“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” – Romans 12:17
The Easter attacks in Sri Lanka have been a tragic event that has left a lasting impact on the country. It has been four years since the attacks took place, and yet the mystery surrounding the events of that day remains. In the wake of the attacks, conspiracy theories have been rampant, and justice for the true victims has been buried under political manoeuvring.
The attacks were carried out by a group inspired by the ideology of the Islamic State, at a time when Sri Lanka was in a political stalemate. The political cohabitation of Wickremesinghe and Sirisena had ended bitterly, with President Sirisena shamefully attempting to use his presidential power to remove the sitting Prime Minister and appoint his political rival as the new Prime Minister.
The Supreme Court later ruled this was unconstitutional, and President Sirisena was forced to keep Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister. However, this political disunity came at a heavy price, and the leaders could not escape their responsibility for jeopardizing national security. The result of their fight like Kilkenny cats led to the Easter Sunday blasts targeting unarmed civilians. While we do not see any evidence of a conspiracy behind these attacks, it was a result of carelessness and underestimation on the part of those responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the public. This allowed the enemies to succeed in carrying out their deadly plans.
The attacks were well-coordinated, and investigations revealed that there were plans for follow-up attacks. However, the extremist network was broken down, and almost every suspect involved in this network was brought to justice. The Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) of USA conducted a detailed investigation and found no evidence of conspiracy, but they were able to identify the exact parties behind the attacks.
Despite these findings, conspiracy theories continue to circulate, and justice for the victims remains elusive. Political parties and social groups have politicized the issue, making it difficult to bring closure to the victims’ families. Unfortunately, certain members of the Catholic Church politicized the carnage for their cheap popularity without addressing the issue rationally. Instead of finding justice and taking proper measures to prevent recurrence, the Church was caught up in a sea of conspiracy. This failure to address the issue objectively and without bias only adds to the tragedy of the Easter attacks.
The irony is that immediately after the attack, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, called for the Catholic Church to play a more proactive role in addressing the root causes of extremism and promoting interfaith harmony. His words helped prevent religious riots, but his subsequent actions proved to be more politically polarizing than unifying. For example, he was among those who spoke out against the legal procedures promulgated by the state to counter radicalization, which were later hijacked by NGOs in Colombo for their own gain.
In the aftermath of the Easter attacks, it was crucial for religious leaders to act responsibly and work towards healing the wounds of the nation. Unfortunately, some leaders chose to use the incident to further their own agendas, instead of working towards a more peaceful and just society. This only served to exacerbate tensions and further divide communities. It is essential that leaders from all communities work together to prevent such incidents from happening again and promote a more harmonious future for Sri Lanka.
On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Easter attacks, it is crucial to commemorate the victims and pay tribute to their memory. We should also urge for justice for the victims and hold those accountable who are responsible, irrespective of their political or social connections. Only by working together can we prevent similar tragedies from recurring and make sure that justice is upheld.
Despite the progress made in bringing the perpetrators of the Easter attacks to justice, there are still certain issues that remain shrouded in mystery. The attack is a clear indication of a failure on the part of Sri Lankan authorities to connect the dots and assess the possible consequences of the information being provided to them. It was a failure partly due to underestimating the capabilities of those providing information and the social-political situation in the country. This lack of foresight resulted in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country’s history.
However, despite this initial setback, as mentioned above, the law enforcement agencies were able to crack down on the entire network soon after the attacks and averted future attacks. The Muslim community also played a crucial role in helping the state catch the extremists, proving that the majority of any community stands for peace despite many challenges.
As we mark the fourth anniversary of this national tragedy, we must reflect on the lessons learned and work together to prevent such attacks from happening again. It is crucial that all parties involved work towards justice and accountability for the victims and their families, and take steps to address the root causes of extremism in our society. Only by working together can we ensure a safer, more peaceful future for Sri Lanka.