29 November, 2020

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Be Warned – Dishonouring The Dead Is The Death Of Human Conscience

By Manimekalai

There is something positively vile about a government that goes out of its way, in the midst of a global pandemic to hurt the most core sentiments of a religious community. During the pandemic, Sri Lanka is the one among abysmally few countries in the world that has explicitly disallowed burials. There is no scientific proof that says burials increase the chances of virus spread. Such a question has not arisen anywhere in the world even though there has been mass scale deaths and practical issues such as lack of space for burial. Yet, here in Sri Lanka, with way fewer deaths (thank god) and no other practical, rational, scientific reason backing it, the government banned burial of COVID-19 victims. This has hurt a core principle of the people of the Islamic faith. The ban has been executed since not just for Muslims those who have died of COVID but of other deaths, merely suspected of being due to COVID.

There is ample literature and statements that outline the baselessness of this action. More recently the action has only gotten even more vulgar as the President declared tat they are willing to remove the ban only with availability of remote dry areas where there will not be alleged groundwater contamination. They passed the buck to the health officials. To pass this decision on to the bureaucracy of the government rather than simply removing the ban is a blatant show of the complete absence of political will to respect the right to burial. 

All these scientific, political and other questions, comments and considerations are of paramount importance. But here some questions are being raised of the human conscience and reason. How is it that all those not of the Islamic faith have not been adequately disturbed by this entire ordeal? First, how are we not outraged that time and resources is being spent on forcibly cremating people rather than focusing on the urgent tasks of curbing the virus? Second, how are we letting it be unnoticed that while Muslims and other communities are burying the dead everywhere in the world as per their faith based rituals, in Sri Lanka, this banning of burials is made to sound like it is a relevant and even rational thing to be debating right now? This exposes, blatantly, the mediocrity and insularity of this island which can turn its vision towards itself and see all things through such a restricted perspective that, although the issues being discussed are international and relevant to all humans, they become, baselessly, specifically ‘Sri Lankan’. Third, and perhaps most importantly, how are we not haunted by nightmares of the sin that it is, morally, ethically and religiously, to stand by and watch while a whole community is afraid that they will not be able to mourn their dead with the practice of burial. Instead they have to be quiet as their loved ones pass on and are ‘punished’ here on earth by being cremated. It is believed in Islam, like in many other faiths, that one will burn in hell if one has sinned but otherwise one’s soul will be given entry to heaven. Burning the dead here on earth is considered a severe punishment for a human soul who will then not be able to enter heaven. It is this horrific feeling of dread that the Muslims of this country have to ‘tolerate’ due to this ban. 

To the Tamil speaking Hindus, we ask, you know full well what it means to be dehumanized as a cultural group, whose language, practices and sheer existence on earth can be seen as akin to vermin and can be destroyed with enough weaponry in the hands of hatred. How can you remain silent as this happens to yet another community? To the Tamil speaking Christians, we ask, you may not be as deeply hurt by the denial of burial rights and your rights may not be impacted in practical terms, as the hatred is not directed toward you (at this moment). But is this the society you want to live in? Where core practices of faith are banned by the state for no other reason except to hurt religious sentiments? To ALL Sinhalese who, in the bare minimum, believe in dignity for the dead, ALL dead whatever their religion, we ask, will you keep silent while one more community’s spirit is chipped away and massacred in the name of your faith, language and country? Or in the least, will you stand by, when news space, government time and resources is being taken over by unnecessary inane hateful actions rather than dealing with the massive threat to the world as we know it, posed by this pandemic? 

I know it must sound rude to call upon us all by our religious and linguistic identities. But then again, without explicitly saying so, and sometimes by saying so, the voices of hatred do speak to and in the name of these identities. Through that hateful speech they go on to make our identities as Sri Lankans on our behalf, whether we like it or not. So it is up to us to wrest power away from these authoritarian hateful voices from defining who we are in absolute terms. We can do this by denying membership in these identity groups as being restrictive. Sometimes, however, we must also do this by saying ‘if this is the box you put me in and you declare what this box stands for, and I vehemently disagree. I say, ‘NOT IN MY NAME’. Hindus of all hues have had to do this in India to fight for the syncretic, non-religion, secular ethos of that country. White folks have had to do it world over to counter the brutal white supremacist voices that claim to represent ALL white people while they systematically murder black folks. Here in Sri Lanka, those who are privileged by the powers that be has seen some oscillation and complication in all of its history, not unlike many other parts of the world. It has definitely seen this after the end of the war, after the attack on Muslims in different parts of the island and finally the heartbreakingly violent Easter bombs. 

So, if we do not speak out on such injustices not as those affecting any one community but as those rupturing the very fabric of our shared society, we will not break this cycle of violence and complacency that has scarred this island over and over again. Human history has repeatedly shown that acts that hurt or destroy the spirit of – a person, a place, a language, a faith, a community – are more harmful than even the act of killing. This is why various groups in human history have fought for saving – languages, practices, rituals, land, plants, music and so much else – even if that meant loss of lives. It is because these practices hold the spirit of a community. Faith is one such holder of spirit. Within faith, the practices that are believed to ensure dignity for the dead is of paramount importance. It is these rituals that help us cope with, perhaps the most unknown and difficult process of grieving our dead loved ones. If we take away that space for any group within a community, the ripple effect of that violence will not leave anyone behind. It will leave a dent in the society as a whole for eons to come. Our children and children’s children who already have blood on their hands will also have the pained cries of broken spirits of a people haunting them.

We must speak up now or in the least we must come to a reckoning with why we remain silent. Rest assured, yet again, when it is our own community that will be hurt, all others will remain silent and round and round it will go. In the massacre of spirit there is no majorities and minorities, affected and unaffected communities. There are only disassociated humans with ideas of culture and society that are hollow and shallow. There are only societies that are ruptured and scarred. Societies that cannot muster either voices of dissent against injustice or the deep inner quiet that can heal pain. We will be caught with holes of nothingness that no amount of money, jobs or frivolous and fear-driven ideas of our own God and faith can fill. That hole will grow larger till our future generations can no longer have genuine faith in any spirits – their own, that of their neighbor or society as a whole. We will live not as full humans but as automated machines.   

Remember, Hitler crafted the most sophisticated cremation technology for the thousands from the Jewish community he murdered. The Jewish faith, like Islam, explicitly bans cremation. Rest assured, all those in Germany and other lands that housed these acts of moral violence continue to pay the price for this – a price that is of the soul and spirit whose healing will take many more generations to come. Be warned!

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Latest comments

  • 5
    14

    Dead cannot be dishonored. They don’t exist. Save the existing.

    • 4
      0

      a14455
      Why do people organize funerals?

  • 3
    2

    Manimekalai,
    I was snoring until I reached, ‘We must speak up now or in the least we must come to a reckoning with why we remain silent’.
    I am woken up!
    Is this the only time you noticed that we have been always silent when it was our duty to speak and be heard. You are speaking now. Speak up on those instances you have been conveniently quiet.

  • 1
    4

    Gota’s government should be more concerned about the burial pit for the country’s freedom being dug up by foreign powers that are fiercely competing to take advantage of the island’s strategic location in their pursuit to dominate the region.

    • 0
      0

      Government is trying to bury their innumerable sins and are looking for suitable places. More they bury more sins are being committed and there doesn’t to be enough space to bury. Under the circumstances how can they allow the burial of the Muslim Corps. At least, after their death let them be converted to Buddhism.

  • 7
    10

    Cremation is not dishonoring the dead. It is a standard respectable practice around the world. Religious superstition is not relevant.

    • 4
      0

      Maybe don’t force your religion on other. Isn’t that what insecure buddhists and their thug monks tell to christian missionaries ??

      I’m not at all surprised at the high level of hypocrisy being portrayed by the buddhist where they cry like snowflakes saying missionaries are converting destitute people in the villages and at the same time forcing their religions practices on others. buddhism has Los all sense of what it was originally, if you want to know what I’m talking go and learn about practices in devil worship and see how eerily similar they are to the types of worship being done in the temples.

      The jig is up for the buddhist in this country. Research has proven that forced cremations are a thing in this country only because the buddhist people want to cause harm to the Muslims. Your gazette notifications aren’t some supernatural phenomena that can change reality.
      The buddhism being practiced in sri lanka is to buddhism what isis is to Islam.

    • 3
      1

      Cremation against one’s wishes or beliefs is downright insulting.
      It takes a person with a sense of pride in his being to appreciate it.

  • 0
    0

    “Within faith, the practices that are believed to ensure dignity for the dead is of paramount importance.”
    I don’t know about what religion you are taking about. But it is told to Hindus that dead one is infectious; so the body should be burned in the same say. The cremation smoke go into the sky and tell God that the soul in the way, so please open the door for it.
    ” To the Tamil speaking Hindus, we ask, you know full well what it means to be dehumanized as a cultural group, whose language, practices and sheer existence on earth can be seen as akin to vermin and can be destroyed with enough weaponry in the hands of hatred.”
    Manimekalai it seems you have a very, very hard time in accepting that 150,000 died in Mullivaaikkaal, Isn’t it? Who are you Manimekalai ? Like some commentators, you too sound like an impersonator.

    • 1
      4

      “Manimekalai it seems you have a very, very hard time in accepting that 150,000 died in Mullivaaikkaal,”

      These dumbos will never stop repeating cooked up figures. The number has increased from 40,000 to 150,000. Hyperinflation!

  • 2
    3

    The government cannot afford to be seen by its SB chauvinist base to be making ‘concessions’ to Muslims after it persuaded all MPs of the Muslim parties (but the two leaders) to vote for 20A.
    It has yet to extract its full pound of flesh.

  • 3
    1

    Will a Muslim friend clarify their demand please?
    Dead body to be handed over to the relatives immediately upon death for burial within 24 hours
    Or
    The burial to be handled by mortuary workers in full sanitary gear who may be non Muslims.

    Soma

    • 6
      0

      I don’t think the Muslims are asking for the body to be handed over to the families or for there to be allowed for family members to pray near the body.
      As is being done in other countries the prayer for the deceased can be done by the family from anywhere in the world of they are unable to do it near the body. I think all that the Muslims are asking is for the bodies of their loved ones to be buried somewhere.
      And I’m quite sure that the Muslims are completely fine with sealing the body in a body bag as was being done in some countries at the start of the pandemic. I think since people (in foreign countries) have stopped and not focused too much on sealing bodybags as the research has proven there’s no contamination from the body of a deceased person to the surrounding ecology. And as I’ve heard there isn’t a problem with those burying the body being non muslim as well. Maybe someone can second what I’ve said and confirm ??
      Honestly how can anyone make this out to be such a huge problem to torture a community like this. This is beyond comprehension to me to think that buddhist people want to hurt Muslims to this level.

      • 0
        0

        Mr sitrep24
        Now can you explain me why a Muslim freind did not come forward and your volunteering on their behalf.
        Are they really serious?

        Soma

  • 1
    6

    “There is no scientific proof that says burials increase the chances of virus spread.”
    ==
    By the same token there is no scientific proof that says burial will not increase the chances of viral spread. If for some bad luck the virus spreads from buried COVID-19 infected dead bodies, it will not look for Muslims to infect because the virus is coming from a Muslim dead body. It will infect anyone irrespective of race or religion. So, can we take that risk?
    —-
    Trying hard to see whether the ‘Tail can wag the dog’.
    Sinhalayo have to face this bloody nonsense because of the blunder made by King Senerath

    • 4
      1

      Your comments are soo void of any actual meaning and just contains absolute hyperbole.

      Go and seek medical attention from a psychologist. Honestly you and a few others on this website need it. Immediately. I’m not insulting you, it’s just that you seem to have such an insecure personality so you’re taking it out on the Muslims who you and people like you accuse them (Muslims) of stealing all your women and so you’ll(buddhist) don’t have any(buddhist women) left for you’ll. That has to be one of the saddest insecure cuck statements I’ve heard in a while. XD

    • 5
      1

      Eagle,
      The virus can also infect bats. So since there are more dead bats than dead humans, are you suggesting that all dead bats should be collected and cremated? What about the old bat that calls himself eagle?
      Just asking.

  • 1
    1

    “Be Warned – Dishonouring The Dead Is The Death Of Human Conscience”

    where were all of you guys; Muslim scholars; Sinhala Scholars , liberals etc etc when Sri Lanka Sinhala Buddhist soldiers raped dead Tamil women fighters and tossed their bodies around for other sex starved Sinhala male soldiers to rape the dead bodies.

    and then mass piled the dead bodies and burnt them in a big bonfire and celebrating with arrack and taking videos of the rape and selling them in the porno market.

    fing double standards

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