Rights groups, including Amensty, have called on the Sri Lankan government to end its policy of forced cremations for COVID-19 patients- a policy that runs contrary to WHO guidelines that allows bodies to be buried or cremated.
The practise is unnecessary and impacts the Muslim minority in the country by violating Muslim burial rites.
We urge the Sri Lankan Government not to neglect its responsibilities in upholding the Human Rights Act 1998, which protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This includes the freedom to manifest one's religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance.
The sanctity of the dead body and the importance of religious burial is an integral component of religious practice for Muslims, for whom cremation is forbidden by religion . As such, forced cremation only serves to cause deep distress to the loved ones of those who pass away as a result of COVID-19.
We ask that this policy be immediately reversed and that WHO guidelines be adopted instead, in order to allow communities and families to bury their loved ones in line with their religious beliefs.