Mon, 06 Dec 2021 Today's Paper

Haunting Shadows and Clouds of Uncertainty

The Easter Tragedy 2019

16 October 2021 01:40 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



Nearly two and a half years have elapsed since the Easter Day tragedy of 2019 with clouds of uncertainly still hovering over the nation and in particular, over the loved ones of all those who were massacred that fateful morning of brutal terror and those who are of their closest kith and kin such as a loving parent a brother or sister, a son or daughter who either were killed or those still languishing in pain and sorrow. One cannot forget those too who are forever maimed and confined to their wheel-chairs or agonizing in beds, though spared of death. The psychological and emotional trauma still grip many of the survivors though solace and healing showered on them in many ways. 

Despite this scenario of misery, there is an inhuman and irrational tendency of some who would wish that no more is said or written or voiced about this aching tragedy and that the country’s attention instead be diverted to other more important and crucial issues at hand worrying us: ailing economy, the ever rising cost of living, the dilemma of farmers, teachers and hospital staff, fighting the pandemic, erosion of foreign reserves and impending signs of essential consumer goods on the wane. However, until this festering wound of the Easter tragedy is healed with justice and due compensation meted out to all affected, one will be hard put to reconcile with any dream of the country being on a viable path to stability and progress.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry, those arrested now behind bars and the ongoing investigations together with the framing of charges though in track, yet the snail speed of the process to trace the real culprits behind the dastardly massacre and its master-minds seem still to elude the authorities. The majority of the victims were from two Catholic churches and a Christian place of worship. They were all unarmed and innocent civilians who had flocked to their places of worship to participate in the highest Christian festival of Easter. Paradoxically, the event marked the triumph of life over death symbolized by the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth who was put to death on a gibbet of ignominy by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate with the connivance of religious leaders and that through an infamous trial through trickery and hatred perpetrated by those who were threatened by the life and teachings of this humble Galilean of Nazareth. It could be named as the highest travesty of justice and the starkest unjust trial ever recorded in the annals of legal history. Strangely, it is repeated every time, somewhere in the world, the innocent are brazenly, falsely accused and even sentenced to life-imprisonment, perhaps either tortured or condemned to capital punishment. These are indeed crimes crying to the heavens for vengeance.


Until this festering wound of the Easter tragedy is healed with justice and due compensation meted out to all affected, one will be hard put to reconcile with any dream of the country being on a viable path to stability and progress


The process of justice concerning the just and impartial inquiry and the consequent legal action has two components, both carrying corresponding recommendations. While holding accountable all those who were responsible for national security for not having acted promptly to take every measure at their command available to prevent this calamity after having known through intelligence channels of an impending terrorist attack, the legal process must most importantly strive to trace the satanic master-minds behind the incident of the bombings: those who orchestrated this mass murder. This includes pinning down those who harbored these terrorists, gave them safe haven, financed their ventures, got them trained and motivated them into this highly despicable type of vile religious Islamic terrorism, which sad to say. Is a brazen travesty of a religion of peace and brotherhood? This segment cannot be swept under the carpet. It is the general feeling that the perpetrators in this category are still invisible, in hiding, not pursued assiduously enough or are concealed on purpose without being revealed. There are genuine and rational grounds for doubt as to whether the legal processes are carried out transparently regarding these murderers and assassins. It is the government that has to take up the challenge of bringing this legal process of justice to a satisfactory end. Until the truth about these cowards at the bottom of this dastardly act are brought to light, identified and produced before the law meting out their due punishment, no right-thinking person or a patriot can rest satisfied.

The leadership of the Catholic Church in solidarity with all those who desire justice for the victims of this horrible violence has strongly voiced its cry for justice and a speedy end to the legal process dealing with this national tragedy of Easter 2019. We are grappling here with demands for fundamental human rights and dignity covering security for life and property and freedom of conscience and religion in a democratic framework of civility. This country needs national unity and ethnic reconciliation that will repudiate all traces of discrimination based on race, culture, language and religion. The sharp cry for social justice especially for minorities is heard loud and clear all over the world. Cultural diversity and pluralism of religion are evident facts of present-day global scenario. 

While tolerance, solidarity and dialogue are the imperatives forming the recipe for a healthy poly-centered social fabric, these same imperatives categorically repudiate and displace extremism in all its forms, whether political, cultural, ethnic, racial or religious. 

As a Christian thinker wrote sometime back, with a global ethic an emerging urgency, there won’t be peace in the world unless there is peace among nations; likewise, no peace among nations without peace among religions. Finally, no peace among religions, without dialogue among the religions: the logical matrix of a new world order. Thus, the thread of dialogue will ensure a righteous and a just modern-day society. Both religion and science hold the keys to stability and peace among nations in the decades to come. Even the traditional Christian and Catholic countries of yore are today called to deal with religious pluralism and give up the monopoly of their historically traditional religions confronted with the great migrations that are now intruding into Europe and the Americas. The language of post-modernity is dialogue on multiple fronts. It does not tolerate, but on the contrary abhors and rejects outright, the radicalization of any social, cultural or political ideology. 

In the aftermath of the Easter 2019 tragedy, many a socio-cultural and political issue surface on the national horizon. They border on religious fundamentalism and extremism, national security and the demand for fundamental human rights. Economy and national security were the pivotal issues on which the last two elections, namely presidential and parliamentary, were fought. These continue to be the major national concerns even at the present. But none of them have received a satisfactory response though the governing authorities are in a frantic and desperate struggle to grapple with these issues though not finding effective means to achieve them. The issues are getting more urgent and more complicated in the process as the time frame gets more and more narrow.  A government that cannot bring about a stable economy which grows at a steady space,  one that cannot prevent the rising cost of living and escalating price index of consumer goods, one that cannot put its political clout at the service of the common good, which by the way knows of no majority or minority,  a government that cannot manage the health sector, the export sector and jettison the culture of the begging bowl, pleading for all kinds of loans from international financial agencies like the World Bank and the International Monitory Fund, one that is incapable of formulating international contracts and agreements based on just and equitable terms, rashly is inclined to sell off national assets on sea, land or air and finally cannot bring a lasting political solution to the issue of national reconciliation will only slow down and debilitate the nation’s path to progress, peace and prosperity. 

It is essential that in a democracy where people vote in the government of their choice, that the rulers not breach this sacred trust and show genuine signs of authentic interest in the good of the people and that during their time of rule and administration, they put their best foot forward in harnessing both intelligence, talent and versatility in the choice of personnel to be at the seats of governance and services. One wonders watching intently the administrative machinery in the parliamentary, provincial and other local levels, whether the best men, those knowledgeable, competent and experienced are at the helm of administration. Then there is the wastage of national resources on a plethora of personnel that are increased and multiplied unnecessarily with the addition of various perks and privileges that is a patent drain on the meagre economic resources of the country forced to live on heavy borrowings from monitory agencies while export sector leaves much to be desired, foreign investments hard to come by and local industries prodding at a lamentably low ebb.

The Easter carnage has tarnished the international image of the country making it appear as a haven for terrorism and religious extremism. Sri Lanka is the home to four of the major living religious traditions in the world. It is a socialist democracy vowed to respect the United Nations Global Charter when it comes to fundamental human freedoms and international relations. In such a scenario it is difficult to fathom the odd realities in socio-cultural, economic-political fields that we witness sadly. Not heeding to the signals, not just srumors, of intelligence that clearly warned of impending disaster, the matter was either blissfully ignored on purpose or not given serious thought by those in whose hands the task of national security was placed. Besides, for some time, within the country itself certain forms of cultural and political extremism had been allowed to germinate and remain underground. For all these, the blame has to be unquestionably and squarely laid at the door of the governing authority which alone must be held accountable. 

No one wants this isle of tolerance and the haven of religions it is, to be stained with terrorism. It has suffered enough through the long span of a thirty-year civil war that was a violent phenomenon, a spill-over from sporadic ethnic injustice and tensions. When will those entrusted with the future of our dear motherland even realize their sacred duty by the people who placed their trust and confidence in them? This country has been for too long betrayed by crafty and insolent politicians and their party stooges inebriated with false pledges and political trickery. The cry for justice and human rights is ever on the global horizons. The under-world of crime and violence has to be destroyed even as the education process of our future generations in our schools rethought and ameliorated with peace-education taking on great importance as well as motivation for inter-religious goodwill and co=operation..


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