By Dayan Jayatilleka –
1. All previous Commissions appointed after violent upheavals e.g., the Youth Commission and the LLRC, sought to understand why Sinhala and Tamil youth respectively had been alienated to the point of being driven to embark on the path of organized lethal violence. Does the Easter Commission report do so and what are the answers it provides?
2. Does the Easter Commission deal with the timeline of the birth of Islamist terrorism in Sri Lanka? Does it deal with the transparently clear fact that Islamophobic campaigns and attacks, including Aluthgama, took place well before the Easter Sunday bombings? In a situation of tranquility between Sinhala and Muslim communities, the wartime support from the Muslim community for the anti-terrorist cause, and the consistent diplomatic support for Sri Lanka from the Islamic countries including at the UNHRC in Geneva, how and why did Islamophobic campaigns commence– on Halal foods/cattle slaughter, ‘infertility pills’ etc.?
3. What is the role these movements and campaigns played in constituting the causative context for the rise of Islamist terrorism? Who provided a permissive environment for these Islamophobic movements? Who gave them immunity and impunity, giving the Muslin youth the impression that the State would not punish those who attacked Muslims verbally or physically?
4. Who benefited from this sudden rise of Islamophobia which was the provocative precursor and a causative factor of Islamist terrorism?
5. Given national and international experience with the issue of terrorism, where have there been cases of parliamentarians leading or masterminding terrorist movements and attacks? In the absence of such cases, and until evidence is produced, is it wise or fair to openly accuse Muslim parliamentary and mainstream democratic political personalities of being the leaders or behind-the-scenes masterminds of the perpetrators of terrorism on Easter?
6. With two Lebanese TV stations having run news stories with accompanying photographs of an alleged letter of warning from the Saudi Foreign Ministry to the Saudi embassy in Colombo about an imminent incident near Easter, what action has been taken to investigate this evidence? (Special instructions from Saudi Arabia to Embassy on Easter Attack (newsfirst.lk)
7. With the clear establishment of warnings of the Easter attacks from Indian intelligence to its Sri Lankan counterparts and the acknowledgement of the receipt of such intelligence warnings by key Sri Lankan security officials of these warnings, what could conceivably be a credible reason for the failure of each and all of these officials to sound the alert, or insist on its sounding, when innocent human lives were involved? Why would all these security officials behave in this unconscionable manner?
8. What are the reasons for targeting and massacring Christians in a country where there have been absolutely no incidents in contemporary history, of friction, let alone violence, between Muslims and Christians?
9. What are the reform measures suggested to reverse the radicalization of Muslim youth? What international experiences have been studied in this regard? Have the Muslim community leaders been drawn into the design and implementation of such measures? Have moderate Muslim countries been approached for help in this regard?
10. What is to prevent the measures announced, such as the expansion of the PTA to include non-terrorist actions, the banning of the import of Islamic books, the proscription of the wearing of the face veil etc., from fostering feelings of discrimination and marginalization among the Muslims, thereby resulting in a new wave of radicalization and eventually terrorism? Who would benefit from such an outcome resulting from such unilateral, discriminatory and provocative policies?