Colombo, activists to government: Justice (without scapegoats) for the Easter massacres
by Melani Manel Perera

The National Peace Council: "Hurried solutions do not help for the future".  Shortcomings in national security led to terrorist attacks.  The former secretary of defense and the former chief of police were arrested.  "Unfair to blame these two alone".


Colombo (AsiaNews) - Obtaining justice and remedying the inefficiencies of the state apparatus, which favored the Easter massacres against three churches and as many hotels in Colombo: This is the request of the National Peace Council (NPC), and non-governmental activists for peace.  "In particular - reads a statement - we ask the president, the prime minister and the opposition leader to put aside political divisions and plan together a process that will punish the guilty and rectify the systemic shortcomings that led to the tragedy"  .

The NPC invites the Colombo government to rapidly present a comprehensive report on the factors behind the bomb attacks at Easter and identify problems in the national security system before deciding which individuals to punish.  For activists, it is possible that even the highest people in the chain of command can be held responsible.

The statement continues: "In the midst of the ongoing sittings of the Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the Easter Sunday bombings two senior officials in the public service have been arrested by the police.  The charges against former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara are that they did not take sufficient action to prevent the bombings that led to over 250 deaths and injuries to over 500 persons despite having prior information".

The NPC emphasizes that the two officials did not need prior authorization to make decisions that were part of their duties.  However, from the investigators' findings, a failure of the system that went beyond the two accused persons seems to emerge.  "This includes the exclusion of the prime minister, deputy defense minister and police chief from the National Security Council meetings after the abortive attempt at a constitutional overthrow of the elected government and the failure to hold meetings of the National Security Council in the period leading to the bombings", adds the organization.

According to activists, given the circumstances, it is unfair to blame only the two defendants for not preventing them.  "We believe - they conclude - that it will be useful to apply Systems Thinking which can help us see that what may seem an isolated problem is actually part of the interconnected network of related issues. Ignoring this interconnectedness will lead to many unintended negative consequences for Sri Lanka in the short and long term. Quick fixes do not help in the long term".