By Rehan Fernando –
This is not an article in which I attempt to take buried things from a graveyard. However, I guess the Easter Sunday attack on April 21 is still being misinterpreted and taken on stage in the wrong direction, especially in terms of justice. Christian and biblical teaching on justice on one hand is strong theological speculation, on the other hand, it gives shapes a society with responsibilities. April 21 attack was willingly and consciously planned out a group of political slaves in this country. For that, a group of Muslims unnecessarily took the option to be slaves of a mechanism that belongs to uneducated fools. It has massively affected Sri Lankan society and we still cannot count the repercussions. However, the concept of justice or the seeking of justice cannot be restricted to one isolated event. Hence, the authorities of the church are to be reminded of certain essential elements in this regard. This article will focus on what justice is all about and how it is to be applied in a biblical-liberative manner.
Faith: A fact of aspiring for liberation
History reveals that the faith of the Jewish people is not based on theories. Biblical faith does not rely on mythical occurrences, rather it relies on people’s experiences. So, faith is connected with WORDS which is followed by HAPPENING. Biblical faith, therefore, means “knowing the history and believing in the God who reveals himself in it.” A serious study of this event so-called seeking justice for the Easter attack does not give me any authentic meaning of seeking justice. Most people who were at the church on that day were the people who promoted the military regime and the culture of the killing of the innocent in this country, especially at the latter part of the ward in 2009. The Catholic Church authorities, directly and indirectly, promoted Mahinda Rajapaksa’s massacring culture, which brought massively sad memories to many innocent Tamils. Did people at Katuwapitiya come forward when another group of people in the same country was massacred? What sort of struggle that people at Katuwapitiya geared toward seeking justice for Tamils and their lost lives? Because the faith of the people should be one in the spirit, in which ‘words’ and ‘happening’ take place in the action of God. Yet many people at Katuwapitiya and some of those who seek justice for the April-21-Easter-attack have not represented the common humanity in this country. This type of seeking of justice only relies upon an isolated incident.
Biblical faith speaks of solidarity with our neighbors and those who suffer due to various forms of structural injustice. If justice is to have existed in society, the suffering people are to be treated fairly. Those who seek justice should understand that knowledge of God completely relies on doing justice to suffering ones. Gutiérrez asserts “to know God is to do justice.” Those who seek justice for April 21 attack must remember, whatsoever the justice that speaks should lead toward collective consciousness, in which justice for all events to be covered. Bomb blasts did not only take place at Katuwapitiya. How can that simple truth be ignored and speak of justice only for the Easter attack? It does not lead us to liberation in which our faith experience does reflect a common conscientization.
April 21 incident: Was it an accident?
It seems to me that the present government which came to power in 2019 by creating unnecessary and irrelevant problems regarding national security in the country considers the Easter attack as an accident. The previous government and the opposition party then were well informed by national security forces but those responsible personalities now act as if the Easter attack was done by a group of foreigners or any other aliens. It shows the professional hypocrisy of this present government. If they created problems for power-gaining, they will also be destroyed from the same problems they created. However, moral responsibility relies upon all leaders who now act in an indifferent sense. April 21 incident was not an accident, nor a group of Muslims attacked to gain power. It was willingly, consciously, and vehemently plotted not only for the mere gaining of power and spreading over a family-dominated-political system in this country but also to create a forceful structure through militarization and nationalism.
The sad part of the story in this scenario is that people who supported this government to gain power are still silent in promoting their mechanism of the present government. It implies that if there is any other election, people will once again appoint the same corrupted politicians and enjoy the current pandemic and its subcultures, favoritism, and nationalism.
Rereading of ‘Fratelli Tutti’ for Katuwapitiya-people
People at Katuwapitiya and the church authorities of the diocese of Colombo should reread Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti. It might give them the best solution to rethink what solidarity is. Malcolm Ranjith cardinal has always denied the Tamils’ struggle for peace and harmony. He and his political mechanism, and his most of the diocesan priests have never paid attention to authentic solidarity with other suffering communities. Even after the Easter attack, the victims of the Batticaloa Christian church (little children) were not properly remembered. Francis wants to tell this world that fraternity and social friendship are the only way to heal the sickness of inhumanity, in which people lose fraternal love, simplicity, and joy. He invites the people to fix themselves in a shared roadmap where mutual collaboration takes place. If Katuwapitiya men and women seek justice for Easter Attack, it is apt to keep it in minds and hearts that they will have to act not in an isolated area but a common roadmap and one shared truth and reality.
“Kiribath-lunumiris”: A subculture to be stopped
Kiribath and lunumiris are cultured food that we all enjoy mostly for breakfast. Most of the Sinhalese and Tamils enjoy this cultural food without any difficulty since anybody can afford it. But in recent years, this food was used to expressed peoples’ mere joy and victory over others who suffered and who went through difficult times. Kiribath and lunumiris became a source of, celebrating, dominating and showing Sinhala-Buddhist superiority over Tamil civilians. People also celebrate superfluous election victories in preparing this food and enjoying it. Good cultured food is used to show off the uncultured activities of Sinhalese. If I am not mistaken, people at Katuwapitiya and in Negombo did such work when Tamil peoples’ areas became graveyards. The so-called victory of the war was celebrated in enjoying this cultured food. What does it imply or indicate? Do we think that we have celebrated an event systematically or humanly? Unfortunately, there is no proper ideology and structural mechanism to stop this subculture.
There is nothing wrong with seeking justice when there is injustice existing in any society. However, in the case of the Easter bomb attack, Katuwapitiya people will have to be more biblical rather than to be political. If they become instrumental to promote and seek justice through mere political mechanisms, the process itself fails. Thus, they must remember that rely on the very people and politicians who had directly or indirectly involved and engaged in the April 21 attack. This type of unreliable event happened in history as Israelites left their God and engaged in mythical formulas. I see another version of that history is being repeated by Katuwapitiya people in seeking justice. It is more appropriate to rely on the biblical and liberative ways and means of justice rather than relying on mere political agendas.
Seeing justice became a central issue when the coffin was taken from our (Sinhalese) homes, but when the coffin was taken from others’ (Tamils and Muslims) homes, we did not feel it much.
 Gustavo Gutiérrez, The Power of the Poor in History (New York: Orbis Books, 1983), 05.:
 Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation (New York: Orbis Books, 1971), 110.
 Poe Francis, Fratelli Tutti, no. 2.
*Rehan Fernando is a Ph.D. student, doing his research on inter-religious dialogue with a case study of Dr. Michael Rodrigo OMI. He is also the author of 4 Sinhala books and 3 English books. He is also the editor of a journal called “Paadhai.”
Nathan / September 6, 2021
Blunt and Sharp. Bravo!
Eagle Eye / September 6, 2021
“Kiribath and lunumiris became a source of, celebrating, dominating and showing Sinhala-Buddhist superiority over Tamil civilians.”
Sinhala Buddhists did not eat ‘Kiribath and lunumiris’ to show their superiority over Tamil civilians. They did that to celebrate liberating the people (Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim) in this country from LTTE Tamil terrorists who terrorized them and restoring peace that they were denied for three decades.
Don’t you know that after eating ‘Kiribath and lunumiris’, Sinhala Buddhists sent lorry loads of food and other essential items to Tamil civilians in Yapanaya.
GATAM / September 7, 2021
And you people also donated blood didn’t you! Don’t think it is a great thing. It is called stupidity. (I don’t expect you to agree because of the very same reason.)
rehanthili / September 8, 2021
I think you have not read this article, especially in between the lines.
First be impartial and balanced, then your ideology can be directed more of in an equal position.
Eagle Eye / September 6, 2021
“Good cultured food is used to show off the uncultured activities of Sinhalese.”
“Seeing justice became a central issue when the coffin was taken from our (Sinhalese) homes, but when the coffin was taken from others’ (Tamils and Muslims) homes, we did not feel it much.”
Rehan Fernando start talking about Easter Sunday terrorist attack that mainly involved Muslims and Christians and slowly drag Sinhala Buddhists into his story to tarnish the image of Sinhala Buddhists.
Eagle Eye / September 6, 2021
Rehan Fernando has completely ignored how Tamils in Yapanaya celebrate every time LTTE suicide bombers killed Sinhalayo.
Raj-UK / September 6, 2021
Whether the Easter bombing was the election strategy or not, the Sinhala voters were made to believe in an imminent threat from Muslim extremism, & having vanquished Tamil terrorism, who else would be the knight in shining armour to the rescue, other than GR, the man of action? It certainly worked for GR & we were unconcerned about the rumblings of our own security forces, under the same regime, dealing with those involved in the bombing previously.
Cardinal Ranjith was quick to align with a regime promoting Sinhala Buddhist rhetoric, which is well & good in promoting religious harmony but unlike his fight for justice for those killed in the Easter bombing, why is he silent about the missing Tamil Catholic priests during the final days of the war? The catholic priests were last seen boarding an army bus with the rest of the missing persons, don’t they deserve justice as well? Terrorist sympathisers, or not, its up to the courts to decide but doesn’t the Cardinal have a duty to look after it’s own, appointed by the Church to do god’s work?
Eagle Eye / September 6, 2021
“… appointed by the Church to do god’s work?”
Instead of doing God’s work few Catholic priests did Satan’s work by helping LTTE terrorists.
Raj-UK / September 7, 2021
As I said, whether the Jaffna priests collaborated with the LTTE has to investigated & proved but until then the church has an obligation to look after the rights of its brotherhood. As for helping the LTTE, didn’t Premadasa, in his short sighted manner, arm the terrorists to fight the Indian army, which had come to assist the SL forces on the request of the President at the time? There is also the talk of MR doing a deal with Prabakaran to prevent Tamils voting for RW. Isn’t that worse than a priest trying to help ‘terrorists’, who for all we know, may have been civilians?
Anyway, the subject is Easter bombing & the only person to benefit was GR, certainly not the Muslim extremists. In fact, didn’t GR’s security forces have dealings with the terrorist bombers as well, even nurtured during MR’s watch?
Your racism prevents you from thinking objectively.
Ajith / September 6, 2021
All possible evidences suggest it is a plot for political advantage. Political plot activities started at the end of 2015 election, 2018 plot lost but 2019 plot succeeded with the massacre of 250 Christians without affecting Buddhist Sinhala and Islamic Muslims.
GATAM / September 7, 2021
Only real solution is to split the island into 3 mono ethnic nations equitably and relocate people. Until then we will just blame each other, breed hatred, kill each other and produce more terrorists.
SL terrorists have killed more foreign civilians than all other terrorist groups except AQ. Fact.
davidthegood / September 8, 2021
GATAM, your solution will work for sure. Rev.16,19 says when the final of 21 judgments is poured out on the earth, thunderings and lightenings of earthquake will result in the great city dividing into 3 parts and the cities of nations will fall. No need of political help.
Gyan / September 7, 2021
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Naman / September 8, 2021
“ April 21 attack was willingly and consciously planned out a group of political slaves in this country. For that, a group of Muslims unnecessarily took the option to be slaves of a mechanism that belongs to uneducated fools. It has massively affected Sri Lankan society and we still cannot count the repercussions”
Rehan F , you have said the above very appropriately
Some Muslims had been made to do such an abominable act so that it would help them with the aim of capturing power. It’s sad the so called Leaders of the good governance Government who had prior knowledge
LET THE EVIL EVENT to happen
Naman / September 8, 2021
What the Real Sri Lankan need is not to be partisans but think of being righteous. Should be thinking that we are all Sri Lankan citizens who wants the judiciary/Journalists/Military and other public servants to be apolitical and to actively discourage bribery/ corruption/ torture etc