tion.

The chan­nel is also al­leged for its hate speech and also ac­cused to have been used by the Is­lamic State to brain­wash the young­sters and was pre­vi­ously banned in In­dia and Bangladesh.

RE­AC­TIONS DO­MES­TIC RE­SPONSES

Lead­ers of the coun­try con­demned the at­tacks: Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena said “I have given in­struc­tions to take very stern ac­tion against the per­sons who are re­spon­si­ble for this con­spir­acy”, the Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe said “I strongly con­demn the cow­ardly at­tacks on our peo­ple to­day, Op­po­si­tion Leader and for­mer Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa called the at­tacks “ab­so­lutely bar­baric” and said that the na­tion will stand united as one against “acts of ter­ror­ism”, and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Man­gala Sa­ma­raweera de­scribed the at­tacks as a “well co-or­di­nated at­tempt to cre­ate mur­der, may­hem and an­ar­chy”.

Ro­man Catholic Arch­bishop of Colombo, His Em­i­nence Car­di­nal Mal­colm Ran­jith said “It’s a very, very sad day for all of us. I wish there­fore to ex­press my deep­est sor­row and sym­pa­thy I con­demn to the ut­most of my ca­pac­ity this act that has caused so much death and suf­fer­ing to the peo­ple.”

Fol­low­ing the at­tack, the Arch­bishop’s House in Colombo can­celled all Catholic Easter ser­vices planned for the evening of Easter Sun­day.

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL RE­SPONSE

Nu­mer­ous world lead­ers ex­pressed con­do­lences and con­dem­na­tion. Pres­i­dent of the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment An­to­nio Ta­jani re­ferred to the bomb­ings as an act of geno­cide.

The Fin­lan­dia Hall in Helsinki il­lu­mi­nated in the colours of the Sri Lankan flag to ex­press sol­i­dar­ity.

Af­ter the bomb­ings, nu­mer­ous build­ings around the world were il­lu­mi­nated in Sri Lanka’s colours, some of which in­cluded the Flin­ders Street rail­way sta­tion in Melbourne, the Opera House in Syd­ney, the Fin­lan­dia Hall in Helsinki, the North­ern Spire Bridge and Pen­shaw Mon­u­ment in Sun­der­land, the Burj Khal­ifa in Dubai, the Emi­rates Palace, AD­NOC Head­quar­ters, Cap­i­tal Gate and Ma­rina Mall in Abu Dhabi, the City Hall in Tel Aviv, the Penn­syl­va­nia State Capi­tol in Har­ris­burg, and the Sky Tower in Auck­land. The Eif­fel Tower in Paris went dark as a memo­rial for the vic­tims of the bomb­ings.

The New York Stock Ex­change paused for a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore the open­ing bell on the day af­ter the at­tacks. Real Madrid CF also had a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore the La Liga match on the night of the at­tacks. Can­dle­light vig­ils were held and flags were also flown at half-mast around the world in­clud­ing in Pak­istan, Canada, In­done­sia, New Zealand, Aus­tralia and the United King­dom.

ISIS CLAIMED RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY

In the mean­time, the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL or ISIS or IS) group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ings via its Amaq news por­tal.

“Those who car­ried out the at­tack that tar­geted the cit­i­zens of the coalition and Chris­tians in Sri Lanka were Is­lamic State fight­ers,” the group said in a state­ment. In a later state­ment, the group gave the names of seven peo­ple, who it said were be­hind the “ji­hadist at­tack” that tar­geted Chris­tians dur­ing their “blas­phe­mous hol­i­day”, re­fer­ring to Easter. It also re­leased a photo of eight men it said were be­hind the blasts.

SUR­VIVAL OF SRI LANKA AND WHERE ARE WE?

Sur­vival of any na­tion on this planet de­pends on na­tional se­cu­rity, eco­nomic ca­pa­bil­ity, Diplo­matic Ca­pa­bil­ity, sci­ence and in­no­va­tion ca­pa­bil­ity, In­for­ma­tion ca­pa­bil­ity, strate­gic cul­ture and fi­nally po­lit­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity.

When po­lit­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity or the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship is weak, first and fore­most na­tional se­cu­rity will be threat­ened. Then it will hit the na­tional econ­omy. Fol­lowed by di­plo­macy, na­tional sci­ence and in­no­va­tion, na­tional cul­ture and in­for­ma­tion struc­ture.

At present all the pil­lars of sur­vival have been badly af­fected in our coun­try. How did it hap­pen? I be­lieve, It is not that dif­fi­cult for some­one with com­mon sense to un­der­stand where the real prob­lem lies in our moth­er­land?

De­sha­keerthi Lanka Puthra, Gen­eral, Dr Boni­face Per­era (PHD)

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