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  • හිජාස්ගේ පෙත්සමට විරෝධතා ගොනු කරන්න නියෝග
    පාස්කු ඉරුදින ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන්  නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා සැකපිට  අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන රඳවා තබා ගැනීමෙන් ඔහුගේ මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් කඩ වී ඇති බවත් , ඔහුව මුදා හරින නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කරන්නැයි ඉල්ලා ගොනු කළ මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් පෙත්සම සම්බන්ධයෙන්  වන විරෝධතා සතියක් ඇතුළත ගොනු කරන්නැයි ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය අද (01) වැඩබලන පොලිස්පතිට...
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  • Hejaaz Hizbullah, The Shining Young Attorney Held Incommunicado By Mass L. Usuf
        The dreaded Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA) has been in public discussion ever since it was enacted. It was initially introduced in Parliament as ‘Temporary Provisions’ vide Section 29 of the Act which read: “The provisions of this Act shall be in operation for a period of three years from the date of its commencement.” Thereafter, this Temporary Provision paradoxically found a permanent abode, approximating four decades, by virtue of an amendment; “Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Amendment Act, No. 10 of 1982. It now reads: “Section 29 of the principal enactment is hereby repealed.” Widely condemned as an equivalent of Draco’s law, this statute was passed under the watch of the JR Jayewardene Presidency. It was specifically designed to confer on the police...
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  • ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ කොරෝනා වසංගතය, 'මුස්ලිම් ප්‍රජාවට එරෙහි වෙනස්කම්', ත්‍රස්ත විරෝධී නීතිය සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා
    Image copyrightTWITTER/ JUSTICE FOR HEJAAZ අදින් මාස කිහිපයකට පෙර ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය ඉදිරියේ පැවති විභාගයකදී තරුණ නීතිඥවරයෙක් පෑ වාග් පෙළහර එහි සිටි බොහෝ දෙනාගේ සිත් ඇදගැනීමට සමත්විය. රට පුරා මහත් ආන්දෝලනයකට ලක් වූ ඒ නඩු විභාගයේදී ඔහු මතු කළ තර්ක කෙතරම් අවධානයට ලක් වූයේ ද යත් ඔහුගේ මිතුරන් මතු නොව, අධිකරණයේ දී ඔහුගේ ප්‍රතිවාදීන් වූ සගයින්...
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  • NEC Chairman continuing as one-man commission: Hoole
    August, September dates  discussed for polls 
    Bills from 2019 presidential  election not paid
    My US citizenship oath nothing to  be ashamed of
    National Elections Commission (NEC) member Ratnajeevan H. Hoole has not been in good terms with NEC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya in recent times and this has been evident in statements Hoole has made to the media. In an interview with Dailymirror, Hoole opens up on his issues with Deshapriya, concerns over the proposed dates for the parliamentary election and several other matters. Excerpts:

    Q  There was a lot of debate with regard to the postponed parliamentary poll and now the NEC has picked June 20 to hold the election. Why June 20?
    Many have asked why we chose the President’s birthday. I was not aware it is his birth date. Superstition is suggested because...
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  • Sri Lanka’s Muslim Coronavirus Victims Deserve Honorable Religious Funeral
    While Sri Lankan government remains adamant on cremating bodies of Muslim coronavirus victims, despite an earlier decision to allow burials, doctors worldwide have come out with scientific facts to prove that   burials, now taking place in more than 180 countries worldwide, do not cause any harm to anyone.

    Burial for Muslim corona virus dead victims, according to World Health Organization guidelines and local funeral laws, was agreed all over the world  

    In a 16 minute video Dr Feroze M Mubarak, COVID-19 Practice Strategy Lead, Clinical Director, SAS North & Central London on scientific facts-Cremation of Covid 19 infected bodies, has explained clearly why in the case of Muslims, Christians and Jews burial should be permitted.

    https://youtu.be/NQQxvmgRp08   However here in Sri Lanka the government,...
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  • Respect Burial Rights; Stop Hate Speech Against Muslims: UN Tells Gota
    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to follow WHO guidelines on the disposal of deceased persons.

    Writing to the President, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion said: We would like to encourage your Excellency’s Government to reconsider the provisions in the MoH Guideline by taking into account of the key considerations provided by WHO Guideline for the disposal of the bodies of human beings deceased from the COVID-19, and revise the circular accordingly. In view of the challenges posed by the pandemic it is important that the Government avoids any unnecessary measures that are likely to raise tension and are running contrary to the respect of the fundamental human rights of the persons belonging to different communities that exist in Sri Lanka....
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  • Anguish as Sri Lanka forces Muslims to cremate COVID-19 victims
    Rights group and activists accuse gov't of forcing cremation of Muslim COVID-19 victims in disregard to WHO guidelines. The forced cremation of two COVID-19 infected Muslims in Sri Lanka has sent shock waves among the minority community, which accused the authorities of violating Islamic burial rites. Bishrul Hafi Mohammed Joonus, a 73-year- old  man from the capital Colombo who died of COVID-19, was the second Muslim to have been cremated in the Indian Ocean island nation, which has registered 151 cases so far. Bishrul's son Fayaz Joonus, 46, said his father who had a kidney...
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  • ආදරණීය සිිංහල මිතුරන්ගෙන් කරන ‌ඉල්ලීම
      ඊයේ දින ‌කොරෝනා නිසා මරණයට පත් වූ මීගමුවේ පුද්ගලයාගේ මිනිය භූමිදානය කිරීමට කළ උත්සාහයන් අසාර්ථක වීම ගැනත් ඒ පිළිබඳව රවූෆ් හැකීම් වැනි ‌අය නිකුත් කළ මාධ්‍ය නිවේදනය ගැනත් විවිධ අදහස් සමාජ මාධ්‍යය ඔස්සේ ඉදිරිපත් ‌වෙමින් පවතී. ඒ අය නීතියට පටහැනිව කිසිවක් ඉල්ලුුුුවේ නැත. ‌‌‌‌ලෝක ‌‌‌සෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ මාර්ගෝපදේශය සහ ඒ අනුව...
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  • Coronavirus toll in New York state passes 1,000: Live updates
      00:50 GMT - Death toll in New York state surpasses 1,000 More than 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in New York state, according to a tally by The Associated Press  (AP) news agency. On Sunday evening, New York City said its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths is not expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the state's total fatalities was at least 1,026, AP said. 00:30 GMT - China reports 31 new cases in mainland The number of COVID-19 infections in China continues to slow with health authorities in Beijing reporting 31 new cases at the end of Sunday. The figure includes one locally transmitted infection and marks a drop from the 45 cases reported a day earlier. There were no new cases for a sixth consecutive...
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  • Iran urges US to free Iranian prisoners amid coronavirus pandemic
    Iran's government has urged the United States to release Iranians held in US jails on sanctions-related issues due to fears about the coronavirus outbreak. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Washington of holding a number of Iranians in its prisons and said under these circumstances they should be set free. Meanwhile, the death toll in Iran from the coronavirus rose to 2,378 on Friday, a jump of 144. Iran is one of the worst hit countries in the world. Zarif also referred to a report by The Guardian newspaper about Sirous Asgari, a science professor, who it said was still being...
    Read More...
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පාස්කු ඉරුදින ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන්  නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා සැකපිට  අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන රඳවා තබා ගැනීමෙන් ඔහුගේ මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් කඩ වී ඇති බවත් , ඔහුව මුදා හරින නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කරන්නැයි ඉල්ලා ගොනු කළ මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් පෙත්සම සම්බන්ධයෙන්  වන විරෝධතා සතියක් ඇතුළත ගොනු කරන්නැයි ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය අද (01) වැඩබලන පොලිස්පතිට සහ නීතිපතිවරයාට නියෝග කළේය .

එසේම එම විරෝධතා වලට එරෙහි සීමිත විරෝධතා ද සතියක් ඇතුළතදී ගොනු කරන්නැයිද අධිකරණය පෙත්සම්කාර පාර්ශවයේ නීතීඥවරුන්ට නියම කළේය.

මෙම පෙත්සම ත්‍රිපුද්ගල   ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණ විනිසුරු මඩුල්ල හමුවේ සලකා බැලූ අතර එහිදී මෙම නියෝගය ලබා දෙන ලදී.

එල්.ටී.බී.දෙහිදෙණිය , ප්‍රීති පද්මන් සූරසේන සහ ගාමිණී අමරසේකර යන මහත්වරුන් ගෙන් යුතු විනිසුරු මඩුල්ලක් හමුවේ පෙත්සම කැදවිණි.

නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වෙනුවෙන් නීතීඥ ගෞරී සංගරී තවරාසා මහත්මිය ගොනු කල මෙම පෙත්සමේ වගඋත්තරකරුවන් වශයෙන් අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ අධ්‍යක්ෂ , එහි ස්ථානාධිපති ,නීතිපති ඇතුළු හය දෙනෙකු නම් කරනු ලැබ සිටිති.

සැකපිට අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන රඳවා  ගැනීම නීතිවිරෝධී බවට ප්‍රකාශ කරන ලෙසත් , නීතීඥ  හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා බැලීමට  ඔහුගේ පවුලේ ඥාතීන්ට හා නීතීඥවරයෙකුට අවසර ලබා දෙන අතුරු නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කරන්නැයි ද මෙම පෙත්සම මගින් ඉල්ලා ඇත.

ගොනු කළ පෙත්සමේ මෙසේද සදහන් වේ.

අප්‍රේල්  14 වන දා රහස් පොලිසිය විසින් නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අත්අඩංගුවට ගනු ලැබීය.එම අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීමට හේතු කිසිවක් ඉරිදිපත් නොකර  තිබිණි.නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් දිනට පසුදා එනම් අප්‍රේල් 15 වැනිදා  මාධ්‍ය හමුවක් පවත්වමින් පොලිස් මාධ්‍ය ප්‍රකාශකවරයා පාස්කු දින එල්ල කරන ලද ත්‍රස්ත ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන් සැකපිට තම සේවාදායකයා අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් බව ප්‍රකාශ කර තිබිණි.ඊට අමතරව එහිදී මාධ්‍යවේදියෙකු යොමු කල ප්‍රශ්නයකට පිලිතුරු දෙමින් පොලිස් මාධ්‍ය ප්‍රකාශකවරයා කියා සිටියේ නීතිපති උපදෙස් නොමැතිව මේ සිද්ධිය සම්බන්ධයෙන් නීතීඥ හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා ඇතුළු  සැකකරුවන් අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් බවය.

පෙත්සම්කරුව බැලීමට නීතීඥවරයෙකුට අවසර ලබා දෙන්නේ නැත.එසේම එම නීතීඥවරයා මෙතෙක් කිසිදු මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරයෙකු හමුවට ඉදිරිපත් කොට නැත.

තවද පෙත්සම්කරු අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන රදවා තබා ගැනීමට කිසිදු හේතුවක් නොමැත.ජනාධිපතිවරයා නොමඟ යවමින් අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව මෙම ක්‍රියාව සිදු කර ඇත. එබැවින් නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීමට නීතියට පටහැනි වේ.

පාස්කු ඉරුදින ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ යැයි කියන ප්‍රකට කුළුබඩු ව්‍යාපාරිකයෙකු වන මොහොමඩ් යූසුෆ් ඊබ්‍රාහිම් නැමැත්තගේ සිවිල් නඩු දෙකකට නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා පෙනී සිට ඇත.එම නඩු කොළඹ දිසා අධිකරණය හමුවේ විභාග වෙමින් පවතී.

නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා "සේව් ද පර්ල් " නැමැති භාරයේ භාරකරු වේ.මෙම සංවිධානය මෙරට මුස්ලිම් ප්‍රජාව පිළිගත් බොහෝ දෙනෙකු මෙම භාරයේ සාමාජිකයන් වෙති.සේව ද පර්ල් භාරයෙන් ආධාර ලබන ළමුන් පිරිසකටද අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ නිලධාරීන් විසින් හිරිහැර හා තර්ජන සිදු කර අඅති බවද දැනගන්නට තිබේ.

ඔහු නිතියට පටහැනි කිසිවක් කර නොමැත එසේම නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා සද්භාවයෙන් තමන් දන්නා සියල්ල අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවට ප්‍රකාශ කර ඇත.ඔහු හිටපු අමාත්‍ය රිෂාද් බදුද්දීන් මහතාගේ නීතීඥවරයා ලෙස දීර්ඝ කාලයක් කටයුතු කළ අයෙකි. එසේම ප්‍රකට සිවිල් හා දේශපාලන ක්‍රියාකාරකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටි නීතීඥවරයෙකි.

එම අත් අඩංගුවට ගැනීම තුළින් නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතාගේ මූලික අයිතීන් කඩ වී ඇති බවට තීන්දුවක් ලබාදෙන ලෙසත් , මෙම පෙත්සම විභාගයට ගැනීමට අවසර ලබා දෙන ලෙසද පෙත්සමෙන් ඉල්ලා තිබේ.තවද රදවා සිටින නීතීඥවරයා හමුවීමට ඔහුගේ පවුලේ ඥාතීන්ට හා නීතීඥවරයාට අවසර ලබා දෙන අතුරු නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කරන්නැයිද පෙත්සමින් ඉල්ලා ඇත.

එමෙන්ම අත්අඩංගුවේ පසුවන එම නීතිඥවරයා මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරයෙකු සහ ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණයට හමුවට වහාම ඉදිරිපත් කරන ලෙසට අතුරු නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කරන ලෙසත් ,ඔහුව මුදා හැරීමේ නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කර ඔහුගේ මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් කඩ වී ඇති බවට ප්‍රකාශ කර ඔහුට සුදුසු වන්දි මුදලක් ලබා දෙන්නැයි  පෙත්සම්කාර නීතිඥවරිය සිය පෙත්සමෙන් ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය වෙත වැඩිදුරටත් ඉල්ලා තිබේ.

පෙත්සම්කාර නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වෙනුවෙන් ජනාධිපති නීතීඥ ඉක්‍රාම් මොහොමඩ් , නීතිපති වෙනුවෙන් නියෝජ්‍ය සොලිසිටර් ජනරාල් නෙරින් පුල්ලේ සහ රජයේ නීතීඥ අවන්ති පෙරේරා යන මහත්ම මහත්මීහු පෙනී සිටියහ.

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Hejaaz Hizbullah, The Shining Young Attorney Held Incommunicado By Mass L. Usuf

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The dreaded Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA) has been in public discussion ever since it was enacted. It was initially introduced in Parliament as ‘Temporary Provisions’ vide Section 29 of the Act which read:

“The provisions of this Act shall be in operation for a period of three years from the date of its commencement.”
Thereafter, this Temporary Provision paradoxically found a permanent abode, approximating four decades, by virtue of an amendment; “Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Amendment Act, No. 10 of 1982. It now reads:

“Section 29 of the principal enactment is hereby repealed.”

Widely condemned as an equivalent of Draco’s law, this statute was passed under the watch of the JR Jayewardene Presidency. It was specifically designed to confer on the police wide powers relating to search, arrest and detention of suspects. United Nations and International Human Rights organisations have been campaigning for long calling the State to institute reforms to this abusive Act.

This column should not be construed as an effort or campaign supporting Hejaz or any others who had been arrested at different times since 1979.

Rule Of Law Or Rule By Law

 

Sri Lanka is known to be a democratic country. In keeping with that spirit, she has inter alia, judicial institutions, where it is ideally expected that the rule of law Supremes. At a High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law on 19 September 2012, it reaffirmed that “human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they belong to the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations.” The diktat is for world governments to ensure that accountability, equality and justice are upheld and promoted in order to protect and secure the rights of citizens. These comprise the utilitarian aspects of strengthening democracy.

Sri Lanka has showcased its idea of the rule of law in Chapter III of the constitution, dedicating it to Fundamental Rights. The universal norm is that no law can supersede the Constitution of the country. It is said, ‘The judiciary, which applies the law to individual cases, acts as the guardian of the rule of law. Thus, the need for an independent and properly functioning judiciary becomes a prerequisite for the rule of law which requires a just legal system, the right to a fair hearing and access to justice.’

Consequence Of Rule By Law

Statutes, Rules and Regulations, executive actions and policies of a government must be regimented to function under the rule of law. Where there is unconstrained substantive or procedural abuse disregarding law such exploits cease to be governed by this precept. In these instances, the doctrine of rule of law dissipates giving way to the repressive and cruel rule by law. The beginning of abuse is from this point.

In the background of the aforesaid, to quote a dictum from the British Legal Philosopher, H.L.A. Hart is appropriate. It illustrates the timeless limbo of persons like Hejaaz Hizbullah and the many others who have been incarcerated under the dreaded PTA, at different times:

“A paralysed man watching a thief’s hand close over his gold watch is properly said to have a right to retain it as against the thief, though he has neither expectation nor power in any ordinary sense of these words.” (Hart, Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy, 1983).

Hart using the analogy of a paralytic draws attention to the condition of a person who has a right but cannot expect to assert that right and, the same person having no power to proclaim his right. How many such ‘paralysed’ persons are languishing in custody? The distressed family members are asking where are the democratic minded citizens who are supposed to act to strengthen equity and justice?

Communication, A Basic Right

This column does not intend to traverse the gamut of the right to communicate. It would suffice to suggest a few markers to get an understanding.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (United Nations, 1948).

Our Constitution, 14. (1) (a), states:

“Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech and expression including publication”.

This is a restricted right by virtue of Article 15 (7) (2) of the Constitution:

“The exercise and operation of the fundamental right declared and recognized by Article 14(1)(a) shall be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed by law in the interests of racial and religious harmony or in relation to parliamentary privilege, contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.”

It is clear as daylight that this restriction does not contemplate a situation where a detainee wants to consult with his or her Attorney.

Role of the Judiciary

It is well known, at least theoretically, that the pillars of democracy consist of the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary and the strict separation of their functions. The objective is to ensure proper checks and balances and to prevent the concentration of power. Due to novel developments in the political landscape, there has evolved hybrid versions of this foundation. For example, the separation of powers has significantly become diluted between the legislature and the executive. It is only the judiciary that has been able to stand alone and maintain its independence although, several attempts have been made in the past to inhibit its authority.

At the Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union conference held in Helsinki in September 2019, much emphasis was placed on the protection of the rule of law with special responsibility placed on the judiciary. It resolved:

“Rule of law is the cornerstone of all democratic societies. A proper system of checks and balances maintains the separation of powers, ensures accountability and enhances resilience. In order to maintain trust in public institutions, the principles of legality, legal certainty, prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers, judicial independence, impartiality, and equality before the law need to be respected. The role of national and European courts is crucial for ensuring effective judicial protection.”

Animal Rights

With regard to the Rights of Animals, Mahatma Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” Interestingly, he juxtaposes the way animals are treated as a measurement of value to judge the greatness and moral progress of a nation. What characteristics of a nation can be judged based on the way humans are treated?

The rights of freedom and liberty of any person are too sacred to be sacrificed at the drop of a hat. American Jurist Ronald Dworkin argues, “If someone has a right to moral independence, this means that it is for some reason wrong for officials to act in violation of that right, even if they (correctly) believe that the community as a whole would be better off if they did.” (Lloyds Jurisprudence, 6th Edition, P. 434).

At a time when man is being silenced by man, it is strange to see and hear some people talking in the following terms, as seen in a poster with a picture of a dog:

“Animals have no voice.

They can’t ask for help.

They can’t ask for freedom.

They can’t ask for protection.

HUMANITY MUST BE THEIR VOICE.”

How confused can we be between the imperatives of treating animals and human beings? It is ironic to note that in Sri Lanka, we are excessively worried about the rights of animals than the rights of human beings.

State Of Limbo Unethical

Hejaz and many others who are under detention, most of them without the due process of law, also deserve this Voice Of Humanity. Apparently, the voice of humanity for the welfare of the humans themselves, seems pathetically lost or hypocritically ignored! Apart from the voice of humanity, it is the duty of the government to treat its subject with equality and concern.

The writer is clearly not campaigning for Hejaz or, for the others in custody under the PTA, that they are innocent. If they are found guilty by a court of law, let them be punished.The emphasis of this column is that suspects should be handled in accordance with the laid down legal procedures. Apply the rule of law and avoid rule by law. Arbitrary actions are prohibited even under international law. Sri Lanka is an unconditional signatory to many international instruments protecting equality in multiple fields. See, Right to equality: The new frontier of judicial activism, by Deepika Udagama.

The Geneva based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) in its monitoring guidelines on detention centers, states:

“Depriving a person of his or her liberty is a serious coercive act by the State, with inherent risks of human rights abuses. Through the loss of liberty, the detained person comes to depend almost entirely on the authorities and public officials to guarantee his or her protection, rights, and means of existence. The possibilities for persons deprived of their liberty to influence their own fate are limited, if not non-existent.”

Never Deprive

Neither does acceptance of the right of a person make that person noble nor does non-acceptance make that person ignoble. The basic rights of a person are intrinsic to his self as a person and is deep-rooted in the nucleus of his naturally endowed liberty. He should never be deprived of it by arbitrary action or the denial of justice but by the due process of the law.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/hejaaz-hizbullah-the-shining-young-attorney-held-incommunicado/

 

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ කොරෝනා වසංගතය, 'මුස්ලිම් ප්‍රජාවට එරෙහි වෙනස්කම්', ත්‍රස්ත විරෝධී නීතිය සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා

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හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා (අසුන්ගෙන)Image copyrightTWITTER/ JUSTICE FOR HEJAAZ

අදින් මාස කිහිපයකට පෙර ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය ඉදිරියේ පැවති විභාගයකදී තරුණ නීතිඥවරයෙක් පෑ වාග් පෙළහර එහි සිටි බොහෝ දෙනාගේ සිත් ඇදගැනීමට සමත්විය.

රට පුරා මහත් ආන්දෝලනයකට ලක් වූ ඒ නඩු විභාගයේදී ඔහු මතු කළ තර්ක කෙතරම් අවධානයට ලක් වූයේ ද යත් ඔහුගේ මිතුරන් මතු නොව, අධිකරණයේ දී ඔහුගේ ප්‍රතිවාදීන් වූ සගයින් ද ඔහු පැසසීමට පසුබට නොවූහ.

නඩුව, ජනාධිපති මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන විසින් නීති විරෝධී ලෙසින් අගමැතිවරයා පදවියෙන් පහකොට පාර්ලිමේන්තුව විසුරුවා හරිනු ලැබීමට එරෙහිව පැවති මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් පෙත්සම් පිළිබඳ විභාගයයි.

එම තරුණ නීතිඥයා පෙනී සිටියේ ජාතික මැතිවරණ කොමිසමේ සාමාජික මහාචාර්ය රත්නජීවන් හූල් ඉදිරිපත් කළ පෙත්සම වෙනුවෙනි.

ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය ඉදිරියේ ඔහු එදා තර්ක කළ ආකාරය The Hindu පුවත්පතේ මාධ්‍යවේදිනී මීරා ශ්‍රීනිවාසන් මෙසේ වාර්තාකර තිබුණි.

එදා නීතිවේදියාගේ තර්ක පෙළහර කෙතරම් සුවිශේෂී වූයේ ද යත් නඩු විභාගය අවසානයේ පෙත්සම්කරුවන් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටි ජනාධිපති නීතිඥවරුන් ඇතුළු අනෙක් සියලු ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ නීතිවේදීන් නැගිට සිටියදී සමූහ ඡායාරූපයේ අසුන්ගෙන සිටියේ ඔහු පමණය.

එසේ අසුන් ගන්නා මෙන් ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ නීතිවේදීන් ඔහුගෙන් පෙරැත්ත කොට ඉල්ලා සිටියේ ඔහු පෑ දස්කමට ගරු කිරීමක් වශයෙනි.

'සටන්කාමියෙක්'

එලෙස ජාතික වශයෙන් වැදගත්කමක් පවතින නඩු විභාග ගණනාවකට පෙනී සිටීමෙන් නොනැවතුණු ඔහු අසාධාරණය සහ අයුක්තිය ලෙසින් ඔහු දුටු දේට එරෙහිව වීදි බට 'හාන්සි පුටු සටන් කාමියෙකු' නොවූ සැබෑ සටන්කාමියෙක් ද විය.

එසේ නීති ක්ෂේත්‍රයේත්, ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය සහ මානව හිමිකම් ගරු කළ බොහෝ දෙනාගේත් නොමඳ ප්‍රසාදයට ලක් වූ ඒ තරුණ නීතිඥයා පසුගිය අප්‍රේල් 14 වෙනි දින සිට පොලිස් අත්අඩංගුවේ පසුවේ.

ඔහු හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලාය.

ඔහුට යුක්තිය පතා ආරම්භ කර තිබෙන Justice For Hejaaz ට්විටර් ගිණුම අනුව ඔහු 'සියලු ආකාරයේ අන්තවාද ප්‍රසිද්ධියේ හෙලා දුටු, ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ජාතීන් අතර සංහිඳියාව උදෙසා පෙනී සිටි, අසරණයන්ට සරණ වූ' නීතිවේදියෙකි.

පොලිසිය පවසන්නේ ඔහු පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ වූයේ යයි ලැබී තිබෙන තොරතුරු මත තවදුරටත් විමර්ශන පැවැත්වෙන බවය. මාස තුනක රඳවා ගැනීමේ නියෝගයක් මත ඔහු රඳවාගෙන තවදුරටත් ප්‍රශ්න කරමින් සිටින බව ද පොලිස් ප්‍රකාශක, පොලිස් අධිකාරී ජාලිය සේනාරත්න බීබීසී සිංහල සේවයට පැවසීය.

තමන්ට එරෙහිව එල්ල වී තිබෙන චෝදනා සම්බන්ධයෙන් සිය නීතිවේදියා සමඟ නිදහසේ අදහස් හුවමාරු කරගැනීමට පවා නීතිවේදී හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලාට මෙතෙක් අවස්ථාවක් ලැබී නැති අතර, පාස්කු ප්‍රහාරයට ඔහු සම්බන්ධ බවට එල්ලවන චෝදනාව ඔහුගේ පවුලේ සාමාජිකයෝ තරයේ ප්‍රතික්ෂේප කරති.

ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන, නීතිවේදීන්ට පවා ඔහු හමුවීමට අවස්ථාවක් නොදෙමින් සහ ඔහු අධිකරණයට ඉදිරිපත් නොකරමින් ආණ්ඩුව ගෙන යන ක්‍රියාදාමය ශ්‍රී ලංකාව තුළ පමණක් නොව ජාත්‍යන්තර වශයෙන් ද හෙලා දැකීමට ලක්වෙමින් පවතී.

ජාත්‍යන්තර ප්‍රතිචාර

මැයි 26 වෙනි දින ට්විටර් පණිවුඩයක් නිකුත් කළ යුරෝපා සංගමය, නීතිවේදී හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන රඳවාගෙන සිටීම පිළිබඳව ප්‍රබල අවධානය පළකරමින් තමන් ශ්‍රී ලංකා ආණ්ඩුවට ලිපියක් යොමු කළ බව සඳහන් කර තිබුණි.

ලොව පුරා රටවල විනිසුරුවරුන් නියෝජනය කරන ජාත්‍යන්තර නීති විශාරදයින්ගේ කොමිසම ද (ICJ) එයින් දින කිහිපයකට පෙර නිකුත්කළ නිවේදනයක දැක්වුණේ, පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන් පරීක්ෂණ පැවැත්වීමේ දී මානව හිමිකම්වලට ගරු කරමින් හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා සම්බන්ධ විමර්ශන සාධාරණ සහ නිසි ක්‍රමවේදයට අනුකූලව පවත්වන මෙන් තමන් ආණ්ඩුවෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටින බවය.

නීතිවේදී හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා සම්බන්ධයෙන් පැවැත්වෙන විමර්ශනයේදී නීතියේ ආධිපත්‍යයට අදාළ මූලධර්ම මත පිහිටා කටයුතු කරන ලෙස ඉල්ලා සිටිමින්, ජාත්‍යන්තර නීතිවේදීන්ගේ සම්මේලනයේ මානව හිමිකම් ආයතනය ද, අධිකරණ ඇමති නිමල් සිරිපාල ද සිල්වා වෙත විවෘත ලිපියක් යොමුකර තිබිණි.

'මුස්ලිම් ප්‍රජාවට එරෙහි වෙනස්කම්'

ඔහු අත්අඩංගුවට ගන්නා ලද්දේ, පවතින කොරෝනා වෛරස් වසංගත සමයෙහි, දේශපාලන ප්‍රතිවාදීන් සහ මුස්ලිම් ප්‍රජාවට එරෙහිව වෙනස්කම් සිදුකෙරෙමින් ඇති කාලයක බවත් ජාත්‍යන්තර නීතිවේදීන්ගේ සම්මේලනයේ මානව හිමිකම් ආයතනය පෙන්වා දී තිබිණි.

විශේෂයෙන්ම සිංහල කාන්තාවන්ට 'වඳ සැත්කම්' කළ බවට ව්‍යාජ චෝදනා එල්ල වූ වෛද්‍ය ෂිහාබ්දීන් මොහොමඩ් ෂාෆි වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටි නීතිවේදියා ද ඔහුය. (එම චෝදනාව සනාථ කිරීම සඳහා සාක්ෂි නොමැති බව අපරාධ විමර්ශන දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව අධිකරණයට දැනුම් දී තිබේ)

වෛද්‍ය ෂිහාබ්දීන් මොහොමඩ් ෂාෆිImage copyrightTWITTERImage captionවෛද්‍ය ෂිහාබ්දීන් මොහොමඩ් ෂාෆි

තවත් බොහෝ දෙස්, විදෙස් සංවිධාන සහ නීතිවේදීන්, සිවිල් සංවිධාන සහ ක්‍රියාධරයෝ ආණ්ඩුවේ ක්‍රියාකලාපය දැඩි ලෙස ප්‍රශ්න කළහ.

හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීම හා බැඳුනු සිදුවීම් ගැන දීර්ඝ ලිපියක් ලියමින් මාධ්‍යවේදිනී ජයනි අබේසේකර අවධාරණය කර තිබුණේ, කොරෝනාවෛරස වසංගතය යනු නීතියට පිටින් කටයුතු කිරීමට පොලිසියට හෝ ආණ්ඩුවට දුන් බලපත්‍රයක් නොවන බවය.

මේ අතර, ඩේලි එෆ්ටී පුවත්පතේ ලිපියක් උපුටා දක්වමින් ඔක්ස්ෆර්ඩ් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ ආචාර්ය උපාධියක් හදාරන නීතිවේදී ගෙහාන් ගුණතිලක, සැකකරුවෙකු වැරදිකරුවෙකු කිරීමට ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ජනමාධ්‍ය මෙතරම් කැසකවන්නේ මන්දැයි ප්‍රශ්න කර තිබිණි.

හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලාගේ පවුලේ සාමාජිකයින් පවසන පරිදි, ත්‍රස්ත විරෝධී පනත යටතේ ඔහු අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීමේ සිට මේ දක්වා පොලිසිය හැසිරුණු ආකාරය බරපතල සැක සංකා ගණනාවක් මතු කරන්නකි.

පවුලේ සාමාජිකයින් ගේ ලිපිය

පවුලේ සාමාජිකයින් විසින් අධිකරණයේ ගොනු කරන ලද හිබයාස් කෝපුස් පෙත්සම් සහ ඉන් අනතුරුව නිකුත් කරන ලද ඉහත දැක්වෙන නිවේදනයට අනුව, පොලිසිය මෙන්ම බොහෝ ජනමාධ්‍ය ද හැසිරෙන ආකාරය පිළිබඳ පහත දැක්වෙන කරුණු අවධානයට ලක් කර තිබේ.

  • ඔහු අත්ඩංගුවට ගැනීම පිණිස පොලිසිය පැමිණීමට පෙර ලැබුණු දුරකතන ඇමතුමක සඳහන් වූයේ නිරෝධායන කටයුත්තක් සලකා බැලීම පිණිස සෞඛ්‍ය බලධාරීන් නිවසට පැමිණෙන බවකි.
  • නිලධාරීන් නිවසට පැමිණි වහාම ඔහුට මාංචු දමා ප්‍රකාශයක් සටහන් කරගත්හ.
  • අත්ඩංගුවට ගත් අවස්ථාවේ සිට මෙතෙක් ඔහු අධිකරණයක් වෙත ඉදිරිපත් කොට නැත.
  • ඔහුට සිය නීතිවේදියා හමුවීමට අවසර ලැබුණේ අවස්ථා දෙකකදී පමණි. ඒ, විමර්ශන නිලධාරියෙකු ඉදිරිපස දී විනාඩි 10 ක පමණ කාලයකටය. එහිදී ඔහුට තමන්ට එරෙහි චෝදනා ගැන අදහස් දැක්වීමට අවසර නොලැබුණි.
  • ඔහු මද්රාසා පාසලක විදුහල්පති බවටත්, පාස්කු ප්‍රහාරයේ මහ මොලකරු වූ සහ්රාන් හෂීම් එහි පැමිණ දේශන පැවැත්වූ බවටත් හදිසියේම මාධ්‍ය වාර්තා පළවිය. එම පාසලේ ඉගෙනුම ලබන සිසුවෙක් මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරයෙකු ඉදිරියේ කරන ලද බව පැවසෙන රහසිගත ප්‍රකාශයක් ද මාධ්‍ය වාර්තාවලට ඇතුළත් විය.
  • අදාළ චෝදනාව සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම අසත්‍යයක් බව පවසන පවුලේ සාමාජිකයෝ, එසේ රහසිගත ප්‍රකාශයක් කළේ නම් එය මාධ්‍ය වෙත ලැබුණේ කෙසේ දැයි ප්‍රශ්න කරති.
  • මේ අතර පොලිසිය තමන්ගෙන් බලහත්කාරයෙන් ප්‍රකාශයක් ලබාගත් බවට මද්රාසා පාසලේ සිසුන් දෙදෙනකුගේ දෙමාපියන් අධිකරණයට පෙත්සමක් ඉදිරිපත් කර තිබේ.

සිංහල මාධ්‍ය වාර්තා විශ්ලේෂණය කරන ethics eye ආයතනය ද එම වාර්තාවල සදාචාරාත්මක බව ප්‍රශ්න කර තිබිණි.

පොලිසියේ ප්‍රතිචාරය

පොලිසිය පවසන්නේ, නීතිවේදී හිජාස් තවමත් අධිකරණයට ඉදිරිපත් නොකළේ අදාළ විමර්ශන කටයුතු තවමත් අවසන් වී නොමැති නිසා බවය.

ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැලැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ, වරෙන්තුවකින් තොරව නිවාසවලට පිවිස සෝදිසි කිරීමට සහ පුද්ගලයන් අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීමට පොලිසියට බලය පැවරේ.

එබැවින් ඔහු තවදුරටත් අපරාධ විමර්ශන කාර්යාංශය යටතේ රඳවාගනු ලැබ සිටින බීබීසී සිංහල සේවය සමඟ කියා සිටි පොලිස් ප්‍රකාශක පොලිස් අධිකාරී ජාලිය සේනාරත්න, "විමර්ශන ඉවර වෙනතුරු අපිට ඔහු රඳවාගන්න වෙනවා," යනුවෙන් ද සඳහන් කළේය.

අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීමට පෙර සෞඛ්‍ය නිලධාරීන් ලෙසින් හඳුන්වා ගනිමින් ඔහුට ඇමතුමක් දුන් බවක් විමර්ශන නිලධාරීන් තමන්ට දැනුම් දී නැතැයි පවසන පොලිස් ප්‍රකාශකවරයා, විමර්ශනය තවමත් පැවැත්වෙන බැවින් පොලිස් මාධ්‍ය ඒකකය මාධ්‍ය වෙත ලබා දෙන්නේ තමන්ට හෙළි කළ හැකි තොරතුරු පමණක් බව ද පැවසීය.

පොලිස් අධිකාරී ජාලිය සේනාරත්න පවසන පරිදි, පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන් පැවැත්වෙන විමර්ශන දේශපාලන අරමුණකින් යුතුව කෙරෙන්නක් නොවේ. එබැවින් එයට කිසිදු දේශපාලන බලපෑමක් නැත.

පාස්කු ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ බවට සැකයක් තිබුණේ නම් නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීම පිණිස ප්‍රහාරයෙන් වසරකට ආසන්න කාලයක් ගත වූයේ මන්දැයි බීබීසී සිංහල සේවය කළ විමසීමට පිළිතුරු දෙමින් ඔහු කියා සිටියේ, ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධ විමර්ශන තවමත් පැවැත්වෙන බැවින් තවත් සැකකරුවන් ගැන ඉදිරියේදී පවා තොරතුරු අනාවරණය වීමට ඉඩ තිබෙන බවය.

කියවන්න:

 

NEC Chairman continuing as one-man commission: Hoole

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August, September dates  discussed for polls 
Bills from 2019 presidential  election not paid
My US citizenship oath nothing to  be ashamed of


National Elections Commission (NEC) member Ratnajeevan H. Hoole has not been in good terms with NEC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya in recent times and this has been evident in statements Hoole has made to the media. In an interview with Dailymirror, Hoole opens up on his issues with Deshapriya, concerns over the proposed dates for the parliamentary election and several other matters. Excerpts:

Q  There was a lot of debate with regard to the postponed parliamentary poll and now the NEC has picked June 20 to hold the election. Why June 20?


Many have asked why we chose the President’s birthday. I was not aware it is his birth date. Superstition is suggested because the President who did well on November 16 (1+6=7) had set April 25 (2+5=7) for the parliamentary election.
However, on the morning of April 20, as soon as I came to my commission office, Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya (MD) took issue with me over my letter to the commission which he claimed I had given to the press. I responded that a newspaper had it and asked me to confirm I had written the memo, which I did. I added that after that, since it was public anyway, I gave copies to a few who asked for it.
Fortunately, as the argument heated up, Nalin Abeyesekere, PC (NA), crashed in and he was upset that the chairman asked me to agree to May 28 and he knew nothing of it till he read my memo (I feel free to discuss this because a senior journalist who called me that noon recounted every detail of our conversations on the 20th, telling me “I have three good sources in the commission offices.”)
NA held, and I agreed, that we had postponed the April 25 date because of COVID-19 which as of the twentieth morning had got worse and there was no reason to go back on that. Both NA and I said the June 2 deadline for the new Parliament to meet was impossible and a new date should be as late as possible due to COVID-19. MD insisted on a rationale for a date. It was time for our 11 o’clock meeting but I insisted on finishing this matter before leaving my office. All three agreed it should be September 2 (five years after Parliament had met) or August 17 (five years after Parliament had been elected).


"The press too played a subservient role. You folk call the Chairman Head of the Commission. The Commonwealth Secretariat calls him Chief. Editors continue to call him Commissioner when there is no Commissioner. You thrive on sucking up"


After the meeting, MD reopened the date and wanted July 15 with no particular rationale. Then, after another meeting, as if to give a rationale, he had a handwritten paper on which he marked dates April 27 (curfew listed as stated by the government), May 2 to ensure COVID-19 was easing and then 7 weeks (5-7 weeks for campaigning as in the Act) taking us to June 20.
At the commission, he banged the table and said he owes his loyalty only to one country and he never went about swearing allegiance to another. Was he meaning Basil and Gotabaya Rajapaksa or me? I must note that my US citizenship oath “to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States” has nothing for me to be ashamed of, and I can proudly do that for any democratic state. In contrast, MD was a member of the JVP in its most violent days, committed to overthrowing our democratically-elected government.At that point, I was so relieved to get away from the madness of a May election that I was happy to agree to June 20 and be done with it.
Then in the evening, medical experts met us and were emphatic that no one knew where COVID-19 was going. Dr. Paba Palihawardene, Deputy Director General of Health Services, said “it is highly likely” that COVID-19 would last at least for two years with ups and downs. Dr. Jasinghe was non-committal asking us to decide and that curfews are being lifted.
Later, the commission met again to draft the gazette. The chairman drafted it and gave it to NA who assumed it was as agreed. I had to study the Tamil draft which had the date May 30 for the election. It had to be redone with the right date.
As reported in Dailymirror, (22.4.2020), “the EC yesterday agreed to review [the poll date of 20.4.2020], Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.” There was no commission meeting from 20.4.2020 6:00 p.m. till now.
SLMC’s Rauff Hakeem and Nizam Kariapper have declared our decision unconstitutional. Not quite. Yes, Article 70(5) is violated. It is violated not by us but because it is impossible for the new Parliament to meet by 02.06.2020 given COVID-19. Even where curfew is relaxed, only 50% of the workforce is to be called. And then we must keep a one-meter distance. How when during elections we commandeer a workforce as large as 300% of the norm? Violation of 70(5) is a fait accompli. The doctrine of necessity justifies that violation. 

Q  With some restrictions likely to still be in place by June as a result of coronavirus, do you really think the environment will be conducive to hold an election or is it too soon?

New ways of bypassing these problems of restrictions are possible. But for innovative solutions, laws need to be amended. Examples are internet voting, multiple voting days to ease staff shortages, real powers to punish polls-law violators (at the commission no one knows of anyone who has been punished since the enactment of the 1981 Act, except for little boys who put up posters), making it necessary for the Attorney General to act within a timeframe when we refer a matter to him. And that requires Parliament to be back. 

Q  Should the old Parliament be convened, in your opinion, on or after June 2 since the election has been postponed from the original date?

It really is the easiest solution. To be a democracy, we need a Parliament of our representatives. Today itself if the President would cancel his gazette of 02.03.2020, everything that flowed from it – particularly the dissolution of Parliament and nomination papers filed – would be nullified. Parliament can then make right all unlawful measures like curfew declaration and the drawing of funds that have been drawn without Parliament.

Q  The election is likely to cost more than earlier estimated with election staff having to need protective gear. Has the commission done an estimate on this?

No. We need to decide on new measures. Our offices have been mostly shut during the pandemic. This is why the election to enable Parliament to convene by June 2 is impossible. Even our bills from the presidential election of November 2019 have not been paid.

Q  You have been very outspoken in recent times on matters related to the work of the commission. And this gives the impression that all is not well among the three members. Is that the case?

Nowhere do we have three people sitting down together and having the same ideas. But it is important to have trust and courtesy to be able to work together. My main issue is the chairman continuing as a one-man commission. As you know, he was commissioner before the 19th Amendment. After his retirement age, he was kept on extension till 19A was ready.
The intention, if you carefully read the law, is to have three members with one as chairman. The only difference was that the chairman had an extra vote if there is a tie, an unlikely event with three members. The commissioner with czar-like powers could not settle into being a co-equal chairman.
The press too played a subservient role. You folk call the Chairman Head of the Commission. The Commonwealth Secretariat calls him Chief. Editors continue to call him Commissioner when there is no Commissioner. You thrive on sucking up.
Then, the Cabinet messed up the commission. They gave a car to the chairman and only a travel allowance to the two members. This was hardly enough for a few meetings. So the other two members could not travel to the commission on a daily basis nor to faraway meetings. Only the chairman could order a commission car for us and we developed a dependent relationship. Nowadays to come during curfew and COVID-19, I need the chairman to arrange my transport. It seemed that the government and press preferred to deal with one man.
Almost all decisions were by the chairman. Staff who were used to a commissioner still treat the chairman as commissioner. He did their performance evaluations without showing us. He gives press conferences where there is no agreement as a commission on what is to be said and we two sit on either side like dummies.



"Nowhere do we have three people sitting down together and having the same ideas. But it is important to have trust and courtesy to be able to work together. My main issue is the chairman continuing as a one-man commission"


The association of all 25 regional assistant/deputy commissioners has been struggling with issues. Here is their email from August 2018 to the two members but we have not got the appointment they wanted:“This is to kindly inform you that we have made a written request to the Secretary - Elections Commission to get an appointment from two commission members. Even though we made the request to meet you, we did not receive any positive response up to now. Instead, we receive several calls from the chairman regarding this appointment and dictating terms for this meeting.  
“Mainly, we do not want to be governed by the chairman’s arbitrary decisions and unethical pressure. This pressure has penetrated our family lives as well. The communication and physical gaps we had with two members is the main reason for these issues according to our knowledge. We never wanted to maintain a gap but someone did.
“Even now, the chairman is trying to limit our representation which is going to meet you. At least we beg you to give us a reasonable time to talk freely. Almost all other District DCs and ACs are willing to express their views on this meeting.
“Our request letter with the Secretary, which we have a doubt whether it communicated to you sirs.”
A meeting was fixed in Colombo on a Sunday. I went there and found the chairman had moved it to Kandy and without transport I could not go.
“This gap” is to have selected subservient staff in Colombo. A minute was generated that the commission devolves its powers to the staff. Since corrected minutes are not given to us, my corrections never came back to me. These selected staff take decisions the chairman dictates. The worst manipulation was the appointment of the Commissioner General through manipulated selection criteria, a closing date advanced and sending the interview invitation late to a good candidate. But Mr. Abeyesekere who was on the interview team withdrew. The chairman now has suggested that the CG be allowed to run the elections.
Although MD denies it, I am informed by senior staff that the gazette dissolving Parliament in October 2018 was prepared by Director Channa de Silva, the two went together to the Presidential Secretariat up to the gate where de Silva alighted from the car and returned, leaving MD to proceed alone.

Q  Is NEC really independent as it is supposed to be or is there bias?


You be the judge.

Q  There had been calls in the past for the commission to be given more powers. Is that still a key requirement?


We do need more powers, but as writer Tisaranee Gunasekera told me, with independent commissions we also need independent members.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/NEC-Chairman-continuing-as-one-man-commission-Hoole/172-187114

 

Sri Lanka’s Muslim Coronavirus Victims Deserve Honorable Religious Funeral

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While Sri Lankan government remains adamant on cremating bodies of Muslim coronavirus victims, despite an earlier decision to allow burials, doctors worldwide have come out with scientific facts to prove that   burials, now taking place in more than 180 countries worldwide, do not cause any harm to anyone.

Burial for Muslim corona virus dead victims, according to World Health Organization guidelines and local funeral laws, was agreed all over the world  

In a 16 minute video Dr Feroze M Mubarak, COVID-19 Practice Strategy Lead, Clinical Director, SAS North & Central London on scientific facts-Cremation of Covid 19 infected bodies, has explained clearly why in the case of Muslims, Christians and Jews burial should be permitted.

https://youtu.be/NQQxvmgRp08

 

However here in Sri Lanka the government, contravening its own previous guidelines, remains adamant on cremating bodies of Muslim corona victims. Third Muslim corona victim from Kalutara who died on Wednesday 8 April 2020   was cremated in complete secrecy though Muslims view it as desecration of the deceased.

This was not reported in the mainstream local media known for its hostility towards Muslims. Instead ,perhaps to justify the cremation, a section of the media published a fake news saying that the Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates has cremated Muslim corona virus dead.

This misleading report was categorically rejected by the UAE Embassy in Colombo.

There were also increasing reports from Human Rights Watch and numerous local organizations accusing the local media of undertaking a planned campaign to associate Muslims with corona virus, as it is happening in India, to poison the Sinhalese minds against Muslims.

The island’s helpless and voiceless Muslims community is seething with anger. 

In view of the growing pressure from the Muslim community, Muslim parliamentarians met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to appeal to him to allow burial   as it is done in many parts of the world.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa met them after party leaders meeting at Temple Trees during the first week of this month. When the meeting was about to start Muslim parliamentarians pointed out they would like to meet separate. However the Prime Minister insisted on having the meeting there itself in the presence of others.

Muslim parliamentarians felt uncomfortable with the presence of parliamentarians Wimal Wirawansa and Udaya Gammanpila whose hostilities towards Muslims were common knowledge.

During the meeting SLMC Chairman Rauf Hakeem pleaded not to cremate Muslim corona victims as it violates the religious principles. He supported his plea by citing the World Health Organization circular, government’s own circular and the decision taken by numerous European countries to allow burial of Muslim corona dead bodies.

But, as expected, both Wimal Wirawansa and Gammanpila, opposed and read out statements insisting on cremating Muslim corona victims. This was backed by health ministry officials and the prime minister, insisted on cremating.

Muslims feel that this decision was to punish them for not voting for the government and please the Sinhalese hardliners. They also pointed out that Rajapaksa governments were responsible for Muslims not voting for their governments as memories of their sufferings   under them remain fresh.

There were appeals from Muslims and non-Muslims alike to allow the burials of Muslim corona victim’s dead bodies. 

For example in a statement issued on 7 April 2020  a collective of citizens and organizations comprising leading civil society members, academics and activists, has written to President Gothabaya to follow WHO guidelines and allow burial.

They urged to consider the MOH Circular of April 1, 2020 and amendments dated March 31, 2020 to the MOH Provisional Clinical Practice Guidelines, and instead follow WHO Guidance on the disposal of bodies. They also called upon the president to address the country’s greatly distressed Muslims and put to rest their fears that they are somehow being punished, or that the country has little respect for their concerns.

The letter has been copied to Health Minister Pavithra Waniarachchi, Director General Health Services Dr. Anil Jayasinghe, Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, Director of the Infectious Diseases Hospital Dr. Hasitha Attanayake, Chief Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Ajith Tennakoon, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission Dr. Deepika Udagama and WHO Sri Lanka Representative Dr. Razia Pendse.

They pointed out worldwide, including the Chinese province of Wuhan where the disease was first reported, corona victims were buried,

For example The British government assured Muslim and Jewish communities that they will have their religious burial rights respected and there will not be mandatory cremations.

French President Emmanuel Macron assured that Muslims who die in France during the coronavirus pandemic will be buried in accordance with their religious beliefs and traditions.     

In Italy Muslim Covid-19 victims were accorded an honorable Islamic burial and up to ten family members and friends were allowed to attend the funeral prayer from a distance.

In India the Mumbai civic body’s order – that bodies of coronavirus patients can only be cremated, was withdrawn within hours after the state government intervened in the matter.

Urging governments and political leaders not to politicize corona virus issue World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against using Covid-19 to “score political points”, stating that that he had received deaths threats and has been subjected to racist abuse.

Meanwhile Mariam Ardati, funeral and cemeteries advisor to the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), said in a statement that Coronavirus cremations would be ‘horrific’

for Muslims, but it was permissible for bodies to be buried in leak-proof plastic bags. This measure was approved by the Islamic body known as the Fatwa Council. 

She said” For Muslims, cremation is not only prohibited, it’s viewed as a desecration of the deceased.

“There remains a connection between the body and soul even in death, so this is something that is quite metaphysical, and it’s a very strongly held belief,” explains Mariam Ardati.

“To inflict that type of treatment on the body in death, it’s quite horrific to even consider.” And, according to Ms Ardati, it’s causing panic, “because these are rights that are afforded to people in death, just as someone has rights afforded to them while they’re alive”.

When a Muslim person dies, their body is honoured with four rituals.

First, the body is washed — with soapy water, clean water, then camphor-infused water — then it is wrapped in a funeral shroud, perfumed with incense.

“Then there’s a communal prayer that’s offered for the deceased, and that’s when the whole community comes together,” explains Ms Ardati.

The fourth rite is that the deceased is buried, not in a coffin, but laid directly onto the earth  

Meanwhile in an appeal to Director General WHO, Organization of Islamic Countries, OIC, and the United Nations, Furkan Careem from Beruwala has appealed to prevail on Sri Lankan government to allow burial of Muslim corona victims.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lankas-muslim-coronavirus-victims-deserve-honorable-religious-funeral/

 

Respect Burial Rights; Stop Hate Speech Against Muslims: UN Tells Gota

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to follow WHO guidelines on the disposal of deceased persons.

Writing to the President, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion said: We would like to encourage your Excellency’s Government to reconsider the provisions in the MoH Guideline by taking into account of the key considerations provided by WHO Guideline for the disposal of the bodies of human beings deceased from the COVID-19, and revise the circular accordingly. In view of the challenges posed by the pandemic it is important that the Government avoids any unnecessary measures that are likely to raise tension and are running contrary to the respect of the fundamental human rights of the persons belonging to different communities that exist in Sri Lanka. Arbitrary decisions concerning the disposal of bodies of victims of the COVID-19 may also have the opposite effect to provoking the reluctance of families and communities to report COVID-19 cases in fear that they may be unable ensure proper funeral or burial rites for their loved ones. Ideally, such provisions should be revised in consultation with all the concerned ethnic and religious communities and other relevant health experts and stakeholders.

“We respectfully reiterate the importance that the Government continues to uphold the right of freedom of religion or belief as well as the right of the minorities even during this challenging time. The protection of the privacy and identity of the patients or deceased without identifying their ethnicity or religious background in public would prevent their stigmatisation as individuals or member of a specific community.

“We are taking the opportunity to stress that it is equally important that your Excellency’s Government firmly condemn any attempt by anyone, irrespective of status, to issue or spread hate messages that are of a nature to instigate ethnic or religious tensions or violence, including through accusations or blame that any particular ethnic or religious community is responsible for the pandemic of COVID-19.”

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief also ask the President to;

* Clarify the rationale for the decision to limit the method of the disposal of the dead bodies to cremation. Has any consultation been held with relevant health experts, civil society and community members in order to ensure that the decision to prohibit the burial of COVID-19 victims is non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate to the objective pursued?

* The information if relevant personnel dealing with the disposal of bodies of victims of the COVID-19 have been trained or informed to ensure that the close family member of the deceased get to see the body before it is sealed and that they are informed of the cremation of the body well in advance.

* The measures undertaken to ensure that ethnic and religious minorities, are not discriminated against in the implementation of this MoH Guideline and that their right to freedom of religion or belief with regard to burial rites and practices is upheld and respected.

* The information on the steps taken to tackle potential rise in hate speech against Muslims and other ethnic or religious minorities in Sri Lanka, including by protecting the identity of the COVID-19 patients or deceased?

We publish below the letter in full:

PALAIS DES NATIONS • 1211 GENEVA 10, SWITZERLAND

Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the Special Rapporteur on minority issues; and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

REFERENCE: AL LKA 2/20208

April 2020

Excellency,

We have the honour to address you in our capacities as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Special Rapporteur on minority issues; and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 40/10, 42/16, 34/6 and 40/16.

In this connection, we would like to bring to the attention of your Excellency’s Government information we have received concerning the circular by the Ministry of Health of Sri Lanka providing standard guidance on the autopsy practice and the disposal of COVID-19 related dead body.

According to the information received:

In March 2020, the Ministry of Health published Provisional Clinical Practice Guidelines on COVID-19 suspected and confirmed patients (MoH Guideline). This circular includes a chapter on the autopsy practice and the disposal of dead bodies.

Up till the third version of the MoH Guideline published on 27 March 2020, it was provided that a body related to death either confirmed (Category I) or suspected (Category II & III) of COVID-19, should be disposed within 24 hours (preferably within 12 hours) according to the guidance listed below:

• The body should never be washed under any circumstance.

• Cremation or burial is allowed. However, burial is allowed provided that all steps to prevent contact with body [are] ensured.

• The body has to be placed in an airtight sealed body bag and a sealed coffin.

• The grave should have a depth of 6 feet (deep burial). It should not contaminate with ground water.

• The grave should be identifiable and traceable.

• The disposal of bodies must be monitored by police, Ministry of Health and Public Health Inspector.

• The police and other government agencies must follow the legal aspect and their procedures.

However, on 31 March 2020, the Ministry of Health amended the Guideline and the fourth version with the amendments provided that a body related to death either confirmed (Category I) or suspected (Category II & III) of COVID-19, should be cremated within 24 hours (preferably within 12 hours) according to the guidance listed below:

• The body should never be washed under any circumstance.

• The body has to be placed in a sealed body bag and a coffin.

• Exclusive cremation.

• The disposal of bodies must be monitored by police, Ministry of Health and Public Health Inspector.

We understand that this fourth amendment of the MoH Guideline came following the cremation of a COVID-19 victim of a Muslim community on 31 March 2020 in Negombo, without consultation with and against the wishes of his family. We are concerned that the amendment is inconsistent with the Infection Prevention and Control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19 guideline provided by World Health Organisation (WHO Guideline). Furthermore, we are concerned of the lack of consideration provided and the lack of sensitivity in the MoH Guideline to different communities and their religious and cultural practices.

We recognize that the pandemic of COVID-19 has posed serious public health challenges and that there is a need to take various factors into consideration in making sure the spread of COVID-19 is contained. While the reasons for the decision of the Ministry of Health to make such amendment have not been communicated, and do not seem to have been decided with any consultation with the relevant communities, we would like to stress that the legitimacy for such amendments should be based on the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination. Indeed, when cultural or religious sensitivities are involved, an inclusive and participatory dialogue or consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the civil society and different ethnic or religious communities must be conducted before a decision is taken. Such a participatory approach and clear communication to all stakeholders of the steps taken and the reasons for taking such steps, are also more likely to increase public confidence in such measures and minimise public disquiet over such restrictions.

In this regard we would like to bring specific attention to the following:

1. Method of the disposal of dead body- Under the section on Burial, WHO Guideline provides that people who have died from COVID-19 can be buried or cremated. Under the section on Burial by family members or for deaths at home, it further indicated that in contexts where mortuary services are not standard or reliably available, or where it is usual for ill people to die at home, families and traditional burial attendants can be equipped and educated to bury people under supervision. Besides, the WHO Guideline clearly outlined that one of the key considerations is to avoid hasty disposal of a dead from COVID-19.

2. Handling of the dead body- MoH Guideline instructed that the dead body should never be washed under any circumstance and that the body has to be placed in a sealed body bag and in coffin. WHO Guideline does not preclude that a person such as family member or religious leader can prepare the deceased that involved washing, cleaning or dressing body, tidying hair, trimming nails or shaving. It only instructed the necessary safety and health precautions to be taken when any person decided to do so according to their customs or religious rites. It also allows for cloth wrapping.

3. Viewing of body- WHO Guideline also provided that the family wishes only to view the body may do so, as long as the family is given clear instructions not to touch or kiss the body and to use standard precautions at all times. It was furthermore indicated that family and friends may view the body after it has been prepared for burial, in accordance with customs.

By contrast, the MoH Guideline allows the viewing of the body only by close relative/s in a pre-designated area in hospital and it forbids viewing after the body is sealed. Even with this provision in place, some family members of deceased allegedly did not get to see the body before the cremation took place. This has reportedly created a lot of stress to the deceased’s family.

4. Sensitivity to local, customary and religious practices – WHO Guideline has highlighted that the dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions, and their families should be respected and protected throughout. It was advised the need to apply principles of cultural sensitivity or to handle the burial or dead body in accordance with customs while ensuring standard precautions are followed at all time.

We recommend that attention be given in the MoH Guideline to existing cultural and religious sensitivity or traditions in the country. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) protects everyone’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Human Rights Committee in its General Comment 22 paragraph 4 advises that the freedom to manifest religion or belief may be exercised “either individually or in community with others and in public or private”. It elaborates that the freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching encompasses a broad range of acts and the concept of worship extends to ritual and ceremonial acts giving direct expression to belief, as well as various practices integral to such acts, including ritual formulae or ceremonial acts.

While the manifestation of religion or belief may be restricted as per Article 18(3) of the ICCPR, to protect public safety, order, health, morals and the fundamental rights and freedoms of others any such limitation must fulfil a number of obligatory criteria including being non-disriminatory in intent or effect and constituting the least restrictive measure. Even in the face of overwhelming public necessity that falls on one or more of the five grounds for permissble limitations noted in Article 18(3), if there is a less restrictive measure, a greater interfernce with the right to manifest one’s beliefs will not be permissible. Given that the WHO Guideline does not discard burial, albeit under specific conditions for the preparation of the body, as one of two means for the disposal of the body, prohibiting burial would not be permissible according to the ICCPR.

Article 27 of ICCPR provides that “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.” The 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities also emphasised that persons belonging to minorities have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own language, in private and in public, freely, without any interference or any form of discrimination (article 2.1), and persons belonging to minorities have the right to participate effectively in cultural, religious, social, economic and public life (article 2.2). Moreover, States are required to ensure that persons belonging to minorities may exercise their human rights without discrimination and in full equality before the law (article 4.1) and create favourable conditions to enable persons belonging to minorities to express their characteristics and to develop their culture, language, religion, traditions and customs (article 4.2).

In conclusion, we would like to encourage your Excellency’s Government to reconsider the provisions in the MoH Guideline by taking into account of the key considerations provided by WHO Guideline for the disposal of the bodies of human beings deceased from the COVID-19, and revise the circular accordingly. In view of the challenges posed by the pandemic it is important that the Government avoids any unnecessary measures that are likely to raise tension and are running contrary to the respect of the fundamental human rights of the persons belonging to different communities that exist in Sri Lanka. Arbitrary decisions concerning the disposal of bodies of victims of the COVID-19 may also have the opposite effect to provoking the reluctance of families and communities to report COVID-19 cases in fear that they may be unable ensure proper funeral or burial rites for their loved ones. Ideally, such provisions should be revised in consultation with all the concerned ethnic and religious communities and other relevant health experts and stakeholders.

We respectfully reiterate the importance that the Government continues to uphold the right of freedom of religion or belief as well as the right of the minorities even during this challenging time. The protection of the privacy and identity of the patients or deceased without identifying their ethnicity or religious background in public would prevent their stigmatisation as individuals or member of a specific community.

We are taking the opportunity to stress that it is equally important that your Excellency’s Government firmly condemn any attempt by anyone, irrespective of status, to issue or spread hate messages that are of a nature to instigate ethnic or religious tensions or violence, including through accusations or blame that any particular ethnic or religious community is responsible for the pandemic of COVID-19.

The full texts of the human rights instruments and standards recalled above are available on www.ohchr.org or can be provided upon request.

As it is our responsibility, under the mandates provided to us by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention, we would be grateful for your observations on the following matters:

1. Please provide any additional information and any comment you may have on the above-mentioned allegations and concerns.

2. Please provide the rationale for the decision to limit the method of the disposal of the dead bodies to cremation. Has any consultation been held with relevant health experts, civil society and community members in order to ensure that the decision to prohibit the burial of COVID-19 victims is non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate to the objective pursued?

3. Please provide information if relevant personnel dealing with the disposal of bodies of victims of the COVID-19 have been trained or informed to ensure that the close family member of the deceased get to see the body before it is sealed and that they are informed of the cremation of the body well in advance.

4. Please indicate the measures undertaken to ensure that ethnic and religious minorities, are not discriminated against in the implementation of this MoH Guideline and that their right to freedom of religion or belief with regard to burial rites and practices is upheld and respected.

5. Please provide information on the steps taken to tackle potential rise in hate speech against Muslims and other ethnic or religious minorities in Sri Lanka, including by protecting the identity of the COVID-19 patients or deceased?

This communication, as a comment on pending or recently adopted legislation, regulations or policies, and any response received from your Excellency’s Government will be made public via the communications reporting website within 48 hours. They will also subsequently be made available in the usual report to be presented to the Human Rights Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Ahmed Shaheed

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/respect-burial-rights-stop-hate-speech-against-muslims-un-tells-gota/

 

Anguish as Sri Lanka forces Muslims to cremate COVID-19 victims

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Rights group and activists accuse gov't of forcing cremation of Muslim COVID-19 victims in disregard to WHO guidelines.

The forced cremation of two COVID-19 infected Muslims in Sri Lanka has sent shock waves among the minority community, which accused the authorities of violating Islamic burial rites.

Bishrul Hafi Mohammed Joonus, a 73-year- old  man from the capital Colombo who died of COVID-19, was the second Muslim to have been cremated in the Indian Ocean island nation, which has registered 151 cases so far.

Bishrul's son Fayaz Joonus, 46, said his father who had a kidney disorder tested positive for the virus about two weeks ago. He died on April 1 and was cremated the following day.

Fayaz said they could not perform congregational funeral prayers, called the Janazah, for his father due to fear of infections.

"My father was taken in a vehicle under the supervision of the police force and was cremated. We did some prayers outside the morgue, but it was not a Janazah that us Muslim typically do," Fayaz told Al Jazeera.

"The government needs to make arrangements for us Muslims to be able to bury our loved ones in accordance with our Islamic burial rites."

 

"If there is an option of burial, our government should accommodate. Cremation is not the only option, we want to bury our loved ones as per the Islamic way," he told Al Jazeera.

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health on Tuesday issued COVID-19 guidelines saying the standard procedure of disposing bodies should be cremation. It reversed an earlier guideline that allowed traditional Muslim burial.

It also said the body should not be washed and placed in a sealed bag and a coffin, as against the Islamic practice of washing the body.

Amnesty calls on authorities to stop forced cremation

Muslim leaders and activists have pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) allows both burial or cremation for people dying due to the pandemic.

Prominent lawyer Ali Sabry said in a Facebook post that he was disappointed with authorities' decision to cremate bodies of Muslims, as it was in disregard to the WHO guidelines, which say that a body can be either buried or cremated.

Out of the four people who died due to COVID-19, two were Muslims. The cremation of Muslims has caused anguish in the community.

"The Muslim community sees this as a racist agenda of extremist Buddhist forces that seem to hold the government to ransom," Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told Al Jazeera.

"The guidelines issued by the WHO is practised by Britain, most of the European countries, Singapore, Hong Kong and all the Muslim nations [except for Sri Lanka]," he told Al Jazeera.

Amnesty International has also called on authorities to "respect the right of religious minorities to carry out the final rites" according to their own traditions.

"At this difficult time, the authorities should be bringing communities together and not deepening divisions between them," Biraj Patnaik, South Asia director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"Grieving relatives of people who have died because of COVID-19 should be able to bid farewell to their loved ones in the way that they wish, especially where this is permissible under international guidelines."

Muslims account for 10 percent of Sri Lanka's 21 million population. But their relationship with the majority Sinhala Buddhists deteriorated in the years after the end of civil war in 2009 during which hardline Buddhist groups were blamed for several attacks against Muslims' businesses and places of worship.

Following the deadly attacks in April 2019 that killed more than 250 people, Muslims have faced increased hostility from the Sinhala majority.

A little-known Muslim organisation was blamed for the island nation's worst attack since the civil war fought between the government forces and the Tamil separatist fighters.

"This is just to hurt the feelings of the minority," Azath Salley, leader of the National Unity Alliance political party and the former governor of Western province, told Al Jazeera.

'Anti-Islamic sentiments'

The method of the disposal of the body has become a big talking point in the country, with a section of the media accused of running "anti-Muslim hysteria" and pointing fingers at Muslims for the spread of the virus.

Nalaka Gunawadenne, a media analyst said amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very disturbing and disheartening to see anti-Islamic sentiments and anti-Muslim hate speech "raise their ugly head again in Sri Lanka".

“This is national and global emergency shared by all humans, and not a time highlighting our cultural divisions. The coronavirus does not care about our ethnic or religious differences. We need to fear the virus - not each other - and unite in containing and battling the disease." he told Al Jazeera.

Government officials from the health services department did not respond to repeated calls from Al Jazeera for comment.

Meanwhile, Fayaz, who is in a makeshift quarantine centers in Punani in the eastern province, said he did not inform his mother of his father's death and cremation.

"She has heart disease and we don't want to risk it. She won't be able to bear it."

Both & racism are killer contagions, that sicken anyone who catches them. Ironically, we lock down on one, but open floodgates to the other. Only way to save us is to improve immunity to them, as individuals and a nation. media should responsibly help the recovery.

207 people are talking about this

Now 's Hon. Politicians are trying to protect their baby rather than trying to protect the country or nations from .

This is very clear, this is only the option to sustain their career if they protect baby.

Shame!

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SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/anguish-sri-lanka-forces-muslims-cremate-covid-19-victims-200403053706048.html

 

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ඊයේ දින ‌කොරෝනා නිසා මරණයට පත් වූ මීගමුවේ පුද්ගලයාගේ මිනිය භූමිදානය කිරීමට කළ උත්සාහයන් අසාර්ථක වීම ගැනත් ඒ පිළිබඳව රවූෆ් හැකීම් වැනි ‌අය නිකුත් කළ මාධ්‍ය නිවේදනය ගැනත් විවිධ අදහස් සමාජ මාධ්‍යය ඔස්සේ ඉදිරිපත් ‌වෙමින් පවතී. ඒ අය නීතියට පටහැනිව කිසිවක් ඉල්ලුුුුවේ නැත. ‌‌‌‌ලෝක ‌‌‌සෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ මාර්ගෝපදේශය සහ ඒ අනුව ‌‌‌සෙ‍ෳඛ්‍්‍ය අමාත්‍යාංශය නිකුත් කළ ‌‌‌චක්‍ර ‌ලේඛනය අනුව ආදාහනය ‌‌‌නොකර භූමිදානය කිරීමට අවසර දී ඇත. සමස්ථ මුස්ලිම් සමාජයම ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ එම විධිවිධාන අනුව භූමිදානය කිරීමට පමණයි. අනිත් හැම රටකම පාහේ ඒ අනුව කටයුතු කිරිමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී ඇත. නමුත් අවාසනාවකට ‌‌‌‌‌‌මෙන් අපේ රටේ ජඩ මාධ්‍ය එය ‌ප‌ෙන්වා දී, අසාධරණයට ලක්වූ ජන ‌කොටසේ හැඟීම්වලට ගරු කර රජය නිවැරිදි මාර්ගයට ‌‌‌‌ග‌ෙන ඒමට කටයුතු කරන්නේ නැත. ඔවුන් කරන්නේම එම සිදුවිම හරහා අසාධරණයට ලක් වූ ‌ජන ‌ක‌ොටසට එරෙහිව ජාතිවාදයක් ‌ගොඩ නැඟීමයි. ඒ අය නීතියට පටහැනිව කිසිවක් ඉල්ලුුුුවේ නැත. ‌‌‌‌ලෝක ‌‌ස‌ෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ මාර්ගෝපදේශය සහ ඒ අනුව ‌‌‌ස‌ෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය අමාත්‍යාංශය නිකුත් කළ ‌‌‌චක්‍ර ‌ලේඛනය අනුව ආදාහනය ‌‌‌නොකර භූමිදානය කිරීමට අවසර දී ඇත. සමස්ථ මුස්ලිම් සමාජයම ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ එම විධිවිධාන අනුව භූමිදානය කිරීමට පමණයි. අනිත් හැම රටකම පාහේ ඒ අනුව කටයුතු කිරිමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී ඇත.නමුත් අවාසනාවකට ‌‌‌‌‌‌මෙන් අපේ රටේ ජඩ මාධ්‍ය එය ‌ප‌ෙන්වා දී, අසාධරණයට ලක්වූ ජන ‌කොටසේ හැඟීම්වලට ගරු කර රජය නිවැරිදි මාර්ගයට ‌‌‌‌ග‌ෙන ඒමට කටයුතු කරන්නේ නැත. ඔවුන් කරන්නේම එම සිදුවිම හරහා අසාධරණයට ලක් වූ ‌ජන ‌ක‌ොටසට එරෙහිව ජාතිවාදයක් ‌ගොඩ නැඟීමයි. එවැනි ‌‌‌‌ද‌ේවලින් උසිගැන්‌ව‌ෙන පිරිසක් සිදුවීම්වල පිටුපස තිබෙන කූට අරමුණු සහ ‌‌ද‌ේශපාලනය ‌තේරුම්‌ග‌ෙන ‌හ‌ෝ ‌‌නොගෙන ඒ පිටුපස යමින් ජාතිවාදය වපුරයි. සෑම ජන‌‌කොටසකම ජාතීවාදීන් සිටියි. අන්‍ය ආගමිකයින් ‌කෙරෙහි ‌අකමැත්තක් දක්වන අය සිටියි. ‌‌කලින් කලට ඔවුන් විවිධ සිදුවීම පදනම් කරගෙන එක් එක් ප්‍රශ්න ඇති කිරීමට සහ එමඟින් විවිධ ප්‍රයෝජන ලබා ගැනීමටත් උත්සාහ කරයි. එවැනි අවස්ථාවක ඒවා පාලනය කිරීම සඳහා රජයේ වගකීම ‌‌‌වේ. එම තත්ත්වය පාලනය කිරීමට, ජන ‌‌කොටස් අතර ‌බෙදීම් ඇති කරන මතවාද පතුරවන විට ඒවාට එරෙහිව කියාමාරග ගැනීම රජයේ වගකීමයි. රජය එය නිසි ‌ලෙස සිදු ‌‌‌නොකරන අවස්ථාවක සමාජ මතවාද ‌ගොඩ නඟමින් තත්ත්වය ‌හොඳ පැත්තකට හරවීමට බද්ධිමත් උගත් පිරිස කටයුතු කළ යුතුයි. නමුත් ලංකාවේ සිදුවන්නේ එයට හාත්පසින් ‌‌වෙනස් ‌දෙයකි. ‌‌බොහෝ උගතුත් ද, උසස් නතතුරු දරන අය ද, ඒ රැල්ලට හසු වී ‌ඒවා තව තවත් වර්ධනය වීමට දායක වීමයි. එබැවින් මා කාරුණිකව ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ ආගමෙන් ‌‌වෙනස් වුනත් අපිත් ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයෝ ‌වෙමු. ඔබට තිබෙන සෑම අයිතියක්ම සෑම අයුරකින්ම අපටත් ඇත. අපේ හැඟීම්වලටත් ගරු කරන්න. අපි බුදු රජානන් වහන්සේට බුද්ධාගමට බනින්නේ නැත. අගෙ‍ෳරව කරන්නේ නැත. ඒ වගේ අපි අදහන අල්ලාහ් ‌‌දෙවියන්ට අපි අනුගමනය කරන නබි තුමාට අපහාස කරන්න ‌එපා. එවැනි අදහස් ඇති පළකිරීම් සමාජ මාධ්‍ය ඔස්සේ ‌බෙදා ගන්න එපා. අපි කිසිවිටක සිංහල සමාජයත් එක්ක තරහ නැත. අපි හැමවිටම උත්සාහ කරන්නේ සිිංහල සමාජයත් එකට ජීවත් වීමටයි. ‌ගත වූ දශකය තුළ සිදුවූ සිදුවිම්වලින් පසුව මුස්ලිම් සමාජයේ සිටින විද්වතුන් මුස්ලිම්වරු අතර පවතින ආකල්ප ‌ව‌ෙනස් කිරීමටත් සැබෑ සංහිදියාවක් ඇති කිරීමටත් උත්සාහ කරමින් සිටියි. අතිබහුතර සිංහල සමාජය තුළ ජාතිවාදය නැත. නමුත් ‌මෙවැනි මාධ්‍ය සහ පළ කිරීම නිතර නිතර ඇසෙන විට ඔවුනුත් ‌‌මොහොතකට ‌හෝ දැනුවත්ව ‌හෝ ‌නොදැනුවත්ව ජාතිවාදීන් වීමේ ප්‍රවණතාවය වැඩිව‌ෙමින් පවතියි. නති සිංහල පතන ‌ගෙන ආ ‌‌වේලාවේ රැල්ලට හසුව් උගත් නුගත් සියලුදෙනා සහාය පළ කළා. නමුත් අන්තිමට සිදු වුනේ කුමක් ද? එයින් සිංහල සහ ‌දෙමළ ජනක ‌කොටස් අතර ඇති වූ පරතරය දශක කිහිපයක් තිස්‌සේ ටික ටික වර්ධනය වී රට ‌බෙදීමේ යුද්ධයක් දක්වා වර්ධනය විය. අන්තිමට ‌දෙපැත්තේම විශාල පිරිසක ජීවිතය අහිමි වුනා.එවැනි තත්ත්වයක් ඇති කිරීමට 1980 අසූව දශකයතුල අප‌ේ

ඊය‌ේ ‌කොරෝනා නිසා මරණයට පත් වූ මීගමුවේ පුද්ගලයාගේ මිනිය භූමිදානය කිරීමට කළ උත්සාහයන් අසාර්ථක වීම ගැනත් ඒ පිළිබඳව රවූෆ් හැකීම් වැනි ‌අය නිකුත් කළ මාධ්‍ය නිවේදනය ගැනත් විවිධ අදහස් සමාජ මාධ්‍යය ඔස්සේ ඉදිරිපත් ‌වෙමින් පවතී. ඒ අය නීතියට පටහැනිව කිසිවක් ඉල්ලුුුුවේ නැත. ‌‌‌‌ලෝක ‌‌ස‌ෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ මාර්ගෝපදේශය සහ ඒ අනුව ‌‌‌ස‌ෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය අමාත්‍යාංශය නිකුත් කළ ‌‌‌චක්‍ර ‌ලේඛනය අනුව ආදාහනය ‌‌‌නොකර භූමිදානය කිරීමට අවසර දී ඇත. සමස්ථ මුස්ලිම් සමාජයම ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ එම විධිවිධාන අනුව භූමිදානය කිරීමට පමණයි. අනිත් හැම රටකම පාහේ ඒ අනුව කටයුතු කිරිමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී ඇත. නමුත් අවාසනාවකට ‌‌‌‌‌‌මෙන් අපේ රටේ ජඩ මාධ්‍ය එය ‌ප‌ෙන්වා දී, අසාධරණයට ලක්වූ ජන ‌කොටසේ හැඟීම්වලට ගරු කර රජය නිවැරිදි මාර්ගයට ‌‌‌‌ග‌ෙන ඒමට කටයුතු කරන්නේ නැත. ඔවුන් කරන්නේම එම සිදුවිම හරහා අසාධරණයට ලක් වූ ‌ජන ‌ක‌ොටසට එරෙහිව ජාතිවාදයක් ‌ගොඩ නැඟීමයි.
ඒ අය නීතියට පටහැනිව කිසිවක් ඉල්ලුුුුවේ නැත. ‌‌‌‌ලෝක ‌‌ස‌ෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ මාර්ගෝපදේශය සහ ඒ අනුව ‌‌‌ස‌ෙ‍ෳඛ්‍ය අමාත්‍යාංශය නිකුත් කළ ‌‌‌චක්‍ර ‌ලේඛනය අනුව ආදාහනය ‌‌‌නොකර භූමිදානය කිරීමට අවසර දී ඇත. සමස්ථ මුස්ලිම් සමාජයම ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ එම විධිවිධාන අනුව භූමිදානය කිරීමට පමණයි. අනිත් හැම රටකම පාහේ ඒ අනුව කටයුතු කිරිමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී ඇත.

නමුත් අවාසනාවකට ‌‌‌‌‌‌මෙන් අපේ රටේ ජඩ මාධ්‍ය එය ‌ප‌ෙන්වා දී, අසාධරණයට ලක්වූ ජන ‌කොටසේ හැඟීම්වලට ගරු කර රජය නිවැරිදි මාර්ගයට ‌‌‌‌ග‌ෙන ඒමට කටයුතු කරන්නේ නැත. ඔවුන් කරන්නේම එම සිදුවිම හරහා අසාධරණයට ලක් වූ ‌ජන ‌ක‌ොටසට එරෙහිව ජාතිවාදයක් ‌ගොඩ නැඟීමයි. එවැනි ‌‌‌‌ද‌ේවලින් උසිගැන්‌ව‌ෙන පිරිසක් සිදුවීම්වල පිටුපස තිබෙන කූට අරමුණු සහ ‌‌ද‌ේශපාලනය ‌තේරුම්‌ග‌ෙන ‌හ‌ෝ ‌‌නොගෙන ඒ පිටුපස යමින් ජාතිවාදය වපුරයි.

සෑම ජන‌‌කොටසකම ජාතීවාදීන් සිටියි. අන්‍ය ආගමිකයින් ‌කෙරෙහි ‌අකමැත්තක් දක්වන අය සිටියි. ‌‌කලින් කලට ඔවුන් විවිධ සිදුවීම පදනම් කරගෙන එක් එක් ප්‍රශ්න ඇති කිරීමට සහ එමඟින් විවිධ ප්‍රයෝජන ලබා ගැනීමටත් උත්සාහ කරයි. එවැනි අවස්ථාවක ඒවා පාලනය කිරීම සඳහා රජයේ වගකීම ‌‌‌වේ.
එම තත්ත්වය පාලනය කිරීමට, ජන ‌‌කොටස් අතර ‌බෙදීම් ඇති කරන මතවාද පතුරවන විට ඒවාට එරෙහිව කියාමාරග ගැනීම රජයේ වගකීමයි.
රජය එය නිසි ‌ලෙස සිදු ‌‌‌නොකරන අවස්ථාවක සමාජ මතවාද ‌ගොඩ නඟමින් තත්ත්වය ‌හොඳ පැත්තකට හරවීමට බද්ධිමත් උගත් පිරිස කටයුතු කළ යුතුයි.

නමුත් ලංකාවේ සිදුවන්නේ එයට හාත්පසින් ‌‌වෙනස් ‌දෙයකි. ‌‌බොහෝ උගතුත් ද, උසස් නතතුරු දරන අය ද, ඒ රැල්ලට හසු වී ‌ඒවා තව තවත් වර්ධනය වීමට දායක වීමයි.
එබැවින් මා කාරුණිකව ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ ආගමෙන් ‌‌වෙනස් වුනත් අපිත් ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයෝ ‌වෙමු. ඔබට තිබෙන සෑම අයිතියක්ම සෑම අයුරකින්ම අපටත් ඇත. අපේ හැඟීම්වලටත් ගරු කරන්න. අපි බුදු රජානන් වහන්සේට බුද්ධාගමට බනින්නේ නැත. අගෙ‍ෳරව කරන්නේ නැත. ඒ වගේ අපි අදහන අල්ලාහ් ‌‌දෙවියන්ට අපි අනුගමනය කරන නබි තුමාට අපහාස කරන්න ‌එපා. එවැනි අදහස් ඇති පළකිරීම් සමාජ මාධ්‍ය ඔස්සේ ‌බෙදා ගන්න එපා.
අපි කිසිවිටක සිංහල සමාජයත් එක්ක තරහ නැත. අපි හැමවිටම උත්සාහ කරන්නේ සිිංහල සමාජයත් එකට ජීවත් වීමටයි. ‌ගත වූ දශකය තුළ සිදුවූ සිදුවිම්වලින් පසුව මුස්ලිම් සමාජයේ සිටින විද්වතුන් මුස්ලිම්වරු අතර පවතින ආකල්ප ‌ව‌ෙනස් කිරීමටත් සැබෑ සංහිදියාවක් ඇති කිරීමටත් උත්සාහ කරමින් සිටියි. අතිබහුතර සිංහල සමාජය තුළ ජාතිවාදය නැත. නමුත් ‌මෙවැනි මාධ්‍ය සහ පළ කිරීම නිතර නිතර ඇසෙන විට ඔවුනුත් ‌‌මොහොතකට ‌හෝ දැනුවත්ව ‌හෝ ‌නොදැනුවත්ව ජාතිවාදීන් වීමේ ප්‍රවණතාවය වැඩිව‌ෙමින් පවතියි.
නති සිංහල පතන ‌ගෙන ආ ‌‌වේලාවේ රැල්ලට හසුව් උගත් නුගත් සියලුදෙනා සහාය පළ කළා. නමුත් අන්තිමට සිදු වුනේ කුමක් ද? එයින් සිංහල සහ ‌දෙමළ ජනක ‌කොටස් අතර ඇති වූ පරතරය දශක කිහිපයක් තිස්‌සේ ටික ටික වර්ධනය වී රට ‌බෙදීමේ යුද්ධයක් දක්වා වර්ධනය විය. අන්තිමට ‌දෙපැත්තේම විශාල පිරිසක ජීවිතය අහිමි වුනා.
එවැනි තත්ත්වයක් ඇති කිරීමට 1980 දශකයතුල අප‌ේ යුද හමුදාවටත් ‌කොටි සංවිධානයටත් එකම කඳවුරක් තුළ පුහුුණුව ලබා දුන් උදවිය ඉතා උවමනාවෙන් බලා සිටියි.
එවැනි ‌දෙයක් කිසිවිටක ‌නොවේවා.

මෙයට
අනස් හුසෙයින්

 

Coronavirus toll in New York state passes 1,000: Live updates

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00:50 GMT - Death toll in New York state surpasses 1,000

More than 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in New York state, according to a tally by The Associated Press  (AP) news agency.

On Sunday evening, New York City said its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths is not expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the state's total fatalities was at least 1,026, AP said.

00:30 GMT - China reports 31 new cases in mainland

The number of COVID-19 infections in China continues to slow with health authorities in Beijing reporting 31 new cases at the end of Sunday.

The figure includes one locally transmitted infection and marks a drop from the 45 cases reported a day earlier. There were no new cases for a sixth consecutive day in central Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak was first detected in December last year. 

In mainland China, the total number of cases to date rose to 81,470 in the mainland, while the cumulative death toll increased to 3,304.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/death-toll-york-state-passes-1000-live-updates-200329234257896.html

US President Donald Trump has extended federal guidelines on social distancing until April 30 after a top health official warned more than 100,000 people could die from the coronavirus in the United States.

The announcement on Sunday evening came as the death toll in hard-hit New York state passed 1,000.

"The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks," Trump told reporters at the White House. "Therefore, the next two weeks and during this period it's very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines ... We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread."

The initial 15-day period had been due to expire on Monday.

The US has 139,000 confirmed infections from the coronavirus, more than any other country in the world, while more than 2,400 people have died from the respiratory illness caused by the pathogen.

Worldwide, the number of cases has reached more than 718,000. Some 149,000 people have recovered, and more than 33,000 have died.

Here are all the latest updates:

Monday, March 30

06:30 GMT - EasyJet grounds fleet, furloughs cabin crew for two months

British low cost airline easyJet said it had grounded its entire fleet and reached a deal with its cabin crew for employees to be furloughed for two months under a government job retention scheme.

The airline said that its entire fleet of over 300 aircraft was parked up and there was no certainty for the date of restarting commercial flights.

EasyJet said that under a deal with Unite, the union which represents its cabin crew, they would not work for two months from April 1 and will be paid 80 percent of their average pay under the government job retention scheme.

06:00 GMT - Guatemalan deported from US tests positive

A Guatemalan man who was deported from the US last week has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a spokeswoman for the Guatemalan health ministry.

The 29-year-old man was deported last Thursday on a flight chartered by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The flight, with at least 40 others on board, originated in Mesa, Arizona, according to the Guatemalan Migration Institute.

Read more on this story here.

A curfew to combat the spread of the virus in Guatemala has been extended until April 12.

05:50 GMT - Nepal extends lockdown until April 7

The government of Nepal extended a nationwide lockdown put in place on March 23 by another week. International flights will also be banned until April 15.

The Himalayan country has recorded a total of five infections from the new coronavirus.

05:35 GMT - Japan to 'ban all travellers from US, China, Europe'

All visitors from the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe will be denied entry to Japan under new rules to curb coronavirus infections, according to the Asahi newspaper.

Citing government sources, Asahi said Japan's foreign ministry is expected to also advise Japanese nationals to refrain from travelling to those countries.

05:00 GMT - India lockdown hits chronic patients hard

Strict restrictions on movement in India has hampered access to healthcare for people with chronic illnesses such as HIV, kidney and autoimmune diseases.

One 15-year-old HIV patient's parents walked 32km to obtain her medication in New Delhi.

"We could quickly be facing a non-COVID humanitarian crisis if the government fails to act to restore health services, particularly for those with critical conditions that require sustained medication/treatment," said Malini Aisola, public health activist and co-convenor of the All India Drug Action Network.

04:51 GMT - Australia tightens curbs on public gatherings

New rules limiting public gatherings to just two people in Australia will come into effect at midnight on Monday, with the states of New South Wales and Victoria introducing hefty fines for people violating those restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said members of the public should leave their house only to buy food, attend medical appointments and for exercise.

Skate parks, outdoor gyms and public playgrounds across the country, he said.

04:20 GMT - Fears of a second wave of infections in China

Concern of a second wave of infections is growing in China amid official pressure to resume normal life, according to Al Jazeera's Katrina Yu.

"In Wuhan, the epicentre of China's coronavirus outbreak, some shops are open, and malls are starting to open their doors after two months. People who work in essential industries, such as the cement, steel and car industries, are also starting to go back to work," Yu said from Beijing.

Our correspondent said officials are under "tremendous pressure to resume normal life" with President Xi Jinping travelling on Sunday to a port and an industrial park in eastern Zhejiang Province to inspect the resumption of work and production there.

"He wants to get the economy going after two months at a standstill. And because of this urgency to get things going, there are fears it may be too soon and could result in a second wave of infections," she said. "Officials are also under pressure to keep numbers down, and that's causing fears they may not be transparent when it comes to reporting new cases."

02:00 GMT - Argentina extends quarantine

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez extended a nationwide quarantine until mid-April to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

"We are going to extend the quarantine until the end of Easter. What do we aim to achieve? To keep the transmission of the virus under control," he said in a televised message.

The mandatory measures were due to expire at the end of March. The lockdown will be lifted on April 12.
Argentina has 820 confirmed cases and 20 deaths from COVID-19.

01:40 GMT - South Korea reports 78 new cases; total at 9,661

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 78 new cases in South Korea on Monday, down from 105 confirmed infections a day earlier.

The figure brings South Korea's total infections to 9,661.

The KCDC said the new cases marked the 18th consecutive day that new infections hovered about 100 or fewer additional cases.

01:30 GMT - Japanese comedian dies

Ken Shimura, one of Japan's best-known comedians, died from COVID-19 at a hospital in Tokyo, according to the public broadcaster NHK.

He was 70 years old. Many fans took to social media to pay tribute.

 

Iran urges US to free Iranian prisoners amid coronavirus pandemic

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Iran's government has urged the United States to release Iranians held in US jails on sanctions-related issues due to fears about the coronavirus outbreak.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Washington of holding a number of Iranians in its prisons and said under these circumstances they should be set free.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Iran from the coronavirus rose to 2,378 on Friday, a jump of 144. Iran is one of the worst hit countries in the world.

Zarif also referred to a report by The Guardian newspaper about Sirous Asgari, a science professor, who it said was still being held in a crowded facility after being acquitted in November on US federal charges of stealing trade secrets.

"US has taken several Iranian scientists hostage - without charge or on spurious sanctions charges - & not releasing them; even when its OWN courts reject the absurd charges," Zarif tweeted.

On Thursday, the US blacklisted five Iran and Iraq-based companies and 15 individuals accused of supporting "terrorist groups", its third round of sanctions on Iranian targets in the last two weeks even as Tehran battles the coronavirus outbreak.

Humanitarian supplies are exempt from sanctions Washington reimposed on Tehran after US President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 international agreement curbing Iran's nuclear programme.

However, broader US sanctions deter many firms from humanitarian trade with Iran.

Earlier, Iran's health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 144 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 2,378, while the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,926 to 32,332.


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/iran-urges-free-iranian-prisoners-coronavirus-pandemic-200327153011806.html

 

Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies due to coronavirus

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Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday.

The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called "Great March of Return" which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus, in 1947-48.

They also mark Palestinian Land Day which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government's expropriation of land.

"We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic," said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group.

Instead, al-Batsh called on Palestinians in Gaza to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.

Traffic will also be stopped for an hour and sirens will sound across the territory to mark the occasion, the statement said, adding that a news conference would also be held for a limited number of attendees.

According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.

One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations.

In 2019, UN Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the casualties.

So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza's hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/death-toll-york-state-passes-1000-live-updates-200329234257896.html

 

Sri Lanka pardons soldier who killed Tamil civilians

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Sri Lanka's president on Thursday pardoned and released an army officer sentenced to death for slitting the throats of Tamil civilians, including four children, during the island's bloody ethnic war.

Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was to be hanged for the December 2000 killing in a case held up by previous Sri Lankan governments as an example of rare accountability over abuses during the conflict.

A court convicted him of murdering eight members of the Tamil minority, including a five-year-old and three teenagers after a 13-year trial.

They were killed as they returned to their bombed homes to salvage what was left of their belongings and their bodies were found buried in a cesspit near an army camp at Mirusuvil on the Jaffna peninsula.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the officer's appeal and upheld the death penalty last year.

But President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has now "instructed the Ministry of Justice to release Sergeant Ratnayake from prison", a spokeswoman for his office said.

Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International condemned the pardoning and said it was "reprehensible" to use the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to release those convicted of heinous crimes.

"After many long years, the victims of the Mirusuvil massacre ... finally got a semblance of justice in 2015. It is despicable to have that justice reversed through an arbitrary executive decision," Amnesty's regional director Biraj Patnaik said in a statement.

Rajapaksa, a retired army officer, came to power in November promising to free military personnel jailed for a string of offences during the previous administration.

He and his brother Mahinda, now serving as prime minister, are adored by the island's Sinhala majority for spearheading the defeat of separatist Tamil rebels to end the country's 37-year Tamil separatist war in 2009.

The armed forces were internationally condemned for atrocities committed during the conflict, but Sri Lankan soldiers have seldom been tried in civilian courts.

Government troops are alleged to have killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final stages of the war - an allegation the Rajapaksas have denied.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka's main political party for the minority community, condemned what it said was an "opportunistic" decision to release Ratnayake.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/sri-lanka-pardons-soldier-killed-tamil-civilians-200327033617104.html

   

Fears mount as Syria reports first coronavirus case

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Authorities step up lockdown efforts in war-torn country after 20-year-old woman tested positive.

Health officials in war-battered Syria have announced the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as authorities in the country prepare to halt all public transportation in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Nizar Yazji told a news conference in the capital Damascus on Sunday that “necessary measures” had been taken to ensure that the patient, a 20-year-old woman who had come from abroad, was quarantined for 14 days.

 

Yazji said the patient did not exhibit all of the symptoms upon arrival, but was identified by a "detection team" responsible for scanning incoming travellers, state news agency Sana reported.

A ban on public transport as well as on private transport services will come into effect on Monday night, the agency reported. A similar ban on transportation between various cities and provinces will come into effect on Tuesday night.

Earlier, the government shut down schools, parks, restaurants and various public institutions, and called off army conscription.

Syria's healthcare system, among other infrastructure, has been ravaged by nine years of war.

Flights from Iran

On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a prisoner amnesty, according to state media, which said it was a move to relieve congestion that risked the spread of the virus.

Bakeries across the country would no longer open and bread would be home-delivered, state media said.

Medics say the country is also vulnerable with thousands of Iranian-backed militias fighting alongside Assad's forces, who maintain a strong presence in Syria's big cities and have their headquarters in the Damascus Shia suburb of Set Zaynab.

Thousands of Shia pilgrims from Iran also visit Damascus.

Iran, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic outside China, is Syria's main regional ally and operates military and civilian flights that bring the militia fighters into the country.

Iran's Mahan Air still has regular flights from Tehran to Damascus, according to Western diplomats tracking Syria, even though other Syrian flights have been suspended.

Iranian-backed militias also still enter Syria using the al-Bukamal border crossing with Iraq, where the virus is spreading, according to local residents and Western intelligence sources.

Displacement camps

The army's general command announced on Saturday it had raised the level of preparedness in military hospitals and gave orders to minimise gatherings, including military sports activities or any that take place in closed areas.

UN officials and humanitarian workers, meanwhile, fear a large outbreak in Syria could be particularly catastrophic.

Medics in the opposition-controlled northwestern region - the last rebel-held bastion in the country - also fear the coronavirus could spread quickly in crowded camps for tens of thousands of displaced Syrians who fled months of relentless Russian-backed bombing of rebel-held areas.

Since December last year, and up until earlier this month, an escalation in fighting between Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, and the Turkish-backed opposition in the region displaced nearly one million people, many of whom amassed in the already overcrowded camps near the Turkey-Syria border.

Aid agencies have been unable to respond to the overwhelming surge of new arrivals at the camps, which has forced many to share their tents throughout the harsh winter months, while others camped under trees or in their vehicles.

A campaign to help spread awareness among the camp’s residents kicked off last week but limited access to running water, pharmacies and medical facilities mean displacement camps are more susceptible to the spread of the highly infectious virus.

The area is especially vulnerable as most hospitals and medical facilities have been bombed, rendering them out of order.

The UN has previously accused Syrian government ally Russia of deliberately hitting civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, acts that could amount to war crimes.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/fears-mount-syria-reports-coronavirus-case-200323072420219.html

 

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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