Politicians, religious leaders and locals in Mannar took part in a protest on Thursday (31st December) against the Sri Lankan government’s continued insistence to forcibly cremate Muslim victims of COVID-19.
The demonstration commenced at 9:00 AM local time and took place in front of the Mannar district secretariat, with politicians such as Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) MP for the Vanni district, Charles Nirmalanathan among those in attendance.
Leaders and members of the Mannar District and Provincial Council, attorneys, religious leaders and representatives from woman-welfare organisations were also among those who took part in the protest.
Protesters chanted slogans and held placards that called on the Sri Lankan government to respect the religious rights of the minorities and echoed the sentiments across the island against the forceful cremations of Muslim COVID-19 victims.
“Mr.President! Allow us to bury our dead!”, “Stop forcibly cremating our people!”, “Don’t snatch the rights of the minorities in our country” and “Do not burn our bodies. Burial is our rights,” read some of the placards.
Demonstrators, including religious leaders, gave speeches at the rally to highlight their concern that “over 90% of the countries across the world respect the right to burial” and that Sri Lanka should follow suit.
Those at the rally signed a petition and gave it to Mannar District Secretary, Nandini Stanley de Mel to hand over to the Sri Lankan President to reconsider the current guidelines to cremate all COVID-19 victims.