ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is asking Sri Lankans not to permit “interested parties” to politicize the Easter Sunday attacks issue and to treat the blasts and the aftermath as a national issue.
Speaking at his regular “conversations with the village” in Giribava yesterday, the President said the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena to look into the attacks that killed around 262 people and devastated the economy in 2019 had faulted the former government for the attacks.
The President’s remarks come as the Roman Catholic Church begins a “Black flag” campaign that is demanding the truth behind the Easter Attacks.
Sunday Congregations are being urged to wear Black to Church tomorrow in protest. Several political parties have also pledged their support to the campaign.
“The Commission report clearly says the inefficiencies of the former government and its neglect of National Security and efforts at reconciliation was the main reason for the attacks,” the President said.
The President said that a key finding of the PCoI was that the government at the time did not act against rising religious extremism.
“In several instances, in the report of the report the Commissioners pointed out that the government of the day has to bear the responsibility for the attacks,” he said.
“It is laughable that politicians from that government are saying we came to power after ‘selling’ the Easter attacks,” the President said.
“Some politicians are trying to blame us for the Easter attacks. This happened in April 2019, we were not in power at that time, our government was not in place, although some politicians are trying to point fingers at us,” he said.
He pointed out that the Commission has reported that the President of the time, the Prime Minister and the government should be held responsible.
“That is why it is untenable that members of that former government are pointing fingers at us for the tragedy,” he said.
He said that he understands why Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo is concerned about the issue.
“I understand his pain because Churches were attacked and he is responsible for their safety and well-being,” the President said.
The President read out sections of the Commission report which detailed witness statements that said the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to arrest rising Islamic extremism “because the government was dependent on the support of Muslim parties for its survival.” (Colombo, March 6, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana