Outrage in Sri Lanka over forced cremation of Muslim COVID-19 victims.

Outrage in Sri Lanka over forced cremation of Muslim COVID-19 victims.


uslims are outraged in Sri Lanka over the forced cremation against the family’s wish, of at least 15 Muslims including a 20-days-old baby who died due to COVID-19. In March, Sri Lanka has made cremation mandatory for people who died or are suspected to have died due to Coronavirus infection, ignoring the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines which permit both cremations and burials.

Denying them Islamic funeral rites baby Shaykh was forcibly cremated on December 9 in Borella, the largest suburb of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. He was the youngest among 15 Muslims to be cremated.

“I told them that I cannot go into the place where they are burning my baby. My friends and family asked the authorities how they can go ahead with the cremation when neither of the parents had signed any document giving consent. They said because the baby is a COVID-19 positive patient, they can cremate. It is as if they rushed to cremate our baby. When we asked questions, they didn’t have any proper answer. We would have had some comfort it they had allowed us to bury him instead of cremating him by force. That is what is unbearable,” said MFM Fahim, Shaykh’s father could not gather the courage to witness the burning of his infant son’s body.

According to Christian and Muslim funeral rites, dead bodies are buried but due Sri Lanka’s cremation policy all coronavirus victims are being cremated. Citing religious funeral concerns the Muslim and Christian groups petitioned the country’s Supreme Court while on December 1, the court threw out the case. As said by the Sri Lankan health authorities, the bodies of the Coronavirus victims if buried will contaminate the groundwater.

Azath Salley, leader of the National Unity Alliance (NUA) and former governor of the Western Province urged the international community to put pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to “respect the beliefs of the minorities and to allow them to bury their dead.” He added, “It is a communal decision they took. The government wants to hurt the feelings of the minorities. They are violating WHO guidelines and basic human rights. They did not even spare a child who was only 20 days old. To add to the family’s sorrow, they were even asked by the government to pay (approximately $300) to cover the costs of cremation.”