‘Sri Lankan secret police linked to anti-Christian terrorism’

A view of St Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka

By Steve Sweeney:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Sri Lankan intelligence operatives may be linked to terror group

SRI LANKAN intelligence operatives may be linked to the Islamist group that is believed to have carried out the deadly bomb blasts on Easter Sunday that killed at least 321 people and injured 500.

In a now deleted article from 2016, the Sri Lanka Mirror newspaper reported that intelligence authorities had uncovered a secret defence ministry account that was established under the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

It claimed that the cash was used to fund a number of Islamist and Buddhist terror groups including Thowheed Jamath, whose splinter group is said to be responsible for Sunday’s attacks.

The article also alleged that “there is clear information to prove that Thowheed Jamath’s secretary Abdul Rasik Rafiquedeen was an army intelligence member.”

He was arrested in 2016 for inciting hatred against Buddhists after a complaint from the Bodu Bala Sena terror group, for which he later apologised.

Both organisations are among those alleged to have been paid from the same defence ministry slush fund.

According to sources an unnamed close ally of former Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is planning to run for president, co-ordinated the Islamist and Buddhist extremist groups.

He allegedly headed up a special security committee during the 2015 presidential elections controlled by Mr Gotabhaya which planned to seize power in a coup that failed to materialise.

Mr Gotabhaya was charged with human rights violations in the United States at the beginning of April when he was served with papers in a Trader Joe’s car park in Pasadena, California.

The joint US-Sri Lankan citizen is accused of atrocities committed between 2005 and 2015 when thousands were disappeared, killed and tortured during a bitter civil war.

Sunday’s bomb attacks, which targeted churches and hotels frequented by Westerners, were claimed by the Islamic State terror group on Tuesday.

More than 40 people have been taken into custody so far, with the country placed under a state of emergency to try and prevent further attacks.

All of those arrested are Sri Lankan nationals and there are fears that some of the bombers may have fled the country.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena promised tough action against state security services amid accusations that warnings about attacks planned on churches during Easter were ignored.

He said yesterday that changes would be made “in the next 24 hours.”

It is alleged that the information was also not passed on to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with relations between the two said to be strained.

Sri Lankan president steps up military crackdown: here.

The Sri Lankan government has unleashed a crackdown, mainly targeting Muslims, following the horrific April 21 bomb attacks on three Catholic churches and three hotels that killed more than 250 men, women and children, and injured some 500 more: here.


Sri Lanka bomb atrocities, by whom?

St. Sebastian's Church, Negombo, Sri Lanka, photo Bernard Gagnon

This photo shows St. Sebastian’s Church, Negombo, Sri Lanka before the recent bomb attacks.

By Phil Miller:

Monday, April 22, 2019

Who is behind the Sri Lanka bombings?

Although the government has already blamed Islamist extremists for the wave of deadly bombings, something does not add up, writes PHIL MILLER

THE horrific wave of bombings that rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday is a watershed moment in the island’s troubled history.

Hundreds have died and many of the victims are still unidentified.

There is also a race to understand who was behind the slaughter — and how they were able to carry it out.

The choice of targets — simultaneous suicide bombs at churches and luxury hotels — is reminiscent of an al-Qaida or Isis attack.

The idea that Islamist extremists are responsible is certainly a narrative that some Sri Lankan officials are pushing.

Today a local Muslim group, National Thowheed Jama’ath, was being blamed — allegedly in cahoots with shadowy foreign backers.

There are certainly some Muslims in Sri Lanka who may exhibit extremist tendencies. Not far from the bombing at Batticaloa on the island’s east coast lies the town of Kattankudy, where many of the local Muslim community are influenced by Saudi-style Islam.

Much has been written about the “Wahhabi invasion” on the island’s once moderate Sufi Muslims, and it would be easy to blame conservative Islam as the incubator for these atrocities.

But there is also plenty of evidence that points in other directions, and at the time of writing some 24 hours after the explosions, no group has claimed responsibility.

The confusion is evident just by watching the rolling news channels, which yesterday were struggling to put out a neat linear narrative.

Many British media platforms pulled their correspondents out of Sri Lanka when the civil war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces ended a decade ago, leaving news anchors struggling to understand the complex patchwork of Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious make-up.

The well-trodden “war on terror” grand narrative, a clash of civilisations between Muslims and Christians in a 21st-century crusade, makes little sense in Sri Lanka where both these religious groups are minorities — and have often been persecuted by [extremists within] the majority Sinhala Buddhist community.

In one case, the Sri Lankan air force bombed a Catholic church in Jaffna, St James, killing scores of civilians in 1993.

A British Tamil journalist, Thusiyan Nandakumar, bravely tried to make this point in a BBC interview yesterday — that historically Tamil Christians are more likely to have been massacred by the Sri Lankan military than Islamist extremists.

Such is the nature of Sri Lankan politics that Nandakumar, a Tamil, was then trolled by patriotic Sinhala keyboard warriors for making this historically accurate point.

He received thousands of hate-filled messages that left him fearing for his safety.

The backlash rather underlines the point that [some] Sinhalese Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka do have a history of religious intolerance, which can either be exercised through their presence in state structures or in street movements.

Last March saw some of the worst anti-Muslim rioting in Sri Lanka, which was led by Sinhala Buddhist mobs, fuelled by Islamophobic rumours circulating on social media — and crucially given support by riot police who seemed to evaporate in several locations, allowing mobs to move in.

If the Muslim community in Sri Lanka was feeling vengeful, then an attack on Buddhists would have been more predictable than this assault on Christians at Easter.

When Muslims have resorted to political violence in Sri Lanka before, it has not taken on an anti-Christian dimension.

Indeed, a “Christian identity” holds little political traction in Sri Lanka, where the larger communities tend to identify along ethnic lines.

The Tamil Tigers, a secular movement, were composed mainly of Tamil speakers who were Hindu or Christian. In their early years, their ranks also included Tamil-speaking Muslims.

The Sri Lankan military recognised the threat posed by a pan-Tamil alliance, and from 1985 took deliberate steps to drive a wedge between Tamil Muslims and non-Muslim Tamils in the Eastern province.

The security forces aided and abetted Muslim attacks on the village of Karaitivu, which soured Tamil-Muslim relations for decades to come.

There is now a real risk that after yesterday’s bombing at the Zion Church in Batticaloa, those old tensions in the Eastern province could reignite into anti-Muslim riots.

Such a scenario would benefit Sri Lanka’s deep state Sinhala Buddhist structures, as it would see further division among the Tamil-speaking people in the east.

It would also allow the security forces to intervene, unusually, on the side of the non-Muslim Tamils — at a time when military leaders are facing international sanction for war crimes they committed against this same group a decade ago.

Political figures like the country’s former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who was recently served with a war crimes suit while travelling abroad, is running for president — and will cast himself as the anti-terror candidate.

He could also absolve himself internationally if the terror threat was now from Islamist extremists, rather than the Tamil Tigers, who never neatly fitted the “war on terror” mould as much as he tried.

This “who benefits” question has even led some to speculate that Gotabhaya himself may have had a hand in Sunday’s bombings.

Sections of the military apparatus are still loyal to his family, and would have the capability to pull off such an attack — or at least ensure a blind eye was turned.

There are already reports that warnings on the attacks were ignored, raising questions about why these attacks weren’t stopped.

Sri Lanka is such a heavily militarised society, it is hard to imagine how a plot like this went undetected.

The attackers’ ability to strike simultaneously at three of the country’s most luxurious hotels, where security is tightest, is almost incomprehensible.

As is the news that a pipe bomb was found, unexploded, outside the international airport, which is also a high-security military base.

But even this elaborate deep-state scenario ultimately does not add up. The bombing of hotels will have almost destroyed Sri Lanka’s tourism industry for the foreseeable future, an industry in which the military has a large stake — its personnel run numerous resorts.

And so we may never know who was really responsible. Sri Lankan police say dozens of suspects have been taken into custody, but this is a police force with a proclivity to torture — a tactic which will irrevocably tarnish the testimony of those they interrogate.

What will matter is the perception of who was responsible, and how those with power will be able to play this to their advantage. The careful inter-faith work that the clergy in Batticaloa have done over the years will now be more vital than ever to prevent a spiral of violence.

SRI LANKA DEATH TOLL RISES TO 359 The death toll from the Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka rose to 359, police said Wednesday, as the country’s leaders vowed to overhaul the security apparatus amid a series of intelligence lapses before the attacks. [AP]

Sri Lanka government abuses terrorism for autocracy

This 18 December 2013 video says about itself:

Full Video: Live censorship on Sri Lankan state TV station amid criticism of new broadcasting law

Reporters Without Borders condemns the government pressure that led to the debate programme “Ira Anduru Pata” being cut short as it was being broadcast live on the evening of 4 November on state TV station Rupavahini. It ended a discussion of a new broadcasting law by three guests, including Free Media Movement convener Uvindu Kurukulasuriya.

The presenter announced a break for advertisements after 45 minutes, but the rest of the programme, which normally lasts two hours, was suppressed. Kurukulasuriya had been criticising the government’s media policies before he was censored. It was the first time in nine years that this press freedom activist was invited to speak on Rupavahini.

This censorship came as widespread criticism forced the government to retreat on its newly-introduced Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations. After receiving representatives of journalists’ organisations and media owners, media and information minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa announced that implementation of the new regulations would be suspended for a month, and he gave the media two weeks to submit their proposals for amendments.

Four people, including Kurukulasuriya as FMM representative, filed a petition before the supreme court challenging the regulations, which were published in the official gazette on 10 October without any form of prior consultation. The new rules would restrict development of privately-owned TV by increasing the government’s control over the issuing and withdrawal of broadcasting licences, which would have to be renewed annually. Noting the government’s decision to suspend the regulations, Reporters Without Borders said: “This law is extremely dangerous for media freedom. Delaying its implementation is not enough. Its content needs to be changed radically.

By K. Ratnayake and Peter Symonds:

After terrorist bombings, Sri Lankan government imposes draconian national emergency

23 April 2019

The Sri Lankan government has exploited Sunday’s terrorist bombings, which claimed at least 290 lives, to impose a national state of emergency that gives the police and military draconian powers of arrest and detention.

While many details have not been released, Sunday’s attacks involved coordinated bombings, within minutes of each other, of three Christian churches, packed for Easter Sunday services, and three luxury hotels. The death toll is likely to rise, as many of the more than 500 injured are in critical condition.

The World Socialist Web Site condemns the horrendous bombings, which indiscriminately killed innocent men, women and children, and have already provided the pretext for sweeping anti-democratic measures.

Even before the state of emergency was announced, the government imposed an unprecedented nationwide block on social media, including Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp, supposedly to prevent the circulation of “false news”. A curfew is already in force.

The state of emergency will activate key sections of the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) that allows the military, as well as the police, to make arbitrary arrests on suspicion of terrorism, and to detain suspects for lengthy periods without charge.

The PTA, which also allows for confessions extracted by torture to be used in court, was widely used during the brutal three-decade communal war by successive Colombo governments against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The emergency powers also allow for the forcible suppression of “mutiny, riot or civil commotion” and the maintenance of essential services—a measure that has, in the past, been used to suppress strikes. The police and military will also have powers to enter and search, to seize property and to compulsorily acquire property other than land.

The WSWS warns that these profoundly anti-democratic measures are, above all, directed against the working class, amid a resurgence of strikes and protests against the government’s harsh austerity measures. Hundreds of thousands of plantation workers took strike action last December to demand a doubling of their poverty-level wages …

One of the government’s first actions under the state of emergency has been to ban all May Day rallies and meetings—a clear sign that the real target of the crackdown is the working class. May 1 has traditionally been widely observed by the Sri Lankan working class as the day of international workers’ solidarity.

The bombings have taken place amid an acute political crisis in Colombo’s ruling circles, fueled both by the rising class struggle and intense geo-political rivalries between the United States and China.

The current Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, came to power in the 2015 election, ousting Mahinda Rajapakse in what was a regime-change operation orchestrated by Washington, with the assistance of Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was installed as prime minister. The US was hostile to Rajapakse’s close ties to China.

Three years later, however, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe fell out, as the government’s popularity sharply fell as a result of its sweeping attacks on the living conditions of working people. Last October, Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe, installed Rajapakse as prime minister, then dissolved parliament. Under pressure from Washington, he was compelled to make an about-face and reinstall Wickremesinghe after the Supreme Court ruled his actions unconstitutional.

The Sunday bombings took place in the context of these bitter rivalries, intrigues and plotting. The most extraordinary revelation, to date, is that 10 days before the bombings, the Sri Lankan police received a foreign intelligence alert specifically warning of plans “to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches” by the Islamist group National Thowheeth Jamma’ath (NTJ).

Desperate to deflect public anger over the failure of the police to take action, the rival factions led by Wickremesinghe, Sirisena and Rajapakse are all pointing the finger at each other. However, none of the obvious questions has been answered: how did a small, little-known Islamist group, previously known only for defacing Buddhist statues, obtain the resources and skills needed to mount a sophisticated, coordinated attack involving suicide bombers that would have required months of preparation?

If the NTJ wanted to escalate their actions, then one would expect logically that they would plan bloodbaths in Buddhist temples, not in Christian churches.

Moreover, how was it that the police, military and intelligence services, built up over decades of civil war, took no action, even after an intelligence alert named the likely perpetrators? The Colombo political establishment and security apparatus is deeply mired in Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism and has strong links to Buddhist extremist groups that have attacked Christians and Muslims and their places of worship in the past.

While government ministers have pointed to a sinister “international network,” it cannot be ruled out that the culprits are closer to home. Could a faction of the military-police-apparatus have turned a blind eye to the impending attack, or even manipulated the bombers to advance its political aims? This is certainly possible, given the long history of dirty tricks and crimes carried out by the security forces during the island’s protracted civil war.

In a particularly revealing comment to the BBC, telecommunications minister Harin Fernando declared: “There are so many ways we could look at this, but right now our biggest priority would be to find what really led these eight or 10 or 12 men to carry out this attack. But we are not ruling out a coup as well. [emphasis added]”

Decades ago, I spoke to a scientist who had done research in a Sri Lankan village. One day, someone stole something from her. She went to the local police station. It turned out that the police then beat up and tortured some local boys. They always used these probably innocent local boys as scapegoats, when they did not know who had committed a crime. The stolen item was not recovered.

Things similar to what happened on that village scale may well happen now in Sri Lanka on a national level. And may well happen in many other countries.

Whatever skullduggery may or may not lie behind the bombings, all factions of the ruling class, despite their bitter rivalry, are completely united on one fundamental issue: intense fear of, and hostility to, the emerging struggles of the [working] class.

The imposition of police-state measures in Sri Lanka, including, for the first time, a ban on social media, is part and parcel of the anti-democratic agenda being imposed around the world. Last month, in the wake of the fascist attack on mosques in New Zealand, the government censored the Internet and is expanding the repressive apparatus of the state. Now the bombings in Sri Lanka are being exploited to set new precedents, which will also be implemented elsewhere in Asia and internationally.

US Coast Guard terrorist no terrorist: white

This 21 February 2019 video about the USA by the British conservative Daily Mail says about itself:

Christopher Paul Hasson dreamed of killing ‘every last person’

A U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant was arrested after investigators claimed he was planning a domestic terror attack and had a ‘hit-list’ that included prominent Democrats and media figures.

Christopher Paul Hasson is due in court on Thursday in Maryland after he was arrested on gun and drug charges last week. Prosecutors said that Hasson, a 49-year-old who lives in a basement apartment in Maryland, espoused extremist views for years.

Court papers detail a June 2017 draft email in which Hasson described an ‘interesting idea’ that included ‘biological attacks followed by attack on food supply.’

Federal agents found 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition when Hasson was arrested. Prosecutors allege that he had compiled a list of prominent congressional Democrats, activists, and media commentators.

From Jewish daily The Forward in the USA:

White Nationalist Coast Guard Officer Won’t Face Terrorism Charges

April 19, 2019

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

The Coast Guard officer who federal prosecutors accuse of amassing a stockpile of weapons and compiling a hit list of Democrats and media figures, and who prosecutors say is a white nationalist, is asking to be released from prison in advance of his trial because he has been charged with no terrorism-related crimes.

The officer, Christopher Hasson, is a white nationalist who revered the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, prosecutors say. But so far, they have only charged him with firearms and drug offenses.

In a court filing this week, Hasson’s attorney said that prosecutors revealed in a status conference that they intend to file no further chargers, the Associated Press reported.

“No other crimes have been charged,” the attorney wrote, according to the A.P. “Moreover, during a recent status call, government counsel advised the Court and defense counsel that it does not expect to file a superseding indictment in this matter.”

Hasson’s arrest on February 15 came amidst growing concern over the rise of white supremacist violence. Court filings called Hasson a “domestic terrorist,” and described his white nationalist views.

If Christopher Paul Hasson’s name would not have been Christopher Paul Hasson, but Mohamed Abdallah Hassan, and/or if he would not have been white, then I doubt whether the prosecutor would have stopped short of charging him with terrorism.

Two separate police departments in Virginia announced last week that they had each fired an officer accused of links to white supremacist groups, CNN reported. In both cases, the officer had been investigated after an activist group called Antifa Seven Hills published blog posts outlining their alleged links to white supremacist organizations. The Virginia Division of Capitol Police, which protects the Virginia state capitol, fired one of the officers, Robert Stamm, after placing him on leave in February, CNN reported. Antifa Seven Hills had published a blog post linking Stamm to Asatru Folk Assembly, which the ADL calls an “extremist group”: here.

Sri Lankans denounce anti-Christian terrorism

Sri Lankan bomb attack witness N.A. Sumanapala

From the World Socialist Web site in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan bomb survivors and local residents denounce terror attacks

By our correspondents

22 April 2019

World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) reporters spoke with residents of Kochchikade, in Colombo and Katuwapitiya in Negombo where two of yesterday’s deadly bomb blasts occurred. They also visited the Colombo National Hospital and Negombo District Hospital, interviewing injured survivors and others searching for news about their missing relatives.

N.A. Sumanapala, who lives in Jampattah Street, opposite St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, said: “There was a huge blast at about 8.45 in the morning, just before the morning prayers ended. People were screaming and there were pieces of flesh scattered around. Because it’s Easter Sunday, there could have been thousands of people in the church. Many came from remote areas for the Easter service.

“There was only one ambulance at that time and it arrived about half an hour after the bomb attack. Victims were transported to the hospital by buses, three-wheel taxies and other vehicles owned by local residents.”

Sumanapala angrily denounced the terror attack. “I don’t know who is responsible for the blast but it’s a barbaric act,” he said. “We experienced a 30-year war which had a huge and devastating impact on everyone. The aim of this bomb attack could be to instigate communalism and turmoil. It must be totally condemned.”

Stephen Fernando

Stephen Fernando, who also lives near St Anthony’s church, said: “There was a huge blast which occurred whilst I was sleeping. My mother said that the explosion was in the church and so I rushed there. There was blood and flesh everywhere. It was very upsetting and people were screaming and running.” Fernando denounced the terrorist attack, condemning it as “a cynical attempt to provoke conflicts among the people who live with harmony.”

Sri Lankan hospital authorities only allowed the media to visit Ward 32 at Colombo National Hospital where 35 victims with minor injuries from Kochchikade blast had been admitted.

Shonal Daniel, 15, a student from Wattala, a Colombo outer suburb, had injuries to his face and right arm. His father told the WSWS that his son had gone to morning prayers at Kochchikade church but had arrived late. “Because he was late we were upset but then we heard that there was a blast at the church and we rushed there and learned that the victims had been taken to the hospital. We came here in great fear but fortunately he only has minor injuries. This bomb attack is a brutal crime.”

Ranjith Kumar

Ranjith Kumar, 42, a porter at Petah in Colombo, was being treated for burns. “I was inside the church and suddenly there was a blast and then another big sound with flames. I was knocked over but managed to get out,” he said.

“My wife fell down. She has head injuries and was admitted to Ward 38. My 10-year old son was also in the church but fortunately only had some of his hair burnt. We don’t have a regular monthly income but only earn about 2,000 rupees for a whole day’s work. I have to feed six people on this income. This incident is a huge blow for us.”

Nelson, 32, from Nawalapitiya in Sri Lanka’s central province, works for a gas company in Gampaha, 25 kilometres from Colombo. “My head was hit hard when I was knocked down by the bomb blast and several people fell on me. My uncle, who was with me in church, cannot hear anything now because of the huge sound of the blast. The mass was occurring in Tamil and we were lighting the candles when the bomb went off.


“My wife has just had a baby and is in Castle Hospital [in Colombo], waiting to go home. She doesn’t even know that I’ve been admitted to the hospital. Fortunately I’m alive but this is an outrage. Look how many people have been killed and injured.”

Two young women were at the hospital searching for their husbands who had been at St. Anthony’s church. They could not find them. One of the women, S. Rohini, is married to Loganathan Rames, 30, a salesman at a rice shop.

“We were married five years ago and have a five-year-old child,” she said. “My husband went to the Kochchikade church service but I, and other family members, went to another church. We’ve searched all wards in the National Hospital and even we went to other hospitals but we cannot find him anywhere. We strongly condemn these attacks,” she said.

WSWS reporters also visited the Catholic Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo where there were still about 20 bodies in the building. The bodies, which were burned beyond recognition and scattered across the floor, remained there until 2 p.m. Blood was splattered across the church interior and the all building’s roof tiles broken by the blast.

A distraught middle-aged man came out of the church and yelled: “Where was the god when these things happened? Whoever did this, any retaliation will only lead to the killing of ordinary people.”

Relatives of bomb victims were rushing to the church and then across to Negombo hospital. Sri Lankan police and other security forces have imposed severe restrictions on visiting patients. Only one member from a victim’s family is allowed to enter the hospital.

Large numbers of weeping men and women, some from distant areas, were at the hospital trying to locate injured relatives. One person, whose mother-in-law was killed in the blast, wept: “My younger son came home bleeding from his head but I can’t find my 15-year-old son. He is not in the church nor in the hospital.”

Relatives of the victims

A doctor told the WSWS that most of the injured patients had been transferred to Colombo National Hospital, the Teaching Hospital in Ragama or another hospital in Chilaw, because there were not enough beds and medical staff at the Negombo facility.

Responding to media appeals, large numbers of people, mostly youth, had come to the hospital to donate blood for the critically injured. One of them bluntly told the WSWS: “Irrespective of who carried out this attack, it will be taken advantage of by the rulers. The politicians will exploit this to further postpone the elections, impose more burdens on the people and ban strikes.”

290 people killed in Sri Lanka bloodbath

This 22 April 2019 AFP news agency video says about itself:

St Sebastian’s church: A day after Sri Lanka explosions

Authorities comb through St Sebastian’s church in Sri Lanka’s Negombo as the death toll from Sunday’s bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in the country rose dramatically Monday to 290.

By K. Ratnayake in Sri Lanka:

At least 290 killed in terrorist bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

22 April 2019

At least 290 people have been killed and around 500 injured in a series of powerful bomb blasts yesterday in Sri Lanka. In a co-ordinated attack between 8.45 a.m. and 9 a.m., unidentified terrorists struck three Christian churches and three luxury hotels frequented by tourists. Among the dead are some 35 foreigners, including from the US, European countries, China and Japan.

The three churches—St. Anthony in Colombo, St. Sebastian in Negombo to the north of the capital and the Zeon Church in Batticalao on the east coast of the island—were packed for Easter Sunday services. The blasts ripped off the roofs and left body parts strewn among the rubble. The hospitals, particularly in Negombo where the death toll was the highest, were overwhelmed by the large number of injured, many of whom are in a serious condition.

People recovering dead bodies in Katuwapitiya Church

The three luxury hotels—the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury—are all in Colombo. Two further blasts in the capital several hours later claimed more lives—one in the suburb of Dehiwela killed two people and the second in Dematagoda killed seven, including three police officers.

The Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka) unequivocally condemns this barbaric murder of innocent people, including children and women. Whoever is responsible for this heinous crime and whatever their motives, it will be exploited by the political establishment to strengthen the state apparatus and further attack basic democratic rights.

The government immediately imposed a nationwide block on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Viber, claiming that they had been used to circulate “false news reports.” While saying the shutdown would be temporary, it is part and parcel of moves by governments internationally to censor the internet so that only government-approved news is readily available.

Dutch NOS TV reports today (translated):

Internet organization NetBlocks regrets the move, because legitimate news sources now also cannot be disseminated and rumours will circulate faster.

The K. Ratnayake article continues:

No organisation or individual has so far claimed the responsibility for the terrorist attacks. State minister for defence affairs and media, Ruwan Wijewardena, said the government knew the “identity of the culprits” but would not elaborate. The police have arrested 13 people but have not revealed their identity. Even the nature of the bombings is not clear, but there is some evidence that suicide bombers were involved.

Agence France Presse has reported that the Sri Lankan government and police had received a warning 10 days before that suicide bombers planned to attack prominent churches. The intelligence alert to top police officers declared: “A foreign intelligence agency has informed that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jamma’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo.”

Neither the police nor the government took any action to warn the public of an impending attack. Nor there is any evidence that the police took any measures to prevent the bombings. Yet the alert was quite specific and Easter is an obvious time when churches would be full.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday acknowledged that there had been a warning from an unnamed foreign intelligence agency. He claimed, however, that he and his ministers did not know about the alert. He indicated that there would be an inquiry as “there had not been adequate attention [paid] to the information.”

National Thowheeth Jamma’ath is an Islamist organisation based in Sri Lanka that is suspected of having links to Islamic extremists internationally. At this stage, however, one cannot rule out other possibilities.

The Colombo political establishment, which waged a brutal three-decade long war to defeat the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has close connections to Sinhala Buddhist supremacist groups, which have a history of attacks on Christians and Christian churches, as well as the island’s Tamil and Muslim minorities. In many cases, the police have simply turned a blind eye to such attacks.

The government is desperate to deflect rising anger over the bombings. In his comments, Wickremesinghe hinted that President Maithripala Sirisena was responsible for not taking action to prevent the attack. Sirisena took over the law and order ministry, which includes the police, last December as part of the bitter rivalry between himself and the prime minister. The president, as defence minister, already has control of the country’s three armed forces.

The opposition, led by former President Mahinda Rajapakse, yesterday condemned the attack but sheeted home the blame to the government. The Rajapakse government was responsible for the brutal end to the war against the LTTE which involved the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in the final military operations, as well as hundreds of “disappearances” by military-connected death squads.

Rajapakse has defended the “war heroes” against any charges of war crimes and is looking for the military’s support in his bid to return to power. Yesterday, he declared that the attack was a “dire consequence that innocent people have to face because the government has paralysed the intelligence officers and officers of the three-armed forces.”

Both the governing and opposition parties, however, were responsible for prosecuting the communal war against the island’s Tamil minority and for vastly expanding the military and state apparatus as well as its police state powers. The government will undoubtedly exploit yesterday’s bombings to ram through its Counter Terrorism (CT) Bill, which replaces the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act and retains the bulk of its sweeping, anti-democratic powers.

In separate statements, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe urged people to be “calm” as the security measures were put into force—after the bombings. As well as the block on social media, police special task force officers were deployed to guard Colombo railway station, Katunayake International Airport and other places. Several hundred soldiers have been deployed onto the streets of Colombo and a curfew has been imposed.

World leaders yesterday rushed to denounce the terrorist attack. US President Donald Trump condemned the “horrible terrorist attacks,” offered “heartfelt condolences” and declared that the US stood “ready to help.” British Prime Minister Theresa May also decried the attacks saying the “violence was truly appalling.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that “there is no place for such barbarism in our region.”

Hypocrisy knows no bounds! The US and its allies are responsible for criminal wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa that fueled Islamic extremists, if they were indeed responsible for yesterday’s bombings. Washington backed successive Colombo governments that waged the island’s brutal war that created communal tensions and hatreds that Sri Lankan elites continue to stir up and manipulate.

Amid a rising tide of working-class struggles, the ruling classes internationally are whipping up anti-immigrant xenophobia and deliberately nurturing fascist parties and organisations. Last month, the Australian fascist Brenton Tarrant shot dead 50 people, including women and children, in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Despite Tarrant’s connections in far-right circles internationally, the police and intelligence services claim that they had no forewarning. The response of the government in Wellington has been to blame the internet and censor websites.

The government in Sri Lanka will use yesterday’s bombings for the same purpose. Over the past year, there has been a wave of strikes by workers and protests by students, farmers and the poor against the government’s austerity measures. The police-state measures put in place on the pretext of fighting terrorism will inevitably be used against the working class.

Anti-Christian terrorism in Sri Lanka at Easter

This 21 April 2019 video is called At least 280 injured in multiple blasts at churches & hotels in Sri Lanka.

From the Economic Times in India:

Sri Lanka Blasts Live Updates: 129 dead, over 400 injured in six explosions on Easter

Serial blasts occurred at around 8.45 am as the Easter Sunday masses were in progress in churches

Updated: Apr 21, 2019, 12.26 PM IST

Other sources claim at least 160 dead.

With all of my heart, I wish strength and recovery to the survivors of these terrible crimes.

At least 129 people were killed and more than 400 other injured after six near simultaneous blasts hit three Sri Lankan churches and three five-star hotels on Easter Sunday. These are the first major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. According to local reports, the blasts in hotels and churches in different parts of the country occurred at around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday masses were in progress in churches.

* In just one church, St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed.

* Media reported 25 people were also killed in an attack on a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province.

* At least nine foreigners dead in the blasts

* Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.

So we don’t know yet which apparently terrorist group committed these crimes.

Tamils? Improbable, as this mostly Hindu minority group suffer from extremist Buddhist violence and would not probably attack other minorities.

Sri Lanka Muslims? Also improbable, as this minority group also suffers from extremist Buddhist violence and would not probably attack other minorities.

If this would have happened in Iraq, then I would guess that the perpetrators were most probably violent extreme Muslims, unleashed by George W Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.

However, Sri Lanka is not Iraq; and the situation of all religious groups is not the same all over the world. A creed which is a state religion in country A may be a persecuted minority in country B.

There are violent fringes in probably all religions, whose violence is rejected by non-violent co-religionists.

In, eg, the USA, New Zealand and Europe, there are violent self-styled Christians attacking Jews and Muslims; and sometimes Sikhs and Hindus.

In India, violent self-styled Hindus attack Muslims, Christians, atheists and Buddhists.

Though most Buddhists are peace-loving people, there is an extremist fringe among them as well. In Myanmar, a monk calls himself ‘the Buddhist Bin Laden’ and instigates violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

So, we don´t know yet who today’s perpetrators are. As religious violence is most often by violent fringe people of majority religions in their countries, this might be extremist Buddhist violence. Like there has been earlier in Sri Lanka against Hindus and against Muslims.

One should hope that the Sri Lankan government will not abuse this terrible bloodbath as a pretext for attacking civil liberties, like other governments did after criminal acts.

However, it seems like the Sri Lankan government has announced a curfew and blocked social media. It does not seem to work yet.