ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka must publicise the findings of a presidential commission of inquiry that probed the 2019 Easter bombings, National People’s Power (NPP) parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake said.
The government must publicise the commission’s report and reveal to the public the invisible hand behind the attack, he said.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader told reporters yesterday that the government appears reluctant to do so.
“The Easter attack was the biggest tragedy in this country in the last decade, killing 268 people and injuring over 500. It also led to a situation of unrest and even violence. But it was more than a tragedy. It contributed significantly to the direction the country was headed in politically,” said Dissanayake.
“The citizens have a right to know about the finer details of this attack and its roots,” he added.
Dissanayake’s call for making the commissions findings public comes in the wake of Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith declaring his intention to seek international judicial support in the event Sri Lanka was unable to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
“We trust our leaders will prevent such an eventuality. We are hopeful that they will respond favourably to our requests through the [report of the presidential commission of inquiry appointed to probe the attacks] and subsequent court cases,” Ranjith told reporters yesterday.
Dissanayake, meanwhile, said the presidential commission of inquiry appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena was tasked with three things: 1) investigate alleged omissions and commissions on the part of the government that led to the bombings, 2) find any accomplices in the form of individuals and groups, any political backing received by the attackers, who the masterminds were, whether they’re still active, etc, and 3) recommendations on how to prevent a similar attack and any resultant civil unrest.
“The former president, prime minister, inspector general of police (IGP) and secretary to the defence ministry were accused in the report of failing to prevent the attack. But the most crucial findings of this report are who the attackers were, what their goals were, whether or not they were used by someone, did the perpetrators’ plans end with the death of the suicide bombers, etc. Revealing these findings will be vital for national security as well as for national unity,” he said.
“This wasn’t a court case between two individuals. All citizens have a right to learn the contents of this report,” he added.
The government asked for time to table the report in parliament, claiming that printing delays owing to the report’s containing tens of thousands of pages have delayed the process.
The JVP leader accused the government of stalling and making excuses.
“We have proposed an alternative. If it’s going to take time to print, give two copies to the parliament library and let everyone else obtain a soft copy. The government is trying to hide behind this excuse, and it is clear they have no intention of making the report public. We’re not sure if they’ll table it before the next election even,” he said.
“If the cabinet cab meet via Zoom, it is possible to upload this report to the official website. The government must publicise this immediately in the public interest,” he added.
Dissanayake stressed that neither the president nor the government has a right to conceal the report.
“This isn’t a land dispute between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his neighbour. It’s a report about a suicide attack. The president and the government must stop stalling and publicise it immediately,” he said. (Colombo/Feb12/2021)