Sri Lanka Cardinal says foreign conspiracy behind Easter attacks
By Our Political Correspondent
Jul 21, 2019 21:37 PM GMT+0530 | 2 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT – The head of Sri Lanka's Roman Catholic Church Sunday lambasted the government and its foreign allies and said the power struggle between the President and the Prime Minister allowed the Easter attacks which were part of an "international conspiracy".
Addressing a congregation at the consecration of the Katuwapitiya St. Sebastian’s church, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said the two leaders did not have a backbone and could not resist the foreign conspiracy to destabilize the country.
“The power struggle between the executive and the legislature since October, they have not paid attention to security. There were no national security council meetings for a long time.
“They weakened and demoralized the intelligence services to please their international partners and international NGOs,” the Cardinal said in a hard-hitting sermon that dismissed all investigations carried out so far by the authorities.
At least 258 people were killed in the attacks targeting three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo. Nearly 500 people were also wounded. Since the April 21 attacks, Sri Lanka is under a state of emergency that gives wide powers to police and troops to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.
The Cardinal said he could not accept the investigations or the outcome of commissions appointed by the president as well as parliament. “These have been set up to write a script to suit a particular political party,” he said. “I can’t accept them.”
He said the international conspirators had used a few “misguided Muslim youth” to carry out the attack, but the actual powers behind the Easter Sunday bombings were yet to be revealed.
In a surprise move, the Cardinal quoted from a report in the Sinhala language Divaina newspaper saying that the head of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was being sheltered by the United States. He did directly name the US, but described it as the most powerful country.
"The current leaders have failed. They have no backbone. They must leave the government and go home and allow someone else to govern the country," Ranjith said.
Ranjith also launched a scathing attack on the United Nations, saying it was only interested in the welfare of the dozens of suspects arrested in connection with the bombings and not the plight of the survivors.
"The UN representatives ask about human rights and they visit those who are in detention, but not the victims," Cardinal Ranjith said.
He said Pope Francis gave him just over $90,000 last month to help the victims.
President Sirisena initially blamed Islamic extremists, but later began accusing international drug dealers of being behind the bombings, allegedly to destabilise his anti-narcotics drive.
The country's police chief and the then secretary to the ministry of defence are being prosecuted for not acting on prior information about the attacks.
Just over 100 people have also been arrested in connection with supporting the local National Thowheeth Jama'ath group to carry out the bombings. The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility. (COLOMBO, July 21, 2019)