PRG expresses extreme concern about the continuing political drama which seeks to delay and/or deny much needed justice for the victims of the Easter Sunday Tragedy in 2019 in Sri Lanka and calls for an impartial and transparent investigation
People’s Rights Group (PRG), a rights-based advocacy and lobbying group based in the UK particularly dealing with human rights violations in Sri Lanka, notes with a sense of extreme concern and trepidation, the continued denial of much needed justice for the innocent victims of Easter Sunday terror attacks in April 2019, despite numerous public calls and outcries – both local and international in the past. The recent Channel 4 Dispatches investigation, which made serious exposures, based on testimonies from whistleblowers, reportedly validated by UN instigators and EU intelligence agencies, has once again stressed the imperative and urgent need to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation into this disaster, to identify and punish those responsible for this disaster.
What is equally alarming is that it reveals that the attacks were orchestrated as part of a grand political plot. The documentary makes unequivocal allegations that the attacks were a well-planned attempt to gain power by certain individuals who groomed, recruited and used extremist and criminal elements to achieve their malevolent objectives. The attacks were planned in such a way to create chaos and fear in the country in particular and globally in general, to falsely create an impression that a group of terrorists from the Muslim community plotted and executed the attacks, a theory that has been questioned by many, including the Catholic Church. The plotters of the attack, whoever they were, achieved multiple objectives including the killing and maiming of a large number of innocent churchgoers and tourists, bringing the country’s economy to its heals by effecting a deathblow to the tourism industry, and most importantly importing wholesale the global Islamophobic agenda into Sri Lanka thereby pitching other communities against the Muslim minority, marginalising and demonising them. The Muslim community was forced to assume guilt and shame for the attacks. In the aftermath of the attacks, Hundreds of innocent Muslims were arrested, mosques were raided, religious literature were confiscated, and three years later dozens of persons still languish in prisons without trial.
The need for justice without any further delay, cannot be overemphasised, not only for those who were killed, but for their families and many survivors who still carry the scars, both physical and emotional, of these terrorist attacks. Justice has also been denied to the many Muslims who lost their jobs, livelihoods, their possessions and more importantly their freedom and dignity. This national tragedy became a game changer particularly for the Muslims, where harassment, discrimination and a well-orchestrated hate campaign took shape in the public domain, demonising and alienating Muslims by exploiting the strong emotions behind the flowing tears shed by a grieving nation.
Numerous committees and Commissions were formed and multiple inquiries and investigations were conducted but none have come out with the whole truth, and none at all have resulted in meting out justice to the victims. Even after the release of the recent documentary The Government of Sri Lanka announced yet another committee, this time a parliamentary committee to look into the allegations once again. It is ironic, not the least because one of the key individuals alleged to be involved in the plot is a sitting parliamentarian of the governing coalition.
PRG, thus views the decision by President Wickramasinghe, consequent to the Channel 4 program, to appoint another select committee to inquire, as lacking both credibility and rationale. Sri Lankans have lost faith in such committees, and the ability of the government law enforcement apparatus to conduct impartial investigations on their own. Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith also clearly pointed out the inadequacy of the mechanisms.
It is therefore pertinent to caution the GoSL authorities that unless it takes due cognizance of the extreme sense of frustration people are experiencing and the depth of the thirst of the entire public seeking answers, Sri Lanka will remain a charred and shattered nation, with its international image tarnished. Thus, a thorough investigation by an impartial body with international participation will pave the way for clearing mutual suspicion and doubt prevailing among communities, fuelled by political vested interests and also protect the country’s credibility globally.
PRG, therefore adds its voice to the growing calls both local and global, to call upon the GoSL
- To initiate an impartial and independent investigation into this tragedy with the participation of competent international agencies, to identify and punish those responsible for this disaster
- To allow the investigators unfettered access to evidence and providing due protection to witnesses and whistleblowers
- To decisively act against impunity and those using Islamophobia to achieve their political ends
- For the finalisation of investigations and immediately release those who have been kept behind bars without any charges.