Sri Lankan cardinal urges UN rights body to probe Easter Sunday blasts

Cardinal Ranjith of Colombo said investigations “indicate that this massacre was part of a grand political plot”

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka this week appealed to the UN Human Rights Council for an “impartial investigation” into the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings that killed at least 279 people.

In his address before the UN body in Geneva on March 7, the cardinal said he wanted to know that truth behind the attacks, which he described as a “serious violation” of “fundamental rights.”

“The first impression of this massacre was that it was purely the work of a few Islamic extremists,” said Cardinal Ranjith.

He said, however, that subsequent investigations “indicate that this massacre was part of a grand political plot.”

The cardinal has previously hinted the attacks helped Gotabaya Rajapaksa win the presidential elections in November 2019.

The government has since been silent over the allegation, but Cardinal Ranjith said there were attempts “to harass and intimidate” those who call for justice for the victims.

“Instead of discovering the truth behind the attack and prosecuting those responsible, attempts are underway to harass and intimidate those seeking justice,” said the cardinal.

“Nearly three years after the horrendous crime, we are still in the dark as to what really happened on that Easter Sunday,” said the cardinal.

“Despite our repeated requests … the incumbent government of Sri Lanka was unable to do justice to the victims.” he said.

“We earnestly call upon the UNHRC and all its member countries to support the continuation of evidence gathering initiated by the Council last year and to devise a means to ensure an investigation to unravel the truth behind the Easter Sunday massacre,” said the cardinal in his address.

Last month, Sri Lanka’s High Court acquitted two top officials accused of “crime against humanity” for failing to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings.

In a statement released last week, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka noted that justice remains elusive for the families of the victims.

The coordinated suicide bombings on three churches, four hotels, and one housing complex on April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday, took place while Masses and religious services were held.

The Catholic Church leaders said they have appealed to the government “time and again … to bring before the Courts of Justice all responsible for the onslaught on hundreds of innocent lives.”

The bishops said they are “appalled” at the apparent failure of the government “to move to implement the recommendations” made by a commission tasked to investigate the attacks.

“As there seems to be not only a delay but attempts to hide the truth, exploit the massacre for political gain and also to complicate the issues, we see no option other than to seek international assistance to help mete out justice to the victims,” read the bishops’ statement.

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