The Government of Sri Lanka(GoSL), withdraws the option which was available under Public Health Guidelines to allow the burial of the deceased Covid-19 victims, which adversely affects the religious rights of the Muslim Community of Sri Lanka. This adverse decision was taken contrary to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) relating to the disposal of bodies affected by the Corona Virus, which are being followed by many countries, including United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, Israel, Malaysia, Iran and Italy. In the absence of any scientific evidence of spread of disease after the body has been sealed in a body bag from respiratory or gastrointestinal fluids (and therefore there is no difference in cremation or burial with regard to spreading of the virus), this decision appear to be taken on other considerations. This will continue to cause much anxiety and anguish to the affected Muslim families in particular and the community in general. The GoSL should therefore reconsider reintroducing the amendment to provide the burial option too with strict conditions to avoid infection spread, as provided in the WHO guidelines, in addition to the cremation option.
COVID-19 Related Incidents, News & Other Activities in Sri Lanka
Naz Shah MP has written to the UK Government raising huge concerns about Sri Lanka’s Minority Muslim population reportedly being cremated without consent, if they die from COVID-19.
Today, I have written to the UK Government raising huge concerns about Sri-Lanka's Minority Muslim population reportedly being cremated without consent, if they die from COVID-19.
I called on the UK government to take action against this abuse of Human Rights. pic.twitter.com/UGF9APY0s0
— Naz Shah MP (@NazShahBfd) July 6, 2020
The World Health Organization says burials are safe for Covid-19 victims. So why is Sri Lanka’s government insisting on cremating all bodies?
Name: Abdul Hameed mohamed Rafaideen
Age: 64 years
Last Address: Neth Sevana Housing Complex, Thotalanga. Madampitiya
Died on 05.05.2020 early Morning 1.15Am between 1.30am. emergency Doctor V Thusitan 077756XXXX visit flat by 2.15am confirmed death. After informing to police at the time 2.15Am and police visit home after 13 hours 2.30Pm time to pick the body to General Hospital. Body was put to the mortuary without a cover or body bag.
On 06.05.2020 body was taken to Borella cemetery 4.45Pm with long covid suspect story and obtain signature from the son and burnt it. Today family is not on quarantine or the victim is included in the covid 19 death list.
Dear Dr.Anil Jasinghe
It is with much sadness that I write this to you, all the more so because you are a doctor whose duty is to understand others, not treat people with contempt. A doctor needs to be compassionate and understanding. This is something we all accept as a fact.
But you don’t seem to have this trait, dear doctor and it has shown again and again. What is most saddening is your persistent disregard for the sensitivities of our Muslim community by insisting that our dead be cremated when all other countries accept burial, which you yourself can see every day on international news where the dead are shown buried in graves, not even five feet deep. Even the victims of Small pox, a disease much more virulent than what we face today are buried, and you being a medical professional with all the knowledge behind you, should know better than to persist with your meaningless arrogance so unbecoming of a medical man. To date, Sri Lanka remains the only country in the world to require mandatory cremation in spite of the wishes of the dying and their loved ones.
By doing this you are day by day earning the anger and curses of our community and boosting the racists who are gloating “At last we got to burn the Muslims” and going to town with it, raving and ranting all the way puffed up with all their arrogance. Can you even imagine how it hurts a Muslim when their loved ones are burnt when in our religion fire is the element of the hellfire to which the wicked go. Don’t you understand how important it is to give the dead a decent and dignified farewell. They are leaving you in this world and there is something called closure where you pay them your last respects and get back to your life. It is the final rites that help achieve this. Surely you should know that. Any good doctor would tell you.
This is not the first time that you have disregarded our religious rights. Only a couple of years ago, you issued a surprising circular preventing our medical professionals from performing female circumcision by falsely comparing it with FGM of the kind that happens in Africa. By doing this you hit a duty which in our religion is obligatory, and which was totally uncalled for. It was only meant to demean our community. Many were the Muslim organisations led by a very able and knowledgeable spokeswoman who went all the way to parliament to present our case using very convincing and logical arguments and requesting you in all kindness to withdraw the circular. But you did sweet nothing.
But now you have gone one further. You have not only trampled on the rights of our living, but have also scorned the rights of the dead, which everybody respects. You have given fuel and ammunition to those who hate us to gloat and boast and spew their venom all over, including in mass media. The bad blood you have created will live on and be alive in the hearts and minds of countless generations to come. And all because of your arrogance.
So dear doctor, do not impose your views on our community. Respect our religion just as we respect yours. As our holy book, the Qur’an clearly says “To You your Way, to Me Mine”. Surely this is something we all can respect.
Sri Lanka makes cremations compulsory for COVID-19 victims, but Muslims and activists urge authorities to allow burials.
A Fundamental Rights violation petition was filed yesterday, challenging the Gazette notification that a body related to death either confirmed or suspected of COVID-19, should be exclusively cremated within 24 hours (preferably within 12 hours).
Two Catholics Oshala Lakmal Anil Herath and Ranmal Anthony Amerasinghe filed two separate petitions through Gowry Shangary Thavarasha, citing Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Ministry Secretary Dr. Bhadrani Jayawardena, Health Services Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe and the Attorney General as Respondents.
Government and its leaders should immediately stop harassing the Muslim community in the country, this is how the harassment of Tamil people led to a 29 year War , we see lot of Muslim youth are posting serious comments on social media which is not a good sign Currently Muslim community is without a leader who can guide them, As a community without a leader the community is certainly going astray in many directions the trigger was due to cremation of Muslim Janazas without any scientific justification- the government has not shared its scientific basis for cremation only with the public (locally and internationally) in a transparent manner.
Hence, we as Sri Lankan Muslims are reluctantly compelled to conclude that our repeated request to include burial as an option for COVID-19 dead body disposal is not based in science but is an ideologically and a politically motivated decision to stigmatize the Sri Lankan Muslim population.
The tragic circumstances and horrific treatment of the family of the deceased from Modara, who was misdiagnosed for COVID19
The tragic circumstances and horrific treatment of the family of the deceased from Modara, who was misdiagnosed for COVID19, and thereafter cremated is important to take note. It also leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
The following is their account alone.
As recounted by her family to me, the deceased was a 44 year old Muslim woman (media reported her as 52 years old) who was suffering from a cold. Having no pre-existing conditions, she had gone to a local clinic and thereafter the NHSL where she was prescribed medication.
On her second visit to NHSL last Monday, she was admitted and her 42 year old sister-in-law (media reported as 63 years old) stayed with her. She was later taken to the ICU and then transferred to IDH later that night. Her sister-in-law was also taken along with her.
According to the family, she had passed away upon admission to IDH, approximately around 2-3 am. The family only found out about the time of death much later. 4/20
At 5:30 am on Tuesday morning, not knowing that the mother has already passed a few hours prior, the family received a call saying that their mother has been infected with COVID and to not leave their houses and authorities will arrive by 9 am.
The family resides in a flat at a large housing scheme in Modara, and the military, police and health authorities locked down the area on Tuesday morning. At 11:30 am, the authorities only informed the family that their mother was serious, but in fact she had already died.
The son of the deceased then recounted to me the sheer terror and harassment which occurred thereafter. As they were a large family, with extended relatives living in the same scheme, all of them were subject to extremely harsh interrogation.
This included the law enforcement threatening bodily harm, disrespecting & abusing them derogatorily, all in the presence of several young children for the purposes of contact-tracing. The family recounted that they felt as if they were treated like murderers or terrorists.
Thereafter, they were taken outside where they underwent PCR tests and were disinfected, along with their children including a 2 month old infant, in full view of the several media cameras aimed at their faces.
They were then put into a bus under military escort, and were not informed where they were being taken. Moreover, all this while, they were never told that their mother had already passed away that morning.
Around 4 pm, the family while en route to Kandakadu QC, they were informed of the death. The second son of the deceased who was living separately was summoned to IDH.
Upon arrival, the authorities then gave him documents to sign: consent to release the body for cremation, and consent to send an organ sample for testing. The latter procedure had apparently already been conducted, and they only asked for his consent later.
He signed under duress. Thereafter, he was taken to the body which was lying in an unsealed casket. Expecting to see a sealed coffin, the surprised son was able to go right up to her, & even took a photo of the body so that his family can see their mother for one last time.
He was then allowed to conduct a quick prayer. The son recounted that the authorities were seemingly lax about taking precautions around the body, as if they already knew she was not infected with COVID. After the prayer, the body was taken for cremation.
It was two days later that the son heard through media that his mother had not succumbed to COVID. Recalling the lax attitude of those at IDH around the body, he has now convinced himself that his mother was forcibly cremated as they already knew she had not been infected.
The family members who were at Kandakadu were suddenly told on Thursday that they can return home. They were shocked as even if there is slight risk, they would have been kept in isolation. It was only on their way back were they told that their mother didn’t die of COVID.
The family are in grief and are at a loss, as not only were they not allowed to mourn their mother and give her a proper burial according to their collective wishes, but also they were subject to humiliation at the hands of the authorities and the media in the process.
As recalled to me by the husband, he said he can come to terms that she has lost her life, but not the fact that she was cremated. They are desperate for closure, and have several unanswered questions on the death and cremation in itself.
It is important to note that this is a pandemic and all credit is due to those on the frontlines. However, while all relevant precautionary measures should be undertaken in full, they should be done in a way that does not dehumanize and disgrace individuals like so.
Moreover, with the ongoing militarization of our services, it begs the question of accountability. This case is a prime example where the deceased was misdiagnosed for COVID, and thereafter cremated. For the sake of the grieving family, I hope these answers will come soon.
Sri lanka – Only country in the world Forcibly cremating Muslim Covid-19 victims – By Latheef Farook
The situation in the island today is that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world;
1- that claims that bodies of Muslims died of corona virus ,if buried ,could be used as biological weapons.
2-that portrays those who support the burial of Covid-19 victims as unpatriotic citizens.
3- that has turned Covid-19 into a witchunt where the media dioscloses the identities and religion of patients.
4- that forcibly cremates victims of Covid-19 against their religious and cultural rights.
Letters sent to two biased medias by Rehan Jayawickreme, Chairman of Weligama Council regarding the unauthorised entry and invasion of privacy of suspected COVID 19 case in Weligama. There was a diseased lady tested negative for COVID 19 on 8th May and her body was handed over for burial according to her religious beliefs.
Muslim death, cremated
The ‘9th coronavirus fatality’ in Sri Lanka which occurred on Tuesday could now be deemed as erroneously diagnosed. The body of a 52-year-old Muslim lady from Modera had been cremated after a short period of time in line with current controversial local polices of cremating COVID related deaths.
A Muslim victim of COVID19 cremated against the wishes of her family. And also obtained the conscent signature from her son forcefuly. Latterly, the authorities claimed that cremated body was not tested positive for Covid19.
Sri Lankan Government made cremation compulsaory for all victims of the virus, becoming the only country in the world to do so
Sri Lankan Government made cremation compulsaory for all victims of the virus, becoming the only country in the world to do so. The Minister of Health also mde regulations on 11th April 2020 purportedly in terms of section 2 and 3(1) of the Quarantine and Prevention of Deceases Ordinance specifically providing that “the corpse of a person who has died or is suspected to have died of Coronavirus Decease 2019 shall be cremated’
Sinhalese popstar Iraj Weeraratne, shared a false claim on Twitter that the ruler of Sharjah had banned burials in his emirate
The pick-up from local Sri Lankan media and hardline Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalists was so extensive that it prompted a response from the UAE’s embassy in Colombo. “It is shocking that this news item has been manipulated and maliciously interpreted […] in a manner that could incite racism towards the Muslims of Sri Lanka,” said an official statement published on 6 April.
A claim has been shared on Facebook and several Sri Lankan news websites that Muslims at a mosque in Sri Lanka reacted violently after authorities told them their gathering was in violation of the country’s novel coronavirus curfew. The claim is misleading; police and public health officials said that locals were in fact asked to gather at the mosque to receive tests to detect COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The scuffle that occurred at the event was sparked over fears that the testing site would make the village more susceptible to infections, they said.