Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Sri Lanka observes ‘Black Sunday’ protest

Black Sunday
Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, (second left), along with Buddhist monks and other Catholic devotees, holds placards during a protest demanding justice for the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attack victims outside the St Anthony’s church, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday.. AP/PTI

COLOMBO, March 7: Sri Lanka’s catholic minorities have held a ‘Black Sunday’ protest, demanding justice for victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings which saw the death of nearly 260 people.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference organised the protest on Sunday, following a special probe panel’s report on the bombings getting published last month.
On April 21, 2019, nine suicide bombers belonging to the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, killing 258 people, including 11 Indians, and injuring over 500 on the Easter Sunday.
At the protest, Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranith said the government has time till April 21 to bring all responsible persons to book.
“We want justice for all our dead brothers and sisters, we want legal action against those who masterminded and those who did not prevent them (the terrorists) despite the availability of prior intelligence,” the protesters said.
The church had asked devotees to wear black for Sunday mass as a mark of protest.
Last month’s special panel report found that former president Maithripala Sirisena and a host of other top defense officials including, former defense secretaries, former IGPs and intelligence chiefs, were guilty of ignoring prior intelligence. The report recommended criminal action against the officials.
Reacting to the report, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he would act on its suggestions.
Earlier on Sunday morning, Sirisena said the US could not prevent the 9/11 attack even though there was prior intelligence. (AFP)