Thursday, March 4, 2021

Sri Lanka sticks to cremation of Muslim Covid-19 victims despite uproar

This is despite a government-appointed expert committee noting that while it feels cremations were safest, burials can be allowed under strict conditions.

Other News

Pengerusi BN terus gesa sidang Parlimen ketika darurat

BN menganggap kenyataan Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Takiyuddin Hassan semalam mencabar kuasa Agong.

PN masih utuh, kata Bersatu

Bersatu menyatakan penghargaan kepada semua parti komponen Perikatan Nasional yang masih setia dengan gabungan itu.

Bersatu says PN still in charge, views Umno decision seriously

The party says its focus is on the economy and the pandemic, and that it takes a serious view of Umno's decision.

Hanya MySejahtera digunapakai bagi solat Jumaat di Selangor berkuat kuasa esok

Sebarang aplikasi pengimbas selain MySejahtera tidak diterima oleh Jais bagi jemaah yang ingin masuk ke dalam masjid dan surau.

BN chief Zahid repeats call for Dewan Rakyat sitting during emergency

The BN chairman also hits out at PAS' Takiyuddin Hassan for ruling out any parliamentary sitting during the virus emergency.

Sri Lanka’s government insisted Friday on the cremation of all coronavirus victims, rejecting international pleas and recommendations from its own experts to allow the Muslim minority to bury their dead in line with Islamic custom.

The government first banned burials in April amid concerns – which experts say are baseless – by influential Buddhist monks that burying bodies could contaminate groundwater and spread the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is no such risk, recommending both burials and cremations of virus victims, but the Sri Lankan government has refused.

“This decision will not be changed for social, religious, political or any other personal reason,” Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said, according to ministry officials.

The announcement came despite a government-appointed expert committee noting this week that while it felt cremations were safest, burials could be allowed under strict conditions.

Traditionally, Muslims bury their dead facing Mecca. Sri Lanka’s majority Buddhists, who are strong backers of the current government, are typically cremated, as are Hindus.

Last month, authorities ordered the forced cremation of at least 19 Muslim Covid-19 victims, including a baby, after their families refused to claim their bodies from a hospital morgue.

This stoked dismay and anger among the Muslim community, moderates and abroad, with the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation repeatedly expressing concern.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim Council (SLMC) accused the government of trying to provoke Muslim youths into doing “something rash” with its decision on cremations, a claim echoed by Justice Minister Ali Sabry, a Muslim.

There have been ongoing tensions between Muslims and the majority Sinhalese – who are mostly Buddhists – since the deadly 2019 Easter bombings carried out by local jihadists.

The SLMC said more than half of Sri Lanka’s 222 Covid-19 victims were from the Muslim minority which accounts for just 10% of the 21 million population.

“We have a disproportionate number of fatalities because Muslims don’t seek treatment fearing that they will be cremated if they are diagnosed with the virus after going to hospital,” SLMC spokesman Hilmy Ahamed told AFP.

The Maldives, Sri Lanka’s Muslim neighbour, announced last month that Sri Lanka had sought permission to send bodies of Muslims there for burial, a claim denied by Colombo.

Maldives speaker Mohamed Nasheed went on to suggest that they could allow Sri Lankan Muslims to be buried in a cemetery for Maldivians in the Sri Lankan capital.

There has been no response from Colombo to that proposal.

Sri Lanka has experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases, with the number of infections soaring to nearly 46,800 from 3,300 in October and deaths rising to 222 from 13.

 

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/malaysianow

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

New cases back over 2,000 but recoveries still ahead

2,063 new cases, 2,922 recoveries.

UK, others agree to fast-track adapted Covid-19 vaccines

The agreement will avert the need for lengthy clinical studies if authorised vaccines are adapted in future, as long as the manufacturers offer 'robust evidence' of their potency and safety.

Australia extends international flight ban for 3 more months

Anyone hoping to enter Australia will have longer to wait as arrivals are limited to the capacity of mandatory quarantine hotels.

Brazil reports second straight day of record Covid-19 deaths

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces sharp criticism for downplaying the new coronavirus, flouting expert advice on containing it with lockdowns and face masks, and over his government's slow pace in vaccinating the population.

AstraZeneca vaccine effective in over-80s, study shows

Stephen Evans, professor of Pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the results 'provide further evidence that the vaccines are effective both in an older age group less studied in the trials'.