ECONOMYNEXT – The head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church, Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday (28) where allegations of delayed justice for the victims of the 2019 Easter bombings were taken up, according to an official statement.
The statement, issued by the Bishop’s House said, one of the purposes of the meeting was to notify Pope Francis about Sri Lanka’s alleged failure to “reveal the truth” surrounding the Easter Sunday attacks, despite it being nearly three years since the tragic blasts killed 269 people and injured over 500.
Media spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Colombo Rev Fr Cyril Gamini told EconomyNext that the Cardinal’s meeting with the Pope was part of his annual visit to the Vatican.
The Bishop’s House statement said that the Cardinal was due to brief the Pope on the struggles Sri Lanka’s Catholic community is facing with regard to investigations into the bombings and alleged lethargy of the government in identifying and bringing the “real criminals” to justice.
The need for international aid in bringing justice for the victims was also to be addressed, the statement said.
On February 15, Cardinal Ranjith said the church was working together with the Vatican on a secret course of action to help find justice for the victims of the 2019 Easter bombings.
“The plans cannot be revealed yet, but something is being organised,” the cardinal said, speaking to reporters on February 15. “If we cannot find a solution within the country, we will try going through international organisations.”
“If we do go international,” he added, “the government alone must take responsibility for that, because it is the government that has not paid an iota of attention to this. We cannot accept that.”
Sri Lanka Catholic church making plans with Vatican to find justice for Easter attack victims
Sri Lanka is expected to be scrutinized at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session for alleged war crimes and the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The PTA was used to incarcerate many Sri Lankan Muslims in supposed connection to the Easter Attacks, a move condemned by Human Rights activists. One of the most prominent of these arrests was that of human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah who was freed in early February 2022 after two years in detention.
Despite the arrests, government critics say, there is still no clear evidence pointing to the masterminds behind the attacks.
Amid pressure from both the United Nations and the European Union, the Sri Lankan government recently conceded to rethink the use of the PTA.
Meanwhile, a copy of the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate the bombings was added to the parliament library in late February for the perusal of MPs.
The report spans 88 volumes and nearly 70,000 pages.
Main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Mujiber Rahuman told parliament on February 23 that the report was released to parliament “as soon as the Cardinal took off to the Vatican”. (Colombo/Mar01/2022)