Three years after the tragic bombings that took place in Sri Lanka, Catholic communities are still waiting for answers and justice to be done. Now, lay groups are calling for the faithful to boycott government-sponsored Christmas celebrations in protest of the investigation that has borne no fruit.
According to Asia News, the boycott was called for by the Coalition of Catholic Lay Organisations of Sri Lanka, a conglomerate group that includes some 20 lay Catholic organizations. The coalition called on the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka to support their efforts to boycott the public celebrations. This year, the state was planning a holiday festival in the Diocese of Chilaw.
Coalition coordinator Thilina Alahakon noted that Catholics were particularly harmed in the 2019 terror attack, but other religions are seeking justice for their own members:
“We suggested to the bishops to use this occasion to express the sorrow and displeasure of the Catholic community.” Alahakon added, “Not only the Catholic community, but also the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim communities are waiting for justice to be done for the Easter Sunday attack.”
Alahakon went on to say that the injuries and deaths of those who belonged to other religions means that the attack was not just against Catholics, but against all of Sri Lanka. He hopes that categorizing the attack as a “national issue” will spur authorities to action. While members of various faiths were injured in the Easter bombings, the vast majority of the estimated 280 casualties of the attack were Catholic.
Along with the call for a boycott of state-held Christmas events, the coalition is also calling for implementation of recommendations that have been made by the investigation commission thus far. Furthermore, they are fighting for permanent financial support for victims of the attack who have been physically or mentally disabled due to injury.
According to Licas, however, funds for such support may not be available as Sri Lanka grapples with a historic economic crisis. In April, the government defaulted on a US$50 billion debt to international creditors. In September the International Monetary Fund had to bail the nation out with a 4-year US$2.9 billion bailout.