04/30/2019, 18.05
SRI LANKA
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Card Ranjith slams government over Easter Sunday bombings, calls for action to avoid vigilante justice

by Melani Manel Perera

The archbishop holds a press conference to denounce the authorities’ failures. Schools must remain closed until pupils and teachers are safe. He warns about the dangers looming over the upcoming Vesak festival. The Commission of Inquiry is likely to fail like previous ones.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, held a media briefing to express his displeasure at the government for its inactions in connection with the Easter Sunday bombings.

In his address, the prelate slammed the authorities for trying to pass the buck, for losing time, letting people to escape, setting up a commission with many retired officers, and for failing to uphold the law and providing security. Instead, he urged them to “implement the law without any fear or favour [and] without leaving room for us to take the law into our own hands.”

The cardinal unreservedly dismissed the government’s handling of the emergency caused by bombings at three churches and hotels. In light of the situation, he wants the authorities not to reopen the country’s schools until they can guarantee security for students and teachers alike.

However, “I cannot see any measures being taken towards” this, Mgr Ranjith said. “Politicians are once again playing their favourite blame game and as a result, the country and the people continue to suffer.”

He warns that “if the current regime does not have a stronger framework to combat terror, it will be impossible to contain the masses in the country in the future.”

In his view, “it is the duty of political leaders not to indulge in blame games or waste time by reminding [people of] what took place in the past.” Instead, “it is their responsibility to put aside their political differences and find solutions to the issue of national security and take action to rid the country from this pitiful state.”

Calling on “all political parties in this country to form an All-Party government to resolve this issue,” he urges “the President, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader and other political leaders to put aside their differences”.

The cardinal points out the lack of coordination in security operations, asking "Who brought these explosives, who gave support to these terrorists”? These people “should be questioned” even though they “may have fled the country by now.”

After the attacks, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena set up a Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI), but “I am still in the dark whether those in the PCol had even begun their deliberations or any evidence has been sought from witnesses, etc.” Its members are “retired officers” instead of “skilled and knowledgeable” experts.

Card Ranjith fears that this Commission “will suffer the same fate like each of its predecessors.” Case in point is the PCoI “into the death of Roshen Chanaka”, a worker shot to death during clashes with police in 2001.

Finally, with the approach of the Vesak festival, on 18 May, “people tend to converge in large numbers [. . .] throughout the country,” he notes. “[I]f by some chance another attack were to take place during that time, the maintenance of national security will become a serious issue.”

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