The demonstrators criticize the lack of progress in the search for those responsible for the deaths of more than 260 people in the attacks three years ago.
Sri Lankans protesting for days near the president’s office have criticized the lack of progress in finding those responsible for the deaths of more than 260 people in easter sunday bombings three years ago, increasing pressure on a government that was already mired in a deep economic crisis.
The protesters demanded the government uncover what they called the real plotters behind the attacks on three churches, two Catholic and one Protestant, which included simultaneous suicide bombings during the Easter celebrations on April 21, 2019. They also attacked three tourist hotels, killing 42 foreigners from 14 countries
On Sunday, hundreds of people lit candles and displayed banners and placards during a silent protest in the capital Colombo, calling for justice for the victims of the attacks.
Demonstrations were held in Colombo’s main esplanadewhere thousands of people have been protesting for eight days to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the worst debt crisis that has caused severe shortages of fuel, food and medicine in the Indian Ocean island nation.
The protesters, including relatives of the victims, accused the government of failing to deliver justice for the attacks. They unfurled a huge banner that read: “3 years have passed, we cry out for justice” and banners that read: “Who was behind this attack?”
“My whole family is gone. Today, I live a very lonely life. I have no words to explain my agony,” said Shiran Anton, whose wife and only daughter were killed in the attacks.
“I want to know who the real culprits were for this attack and why they did it,” he said, adding that he was not satisfied with the investigation.
The officials have accused dozens of people who allegedly received weapons training and participated in indoctrination classes from two local Muslim groups accused of carrying out the attacks.
The groups had allegedly pledged loyalty to the ISIL group (ISIS). Frictions between the country’s former president and former prime minister, who belonged to different political parties, were blamed on a lack of action on intelligence warnings.
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has also been research critic in the bombing. Church leaders have repeatedly blamed the Rajapaksa government for failing to take action against former President Maithripala Sirisena and other top officials for failing to prevent the bombings.
Colombo Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said the real plotters in the attacks may still be at large and questioned the government over allegations that some members of state intelligence knew of and had met with at least one attacker.
The attacks wrecked the country’s tourism industry, a key source of foreign exchange, just a year before the pandemic dealt a heavy blow to the economy. Protesters also blame the government’s mismanagement of the country’s debt payments, including taking out loans for dubious investments.
The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, saddled with $25bn in foreign debt over the next five years, nearly $7bn of which is due this year alone, and dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Talks with the International Monetary Fund are expected this weekand the government had turned to China and India for emergency loans to buy food and fuel.
Much of the anger has been addressed to Rajapaksa and his older brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who head an influential clan that has been in power for most of the last two decades.