(Photos by Eshan Dasanayaka)
The Sinhala nationalist organisation, Sinhale Api, have staged a protest outside the Presidential Secretariat today, demanding the government continue its draconian policy of forced cremations despite the international backlash and Sri Lanka’s Medical Association (SLMA) reporting that it was safe to hold burials.
Sri Lanka remains one of the few countries imposing forced cremations that stands against over 170 countries allow for burials, including Myanmar.
Sri Lanka imposed its policy of forced cremations on 11 April despite the knowledge that this violates religious practice held by Muslims who would normally bury the bodies of their dead. The government has reported that there have been 124 deaths due to the coronavirus, 50 of which have been Muslim and have been forcibly cremated, against the wishes of family members. This includes the case of Shaykh, a 20-day old infant.
The SLMA has maintained that is safe to hold burials as the virus itself can thrive only inside a living cell and as such, it is unlikely that it could remain infectious within a dead body for any significant period of time.
They further report that COVID infections occur only though respiratory route with no evidence indicating that it could be passed through other routes such as the gastro-intestinal portal.