On April 21, 2019, a terrorist attack in Sri Lanka destroyed two Catholic churches and killed 250 people. Four years later, the local community is still searching for the truth.
Fr. Julian Perera, from the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, has spoken with the United Nations Human Rights Council. He claims the investigation into the attacks stalled after details of the terrorist group began to emerge. The 23 people investigating were also transferred to another case.
“Because what happened was it happened in 2019 in April. But in the month of November of 2019, the entire set of investigators, as far as I remember 23 of them, who were leading the investigation, who were going into the details of who was behind that,” Fr. Perera said. “What was the reason, what was happening within this group… All of them were transferred and removed.”
The Sri Lankan priest claims that the government is trying to make the case too complicated to solve. They arrested 25 people, but charged them with 23,000 crimes. He says that with so many charges, it will be difficult for the case to be solved.
“Can you imagine having a case with 23,000 charges against 25 people?” Fr. Perera said. “So you can see that it’s just a eyewash because it will take more than a lifetime to read these charges against them. So you can see that there is an attempt, a deliberate attempt to somehow cover the truth being exposed.”
Fr. Perera suggests that there are links between political groups and the terrorist attack four years ago. A climate of instability could electorally benefit the political parties with a reputation for being tough on the country’s enemies. But this has not stopped him and many others from trying to uncover the truth.
“We will somehow fight for justice and somehow also ultimately reveal the truth because our faith tells us as Jesus said: truth shall set you free,'” Fr. Perera said. “This country will be set free of all this political gameplay only when the truth of the Easter Sunday attack is revealed.”
While there is religious freedom in Sri Lanka, Fr. Perera argues that not all religions have freedom of speech. The Catholic Church has developed a good reputation in the country by fighting against injustice.
For example, the Church helped defend Jeevantha Peiris, who protested against the corruption of the government and Cardinal Ranjith, Bishop of Colombo, who called for a more democratic society.
“We have gained some credibility because we have been standing up and saying what is wrong is wrong,” Fr. Perera said. “For example, recently, there was a postponement of elections in Sri Lanka. So the religious leaders were not vocal enough. But the cardinal was out there, saying it out right, saying it straight out, saying that this is unacceptable. If you have the time for elections, have it. Why do you want to delay elections? Because you are going to lose it.”
Fr. Perera says the Church in Sri Lanka will continue to fight for answers and support justice for all.