The Roman Catholic Bishops of Sri Lanka said on Monday (22 February) that they suspect the government’s reasons that a presidential committee’s report on suicide bombing attacks of the Easters Sunday in 2019, which killed more than 260 people, was not released, but that another committee to research this attack was named.
The church has been alarmed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision last week to designate a new six-member government ministries committee for the review, without discussing the report with the church or the Attorney General, Reverend Winston Fernando, the head of the Sri Lanka Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
“We have a lot of doubts about this whole process, the whole thing is getting delayed,” Rev Fernando told The Associated Press.
“If there are people involved, they want to protect them, I suppose, what else?” Rev Fernando said, without elaborating.
He said that the Committee was unbalanced, which only included members of the governing party, and the inclusion of persons who have other pending court cases in its credibility.
Two local Muslim groups that committed loyalty to the party of the Islamic State have been blamed for the bombings of 21 Apr 2019. Two Roman Catholic Churches, a Protestant Church and three top tourist hotels had breakfast. In the Catholic Churches 171 people have been killed.
A communication breakdown between the then president and premier leading to a lapse in security cooperation, amid near-specific foreign intelligence alerts, was alleged to have allowed attacks in advance.
Among those questioned by the Commission were former chairman Maithripala Sirisena now a coalition partner in the Rajapaksa administration and former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Earlier this month, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, addressed Rajapaksa for copies of this statement and warned that, if the government doesn’t urgently respond, it would be approached by foreign church bodies to help.
The Chair’s office said on Monday that the new Committee had a mandate to define steps for the implementation of the President’s recommendations by different agencies, including the Parliament, the judiciary, the department of the Attorney General, the armed forces and intelligence services.