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As Sri Lanka marks five years since the horrific Easter bombings, the UN calls for justice for the victims – Firstpost

The Vatican’s Ambassador to Colombo, Archbishop Brian Udaigwe (3L) and Sri Lanka’s Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (4L) take part in a memorial service during the fifth anniversary of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo. AFP

As Sri Lanka honored the 279 victims of its worst-ever attack on civilians five years ago, the UN called on the country to address its “accountability deficit” and deliver justice.

Marc-Andre Franche, the top UN ambassador to the country, urged at a commemoration ceremony in Colombo that a “thorough and transparent investigation” should be carried out to determine who was responsible for the 2019 Easter massacre.

In the island’s bloodiest suicide bombing of civilians, Islamist bombers attacked three churches and three hotels, but grieving relatives say they are still waiting for justice.

45 foreigners were killed, including tourists who had arrived on the island a decade after the end of a horrific ethnic conflict that had claimed more than 100,000 lives since 1972.

“Sri Lanka suffers from an ongoing lack of accountability, whether for alleged war crimes, more recent human rights violations, corruption or abuse of power, which must be addressed if the country is to move forward,” Franche said.

He noted that the victims were still seeking justice despite the Supreme Court holding former President Maithripala Sirisena and his top officials responsible for failing to prevent the attack.

“Providing justice for the victims of these attacks must be part of addressing the systemic challenge,” Franche said.

He noted that the UN Human Rights Office has also demanded that Colombo launch an impartial investigation and provide the full results of previous investigations into the Easter Sunday explosions.

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church has alleged that military intelligence personnel collaborated with the Islamists who carried out the attack, furthering the political ambitions of retired security-focused army general Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Seven months later he won the presidency.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the leader of Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church, said Rajapaksa has consistently protected those responsible for the bombings since his victory.

Rajapaksa was forced to resign in July 2022 after months of demonstrations due to an unprecedented economic crisis that resulted in shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Sri Lanka’s Catholics were expected to hold a silent protest later Sunday to demand a speedy investigation into the attacks.

Evidence presented in a civil case filed shortly after the attacks showed that Indian intelligence officials warned Colombo about the bombings some seventeen days earlier, but authorities failed to act.

Then-President Sirisena and his officials were ordered to pay 310 million rupees ($1 million) in compensation to victims and relatives.

But the ruling has yet to be fully implemented as Sirisena has appealed and a new hearing is scheduled for July.

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