Sri Lankan Defense Chief Hemasiri Fernando resigned from his post on Thursday, April 25th due to security failures that ultimately led to the Easter bombings last weekend, in which nearly 250 people were killed. The government of Sri Lanka has been receiving harsh criticism in recent days due to the fact that they had received intelligence about the planned attack yet did not act to stop it. Because of this, it had been widely expected that Fernando would have no choice but to step down. Soon it was reported that Fernando submitted his official letter of resignation to head-of-state Maithripala Sirisena. As tensions reign high in this small island nation, a massive manhunt is in effect to capture the suspects of the Easter bombing. Police on Thursday released the photos of 3 men and 3 women that they are interested in questioning. According to the Washington Post, Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church has suspended all public services and closed all churches due to the threat of future bombings.
“He told the president that he was accepting responsibility and resigning so that the president can make a new appointment,” said an anonymous official in a recent statement in regard to Fernando. The president is now searching for a replacement for Fernando, and when asked about the bombings and the failures of his former defense secretary, President Sirisena stated “They did not say a word about this warning letter. It was a serious lapse on their part and shirk of responsibility.” Secretary Fernando has yet to make any public comments on the matter. Due to these attacks, security has never been higher in Sri Lanka. Almost every religious service is heavily guarded in hopes of preventing future attacks. “Every household in the country will be checked,” said President Sirisena. “We had to declare an emergency situation to suppress terrorists and ensure a peaceful environment in the country.”
This attack was seemingly highly preventable. First, both the Defense Secretary and the chief of police were warned of the attacks via a letter from Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the bombings. Despite this, neither Fernando nor police chief Pujith Jayasundara warned the president about it and thus the attacks were able to be carried out. Hundreds of lives could have been saved if Fernando had not made this mistake and therefore his actions should be harshly condemned. At the same time, he made the right decision by deciding to resign after realizing the damage he had caused to his country. Easter Sunday was a dark day in Sri Lanka this year, and Fernando should definitely share part of the blame for it. Violence should never be the answer to any problem, and if he had decided to perform his duties correctly, he could have prevented a lot of violence and destruction from happening.
These bombings are an unprecedented tragedy for this tiny country. An attack of this size has never taken place before and everyone living there is in a state of shock and grief. As the hunt for the suspects continues, the people of Colombo are trying to rebuild. The government has blocked all social media and the country now enters into new territory of fear and panic that was virtually unheard of. Attacks in Sri Lanka have happened before, but never to this extent and never have so many places of worship been the target. According to the Washington Post, the president has taken strict new measures in order to try and track and detain people so that something like this never happens again. Measures this drastic have not been taken there since the civil war between the Tamils and the government that ended over 10 years ago.
It is unclear where the country of Sri Lanka will go from here. They are now a wounded nation, feeling the effects of the tragedy. It is clear that these bombings are no way to achieve peace, yet neither is restricting the freedoms of your people in order to ensure safety. Sure, security should definitely be improved, and the government is in desperate need of a defense secretary that does their job, but these are just minor fixes to a much larger problem. Peace in this region of the globe is not an easy find, and although no solutions have been found yet, Fernando’s resignation is certainly a step in the right direction.
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