A silent protest was held in front of the Borella General Cemetery in Colombo yesterday evening (13) where white handkerchiefs and cloth were tied to the gates of the cemetery
to protest against the enforced cremation of a 20-day old Muslim boy who was a victim of COVID-19 as well as against the mandatory cremation policy of the Sri Lankan government.

A large crowd had gathered at the cemetery, many of them youths, to take part in this peaceful protest by tying white cloths on the gates of the Borella Cemetery remembering baby Shaykh and other victims who were forcefully cremated.

Dr. Sujatha Gamage, a renowned policy analyst on education and former minister Mangala Samaraweera, on behalf of the 'True Patriots' movement, also expressed their views on this issue.

Around 194 countries worldwide have permitted burials of COVID-19 victims.

Despite the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to allow burials in the country, the Rajapaksa government has refused to accord such rights even to an infant.

On November 12, the UN expressed concern over the Sri Lankan government’s COVID-19 victim burial policy and expressed hope that the country “will revisit its policy”. 

In a letter, UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer told Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa that prohibition of burials of COVID-19 victims was backed by no scientific evidence, and as per WHO’s updated interim guidance on 4 September 2020, cremation should be “a matter of cultural choice”.

This is yet another tragic example of the plight of human rights in Sri Lanka today.
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