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  • රාජ්‍ය අමාත්‍ය පියල් නිශාන්තට කොරෝනා
    (බිමල් ශ්‍යාමන් ජයසිංහ)         කාන්තා හා ළමා සංවර්ධන පෙර පාසල්, ප්‍රාථමික අධ්‍යාපන පාසල් යටිතල පහසුකම් හා අධ්‍යාපන සේවා රාජ්‍ය අමාත්‍ය පියල් නිශාන්ත මහතාට, බිරිඳට‍ සහ දරුවාට ද  කොරෝනා වයිරසය ආසාදිත වී ඇති බවට අද(18) තහවුරු වූ බව කළුතර සෞඛ්‍ය විද්‍යාතනයේ ප්‍රකාශකයෙක් පැවසීය.

    කළුතර දිස්ත්‍රික් ලේකම් කාර්යාලයේ සහකාර අධ්‍යක්ෂකවරයෙකුට ...
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  • State Minister Piyal Nishantha contracts COVID-19
    Women and Child Development State Minister Piyal Nishantha tested COVID-19 positive, the State Minister confirmed. Publishing a post on his official Facebook page, the State Minister said he has been infected with the virus and added that he would follow the instructions given by the health authorities. “I also request those who came into contact with me in last few days, to take necessary steps and precaution as per the guideline given by health officials,” he said in the post. He was confirmed to have been infected with the virus following a rapid antigen test. Piyal Nishantha was also seen in the occasion held on January 14 to declare open Southeast Asia’s largest tyre manufacturing facility at Wagawatta in Horana, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and several Ministers and State Ministers were present. Ministers Rohitha Abeygunawardena,...
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  • SL human rights situation seriously deteriorated under Gotabaya’s Govt.: Report shows
    Sri Lanka’s human rights situation has seriously deteriorated under the administration of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2021.

    Government security forces have increased intimidation and surveillance of human rights activists, victims of past abuses, lawyers, and journalists. Minority Muslim and Tamil communities have faced discrimination and threats. The government pushed through passage of a constitutional amendment that undermines judicial independence and weakens oversight institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. In February, Sri Lanka withdrew its commitments to the 2015 United Nations Human Rights Council for truth-seeking, accountability, and reconciliation following the country’s long civil war.

    “The Rajapaksa administration has quickly reversed...
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  • Politics Behind Muslim Burial

    Dr. Ameer Ali No scientist or epidemiologist anywhere in the world has so far proved with solid evidence that corona virus would spread from buried corona-killed corpses. Only in Sri Lanka a so-called committee of health experts belonging to the establishment, expressed an opinion that because of high water level in the ground that virus has the potential to spread, if those died from it are buried. Hence, they recommended indiscriminate cremation hitting directly at religious sensitivity of Muslims. No amount of protest from local Muslims or from Muslim organizations abroad, and not even advice from WHO to the contrary could convince President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to relent. The President maintains that unless the experts committee shows the green light he will not budge. This is...
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  • හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්නලා බිල්ලා මවනවා
    (යොහාන් භාසුර)   ශානි අබේසේකර සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා වැනි පුද්ගලයන් පෙන්වා බිල්ලන් මවා ජාතිවාදය වපුරවමින් රට විනාශ නොකරන ලෙස සමඟ ජනබලවේග මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පාර්ලිමේන්තු විවාදයට එක්වෙමින් පැවසීය.  එහිදී මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා වැඩිදුරටත් මෙසේ ද පැවසීය.

    “ශානි අබේසේකර, හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්වලා මේ...
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    On 09/12/2020, at the Committee Stage Debate in the Parliament on the Appropriation (2021) Bill, Honourable Member of Parliament Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran made some terse remarks given the limited time allotted to him.
    He justified the need for an international inquiry and international judicial process to look into serious crimes committed in this country which has an impact on international law. In order to drive home his point, he alluded to several instances and, euphemistically made reference to the “depths to which your judicial system has sunk”. As a recent example he cited Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah, an Attorney at Law who is currently in detention. Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran said, “a brilliant young lawyer denied justice for eight months. All kinds of false allegations were made against him.”  Further, he drew attention to the fact that...
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  • To Burn Or To Bury? The Deadly Question
    To burn or to bury? That has become the bedeviling Covid-19 question in Sri Lanka with no respect for the dead and no empathy for those who are left to mourn. According to WHO guidelines, Covid-19 victim’s bodies are not infectious, unless other complications are involved – such as hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg) or cholera. In general, dead bodies themselves are not infectious, but body fluids are and they secrete even after death. So, there is universal insistence on and compliance with the protocols for handing dead bodies, not only by funeral workers but also by families. But the question, whether cremation or burial, is a redundant question and it has been unnecessarily overwrought. But only in Sri Lanka, and chiefly by the  government itself.

    For perspective, there have been public protests against cremating Covid-19...
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  • Behind The Muslim Burial Issue
    By Ameer Ali –

    In no country in the world except Sri Lanka and perhaps its “predator” ally China that Muslims are cremated when they die because of Covid-19; and no epidemiologist, virologist or medical expert in the world except the chief health officer in Sri Lanka believes that Corona virus would spread if the victims are buried. This officer spuriously justified his stand on the ground that the underground water level in the country is too high. His argument, backed by a so-called soil scientist, Meththika Vithanage from Jayawardenapura University, who wrote, “break the ground and infect us all”, has now been accepted as heavenly truth by sections of local Buddhist clergy, members of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Viyathmaga and Rajapaksa’s government. Allowing burial for Muslims is to bury the regime itself, said one such...
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  • අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ
    අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ (සිරංගිකා ලොකුකරවිට)
    ගාල්ල දෙද්දුගොඩ ප්‍රදේශයේ පදිංචිව සිටිය දී කොරෝනා ආසාදනය වීමෙන් මියගිය පුද්ගලයාගේ මළ සිරුරු ආදාහනය නොකර ශීතාගාරයක තබන ලෙස ගාල්ල අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත් පවිත්‍රා සංජීවනී පතිරණ මත්මිය අද (21) නියෝග කළාය. අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය මෙම නියෝගය කළේ, එම...
    Read More...
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Compulsory cremation of Covid-19 dead bodies of Muslims: Science, human decency and racism

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  • Contingencies and the human response to them are also a test of fundamental values of humanity
  • Thus, dangerously and disturbingly a good deal of Islamophobia is being made into the mainstream
  • This general sense of backwardness is amplified when the saner voices of professors, specialist doctors and other professionals fail to speak up

 

When your country is doing something totally different from  what the rest of the world does, literally in exact opposition to the common sense practised and adopted by 194 countries in the world,  things aren’t just right.


That is what the government should reckon of its flawed policy of compulsory cremation of dead bodies of Muslims. According to the religious belief of Muslims, the burning of the dead is tantamount to desecration. And the rest of the world has taken note of it and made allowances. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also permits both cremation and burial for the disposal of Covid-19 related death bodies.


Whereas the Government of SriLanka has defended its policy on the basis of scientific advice by an expert committee, but this isn’t science. This is demagoguery.


During the early stage of the Covid -19 pandemic, when the first deaths were reported in March, there existed a degree of uncertainty on the proper way of doing the last rites. The initial health ministry guidelines allowed for both cremation and burial, but the cremation was favoured as the safer way. Then, when the first Muslim died on March 31, the victim’s family insisted on burial. Instead of reaching out for wider discourse, the Ministry of Health issued a circular- Ministry of Health (MOH) Circular No. EPID/400/2019 n-cov on 1 April 2020, which required that all COVID-19 victims be cremated.

 


Since then, despite the initial success of the battle against Covid-19, Sri Lanka had made headlines for the wrong reasons, caused further distress for the family members of Covid victims, and contributed to the alienation of the Muslim community.


Science


The policy is defended on the grounds of the supposedly unique topography of Sri Lanka. Given low groundwater tables and high humidity, it was argued that the virus in the cadavers would pollute the water sources.


“We experience high rainfall, low groundwater table, highly porous subsurface soil, and fractured rocks compared to most temperate countries in the world, which may lead the transport of biological and chemical compounds from dead bodies.” Writes Prof. MeththikaVithanage, one of the members of the expert panel appointed by the Ministry of Health.


However, the evidence on the matter is limited and contested.


The WHO, in its updated interim guidance on “water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19” observes: “While the presence of SARS-CoV-2 us in untreated drinking water is possible, infectious virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. There is at least one documented instance of detecting RNA fragments of SARS-CoV-2 in a river, during the peak of the epidemic in northern Italy. It is suspected the river was affected by raw, untreated sewage. Other Coronaviruses have not been detected in surface or groundwater sources and thus the risk Coronaviruses pose to drinking-water supplies is low. Within waste water, infectious SARS-CoV-2 has not been detected in untreated or treated sewage.”


It also notes “Though little evidence is available, some data suggest that transmission via faeces, is possible but unlikely, especially where faeces become aerosolized.”


Also, the WHO in its interim guidelines on the safe management of a dead body in the covid-19 context observed: “Except in cases of haemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola, Marburg) and cholera, dead bodies are generally not infectious. Only the lungs of patients with pandemic influenza, if handled improperly during an autopsy, can be infectious. Otherwise,cadavers do not transmit disease. It is a common myth that persons who have died of a communicable disease should be cremated, but this is not true.Cremation is a matter of cultural choice and available resources”


Thus the problem is not exactly about science, it is how findings are filtered by the Sri Lankan government and its advisors, feeding off from and feeding into a racially charged environment.


Human decency


Contingencies and the human response to them are also a test of fundamental values of humanity. The covid-19 itself entails trade offs between two imperatives of human decency and risk management. As much as the virus is a medical contingency, how the states respond to it is a matter of human decency, ethics and fair play. Not unduly victimising a portion of its people, and not straining their fundamental values, are important for the long- term endurance of nations. This is where Sri Lanka has lost out.


This failure in the civilised exercise is as tragic and alarming as Covid 19 is. Worse still because you expect the intelligentsia of the country to be a beacon of reason, justice and fair play. That also entails a common-sense to pick the right trade-off where complex choices are involved ( though one doubts whether this even falls in that category, for what is right being pretty straight forward)


This general sense of backwardness is amplified when the saner voices of professors, specialist doctors and other professionals fail to speak up. There will be long term consequences on the stock of intellectual capital and recognition by the peers.


Racism


One should not delude him or herself to think this whole saga stems from science. It is not. This draws from a growing reservoir of Islamaphobia in the country. This government relied on borderline racism to mobilize a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist vote during the election. Thus, dangerously and disturbingly a good deal of Islamophobia is being made into the mainstream. Scientific pundits are feeding into these sentiments, and the government that wants to provide a sense of relief to Muslims ( presumably after a group of pole vaulter Muslim MPs voted for the 20th Amendment, now find it hard to turn back on its nationalist audience. Now, more than the doctors, it is the monks and the usual culprits of the nationalist bandwagon who are vocal against the review of funeral arrangements.


The media earlier reported that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had instructed the authorities to find a burial place in a dry land. (That if he can do so, it is a vindication of the hollowness of the scientific basis of the government policy is a different story.) However, he walked back on the instruction. Now the government is awaiting a report by an expert committee which would reportedly take two more months.


Sri Lanka’s compulsory cremation of Covid-19 related dead bodies is not a case of extra-caution or science. It is proof of scientific ignorance, callousness and an overwhelming lack of enlightenment.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Compulsory-cremation-of-Covid-19-dead-bodies-of-Muslims-Science-human-decency-and-racism/172-200012


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