Easter attacks: Top monk tells Church to take up matter with ICJ

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Easter attacks: Top monk tells Church to take up matter with ICJ

The key member of the Buddhist clergy has proposed to the concerned parties including the Catholic Church to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the relevant authorities' failure to properly investigate the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019, and prosecute those who are responsible for the same.

Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (26), the Chief Prelate of the Ramanna Sect in Southern Sri Lanka, and the Chief Incumbent of the Bodhiraja Temple in Embilipitiya, Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera claimed that even though it is very clear that there was a political conspiracy behind the terror attacks, there is no sign of justice being served to the victims of the attacks and their families through proper investigations. As it is very clear that justice will never be served for the terror attacks locally, that the next step of the concerned parties should be to take actions internationally, the Thera emphasised. When queried as to what kind of international action he would suggest, he said: "My suggestion is to approach the ICJ. I have made a proposal. It is the concerned parties that should implement it. We, as the general public, speak up for justice. If the relevant parties feel that our suggestion is appropriate, they will implement it."

The ICJ is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations that intervenes in settling disputes within or between States in accordance with international law and in giving advisory opinions on international legal issues.

Speaking further, Sobhitha Thera said that there are various allegations that the Rajapaksas (a reference to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former President and incumbent Government Parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and their families) are connected to the said terror attacks. "If they are not connected to it, why do they not respond to such allegations? That is why we say that the responsible parties for this tragedy are still free," he claimed.

He also commented on the failure of the authorities, including the then President and incumbent Opposition MP Maithripala Sirisena, then Prime Minister and incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the other relevant officials, to prevent the terror attacks from taking place despite the receipt of prior information. "The then President, the then Premier and all other relevant officials should be held responsible for this incident. It is true that they do not go to the battlefield with a gun, but it is their duty to ensure national security. If they are not capable of doing so, why did they assume those positions," he queried.

Attending an event to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April, which was also attended by Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and several other religious leaders, Sobhitha Thera reiterated that those in power should ensure that justice is served for the victims and their families. He also said that all religious leaders should come forward and support the peaceful struggle carried out by the Church, seeking justice for the said terror attacks.

On 21 April, 2019, Easter Sunday, three Churches (St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, St. Anthony’s in Kochchikade, and the Zion Church in Batticaloa) and three luxury Hotels in Colombo (the Cinnamon Grand, The Kingsbury, and the Shangri-La) were targeted in a series of coordinated suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala. A total of 269 people were killed in the bombings, including about 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 were injured.