Black flags displayed for justice in the Easter Sunday attacks
by Melanie Manel Perera

Card Ranjith has urged fellow Sri Lankans to display the symbol of mourning in protest against the government’s failure to find the truth about the 2019 bombings. Many civil society groups back the prelate’s request, but for others it is half-hearted. At least 25 people have been charged in connection with the attacks, but the authorities have failed to identify the principals.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Archbishop of Colombo, Card Malcolm Ranjith, is urging Catholic and non-Catholic Sri Lankans to display black flags in every house, church and shop in protest against the Sri Lankan government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and in memory of the victims of the Easter terrorist attacks of two years ago that killed 269 people and injured more than 500 at three churches and three hotels.

Last Saturday, 28 months after the attacks, prayers were held, bells rang at 8.45 o'clock and lamps were lit to commemorate the victims. However, while some people heeded the request, others were critical.

“After such a long period, simply hoisting black flags and holding a silent protest against the government is not enough," some people told AsiaNews. Even some non-Catholics have called the gesture half-hearted.

“There is no point in displaying flags to show our opposition to this government which allowed innocent people to be killed while they were in church,” some said.

For others, “Cardinal Ranjith should take more decisive action so that the government continues with its investigations to find those responsible for the tragedy.”

Last week 25 people were charged in connection with the attacks, but the archbishop asked that the principals be found, not just the people who collaborated.

“The selfish arbitrariness of the authorities allowed so many people to die,” the cardinal said. “Even today, from time to time we try to cover up the truth that God points to. But we pray God to expose the great political conspiracy behind this tragedy.”

Many secular and Catholic civil society groups back Archbishop Ranjith's call. The Negombo Citizens' Committee, the Center for Society and Religion (Csr), and the Justice Foundation joined the peaceful protest.

“Failure to answer the Church’s request and not reveal the truth will not prevent citizens from pointing the finger at the government,” said one protester. “President Rajapaksa was elected thanks to the votes of many Catholics because he had promised that he would do justice.”