26 October, 2021

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We Will Continue To Struggle For Justice And The Right To Bury Our Dead: Civil Society Organizations

The faith the victims of forced cremation of COVID-19 or Covid-19 suspected dead had in the highest court in Sri Lanka has been shattered. Victims and communities are now left without a recourse in Sri Lanka for the continued injustice they suffer. “We placed greater hopes in the courts. However, for reasons unknown our applications have been rejected. Now we feel dejected, let down and abandoned”, said a son of one of the victims who challenged the offensive regulation in court.

On Tuesday the country’s Supreme Court, by a majority decision refused to grant leave to proceed to the 11 applications filed by petitioners belonging to Muslim, Christian and Catholic communities challenging the Sri Lankan government’s forcible cremation policy on the grounds that it violates the right to freedom of religion and belief of some faiths and that the said regulation, in fact, violates the law under which the regulation has been made as the law itself permits either burial or cremation.

Several eminent lawyers represented the petitioners and argued that the state had provided no evidence that the burial of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 dead is a danger to public health. Hence, they said the government by imposing this new restriction violated the constitutionally protected and safeguarded the rights of religious beliefs and practice for whom burial is a critical religious practice, in addition to being a fundamental right.

One of the judges had dissented probably on the basis that there were issues that required consideration. Given the sensitivities and importance of the issue, it was felt that the court could have granted leave to be heard in full or referred it to a larger bench.  

Some of the petitioners said on Tuesday that the distraught families of the victims have been asking them to explore the possibilities of how they could continue to fight for justice and hence would consider all options. 

“We fully understand that due to the pandemic there is public emergency under which certain rights can be limited including the manifestation of freedom of religion and belief. We also understand that Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and others have all been affected by these restrictions; but in all other cases where rights are limited there is evidence of the need to do so,” said one of the petitioners against the policy on forcible cremation. It was brought to the attention that Catholics, Christians and Muslims, in deliberations have agreed to all the restrictions including with regard to gathering, handling, washing, praying and specialized mode of burying and all they want was only to be buried adhering to all health conditions.  

Under international law limitations of rights such as the freedom to practice one’s religion has to be prescribed by law and the limitation must be necessary and proportionate. 

Restrictions and limitations on religious gatherings, congregational prayers and mass celebrations of religious festivals can be necessitated on the grounds that social distancing is vital to reduce the spread of the virus and are being adhered to and cooperated voluntarily. 

“Over and over again we have asked the government to give us the reasoning for this policy and they have failed to provide any evidence that burial of COVID-19 dead can contribute to the spread of the virus or provide any health threat,” a son who did not consent for the cremation of his father and hence had to abandon the father’s remains said. 

There has been national and international criticism of the government of Sri Lanka on its rare decision to cremate COVID-19 and COVID-19 suspected dead, in spite of clear guidelines by the World Health Organisation explaining that the burial of such victims poses no danger to public health. The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations office in Sri Lanka, United Nations special experts and regional human rights groups have separately written to the government calling for the policy to be changed to ensure COVID-19 dead were handled with dignity and human rights of all are protected. Numerous national civil society organisations, religious groups and individual activists have also written letters and signed petitions to the government calling for a change to the policy.

Human rights groups have been warning that the ethno-centric position of the government, in the context of the state’s failure to challenge hate campaigns and violence against Muslims, points to racism and discrimination targeting the country’s approximately nine percent Muslim population.

These measures affect more than one religious group, but it is particularly terrifying Muslims for whom the burial of dead is an non-negotiable religious practice. They feel targeted, bullied and threatened by the manner in which the government is acting on this.

As of 3rd December 2020, Sri Lanka had over 25,000 cases of COVID 19, 124 deaths, of which over 50 were Muslims.

This press statement is released by: 

  1. Centre for Policy Alternative 
  2. International Centre for Ethnic Studies  
  3. Law and Society Trust 
  4. Women’s Action Network 
  5. Alliance for Minorities 
  6. Affected Women’s Forum 
  7. Suriya Women’s Development Centre 
  8. Sisterhood initiative 
  9. Hashtag Generation
  10. Rural Development Foundation  
  11. National Peace Council 
  12. Mannar Women’s Development Federation  
  13. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement 
  14. Human Elevation Organisation 
  15. Eastern Social Development Foundation 
  16. Islamic Women’s Association for Research and Empowerment  
  17. Association of the Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared 
  18. Muslim Women’s Development Trust 
  19. Aalumai Women’s Group 
  20. Nisha Development Centre
  21. Jaffna People’s Forum for Co-Existence
  22. Muslim Women Research Action Forum 
  23. Centre for Social Concerns
  24. Liberation Movement
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Latest comments

  • 6
    20

    There may be scientific reasons – but it’s not those that were ever to the fore.
    .
    I can see no way out of it. I must at least say that I’m sorry that this is so.

    • 4
      27

      Sinhala_Man,
      Given the lack of knowledge regarding this virus are you willing to bury the dead body of a COVID-19 infected Muslim person in your backyard?

      • 25
        3

        EE,
        you may be not living in SL but you still behave like a man from WANNI,
        .
        Please focus on the facts, if THE DUTCH, German, English, Candiaans, Americans and many countries in Africa would NOT stand against burials, why you guys promote RAJAPAKSHE MANTHRA….
        Srilanka is not belong ot the coutnris which would ever sink… or locating under the sea levels, but HOLLAND/the Netherlands, and Mexico or the like countries have some problems with the waters surrounded by them… besides, mos to fhtem are a way developed than our POOR country. So, why dont the professionals come with the facts but leave that PISSUBALLAHS of GMOA (General murderous organisation of apes) to mislead the nation.

      • 5
        0

        It is not the case of burying the dead in ones back yard but in the appropriate cemeteries. Will you burn your dead in your home premises, after all it is very safe according to pundits.
        Eagle, it is very clear that you are very back word, when matters connected with Tamils and Muslims are concerned. Unfortunately the Muslim representatives apparently support your government and then cry out foul.
        Allah forgive them.

    • 27
      1

      Dear sm, if burying the dead would have been that harmful the Netherlands would nt have been silent.😎😎😎😎😎😎😎 That country is under the sea level. And buried the Covid dead as US, ITALIANS AND GERMANS DID. Srilankens TODAY promote feudistic rule by empowering uneducated men as leaders I font think srilanka s future would be progressive. It s all because they the authorities care enough the facts and world norms but let myths to lead us 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

    • 22
      2

      What happened to that shanty
      dweller Pasquale .I think the bugger is lock up in medamulana. There are speculation s mafia boss is feeling not well.
      .
      Coronavirus Cases:

      26,038

      Deaths:

      129

      Recovered:

      19,438
      😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎

      • 0
        6

        Mr Leela’s Malli: There is no shame or diminution of one’s dignity in being a shanty dweller, or as you have also similarly alluded, to living in the Wanni.

        Just saying, for your consideration.

        • 5
          0

          Agreed Mr ES, I should nt have used the term. And u believe or not I treat all equally. But from pompous behaviour ofMs SCP make us that upset on CT. To u a good weekend from Central Europe 🤔🤔🤔

    • 17
      2

      Let s focus on what SENIOR RESEARCHERS have to say about BURIALS of COVID deaths.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHD9-12ZZiM

      Why does not the ruling stupid leadership give a place to UNIVERSITY don but more to MYTH SPREADERS ?

      The reason is only that way, they the abusive politicians can stay in power. Longer the people stay bound to MYTHS, being away from the facts, it is much easier, PREDATORY poltiicians to mislead the PUNNAKU drinking majority of the population.

    • 3
      0

      All these because people are made to be beck and call at Rajapakshes. This was made by abusive media mafia in this country. We have been a brave nation until Rajapakshes started fooling the nation repeating about their so called war victories. If they sacrifices lives for such victories, nobody would have misled the people this way.
      :
      With world recognized researchers revealing the truths about burials of the COVID patients, srilanken govt supported by right sinhala radicalists to stand brutally against the burial rights of the muslim srilankens should loudly be condemned by internationals community.
      :
      Ours or anyone ground waters would not have been contaminated by such burials. As added somewhere else, if that would have been case, the dutch would not let their dead bodies be burried under their soils. WHat bs propaganda or myths controlled srilankan fools? Today s politics in SL, juxtaposes with that of decent Ranil/CBK services rendered to the srilankens. Rajapakshes legacy as unethical bastards would not be broken in srilanken politics.

  • 4
    15

    Where is Hakeem? Refused to sign here?

    First he went to UNHRC with bundle of Sinhala Supporting actresses and told there that the Tamils are liars because Muslims are living with the Royal government happily, then why cannot the Tamils do the same thing. During Divinegumba, he told his party members to vote against Provincial Councils. Then he worked with Old King to fire the CJ. Then he went to embassies to campaign on that. He told to his assistants to vote for Royal government in favor of 20A. Now he told his brother to get out of Supreme Court case and not to appear against the government. But Sumanthiran MP, TNA was still appearing and they all let him to fight with the government on burring the Bodies. Rishard organized every Friday afternoon a protest in Slave Island, Company Theru, against UNHRC in the early 2000, because UNHRC wanted Aanduwa to answer to responsibility and accountability. Rishard deforested Wilpattu to prove that Tamils had displaced them and CV was not rehabilitating. But the Muslims already settled in Puttlam agreed with him to go and vote in Mannar if he give them transport, but they would not wanted to live in Jaffna.
    May I know whom Saravanamuttu & Jehan PhD is representing? Others obviously represent Muslim Victims.

  • 41
    6

    This is such an egregious hateful thing this scumbag is doing to the Muslims and Christians (for some weird reason the Christians are quite). This O level unqualified moda sinhala buddhist scumbag and band if murderers and rapists in government are doing this is to harm the Muslims to such an extent. And then there are those absolute moda people who think this war criminals gazette notices are some sort of holy scripture (we all know why they act that way; the decease of racism has consumed their insecure filthy hearts).
    .
    Well my Muslim brothers and sisters we can only pray in these trying times. And please don’t hold back; these moda people and their moda supporters are literally burning the bodies of your deceased loved ones and the hurtful dismissive speech they use, there’s no point arguing with moda people who on purpose believe pseudo science and false unsubstantiated claims ONLY to harm you.. Remember there have been more than 1.2 million covid 19 dead who gave been buried, yet there has NOT BEEN A SINGLE REPORTED CASE OF WATER CONTAMINATION, it’s almost as if such claims are nonsense.
    .
    These ignorant fools have crossed a line which should not have been crossed when they didn’t respect the dead.

    • 5
      20

      However Thullukans always say that they love Chingkallams and even lie for them in the UN and everywhere, thinking they will get lots of XXXX and other presents. So far only received kicks from Chingkallams. Deny their immigrant Thamizh converted origin and claim to be Arab despite the Arab stating they are not Arab but South Indian convert with teeny weeny Arab. Ask Kaatu Mirandi Kattam. Please join me at my animal sanctuary

      • 20
        5

        Pandi,
        .
        Seek medical help. There’s medication for what you have.

        • 3
          5

          Thullukan , I know the truth hurts. Now cry about Chingkalla discrimination but you selfish opportunists joined the Chingkallams in their crimes against the island’s Thamizh people , despite you Thullukans also being Thamizh ethnically. All in the name of Islam and an imagined Arab origin, that you Thullukans hardly have. Now asking for sympathy and understanding from the very Thamizh people , whom you South Indian origin Thulluklans helped the Chingkallams to kill , discriminate and marginalize. You can never be trusted. You selfish opportunists will do the same if the occasion arises. Look what is happening in the east. Cry about Chingkalla racism against you Thullkans down south but join with the Chingkallams in the east and even in parts of the north to marginalize and steal the lands of the native Eezham Thamizh. It is you who needs some medication for you hallucination and victim playing

    • 3
      23

      sitrep24,
      “Remember there have been more than 1.2 million covid 19 dead who gave been buried, yet there has NOT BEEN A SINGLE REPORTED CASE OF WATER CONTAMINATION,”

      Who did research to provide evidences to say “there has NOT BEEN A SINGLE REPORTED CASE OF WATER CONTAMINATION”. Simply because dumbo Muslims say these things do you want Sinhalayo to believe them.

      • 18
        1

        That’s not how it works. The burden of proof is on the one making the claim. If moda sinhala buddhist made the claim that coronavirus can travel through ground water then it is up to them to provide evidence to substantiate that claim. Which the moda sinhala buddhists have failed.
        .
        The point I made that there has NOT BEEN A SINGLE REPORTED CASE OF WATER CONTAMINATION proves the null arguement that coronavirus doesn’t affect ground water. But all the evidence in the world will not suffice for moda sinhala buddhist as they’re blinded by the decease of racism in their filthy hearts.
        .
        isn’t it funny how moda sinhala buddhists who believe in water snakes carrying clay pots for clown monks will cure coronavirus but suddenly when the beneficiary are the Muslims the moda sinhala buddhist have suddenly turned into the pseudo scientists. Lol. What a joke of a community.

      • 0
        0

        Who did research to provide evidence of water contamination? Did any of the Eagle Die after consuming water close to the burial grounds or did you see any Eagle avoiding the water for fear of contamination?

  • 2
    22

    International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Women’s Action Network , Affected Women’s Forum,
    Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Sisterhood initiative, Mannar Women’s Development Federation , Islamic Women’s Association for Research and Empowerment , Muslim Women’s Development Trust , Muslim Women Research Action Forum, Centre for Social Concerns, Liberation Movement\

    WTH- where were all these women’s associations when the MMDA was being discussed? did they stand up for the child brides? what happened to your teeth then? :)) All bullshit associations under the gravel of muslim Men and the ACJU..!!

  • 5
    0

    Will one of the signatories 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

    • 11
      2

      It is the former as has been clarified countless times. However deep of an explanation wont make a difference for those with a decease of racism in their filthy hearts. Truly shocking the level of hate and ignorance among the sinhala buddhist community.

      • 10
        0

        Correction:
        .
        Latter*
        .
        Not former of the two options given. Neither community would object to medical personnel in full PPE gear burying the bodies of the Muslim and Christian covid 19 victims. The ONLY thing that these two communities are asking for is for the bodies to be burried.

        • 0
          8

          sitrep24
          Thanks for the clarification.
          I trust you are a Muslim expressing the view of the majority.
          Why did you drag the Christians into the picture when they have quite explicitly expressed their willingness for cremation – I can sense what is inside your heart.

          Soma

          • 6
            0

            I understand you might be slightly stupid, on account of being fed hateful extremist buddhist ideologies by thug monks.
            .
            Anyone who reads through the article would see it is a serious concern to chrisitian leadership as well. I as many others on here are fully aware moda sinhala extremist buddhist only come to this site to spread their vile hatred insecure ideologies that festers in their dirty hearts. This is evident from you having asked this same question on previous posts on this topic.
            .
            It is not the place of pagans who worship idols of a man who is reported to have eaten human flesh to comment on the faith of monotheists belonging to Abrahamic religions. May the Lord of Jesus Christ deal with these transgressing pagans in the most unmerciful manner as He dealt with transgressors of the past. Amin.

            • 0
              0

              “This is evident from you having asked this same question on previous posts on this topic.”
              .
              What do the Muslims want so that the government can make arrangements accordingly.?

              Soma

              .

            • 0
              0

              sitrep24
              Please convey our regards to Zaharan who will organise your entitlement of 70 virgins.

              Soma

  • 4
    21

    Sinhalayo did care for the lives of Tamil Muslim refugees from Hindustan when they faced persecution by Portuguese but unfortunately the descendants of those Muslims saved by ‘MODA’ Sinhalayo are not willing to care for the lives of Sinhalayo and others.
    It is high time that Sinhalayo remind Muslims that they live in this country which is the Land of Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo because of flexibility shown by Sinhala Buddhists. If Muslims want to stick to their guns Sinhala Buddhists also should stick to their guns and withdraw all privileges given to Muslims such as special marriage and divorce laws, Kadhi courts, freedom to marry several women and underage women and special leave for Muslim women.
    Those who are not willing to live under ‘One Country One Law’ should be asked to return to their ancestral land. Kind hearted Sinhala Buddhists saved Muslims from ending in mass graves but they did not invite them to Sinhale.

  • 14
    1

    “………but it is particularly terrifying Muslims for whom the burial of dead is an non-negotiable religious practice. They feel targeted, bullied and threatened by the manner in which the government is acting on this.”

    The President who articulated in his Victory Speech after winning the Presidential Election in 2019, that he is the President of All Sri Lankans and not just those who voted for him is clearly demonstrating what he really meant.

    In spite of repeated pleas by the Muslim community, including his long standing Legal Advisor and Minister of Justice, Ali Sabry, the All Powerful President, has passed the responsibility to the Mysterious and Invisible “Experts Committee” whose membership is UNKNOWN.

    The President thinks he can Fool Everybody and get away with it but he must Not Forget that sooner or later his Karma will catch up with him.

  • 15
    3

    Muslims are not allowed to bury their kin who died of Covid-19 and Hindus are not allowed to observe their holy Kaarthigai Deepam ritual, which is of great religious significance to them.
    The fellows who think up these policies are all utter scoundrels who constantly sport Pirith Nools around their wrists!

  • 7
    1

    Though there is no legal requirement for this (A monumental omission in the first place!), the Supreme Court nevertheless has a moral and ethical obligation to disclose the reasons for its decision when it refuses to grant leave to proceed and dismisses a Fundamental Rights application. This is especially true when a large number of petitions are filed concerning a single issue. Even if moral and ethical considerations are deemed irrelevant in this “Just and Righteous Society,” at least for the sake of logic and to satisfy the curiosity of rookie lawyers and legal scholars, I think the Supreme Court should assign reasons. Otherwise, people will simply regard it as a “Tinpot Supreme Court.”

    • 5
      1

      20th Amendment has started working

    • 0
      0

      Leave to proceed may be given, but thereafter how long does it take to conclude FR petition hearings. Constitution stipulate 2 months, but I know of a FR petition pending for over 8years. Similarly, even if leave to proceed may be granted the dead bodies may eaten by worms by the time the case is concluded and the need to bury or burn may not arise.
      Problem Solved?

  • 2
    0

    Captain Morgan.

    I do agree. But the 20th Amendment is the Sword of Damocles over our Justice System.

    • 0
      0

      This practice of dismissing FR applications and not giving reasons has been occurring for a long time now, even before the 20th Amendment came into effect. When there are no valid legal grounds for refusing to grant leave, the judges don’t give any explanations. The usual reason for dismissing applications is because political pressures are brought to bear on the judges.

  • 2
    0

    What is the reason for not disclosing the names of the members of the expert committee?

  • 3
    11

    The issue here is that Muslims want their Religion above and state country law. That is the issue in France, and now in SL. when the state law rules above their religious beliefs they break it. Example France has free speech and ability to show – French teacher moved Muslim students outside and made the presentation only to non-Muslims but he was executed. So Muslims want their Religious beliefs over Law.

    Even in a un-precedence never before seen Pandemic the safety for humanity in SL is were we become cautious – and take extra precautions. We do not know how body fluids react – so in order to be extra sure/safe the SL law has decided to cremate all body’s of Covid patients (NOT only Muslims /Buddhists / Catholics and Boras) . BUT BEHOLD MUSLIMS WANT TO PURSUE THIER RELEGIOUS BELIEFS PUTTING ALL 21MN IN SL AT RISK. Law is law for all, and law comes above religion.

    Unless and Until Muslims understand this, this will continue.. seems Muslims want to say they are above country law and they want their religion is the law that governs them and not common law !!?

    • 7
      1

      Lol what a foolish comment. A comment that could have only been written by insecure extremist buddhists who think this land belongs to them. 😂😂
      .
      The only thing that is lacking for the moda sinhala buddhist is that small crucial thing called EVIDENCE. Millions of covid 19 victims have been buried and not a single case of ground water contamination. It’s almost as if the moda sinhala buddhists were making up nonsense claims to feel superior as they have nothing else. How sad.

    • 0
      0

      SAM
      Millions of toilet pits in the country continue to pump the toilet waste of Corvid patients into the soil everyday and into the water table.

      If the expert committee (now in hiding) is correct, they must first find a way to close all these pits.

  • 13
    0

    Its time we all Sri Lankans start accepting that the Judges lost their independence when Gotabaya was elected President and from then on the Judges have become slaves of Rajapakses. Even the AG has become a slave. Judiciary in SL is bias and very soon there will be remarks at UN on this.

    Time is ripe for people to get on to the streets and request the firing of AG and the entire school of Judges of the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice like what’s happening in Hong Kong.

    • 4
      0

      Dear Buddhist1:
      Why are these judges so readily obliging to Gotabaya and co’s wishes? Are they fearful for their lives or are they simply taking advantage of the circumstances to favour a government they themselves support?

      Irrespective the reasons, clearly the independence of judiciary is highly questionable.

  • 0
    11

    A lot of these organisations belong to that Muslim politician who allegedly helped Saharan to become a super devotee, he is also the boss of mad doctor Sapi.

    • 7
      1

      Oh is this the same zahran that is blamed for the Easter sunday attacks that was funded by gota and co. ?

      • 1
        0

        sitrep24
        Yes. Please convey our regards to Zaharan who will organise your entitlement of 70 virgins.

        Soma

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