Sri Lanka virus cremation rule violates rights, UN group says

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – A UN panel of consultants has criticized Sri Lanka’s demand that those that die from COVID-19 be cremated, even when it goes in opposition to the spiritual beliefs of a household, and warned that selections primarily based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” might incite hatred and violence.

The consultants, who’re a part of the particular procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, stated in a press release Monday that the rule amounted to a violation of human rights.

“We deplore the implementation of such public well being selections primarily based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism equal to the persecution of Muslims and different minorities within the nation,” the consultants stated. “Such hostility in opposition to minorities exacerbates present prejudices, inter-communal tensions and spiritual intolerance, sowing concern and distrust whereas inciting hatred and violence.”

Sri Lanka launched the rule in March, saying there was a threat that our bodies carrying the coronavirus might contaminate groundwater if buried. The WHO in addition to Sri Lankan medical teams have stated that the burial of those that died from COVID-19 was protected.

Greater than 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhists, a faith wherein cremation is widespread. However 9% of individuals in Sri Lanka are Muslims, and plenty of say cremation goes in opposition to their spiritual beliefs.

“Whereas we should be alert to the intense public well being points posed by the pandemic, COVID-19 measures should respect and shield the dignity of the lifeless, their cultural and spiritual traditions or beliefs, and their households all over the place,” the officers stated. consultants.

After Muslims protested the brand new rule, the federal government appointed a committee to look into the matter, however it additionally stated cremation was the most suitable choice. The nation’s highest court docket then rejected requests to overturn the rule.

The fury over the compulsory cremation comes amid rising anti-Muslim sentiment on this Indian Ocean island nation. Muslim-owned outlets and houses have come below assault following the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings of church buildings and lodges by a Muslim group pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Later that 12 months, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa got here to energy with a promise to guard the pursuits of the nation’s Sinhala Buddhist majority.

Responding to the UN assertion, authorities spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella stated the cremation rule was not supposed to discriminate in opposition to any group.

“They cannot level a finger at us and say that. We reject it. We solely do issues on the recommendation of consultants and we can not make advert hoc selections, ”he stated.

Sri Lanka has recorded 283 deaths from the coronavirus out of greater than 59,000 reported infections.

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