02/22/2021, 16.37
SRI LANKA
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Catholics in Katuwapitiya, Card Ranjith want the truth about the Easter Sunday massacres

by Melani Manel Perera

Catholics have protested over the slow pace of the investigation, possible cover-ups, and lack of compensation. Hundreds of people lost their lives in the premeditated attack, bemoans a leader of the silent protest. “We will not bow our heads” until justice is done, says prelate.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Members of the Katuwapitiya Catholic parish staged a protest against the slow pace of the investigation into the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. Card Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Jayakody, and several priests expressed their support for the initiative.

Catholics in Katuwapitiya are upset by the lack of clarity on the part of the government, which has not yet released the findings of the Presidential Commission nor paid out any compensation to the victims.

During last Saturday’s rally, the families affected by the tragedy protested against the government panel appointed to review the report drafted by the Presidential Commission.

The latter is still secret, and people are increasingly demanding truth and justice almost two years after the facts.

Marching in silence, protesters called for the “truth of the report” to be revealed and “perpetrators exposed”, holding banners in Sinhala and English saying “No more committees”, “We can’t wait any longer”, “We have had enough!”

Speaking to AsiaNews,  46-year-old K Chandrani Fernando, who lost her husband in the attacks, wonders “what is the big problem that the government cannot tell the truth found by the Presidential Commission? What is the use of a new panel to study the report?”

On Easter Sunday two years ago, she, her husband and daughter went to church to attend Mass, not sacrifice their lives. Like them, that is what all the other faithful did at the celebration. “But hundreds of innocent people lost their lives to a bomber devoid of any humanity,” Chandrani said.

Our people “did not simply die,” they were “killed in a planned manner. Why? Because some people in the government knew about the attack early. Why did we not now about it? This is a big crime.”

“On behalf of all our victims, I urge the government to take the necessary steps to give a monthly remuneration to those who need it,” Chandrani said. “After giving only one million rupees (US$ 5,200), the government did not pay attention as to whether the victims were alive or dead.”

Chandrani is grateful to Card Ranjith for standing for justice with the victims and their families, helping them with support and works, as well as providing them with shelter together with the Cine-Star Foundation.

The cardinal briefly spoke at the protest, calling on the authorities to “publish the report as it is and we will decide what to do. We do not accept the cabinet committee.”

“We need to find out who is behind all the forces that planned and carried out these bombings. The president promised us justice,” the prelate told the crowd.

“ We will not bow our heads to leaders without getting justice,” he added, we “will continue to fight for our rights. Reveal all the proposals made by this commission and then take action to implement those proposals.”  

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed the committee last Friday, chaired by National Security Minister Chamal Rajapaksa. It is expected to submit a report by 15 March.

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