Tuesday, December 7, 2021

COVID-19: Sri Lanka lifts ban on burial of victims after protests

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The Sri Lankan Government on Friday lifted the ban on the burial of bodies of people whose deaths were caused by COVID-19, a Health Ministry’s spokesman said.

The ban was lifted after months of protests mainly by Muslim groups and international pressure.

In March 2020, the government imposed regulations that bodies of COVID-19 victims could only be cremated and burials were banned as the virus could spread by contaminating ground water.

However, Muslim groups insisted that the government’s decision had no scientific base and wanted the ban lifted as it goes against their faith to cremate a body.

Muslim parliamentarians on Wednesday urged visiting Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, to take up the issue with the Sri Lankan political leaders.

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Also, Michelle Bachele, the Chairperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, made references to the issue in her statement at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

“The policy of forced cremation of COVID-19 victims has caused pain and distress to the minority Muslim and Christian communities,’’ she said.

Muslim groups on Tuesday held a strong protest outside the President’s office calling for the ban on burials to be lifted.

So far, 459 deaths had been caused due to COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka with 82,000 people testing positive cases since January 2020.

dpa/NAN

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