Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Sri Lanka Remembers 270 Slain In 2019 Easter Terror Attack

Sri Lanka: In 2019 local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat linked to the ISIS, had carried out coordinated blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in the island nation.

Sri Lanka remembers victims of 2019 Easter terror attack.(File photo-Representational image) AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

Hundreds of people staged a silent protest in Sri Lanka's capital on Sunday, demanding justice for the victims of the Easter terror attacks that claimed at least 270 lives three years ago.

The protesters joined hundreds of people camping near the President's Office in Colombo seeking resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and all members of his family from the government over the worst economic crisis that has caused critical shortages of fuel, food and medicines in the country.

Local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat linked to the ISIS, had carried out coordinated blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on the Easter Sunday in 2019, killing at least 270 people, and injuring over 500.

The attack stirred a political storm as the then government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were blamed for their inability to prevent the attacks despite prior intelligence being made available.

Displaying banners and placards, protesters called for justice for the victims of the Easter attacks.

"3 years and still no justice," read a banner carried by protesters who walked a 5-mile stretch to the site to be joined by thousands who have been carrying out the protest since April 9 demanding President Gotabaya’s resignation over the unprecedented economic crisis - the worst-ever in the country's history.

The victims’ families led by the head of the local church, Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, have been critical of the slow pace of the investigations which they claim is a political ploy for cover up.

Meanwhile, long queues for fuel and cooking gas were seen at most places on Sunday as protests in solidarity of the Galle Face took place at several other provincial towns.

In the southern port town of Galle, the police put down the hut built by the protesters. However, later with the intervention of the legal fraternity the protest started at the same site.

The economic crisis which led to a political crisis with the resignation of the cabinet is yet to be solved.

Rajapaksa is expected to appoint his cabinet on Monday with several senior members of the previous cabinet deciding to stand down in favor of the younger colleagues.

The ruling coalition is in disarray with over 40 of its members declaring independence of the SLPP coalition.

The opposition is contemplating moving a vote of no-trust against the government for its handling of the economic crisis where shortages of essentials and long hours of power cuts have enraged the public.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948. People have been protesting for weeks over lengthy power cuts and shortage of fuel, food and other daily essentials.

President Gotabaya has defended his government's actions, saying the foreign exchange crisis was not his making and the economic downturn was largely pandemic driven by the island nation’s tourism revenue and inward remittances waning. (With PTI inputs)