Crime & Justice

Sri Lanka church observes Black Sunday to seek justice for terror victims

By Aanya Wipulasena

Colombo, Mar 7 (efe-epa).- Sri Lankan Roman Catholic Church observed a Black Sunday, seeking justice for the victims of the Easter bombings that killed nearly 270 people, including 40 foreigners, two years ago.

The bells at the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, near Colombo, tolled at 8.45 am, marking the time when a of the suicide bomber blew himself up on April 21, 2019, leaving a bloody carnage behind. That was one of the six places bombed on that day of mayhem.

The morning mass in the Roman Catholic churches on Sunday was painted dark as devotees clad in black demanded justice by naming and punishing those involved in the bombings.

An Islamic State-inspired coordinated suicide attacks by an extremist Muslim group, the National Thowheed Jamaat, left a trail of carnage on the island that also wounded more than 400.

Eight suicide bombers targeted three hotels, two Roman Catholic churches, and a Protestant church.

The Catholic community in the country feels the government has denied them justice.

Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims attended a demonstration after the mass to express solidarity with the victims.

“We are not protesting. We are manifesting our disappointment. We are manifesting our longing for justice,” Father Joy Mariaratnam at the demonstration told EFE.

He said the demonstration was to speak for all victims, irrespective of faith. “We are not happy with the progress of this investigation.”

A government-appointed commission in a report indicted then-President Maithripala Sirisena and several other high-level officials during his tenure for criminal negligence and failure to prevent the mayhem.

The report recommended setting up a high court to hear cases relating to the Easter Sunday bombings.

It also called for regulating social media and cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist Islamist ideologies.

However, Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said the commission had left “many questions unanswered” and declared “Black Sunday” on Mar.7 to seek justice for the victims.

He demanded the identification of the masterminds behind the attacks.

“If the authors and powers behind this (the bombing) is not found, it can happen again. Therefore, this government has a big responsibility. They can’t wash their hands off it,” Cardinal Ranjith told reporters.

“This is not the time to think that it is over and sweep it under the rug.”

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) had also shown its support to the event saying, demanding the government to “investigate and prosecute those who masterminded the dastardly terrorist attacks.” EFE-EPA


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