Protests have taken place across the North-East today, as Tamils and Muslims across the region demonstrated against the Sri Lankan government’s policy of forcibly cremating Muslims, who it states have contracted the coronavirus.
The cremations, which continue to take place, run directly contrary to World Health Organisation (WHO) advice and Islamic practice.
Protests took place in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Amparai, calling on the Sri Lankan government to respect religious rights.
Speaking in parliament last week, Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) leader G G Ponnambalam reiterated calls to allow Muslim coronavirus victims to be buried instead of cremated.
“Muslim religious norms do not permit cremation and the amended regulation has caused great distress within the community, and as in Islam fire is connected with hell and burning the dead is seen as punishment,” he said as he called for the families of Muslin COVID-19 victims to be “treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect”.
“Why is it that his government is acting in this most arbitrary manner in this very sensitive matter?” he asked. “What is it that prevents this government, even at this late hour, from changing its present course and doing the right thing by Sri Lanka’s religious minorities in allowing burials as being practised by over 190 countries in the world?”
See the full video of his speech below.