Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has called upon the expert committee, which has been appointed to study the burial of COVID-19 victims, to expedite their investigations and hand over a report to him at the earliest, following strong protests raised by the Muslim community to allow the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s Chief of Staff, Yoshitha Rajapaksa told Daily Mirror that the ongoing cremation only policy for all COVID-19 victims, was taken based on the recommendations and advice of the health authorities, including the expert committee, and was not due to any political interference.
Yoshitha said that Prime Minister Rajapaksa had asked for a report as soon as possible.
“As the Minister in charge of Religious Affairs, the Prime Minister assures all citizens that this government stands committed to respect the rights of all the communities in this country and will respect their traditions and culture,” Yoshitha said.
“He is also in discussion with the health authorities and will look to resolve this decision based on their recommendations,” he added.
The Muslim community in Sri Lanka have been voicing strong protests against the cremation only policy of COVID-19 victims calling on the government to allow them burial rights, according to the Islamic religion.
The community have openly voiced their strong objections on social media platforms and have also written to the United Nations. some family members of the deceased have refused to accept the bodies for cremation, leading to the state having to bear those expenses.
Opposition lawmakers have called on the government to release evidence that the burial of infected victims caused harm.
Health authorities said the expert committee was continuing to study the matter, and was studying the case studies from other countries and will issue a fresh report in 2 months. (JAMILA HUSAIN)