SRI LANKA'S EASTER BOMBINGS
Yes, it's time to grieve and hold to account those responsible but to ensure a lasting peace, it's equally a time to recognise and atone for the historic and continuing injustices inflicted on its minority communities.
The wanton massacre and carnage which happened in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday left more than 253 people dead and over 500 injured.The scale and hallmarks of those dastardly bombings surpassed the recent New Zealand tragedy and in global terms, it is now considered as one of the worst terrorists' incidentspost 9/11. Unexploded bombs have been discovered after the attacks and according to government sources, more attacks are not ruled out.
Firstly, we must remember all of the families who have lost their loved ones and/or have suffered tremendous bomb related injuries. Many of these innocent victims went to celebrate Easter but never came back to their homes. On Easter Sunday - one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar- these callous attacks were carried out against Christians and foreign visitors to the island, both of which are hallmarks of the twisted and vile narrative of the two major Middle-Eastern based terrorists' groups.
It has now emerged that the warning of an imminent attack on Christian churches was sent to the government some ten days before the attack and it seems not to have been followed up with the requisite actions. The well documented rifts and conflicts between the President and the Prime Minister resulted in October 2018 in the former unconstitutionally removing the latter and imposing instead the previous President as the replacement Prime Minister, despite this individual being mired in allegations of gross human rights violations, corruption, nepotism, torture and genocidal killings.
Even though that short-lived 'coup' has now been reversed, the ongoing ill-will and distrust will no doubt have contributed to the SL government's inactions following the receipt of the bombing related intelligence. Indeed, we now learn that the President who is in charge of security matters was away from the island with nobody being delegated with those powers and the Prime Minister revealed that he was not aware of the security threat and was barred from attending security meetings! Although incredible, the lack of communication and non-co-operation within the government departments must have contributed to this mammoth tragedy.
Whilst the Easter Sunday bombings seem to have been conducted in a manner not evidenced on that island in the last decade, attacks on the minority Tamil, Muslim and Christian communities have continued, unabated and unhindered by the SL government and aided and abetted by some leading Sinhalese politicians and monks. For example, on this year's Palm Sunday, in a village near Anuradhapura, a Methodist congregation was attacked by a mob in front of the President Bishop of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka. The group pelted stones and hurled fire crackers at the Methodist Centre, forcibly locked the gates and effectively took Bishop Perera and his congregation hostage. This incident was reported to the President, Prime Minister and the Police Chief but no actions seem to have been taken against the perpetrators. This is a typical incident and it reflects the fear of minorities.
The SL government is accountable and should bear fairly and squarely the full brunt of the blame.
Successive governments in Sri Lanka have failed in their duty to protect the minorities. Their politicians should think about the people first, instead of their bank balances. Posthumously, they will be judged by what they did or what they failed to do and not by their wealth.
Various international bodies have documented how during the final stages of the civil war a decade ago, the Sinhalese army and their extremist 'friends' killed over 250,000 Tamil civilians, made 200,000 disappear and over a million flee from that island. The relatives of those who disappeared are still crying, not knowing the fate of their loved ones.
The significant difference today is that the world's media are reporting about the Easter bombings in full this time, which was not the case before. The previous atrocities against Tamils were carried out away from the camera and hidden from international scrutiny.
The absence of any coherent strategy for a long-term peace on that island has to be linked with the chaos, distrust, incompetence and maladministration that has characterised SL's governance over many decades and crystallising in the near total breakdown between SL's President and Prime Minister.
The need to conduct a swift and full investigation of the recent atrocities must not be at the expense of delaying and/or avoiding the full implementation of the UNHRC's 2015 resolution, for without justice there will be no peace on that island.
The international community, including the Tamil diaspora must now ensure the SL government is held to account and that it governs properly to restore peace, harmony, justice and equality in that troubled island.
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Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board
Source: Tamil Writers Guild, UK
Date: 26 April 2019