21 October, 2020

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Covid Racism – Another Sri Lanka’s 1st

By Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

“My heartfelt appreciation to everyone in Healthcare, Tri-forces, Police and essential services for risking their lives to save lives”.

My heart aches to realize that history will record racism in Sri Lanka as the first (and hopefully the last) for failing to treat even the dead with dignity due to a pandemic because of absolute racism of a few. The three Muslims cremated in Sri Lanka up to date have been denied their right to their religious last rite as prescribed by their religion.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and 182 countries around the world have accepted and approved burial or cremation as the means to dispose of the dead due to COVID-19. The specialists in Sri Lanka seem to have invented unique justifications to deny Muslims their burial rights. One of the main arguments against burial is the possible contamination of the water table. 

Dr. Paba Palihawadana, Deputy Director General of Public Health Services, Ministry of Health, overseeing all communicable disease control programmes in Sri Lanka, has gone on record confirming that the NOVEL CORONA Virus (COVID 19) cannot be transmitted through the contamination of water. Burial of the dead of more infectious diseases have taken place in the country for centuries in Muslim burial grounds all over the country.

The first Muslim to die of COVID 19 was on the 30th of March 2020. The circular or Standard Operational Procedure in force at the time of the death allowed burial or cremation of the deceased suspected or infected with Covid 19. The medical team in Negombo decided that no burial should be allowed, as the water table in Negombo was too high for burial. The Muslim community offered to dig 8ft graves in Maligawatte, which had already been prepared, or any other Muslim burial grounds as an alternate option, but it was disregarded. The excuse that they couldn’t transport the sealed coffin for 45 minutes on the Katunayake expressway is superfluous.  The authorities cremated the body against protests and wishes of the family. The family will probably seek legal redress. 

Italian tourists and those Sri Lankans returning from Italy, Iran and Korea were identified as those who brought COVID 19 into the country. A Chinese lady underwent successful treatment at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) and was sent home after discharge with a hug from the Non. Minister of Health. 

The Government issued a circular through the Ministry of Health stating that passengers arriving in Sri Lanka from Iran, Italy and South Korea must undergo a 14-day period of isolation to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.

By the 11th of March, Shehan Sumanasekara, Director, Airport and Aviation Services Limited, confirmed that 622 Sri Lankan passengers who arrived from Iran, Italy and South Korea have been sent to quarantine centers at Kandakadu, Polonnaruwa and the Batticaloa Private University for a period of 14 days. Most Sri Lankans are aware of the protests and drama at the airport and the numbers assumed to have escaped without following Government instructions to go to specified Quarantine Centres.

Subsequently, quarantine procedures were introduced to all those arriving in the country. While the Government mechanism at ports of arrival and thereafter has been commendable, racist elements in different locations across the country have taken advantage and are spewing unprecedented racism targeting the Muslims. As an example the Indian racism against the Tableeq group in India by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) extremists has been extended to include the Tableeq movement in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Thableeq Jamath instructed all those who were abroad to immediately return to the country and follow quarantine procedures as instructed by the airport authorities.  All those traveling within the country were asked to return to their homes and report to the area PHIs. A complete list of Muslims who were on tour both in Sri Lanka and abroad were handed to the authorities by the headquarters of the Thableeq movement – The Markaz. Despite all this, some in mainstream and social media are repeating the absolute racist rhetoric of India against Sri Lankan Muslims. Of course, there may have been a few individuals who may not have complied with the orders, but those numbers will have to be seen in comparison with all who returned to Sri Lanka from pilgrimages and other travel. 

Some media houses have been spewing hate against the Muslim community as if COVID-19 is a biological weapon used by Muslims against the majority. They fail to count the non-Muslim numbers of COVID 19 infected who have had parties and who have been roaming around the country enjoying their return from Italy and South Korea. There were no arrests of these merry making men or full shutdown or quarantining of their villages. 

Respected Government officials and media men have made racist comments that violate several of the country’s laws including section 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No 56 of 2007, Section 2(h) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No 48 of 1979, Section 120 of the Penal Code and other provisions. Legal action should be undertaken against them irrespective of their position, caste creed, religion, race or social status. (Video attached)

There is also the unique case of Muslims quarantined on false charges by a Buddhist monk in the MEE ELLA village in the Hakmana Police division in the Matara district. Two Muslims who arrived from Delhi on the 2nd of March 2020 were suddenly rounded up 37 days after their arrival and sent to the quarantine center in Polonnaruwa. The PHI, Police and other officials had charged that they had come from Indonesia and were absconding. They were shown the passports that had stamps of exit from Delhi (1/3/2020) and arrival in Sri Lanka on the 2nd of March 2020. The response officials had given was that they had orders from the top??? Who are these top people giving orders? How can they take someone who had returned to the country 37 days before? There was neither quarantine requirement at the time of their arrival in Sri Lanka nor the requirement to report to any authority? This is absolute racism at the behest of a particular Buddhist priest!. (Video attached) A clear case under ICCRP Act No 56 of 2007.

Amidst all this, the Medical, Tri forces, Police, and Essential services staff have performed remarkably well in ensuring that the best possible services were offered to all those who were sent to hospitals and the quarantine centers. 

The following is by a Muslim who is in a quarantine center as posted in social media by the Royal College Senior Games Master Mr Riyaz  Aluher. 

“Last night I had a conversation with one of my students mother who herself is a teacher in another school. Now their families are undergoing quarantine in POONANI Quarantine Centre, Batticaloa although they are from Colombo.

I inquired about how they are coping. With a heavy heart and very shaky voice she related the following and almost cried.

We thought of fasting Last Thursday although its not compulsory but to pray and get the blessings of the Almighty to get rid of the calamity which has struck the world and our mother land. She said that they had requested the Army officer in charge there to give them the dinner of Wednesday a bit late so that they can have it at dawn to fast.

The officer after inquiring about fasting  and how it is performed , from what time to what  time and left the place . As usual the officer and staff brought the dinner around 8.30 pm. and said you all need not to worry we will cook and provide you food at 3 am.

It was a big surprise for them and as promised the food was delivered at 3 am  by the army officers. The story does not end there. Knowing that these people have to break fast at 6.30pm the officers have made all the arrangements for them to break fast the following evening .

Dear all, there is lot to ponder. A big Salute to the real heroes of our mother land.”

The Corona virus has no race, religion, caste or social status. It does not discriminate. Let us come together as a nation to fight this pandemic and rise stronger and as one people of our beloved Sri Lanka. 

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Title is from Pivot TO ASIA vocabulary. This is desperate situation. Such situation needs desperate measures. If some one not behaving as a Srilankan Hilmy ahmed should have informed the police. If he did not he did not do his part as a citizen.
    [edited out]

  • 6
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    Dear Hilmy,
    thanks for your article. But the day we let elected Gotabaya was the day we crossed the rubicon. Now it will not be easy to reverse the mistake. Majority of this country are punnaku drinkers.. and we too have to suffer curse to them.

    And, making racist comments are in the blood of majority our people. We have also very good examples on the CT itself. They are most known Eagle eye, Soma, JD, Champa, Pasqual and few more. Their verbal attacks are just evasive. No matter they are older adults, but they behave as if they go through their teenage. This has lot to do with the uncivilized culture of the nation.

    Pasqual goes an extra mile and say, that the elected president is their president and we have nothing to say.
    :
    And that octagenarian from Australia, a refugee by name HLD Mahindapala (Eagle Eye) comes always with DEMALA… OR THAMBIYA .. to srilanken tamils and muslims respectively.’

    Even if country’s main stream TV media channels make every effort to paint the picture as the majority of us are real buddhists that would respect NON-VIOLENCE, most of them going by BUDDHAGAMA behave like barbarians. They overestimate their profiles no matter neigbouring countries and civilized nations from EUROPE would laught at us.

    All in all, not democracy but hypocrazy of Rajapakshe uncultured bastards have taken ground in the country today. No decency and dignity of life would prevail under Rajapakshe rascals.

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  • 5
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    Hilmy Ahamed,

    RE: Covid Racism – Another Sri Lanka’s 1st

    Thanks for your article. The Muslims should sue the Sinhala Buddhist racists fir lies on COVIOD-19, when they should have accused China. If the Muslims file a lawsuit, Amarasiri will contribute Ra.10,000 towards that lawsuit. The lawsuit against China, the others will have to take up.

    The Wuhan China-19 virus, renamed COVID-19 virus is very egalitarian. The virus infects all humans without discrimination to color , race, creed , beliefs, age. political affiliation, class etc, and the best weapon is to stay away from it , personal distancing.

    However, the Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhists” , have turned the egalitarianism of the virus on its head. They have displayed the Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhism” and Racism explicitly, by way of the media and the Sinhala state, using the viral contamination as an excuse, accusing the Muslims, when the Wuhan China-19 virus, renamed COVID-19 virus was introduced by the Chinese to the land and the world.

    Sri Lanka must ensure China is held accountable:US Lawyer

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/hard-talk/Sri-Lanka-must-ensure-China-is-held-accountableUS-Lawyer/334-185719

    In an Exclusive interview with Daily Mirror, Larry Klayman, a former federal prosecutor under the administration of President Ronald Reagan, said he was willing to work with Sri Lankans and others to build international pressure on China.

    Larry Klayman, his advocacy group Freedom Watch and Buzz Photos, a Texas company which lost about $50,000 and had to lay off employees because of the public health crisis, filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

  • 1
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  • 4
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    Hilmy Ahamed

    RE: Covid Racism – Another Sri Lanka’s 1st

    On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.

    The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003, but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.

    For the Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhists”, facts do not matter. Their racism overwhelms reason and evidence. Hence the racism against the Muslims.

    Expose, expose and expose!.

    • 3
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      U are Spot on Mr. Media mafia is keeping them in dark. I thought Sirass Tv neutral but they are no better as of today. That bps from GMOA are their experts for COVID 19.

  • 3
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  • 3
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    It is in times of crisis you see the best in people, or as we can all see, the worst in some.

    It is unfortunate those spreading fake news, some caught on video spreading hatred, and falsehoods against people of other religions, are not severely dealt with. Being silent, while this outrage goes on, shows that our leaders are complicit in this hate campaign.

    Are there any leaders in our country who will have the courage, and not be intimidated, who will condemn, and speak out about the prevailing racism? Surely at a time like this we must unite and fight this pandemic that threatens ALL lives, and people of ALL religions?

    Only people with hatred in their hearts, can turn a situation like this into a racist campaign. Many Muslims are doing good around the country, from generous donations from the business community, to giving meals and food items to many, and it seems the contributions to this country, are not appreciated enough, to prevent certain people from spreading fake news to make Muslims look bad. Shame on them.

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    To ignore noise coming from religious fanatics who insist on following their bible to the letter what ever the consequences is not racism.

    Even UK government guidelines for funerals of COVID-19 victims acknowledge there is a risk of disease transmission from a corpse and that there should no close contact. Furthermore unless the water is treated (read CDC guidelines if in doubt) it is most certainly possible for the virus to spread through contaminated water be it ground water or a swimming pool. In science absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To cremate is the safest means of disposal and I’m glad the government is sticking to this approach for the right or wrong reasons.

  • 3
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    “The Corona virus has no race, religion, caste or social status. It does not discriminate.”
    Precisely the point of health authorities.

    Soma

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  • 4
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    Hilmy Ahamed
    Since you seem to know so much, can you confirm the number of 33 Sri Lankan Tableeq Jamaath members who got themselves voluntarily tested after returning from COVID-19 hotspot in Nizamundeen in Delhi? 2 of them, sons of 84 year old man who died after hiding his virus and visiting three private hospitals aided by two nieces, despite being qualified doctors, did not do so after returning from India. As for testing a person 37 days after return, ever heard of asymptomatic persons? Also give some thought, why is the number of quarantined persons from Muslim community disproportionately high? Lifestyle issue? According to a TV report, a recently quarantined Muslim household had 22 persons living in one house!

  • 4
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    Hilmy Ahamed

    RE: Covid Racism – Another Sri Lanka’s 1st

    Covid Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhist” Racism – Another Sri Lanka’s 1st

    The racist Sinhala “Buddhists” must go after the Chinese , not Muslim or Italians.

    China accused of negligence. They introduced the Wuhan-China-19 virus, called COVID-9 virus.

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/front_page/China-accused-of-negligence/238-186328

    They ensured it did not spread from Wuhan to Beijing. But they did not take steps to prevent it from spreading to the world.

    China must take full responsibility for the spread of the virus in Sri Lanka and other countries

    With individuals and groups in the US and the UK initiating legal action against the Chinese Government over the spread of the coronavirus, local groups in Sri Lanka are now preparing to do the same. .

    Please sue the Sinhala Buddhist racists as well.

  • 5
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    Sri Lankans are a bunch of overpoliticized brutes. The Tigers, the JVP, the armed forces, and now the GOTA Military Junta are all so perverted they don’t leave even the dead bodies alone. They want to show their political power by dictating how they should be disposed or by defiling them. But when one of their own civilian-killing cowards die, their corpses are given the Maha Veera, Martyr treatment. What a bunch of losers.

  • 7
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    Racism stinks..
    The president is a racist , he is using some Muslims who are bum sucking him for personal gains,who are of no use for their community.
    This man who is supposed to be like Lee Kuan Yew ,is using media Derana and Hiru to spew racism against the minorities,to win the election with a two third majority.
    Though majority of the Sinhalese are peace loving and tolerant , there are some radical buddhist priests , Photuwa supporters and these lowest of the low media personal brainwashing the people by means dirty propaganda.
    With current pandemic threat all over the world ,Srilanka is heading for a disastrous recession which will have a long term impact. when the rich countries are sneezing We have got a cold ,no tourism ,exports ,middle east jobs ,grants and loans.
    The Presidents priority should be to stop this racism madness , before it gets out of control. Already you can see people starving in the villages , thankfully they are being looked after by charities.
    I hope the future of Srilanka will not be another Manjocca era We experienced in the seventies.
    God save Srilanka for every citizen to live in peace.

  • 4
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    “The Corona virus has no race, religion, caste or social status. It does not discriminate. “
    That is so we are told but the truth is quite the opposite!
    Coronovirus lockdown discrimates between the poor and the rich,
    the rich Kumar Sankakaras and the poor day labourers who depend on daily wage to feed themselves,
    the blacks and the whites,
    the downtrodden castes who mainly do manual labour and the upper castes,
    just like any other ‘crisis’, it discriminates the most vulnerable!

  • 5
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    How about the Covid patients excreta? Should they also be cremated. In Colombo it will end up at sea at Wellawatta. At this rate about eating fish and sea bathing we need expert opinion.At Negombo in the cess pit.

  • 2
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    Sorry. We are unable to see who we are.

  • 3
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    Shut the f**k up and stop trying to stir up non-existent racial trouble. Listen to your Muslim religious leaders instead of cooking up stories to make political capital out of a pandemic. Shame on U and urs !

  • 7
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    Please do not support Rajapaksa racism. Look at their plan. Their voters are starving, penniless and cannot celebrate their new year. SLPP will be wiped out at the election. What do they do? Arouse racism. Voters forget their daily grind when racism is infused. If Muslims react to this, the government will take credit for standing their ground against Muslims and win votes. If Muslims do not react Rajapaksas will be unable to get credit. In fact, if Muslims do not react, most Sri Lankans will sympathise with the unfair plight of Muslims. Think strategically now. Even if Muslims react, nothing good will happen now. So no point. Do not let Racistpakshas’ plan work. Bust their racist plan.

  • 5
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    Hilmy Ahmed,
    Can you please tell us as to why a carcass infected with a deadly virus should not be cremated? If it is a religious reason, still, there should be a logic behind it. I don’t say that all religious beliefs should have a logical reason behind them but when it comes to deadly beliefs many non-believers expect a reasonable explanation.

  • 11
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    The government of Sri Lanka has decided to cremate all Corona-19 infected dead bodies, regardless of their race or religion. (period). If someone wants differently, please leave the shores of Sri Lanka with the dead body and do whatever you want to do with it. WHO’s recommendations are not relevant. Please remember that the root cause of this pandemic is the WHO’s inaction & collusion with the Chinese government.

    • 5
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      Hilly Ahmed,

      This is the China Wuhan -19 virus, renamed COVID-19 virus, in collusion withWHO.

      The Jews, Christians and Muslims have the cultural and religious tradition of burial, as they are generally from the drier parts of the Middle East, lacking many tress.

      India had trees, and Hinduism cremates, and was follows by the Buddhists. Environmentally, it is better to bury, but due to extraordinary China Wuhan -19 virus, pandemic, it is best to cremate.

  • 3
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    1

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  • 5
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    To state that it is a racist rhetoric against Thabliq Jamaat in India is a highly bigoted statement. It is evident how these Thabliq members have been misbehaving in India and not complying with directions of the authorities to contain Corona pandemic, even after the event had been stopped by the police. The leader is absconding. They have largely contributed to the spikes in Corona cases there, in a couple of days. Even Muslims in India have condemned there actions. Maybe the situation amongst those Thabliqis from Sri Lanka who attended is different. This is not a communal issue. Don’t support a wrong, even if it be by some of your community.

  • 3
    1

    Hilmy,
    I’m 100% against the GoRa friendly media circus of racial hatred manipulating the fear against Wuhan virus (Wv) aka Covid – 19 but, with due respect, I must disagree with your claim religious rights for the infected dead. You must realize that others (Buddhist, Christians, Hindus) also have yielded by giving in to “social distancing” requirement by absconding religious rituals for dead. Therefore, I think that Muslims also must understand the gravity of situation and allow the health officials do their job.

    I think it is still very premature to conclude that contaminated water and/or soil don’t spread the Wv. For example, I know one incident where Ecoli 157 H7 was transmitted by drinking apple juice contaminated with compost fertilizer! All Wv needs is a way to enter into the respiratory system; and water and/or dust can do it easily. Therefore, why take a chance? I also believe that, in the face of a deadly pandemic, we all must evaluate all our ritualistic practices including washing hands in a small tank of water when entering a Mosque! It is important to understand the fact that rituals -religious or otherwise – are nothing but practices dictated by contemporary physical and social environment and therefore, they can be and must be adjusted to fit the currently prevailing conditions. Failing to adapt is the door to extinction!

  • 3
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    I just read on mirror breaking news ,( Can such a Gazette be implemented without cabinet papers? )
    That The Ministry of health have issued a Gazette permitting to cremate people who die with a mere supicion of corvid 19 , even without medical evidence, one side it’s highly unethical, and disrespectful.
    It may give some extra votes , but history will permantly remember this , so will all the Muslim nations that stood by Sri Lanka against the whole world.
    And by the way can Sri Lanka who is struggling to feed it’s citizens , struggling to retain its rupee and economy from fully crashing, afford to cremate everyone who dies of Corvid 19 ( which had been endorsed by world health org) and proved by highly qualified medical director in Thailand ( A Buddhist country ) afford to plunder our desperately needed foreign exchange in cremating of every death ?
    while we have a clear mandate from WHO that may save us millions of dollars needed desperately than waste it on fuel to cremate and pollute the Enviorment,?.just to please a few racists who are trying to brainwash the Sinhalese who are more concerned in survival than politics ,
    They are more sane than to consider voting based on racism over their present survival.

  • 6
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    why is that Some Muslims don’t understand the prevailing situation. Not only Muslims, even the Buddhists are not allowed their last right to carry the “pansakula” tradition in a Covid-19 affected death. Yet Buddhist do not make a big hue & cry over this issue realizing the ground reality. I appeal to Muslims at least at this late hour, lets face the reality and abide by the law of the land.

  • 4
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    The decision to cremate was political. It had nothing to do with science.

    The current government decided to use cremation as a means to assure the Sinhala racist support that they in fact remain Sinhala racist and will do what Sinhala racists want regardless of the national interest.

    It is as simple as that.

    • 2
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      RM.
      Totally agreed.
      Typical S L politics; same old same old; nothing new.

  • 2
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    The people in S L are all gone bonkers; COVID 19 has the possibility of bringing sanity back.

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