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  • Why Sri Lanka jailed a Muslim lawyer without charge for 6 months
                                      The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, the EU and UN Human Rights Core Group on Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns on the arbitrary arrest and detention of Hizbullah [Photo courtesy: Family] Why Sri Lanka jailed a Muslim lawyer without charge for 6 months Rights groups and members of civil society have raised concerns over the continued incarceration of a Muslim lawyer in Sri Lanka, adding that his prolonged detention “had a chilling effect on anyone involved in peaceful dissent and advocacy”.

    Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent human rights lawyer, was arrested on “terrorism” charges in April and has remained in detention...
  • Hejaaz Hizbullah case: CID misled public and Cardinal, says Counsel
    When the case of the arrest of Hejaaz Hizbullah was taken up yesterday, the Counsel alleged that the Criminal Investigations Department had misled the Cardinal and the public with regard to Hizbullah.

    “They lied to His Eminence the Cardinal and the public. The real culprits were never caught and they have instead found a scapegoat in Hejaaz,” the Counsel said.

    The CID submitting a report said that they were awaiting a Government Analyst report on three phones used by Hizbullah.

    “This is how they lied throughout. They said the investigations were to be completed and a Deputy Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department said it would be by 16 September. The CID lied to the Attorney General’s Department as well and is now seeking further time.”

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

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

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

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

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

    However, none of those statements had been produced to date.
    They said that the statements would reveal that all the allegations made by the CID are a fabrication and were made in order to malign Hizbullah and...
  • Hejaaz Hizbullah: Symptom and symbol
    What made him more enigmatic was that unlike most others in his profession who shield their lives beneath a calm facade, he taught exceptionally well Apparently he called the Easter attackers “fools who died as fools.” I can picture Hejaaz saying that   There’s an image of Hejaaz Hizbullah I return to over and over again. It’s an image of him holding a placard at a protest in 2018. The placard reads, “Asilachaara parliamenthuwak wenuwata seelachara parliamenthuwak” (“A cultured parliament in place of an uncultured parliament”). The reason why it resonates with me is that, even in the ecstatic way he holds it, he is quite unlike the Hejaaz Hizbullah I once knew. But then I realise that the Hejaaz I once knew couldn’t have been the real guy. 
    I first encountered the man in 2013 at my law school. He didn’t...
  • Niqab Ban In France Violates Human Rights Of Muslim Women: UN Human Rights Committee
    The United Nations Human Rights Committee said France’s niqab ban violates the human rights of Muslim women and risks “confining them to their homes.” Women in France can be fined up to 150 euros for wearing the niqab, a full-face...
  • Rathana At It Again; ACJU Is The Punching Bag For Everyone
    By Mass L. Usuf Mass Usuf Let this column begin with a Disclaimer. It is only an analysis and the writer is not holding a brief to defend or protect the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema (
  • Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution
    By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared....
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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.


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.

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