Two years after the Easter Sunday bombings, Christians pray and demand justice
by Melani Manel Perera

The Catholic Bishops' Conference urges Pope Francis to recognise as martyrs the victims of the attacks. For Card Ranjith, the bombings failed to sow divisions between different faiths. Activist slams the  government for failing to live up to its promises and provide justice no justice. People “want the truth.”

 


Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lankan Christians yesterday marked the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday bombings of three churches and three luxury hotels.

Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith led the prayer, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Anton Ranjith, at the St Anthony's Shrine in the capital.

Two other auxiliary bishops, J. D. Anthony and Maxwell Silva, co-celebrated the service at St Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya.

Last night, at the end of mass at St Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to recognise as martyrs those who died in the attacks.

In the morning, the families of the victims gathered in the two churches hit in Colombo and Negombo, wearing mourning black.

At 8.45 am, to coincide with the explosion of the first bomb, a minute of silence and commemoration was held, accompanied by the chime of bells. At the end, those present lit candles and offered flowers in memory of the dead.

In Kochchikade, the Archbishop of Colombo celebrated in English and Sinhala the memorial service in front of numerous ambassadors and officials.

In his address, he pointed out that religious extremism is a useful tool for players in global geopolitics and their local agents to achieve their goals. One of them, sowing tensions among different religions, has failed.

“People have defeated the attempt made by different political and other forces to create animosity between Christians, Sinhalese and Muslims,” the prelate said. “It is important that we work together as religions and not one against one another.”

Speaking about the report by the commission of inquiry and the ongoing investigation, the cardinal said that “What impedes a transparent process of inquiry into this matter is political posturing and the need to safeguard alliances.”

In the evening, more than 500 Catholic priests from all of Sri Lanka’s dioceses recited the rosary during a procession in Negombo from the Maris Stella College to St Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya.

A chariot with the statue of the Risen Christ damaged in the explosion travelled at the head of the procession while one carrying Our Lady followed at the end.

Card Ranjith, all the Catholic bishops, Anglican and Methodist clerics, Muslim Moulavi and Hindu Kurukkal, several Buddhist monks and several believers joined the procession. At the end came the blessing of the new chapel and David Watta cemetery in Katuwapitiya.

Meanwhile, the Negombo Citizens' Coalition held a silent protest yesterday morning from 8 am to 9.30 am, on the main road not far from the St Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya.

Herman Kumara, a representative of the Coalition, told AsiaNews how “the current government came to power with great hope (of justice) for the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks. They said they would find the masterminds of the attacks, arrest them and enforce the law.

“So far, that law has not been applied,” he added. “We don't trust what they say, what they do. [. . .] Those arrested have been released. In doing so, justice long hoped for by the oppressed and the rest of the country will never be achieved. We want the truth.”

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