Specialist Physician, Prof. Krishantha Abeysena
It has been 28 months since the Easter attack. It has been more than six months since the report of the Presidential Commission was handed over. The attack claimed 270 lives and left many more dying internally daily. Many people lost limbs and suffer from brain damage and their families have been adversely affected by this. We do not view this as an attack on the Christian people alone. If there are individuals who call their religion the best religion, their nation the supreme nation, they are extremists. If we go to terrorism through this, that situation alone will not be considered in this context. We need to find reasons for extremism or terrorism in order to obtain a complete idea. I don’t like to limit it only to pressure or extremism. We cannot say that this is a question of extremism or racism or one that only affects the Muslim people. This problem can affect Buddhists, Hindus, and other religions as well as Muslims. But there is more to this than just the racist or religious issue.
The key points in the report of the Presidential Commission provide information in this regard. Why was no action taken to prevent this attack? This report was submitted to convicting the government officials. It states that the officers of the Attorney General’s Department and the police were responsible. Not only has the government not taken action against those responsible, but the government has even given promotions to those who have been accused. Not only the former President and Prime Minister but all the MPs and ministers in that government were aware of the attack. Therefore, everyone connected to the previous government is responsible for the Easter attacks. The politics of this deal is being used to gain and maintain power with certain Muslim groups through the politics of the existing deal in this country. Due to the politics of the deal, the government has not carried out proper investigations into the groups behind this.
Some say the planners here are Muslim extremist groups. Others say they are political groups in the South. It’s important. We know about Sarah Jasmine. Some say she escaped, and others say she was killed. It is said that a military intelligence messenger was sent to meet Jameel who died in Dehiwala. Due to the inefficiency of the Good Governance Government, some pressure was put on the people. We have a suspicion that the political leaders of the South who spread racism, extremism and terrorism under that pressure are the masterminds. The present government came to power using the Easter attacks. They made statements before the election that they would conduct a proper investigation and reveal everything to the people, but now they are following a dead policy. Half of the investigations have been halted. Therefore, we have a strong suspicion as to whether the politics of the South was carried out to gain power. Not only the Catholic people, but all the people living in this country who value justice and fairness have a right to know the truth as to what happened. The Cardinal has called for a protest on the 21st of every month. We are in agreement with that request.
We have an intelligence service that can’t find Easter attackers …
Aruna Shantha Nonis, Member of the Operating Committee of the National People’s Power
We extend our deepest condolences to all those who are still living in grief and depression and to all those who were killed and injured in the bombings, which have now passed 28 months. We also express our condolences to the soldiers and police who died in some conflicts.
You and I have a lot of experience of bombings in this country. We have had information about it for many years. There are two types called bomb blasts and self bombings. There is an unimaginable difference in the Easter attack from all these bombings. LTTE claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts carried out by them. We have also seen photos posted before the bombing took place. There is a reason for these bombings.
But the cause of the Easter bombing remains unclear. There is a lot of confusion about this. Therefore, the investigation process should be more extensive. But it is not clear to us the process followed by the then government and the current government that took advantage of the attack and came to power. The Catholic Church denies all reports provided so far and indicates that some points are missing. Because of this, there is great doubt. The government has a responsibility to dispel the suspicion. As National People’s Power, we are questioning the reason for not fulfilling this responsibility properly.
At this moment, the families of the people who died in the bombing have strong doubts about who is behind this. Police officers have said that they were distressed by the Easter Commission report. It is more important to identify those at the top level than to place the responsibility on the lower level people. Any terrorist group can obey anyone’s orders. But the question is about who directed them. On behalf of the people, I ask the rulers of this country, who are the persons that our intelligence services cannot find? Do we have an intelligence service that can’t find Easter Attackers? There is a lot of information that is being hidden here. Because of this suspicion is growing among the people. The government has the responsibility of dispelling the suspicion. Because we do not take that responsibility, we support the protests that take place on the 21st of every month. It is more about working for the rights of the people than protesting against the government. On behalf of the entire people of this country, we demand the government to pay attention to areas where there is suspicion and bring the real culprits before the law.
People should also be able to identify the conspiracies of the rulers…
Chief Secretary of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Tilvin Silva
As the 28th month of the Easter attack draws to a close, it is a big question of not recognizing those responsible during this long time. Organizations including Gotabhaya Rajapakse came to power using the time when the people were shocked by this attack. Despite this shock, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that he would contest the Presidential election. Promising to investigate the matter, he took the votes of the people who were frightened by the attack. Therefore, this government has a responsibility to fulfil justice to all those who died, suffered and were injured in the attack. But now it has been gradually allowed to be covered by the sands of time. If the commission appointed by Maithripala Sirisena is weak, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa could have appointed a new one to seek information. But that has not happened.
The person who was the President when the attack happened is part of the present government. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his allies stated that the attack took place as a result of their negligence. They advocated for an opportunity to defeat the then government, to ensure that those who were responsible would be held duly accountable. But now there is a very real suspicion as to whether they are harbouring the very person they claimed was responsible for the attacks and hiding the real culprits. Members of the public have doubts as to whether investigations are not taking place due to a connection between those responsible for the attacks and the present government or whether it was part of a larger conspiracy aimed at gaining governmental power. Do not ask us who the conspirators are. They have a responsibility to use the government’s intelligence services to find out the truth. But this suspicion keeps growing due to the lackadaisical approach of the government. The public is already aware that this is a tactic used by an incumbent government if they had a hand in it. There are many examples like Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder. The Easter Sunday attacks also fall into the same category. The incumbent government cannot evade the suspicion created about its possible involvement in the attacks when it has repeatedly failed to reveal the findings of the investigation to the public.
The previous government must take responsibility for failing to prevent the attack. The present government must take responsibility for not conducting impartial investigations into the attack. This is not a game. More than 300 lives were lost and a psychological fear was created. The present government used the incident for political gain. The government used the extremist groups around them those days. This is why there was a rumour that the person who tied the gun could be identified when one saw the person carrying the hunt. What has happened now is that the government has further confirmed this suspicion. The government cannot avoid this issue. The Cardinal has stated that he cannot accept the response he received from the President for his letter. The creation of suspicion against the government is a serious tragedy for any country. We know that every government in our country has played with human lives for power. We know that capitalist rulers have no value for human lives in the face of power. We know how people are killed to seize power and to remain in power. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they continue to live in a world of make-believe, because they do not attribute any value to human lives. Capitalist rulers do not value human life as much as they value power. History has shown us time and time again that they can create conspiracies, to gain power and privileges.
If the government does not want this suspicion to be directed at them, the government should present the real culprit with reasons and take appropriate legal action. Instead, the government has chosen to simply waste time and delay the process. The Attorney General has recently stated that there is not enough evidence to file a case. In the end, it is possible that there won’t be a killer although so many people were killed. Therefore, we ask the people to learn a lesson from this. Even tomorrow, they could do the same, to remain in power. This must be defeated. Only the people of this country can defeat this. In order to do this, there should be national unity and religious unity among the people. The people should be able to identify the conspiracies of the rulers. We identify the attempts taken to remain in power by deceiving and oppressing the people. Those who died are citizens of our country. If the government remains silent over the killing of so many Sri Lankan citizens, it is cause for grave concern. We cannot forgive the government for that. Therefore, we urge the government to be ready to accept responsibility for the attacks if a proper investigation is not carried out and those who are responsible are not revealed soon. The National People’s Power fully supports the measures currently being undertaken to force the government to expedite this process.