04/20/2021, 17.30
SRI LANKA
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Card Ranjith: schools closed and minutes of silence to mark Easter Sunday bombings

by Melani Manel Perera

The Archbishop of Colombo wants two symbolic acts to mark the second anniversary of the 21 April 2019 bombings. He also renewed his protest against the government's reluctance to inquire. The Sri Lankan Muslim Council also calls for prayers for the victims and demands the truth.

 

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith of Colombo said that Catholic schools will remain closed tomorrow on the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday 2019 attacks. To mark the occasion, he also called on Sri Lankans to observe two minutes of silence.

The cardinal made his appeal while reiterating his dissatisfaction with the results of the commission of inquiry set up to shed light on the bombings. He accused again the government of playing “political games” that are undermining his confidence in the probe.

In spite of this, tomorrow there will be no street protests against the slow progress by the authorities in seeking out those who carried out the attacks, as some feared a few weeks ago.

At a press conference in Colombo yesterday, Card Ranjith urged in particular Catholics and all religious leaders to observe two minutes of silence tomorrow at 8.45 am, the time when the first bomb went off at the St. Anthony's Shrine (Kochchikade) on 21 April 2019, which was followed by series of bombings that killed 279 people and wounded more than 500 people.

The prelate announced that all Catholic schools will remain closed on this second anniversary. He also used the occasion to slam the government for the shortcomings of the investigation into the attacks.

“Political wheeling and dealing seem to overshadow efforts to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice,” lamented the cardinal.

When asked about his intention to protest in streets because of the government’s failure, Card Ranjith said that “all we want is serious action. We will continue to show that our people are with us.

“We will continue this struggle until we have a clear sign that the government is going to truly investigate and reveal the matter to the public. It is not a problem for Christians or Catholics. This is a problem for the country and its security.”

The Archbishop of Colombo added that ad hoc arrests and releases are not building trust in the investigation.

Prayer vigils will be held this evening with Eucharistic adoration at the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo, and at the St. Sebastian Church in the Katuwapitiya, Negombo, both hit in the attacks. Services will continue tomorrow.

A police spokesperson said that security measures will be beefed up around the country’s churches on the anniversary.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) issued a communiqué expressing its support for the archbishop's invitation to observe the two minutes of silence tomorrow in memory of the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks.

“We call on Muslims to pray for these dead in the holy month of Ramadan,” says MCSL Vice President Hilmy Ahamed.

The Council too called on the government to speed up its investigation into the tragedy of 21 April 2019 and bring the real culprits to justice without relying on unfounded evidence.

“The Muslim community condemns suicide bombers, since Islam totally prohibits the killing of innocents even during a war,” reads the communiqué. “This is why the Muslim community denied the suicide bombers a Muslim funeral.”

It goes on to say: “Let's strengthen our resolve to denounce and resist all forms of terrorism and violence, and help promote peaceful coexistence, understanding and harmony among all citizens in Sri Lanka.”

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