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Parents of forcibly cremated 20-day-old file FR petition against Sri Lankan health authorities

The parents of a 20-day-old infant who was forcibly cremated earlier this month, have filed a Fundamental Rights petition according to Daily Mirror, after their son was cremated without their consent and they were denied from seeing him.

As campaigns against Sri Lanka’s forced cremations intensify across the island, there has been great outrage and sadness in response to the latest incident at a hospital in Colombo in which the 20-day-old COVID-19 victim Shaykh, was forcibly cremated against his parent’s wishes, a day after he passed away on December 9th.

The petition states that the body of the infant was cremated in a hurry without consent from the family, as well as other flaws regarding patient care including the mysterious circumstances surrounding their son’s death. It stressed that the infant was in good health after his birth on November 18th and that he had not come into contact with any outside persons, as the area they live was under lockdown.

It also details an email sent by medical expert, Professor Shehan Williams that states:

“The recent incident at the [Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children] (LRH) further highlights the communication and ethics of our professionals in the way it has been handled. The silence of our medical profession really appals me when it comes to certain issues, making me wonder whether our establishment too is steeped in racism or is willing to ignore science and ethics due to fear.”

The parents are seeking an order demanding the Sri Lankan health authorities to produce and disclose all medical records in relation to the hospitalisation as well as the death and disposal of the dead body of the infant child.

Several protests took place across the Tamil Homeland last week as Tamils and Muslims came together to resist the Sri Lankan government’s policy of compulsory cremations for Muslim victims who have allegedly contracted COVID-19. In addition, Tamil organisations and politicians have condemned the government’s policy and reaffirmed their solidarity with the Muslim community.

The policy opposes Islamic practices, despite concerns raised by the UN and guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating that cremations for COVID-19 deaths are not compulsory.

Following international criticism regarding the issue, Sri Lanka contemplates shipping Muslim bodies to the Maldives to be buried – however, it has faced intense backlash from Muslim organisations and opposing politicians – including former Maldives Foreign Minister, Dunya Maumoon. The Muslim community has pleaded that their dead have the right to be buried “in their own soil”.

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