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  • Sri Lanka has locked up this Muslim lawyer without charge for nearly five months
    The prominent Sri Lankan Muslim lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, is being described by human rights groups as the latest victim of Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

    On April 14, Hizbullah, 40, got a call from the Ministry of Health saying they were worried he may have contracted COVID-19 and advised him to remain at home.

    A day earlier he and others had written to the Sri Lankan president about his government’s decision to ban Muslims from burying their dead, forcing them to cremate their remains instead – a violation of their right to freedom of religion, as protected by Sri Lanka’s constitution and its international obligations.

    Hejaaz Hizbullah was a lawyer at the Supreme Court and worked as a state counsel for the Attorney General’s department. Beyond his legal work, he was involved...
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  • “කවදා හෝ යුක්තිය ඉටුවේයැ’යි බලාපොරොත්තු සහගතව ජීවිතය ගෙවනවා විනා වෙන කිසිවක් කළ නොහැකි වීම ගැන මට ඇත්තේ නොදැරිය හැකි වේදනාවකි”: මගේ මල්ලි හිජාස්
    හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මගේ බාල සොහොයුරා ය. අගෝස්තු 25 වැනි දිනට එළඹුණු ඔහුගේ 40 වැනි උපන්දිනය ඔහුට ගත කිරීමට සිදු වුයේ පාස්කු ඉරිදා ත්‍රස්තවාදී ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ බවට අභූත චෝදනා එල්ල කරමින් අයුතු ලෙස අත්තඩංගුවට පත්ව අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ රැඳවුම් භාරයේදී ය. හිජාස් පිළිබඳව මට ඇති පැරණිතම මතකයන් අතර බොහොමයක් කළුබෝවිල සිට...
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  • Hejaaz Detention: Fort Magistrate Orders CID To Submit All Statements Obtained In Investigations


    Following submissions by Defence Counsel that the Criminal Investigations Department is selectively reporting facts to the Magistrate in order to malign Hejaaz Hizbullah, Fort Magistrate today ordered the Criminal Investigations Department to submit a report of all statements obtained by them from persons relating to the investigations of Hizbullah.
    When the case was taken up today. Counsel for the Defence informed Court that the Criminal Investigations Department had obtained statements from all persons of the Save the Pearls Charity and the Teachers and Board of Management of the Al-Zuhriya Madarasa.

    However, none of those statements had been produced to date.
    They said that the statements would reveal that all the allegations made by the CID are a fabrication and were made in order to malign Hizbullah and...
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  • Hejaaz Hizbullah: Symptom and symbol
    What made him more enigmatic was that unlike most others in his profession who shield their lives beneath a calm facade, he taught exceptionally well Apparently he called the Easter attackers “fools who died as fools.” I can picture Hejaaz saying that   There’s an image of Hejaaz Hizbullah I return to over and over again. It’s an image of him holding a placard at a protest in 2018. The placard reads, “Asilachaara parliamenthuwak wenuwata seelachara parliamenthuwak” (“A cultured parliament in place of an uncultured parliament”). The reason why it resonates with me is that, even in the ecstatic way he holds it, he is quite unlike the Hejaaz Hizbullah I once knew. But then I realise that the Hejaaz I once knew couldn’t have been the real guy. 
    I first encountered the man in 2013 at my law school. He didn’t...
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  • Niqab Ban In France Violates Human Rights Of Muslim Women: UN Human Rights Committee
    The United Nations Human Rights Committee said France’s niqab ban violates the human rights of Muslim women and risks “confining them to their homes.” Women in France can be fined up to 150 euros for wearing the niqab, a full-face...
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  • Rathana At It Again; ACJU Is The Punching Bag For Everyone
    By Mass L. Usuf Mass Usuf Let this column begin with a Disclaimer. It is only an analysis and the writer is not holding a brief to defend or protect the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema (
    Read More...
  • Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution
    By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared....
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  • Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka's Muslims decry forced cremation
      Image copyrightEPA Image captionSri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj Pathirana. On 4 May, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-year-old mother of three from Sri Lanka's minority Muslim population, was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19. Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory problems and the authorities feared she had caught the virus. On the day she was admitted to hospital, the family was "set upon" by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek said. "The police and military along with...
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  • ජිනීවා මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී රටවල් 5කින් ලංකාවට චෝදනා
    පාස්කු ප්‍රහාර සම්බන්ධයෙන් සැකපිට අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රඳවා තබාගැනීම, විශේෂ බළකායේ සැරයන් සුනිල් රත්නායකට ජනාධිපති සමාව ලබාදීම ඇතුළු කරුණු ගණනාවක් පදනම් කරගනිමින් එක්සත් රාජධානිය ඇතුළු රටවල් 5ක කණ්ඩායමක් එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට චෝදනා එල්ල කර ඇතැයි ජිනීවා තානාපති...
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Fear, anxiety as besieged Gaza confirms first 2 coronavirus cases

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Authorities in the coastal enclave have shut restaurants and cafes, while Friday prayers have also been suspended.

Palestinian officials have announced the first two cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Deputy Health Minister Youssef Abulreesh said late on Saturday the two Palestinian patients had returned from Pakistan via Gaza's Rafah border with neighbouring Egypt on Thursday.

The pair exhibited symptoms of the illness, which include a dry cough and high fever, Abulreesh told a news conference.

He added that the two were placed in quarantine upon arrival and are now in a field hospital in the border town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Abulreesh urged Gaza's nearly two million residents to take precautionary measures and to practise social distancing by staying home in a bid to halt the potential spread of the virus.

Authorities in Gaza, which is run by the Hamas group, have decided to shut down the enclave's restaurants, cafes and reception halls. Friday prayers at mosques have also been suspended until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an Israeli military unit that is responsible for civilian matters in the occupied territories, announced that effective on Sunday, all crossings into Israel from Gaza and the occupied West Bank have been closed.

"Merchants, workers and other permit holders will not be permitted to enter from the crossings until further notice," COGAT said on its Twitter page, adding that some exceptions may apply to nurses and health workers, as well as exceptional medical cases.

Palestinians say permits to cross are hard to obtain, even for those with a medical or humanitarian reason, as each application is accompanied by a long logistical process, usually under the pretext of security clearance.

'We are very afraid'

On March 15, authorities in Gaza introduced measures to place incoming residents in quarantine centres.

To date, there are 20 designated facilities in Gaza's south, including schools, hotels and medical facilities, housing more than 1,200 people, according to a report released on Saturday by the Palestinian Authority's health ministry.

The quarantine centres are located in Rafah, Deir al-Balah and the southern city of Khan Younis. According to the report, at least 2,000 other returnees have been self-isolating in their homes, prior to when the mandatory quarantine procedures were implemented last week.

Um Mohammed Khalil is among those who are being quarantined in Rafah.

After returning from a short visit to Egypt last week, the 49-year-old was among 50 other people who were bussed to a school with "poor hygiene standards", where single rooms are shared by seven people.

The news of the first two positive cases sparked fear and anxiety among those quarantined in the school, Khalil told Al Jazeera.

"We were afraid that among us would be infected people, especially as we have been calling for an improvement in the quarantine conditions," she said.

"Our families have been in contact with us since this morning, and they are also seriously concerned. Gaza has endured many wars and crises, but how can it tolerate this pandemic?" she said. "We are very afraid".

Gaza under siege

Gaza's healthcare system is in shambles and its war-battered residents are especially vulnerable as they have lived under an Israeli-Egyptian siege for nearly 13 years.

The air, land and sea blockade has restricted the entry of essential resources such as healthcare equipment, medication and building materials, among others.

Since 2007, Gaza has seen three Israeli assaults that have resulted in the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and a power plant.

Gaza's homes, offices and hospitals receive an average of four to six hours of electricity per day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Gaza's healthcare system would not be able to deal with an outbreak, given that the strip's hospitals are overstretched and under-sourced.

Ayman al-Halabi, a doctor at the laboratories run by Gaza's health ministry, is among a team of physicians responsible for testing incoming samples.

"The routine from two weeks ago was to gather samples from returnees at the Rafah border, which undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test - the test of choice utilised to diagnose COVID-19," al-Halabi told Al Jazeera.

Hundreds of other samples of people who may have come into contact with the two first patients are now being tested, al-Halabi said.

Citing Gaza's limited resources, al-Halabi said: "Facing this pandemic is going to be extremely challenging.

"If the biggest and most powerful countries are struggling, how is Gaza supposed to cope?"

'End of the world'

Globally, more than 300,000 people have tested positive for the highly infectious disease, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States. More than 13,000 people have died from the virus, while some 92,000 have recovered.

With the looming threat of an outbreak, many say the virus might be the last straw for Gaza's weary residents.

Amira al-Dremly knew that it would only be a matter of time until the virus made its way to Gaza.

But hearing the news that two had tested positive on Saturday still felt like "the end of the world", al-Dremly told Al Jazeera.

"The biggest fear is that the available resources in Gaza are not enough to act as a temporary solution [to the spread of the virus]," the 34-year-old said.

"I'm very afraid for my children. I am taking measures to educate them about sterilisation and have prevented them from leaving the house," the mother of four said.

"But the psychological effects are difficult, my family and everyone around me are very confused by this news," she added.

Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, is home to some of the biggest Palestinian refugee camps, and al-Dremly noted that social distancing is something that is "easier said than done".

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/gaza-confirms-coronavirus-cases-ongoing-blockade-200322072036366.html

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