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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sri Lankan ethnic Muslim women wait in a queue for the Covid-19 blood test in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 04 May 2020

Image copyrightEPA

Image captionSri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules

Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj Pathirana.

On 4 May, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-year-old mother of three from Sri Lanka's minority Muslim population, was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19.

Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory problems and the authorities feared she had caught the virus.

On the day she was admitted to hospital, the family was "set upon" by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek said.

"The police and military along with officials arrived at our door," he said. "We were kicked out and they sprayed [disinfectant] everywhere. We were all scared but they didn't tell us anything. Even a three-month-old baby was tested and they took us like dogs to the quarantine centre."

The family was held for a night but released the next day and told to quarantine for two weeks, Mohamed said. By then, they had received news that Fathima had died, at the hospital, on her own.

Fathima's adult son was asked to go to the hospital to identify his mother's body. He was told that her body could not be returned to the family, he said, as her death was linked to Covid-19.

Instead he was forced to sign papers authorising her cremation, the family said - even though under Muslim law cremation is considered a violation of the human body.

"He was told that her body parts needed to be removed for further tests. Why would they need body parts if she had corona?" said his father Shafeek, who feels the family were not fully informed about what happened.

Fathima Rinoza and husband Mohamed Shafeek with their two daughtersImage copyrightMOHAMED SHAFEEKImage captionFathima and her husband Mohamed with their two daughters

Fathima's family and others in Sri Lanka's Muslim community say the authorities are violating their rights by forcing them to cremate victims even though coronavirus victims can be buried.

They argue it's the latest step in a pattern of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese population. A petition against the cremation rule has been accepted by the country's Supreme Court, which will begin hearing the case on 13 July.

Many Muslims in Sri Lanka feel they have been demonised since April 2019, when Islamists linked to little-known local groups targeted high-end hotels and churches in Colombo and in the east of the country, killing more than 250 people in a spate of devastating attacks.

Since the death of the first Sri Lankan Muslim from coronavirus on 31 March, some media outlets have openly blamed the Muslim community for spreading the disease, even though only 11 deaths have been officially recorded in the country.

All 11 bodies, including Muslims, were cremated.

A Muslim priest prays during Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Dewatagaha Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 24 May 2020Image copyrightDINUKA LIYANAWATTEImage captionRituals associated with burial in Islam are designed to give the body dignity in death

Dr Sugath Samaraweera, the government's chief epidemiologist, told the BBC it was government policy that all those who die from Covid-19, as well as those suspected of dying from it, are cremated, as burials could contaminate ground drinking water.

Dr Samaraweera said the government was following expert medical advice, and applying the rule to anyone suspected of dying from coronavirus, regardless of religion.

"The WHO offers guidelines for the whole world. It is our responsibility to adopt or customise those guidelines suitable to our country," he said.

But Muslim activists, community leaders and politicians have asked the Sri Lankan government to reconsider the decision.

Ali Zahir Moulana, a former minister and senior leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress party, said the Muslim community was prepared to accept the rule "if there is evidence or scientific backing to prove that burial is dangerous to public health". But he questioned the science behind it, and accused the government of pursuing a "dark political agenda".

Interim guidance published by the WHO in March says victims of coronavirus "can be buried or cremated", and does not mention dangers to groundwater.

Sri Lankan lawyers walk past the Supreme Court complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 20 May 2020Image copyrightEPAImage captionA petition against the cremation rule has reached the country's Supreme Court

On the same day that Fathima died, 64-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Rafaideen passed away at his sister's house in Colombo. The labourer and father of four had been suffering from breathing difficulties.

His youngest son, Naushad Rafaideen, told the BBC that a neighbour from the majority Sinhala community died the same day.

Because of lockdown travelling restrictions, local police asked the family to take the body of the neighbour, together with their father's body, to the hospital.

At the mortuary, the doctor told Naushad he was not allowed to touch his father's body because of the risks of Covid-19, even though it wasn't clear whether the virus was the cause of death.

A family photo of the Rafaideen familyImage copyrightNAUSHAD RAFAIDEENImage captionHappier times in the Rafaideen family. Naushad is in the middle, and his father on the right

Naushad, who cannot read, was asked to sign some papers which gave permission for his father's body to be cremated.

He said he wasn't sure what would happen to him if he didn't sign, but he feared a backlash against his family and community if he refused. He said the Sinhalese family was treated differently, and allowed to pay respects to their relative at a funeral parlour, though the BBC could not independently verify this. Only Naushad and a handful of relatives were allowed to attend the cremation of his father, he said.

Meanwhile, nearly six weeks after the death of his wife, Shafeek is unsure whether she ever tested positive for coronavirus, and he is struggling to come to terms with not being able to bury her body. One thing he was sure of, he said. "We Muslims do not cremate our dead."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53295551?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/world/asia&link_location=live-reporting-story

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