By Rose Kenny
Leader of the House, Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella said in parliament yesterday that around 95% of the Easter Sunday victims’ families have been paid the compensation by now.
Responding to a point of order raised by UPFA Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekara regarding the payment of compensation for Easter Sunday victims he said, “As far as I know around 95 percent of victims have been compensated.”
Lands and Parliamentary Reforms Deputy Minister Edward Gunasekara also explained that the family members of all who had been killed at the Katuwapitiya church have been compensated except for five families. “Those families cannot be located as either all family members are victims or they cannot be located and that is the reason for them not being paid.”
UPFA Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera raising a point of order in parliament yesterday, said that the kith and kin of the Easter Sunday victims continue to suffer since the government has failed to compensate them.
He said that the government had promised to pay Rs 500,000 each to the 264 persons who had been killed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks. “It was revealed in the Court that only 20 have been compensated. Of the 101 injured persons, only six or seven have been compensated. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and other religious leaders have repeatedly raised this issue. But the government continues to say that they compensated them all. Now the real figures are revealed in the court. Attorney-at-Law Chamil Perera has filed a fundamental rights petition with these figures. The petition has been filed at the Supreme Court seeking compensation for those who were killed or injured in the Easter Sunday attacks which took place due to the negligence of officials. Everybody is cursing all of us including the President, Prime Minister, Ministers and all 225 MPs. People say that Parliament should have been bombed. Why does the government delay compensating them? The family members are still suffering the loss of their loved ones. If the government could compensate them it would at least be some solace to them,” MP Jayasekera said.
When Minister Kiriella said that a debate could be requested to address these issues in parliament, MP Jayasekera responded that there is no point in debating it in parliament. “What should be done is to expedite the paying of compensations. What is the point of giving those figures here? Go before the Supreme Court and tell the court if you have figures different from the ones in the petition,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gampaha District MP Nimal Lanza said that as a Catholic he was ashamed to say that the government did nothing for the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks. “There is a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) which is a bluff to safeguard those responsible for the crime. The families which had been left helpless because of the death of their breadwinners have become destitute. The Cardinal too has raised this issue many a time, but no one takes notice or acts upon it,” the MP said.
UNP National list MP Prof Ashu Marasinghe said that the PSC was in the process of preparing the drafts of its report. “We have identified those responsible for the crime on the basis of testimonies. We would submit our report recommending structural changes that would prevent the recurrence of similar incidents,” he said.
UPFA Hambantota District MP Mahinda Amaraweera said that President Maithripala Sirisena could have easily avoided the PSC but being a leader upholding democratic and parliamentary values, the President had decided to testify before the PSC.