“I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees” said the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.
The decision by Sri Lankan government to cremate all Covid19 related death with no sensitivity to ethnic minorities and their basic human rights has distressed many Sri Lankans all across the world. Had there been a valid reason for such cremation, peace loving Sri Lankan Muslims would not object to such a decision but would also extend their fullest cooperation. However, despite evidence produced by WHO as well as Sri Lankan and international experts, the government continues its discriminatory and racist policies towards Muslims.
The systematic racism unleashed on Muslims in places like hospitals have become unprecedented. Not only they are forcibly cremating Covid victims, they are also conspiring to cremate Muslims who die of other causes. Recently a government hospital conspired to cremate a Muslim man who died of renal failure. A woman who died of heart failure was cremated. A 20 days old baby who had died of pneumonia was cremated without the consent of the parents. Man, woman or child –no one is safe from the institutionalized racism in Sri Lanka. All these while WHO strongly suggests burial of covid19 deceased doesn’t cause any environmental issue let alone contamination.
The fake scientist Channa Perera said Muslims can try to use the dead bodies as biological weapons. The fear mongering government of Sri Lanka should stop their anti-Muslim fake news propaganda. It is propaganda based on false assumption that burial of covid-19 victims results in contamination of ground water.
Government of Sri Lanka, if you have proof, present your proof to the world. And we demand evidence for all these claims. If there is none, then they MUST abide by the international rules and guidelines which are followed by over 185 countries, or face international justice for the crimes they are committing.
Our request is NOT to perform the last rituals the dead body. We are NOT demanding the corps to be handed over to us either. All we demand is allow what the rest of the world including UK had allowed, which is the right of a person who died to be disposed according to his or her beliefs. In other words we are asking our dignity to be restored.
We urge the government of Sri Lanka to allow the rights of minorities by allowing them to bury their loved ones. Don’t witch hunt your opponents to cover your failings. We are not scapegoats to be used in your political games. And we ask our non-Muslim brothers and sisters to stand with us in this fight for our rights.
I quote Martin Niemöller to end my speech.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”