Thursday, February 02, 2023
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We will continue to struggle for justice and the right to bury our dead

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  • All they want was only to be buried adhering to all health conditions.
  • Eminent lawyers represented the petitioners and argued that the state had provided no evidence
  • We placed greater hopes in the courts. However, for reasons unknown our applications have been rejected. Now we feel dejected, let down and abandoned


20 civil and human rights activists have stated in connection with the recent Supreme Court judgement related to cremation of Covid-19 dead bodies. The full statement is as follows;

The faith the victims of forced cremation of COVID-19 or Covid-19 suspected dead had in the highest court in Sri Lanka has been shattered. Victims and communities are now left without recourse in Sri Lanka for the continued injustice they suffer.“We placed greater hopes in the courts. However, for reasons unknown our applications have been rejected. Now we feel dejected, let down and abandoned”, said a son of one of the victims who challenged the offensive regulation in court.

On Tuesday the country’s Supreme Court, by a majority decision refused to grant leave to proceed to the 11 applications filed by petitioners belonging to Muslim, Christian and Catholic communities challenging the Sri Lankan government’s forcible cremation policy because it violates the right to freedom of religion and belief of some faiths and that the said regulation violates the law under which the regulation has been made as the law itself permits either burial or cremation.

Several eminent lawyers represented the petitioners and argued that the state had provided no evidence that the burial of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 dead is a danger to public health. Hence, they said the government by imposing this new restriction violated the constitutionally protected and safeguarded the rights of religious beliefs and practice for whom burial is a critical religious practice, in addition to being a fundamental right.
One of the judges had dissented probably on the basis that there were issues that required consideration. Given the sensitivities and importance of the issue, it was felt that the court could have granted leave to be heard in full or referred it to a larger bench.

Some of the petitioners said on Tuesday that the distraught families of the victims have been asking them to explores the possibilities of how they could continue to fight for justice and hence would consider all options. 
“We fully understand that due to the pandemic there is a public emergency under which certain rights can be limited including the manifestation of freedom of religion and belief. We also understand that Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and others have all been affected by these restrictions; but in all other cases where rights are limited there is evidence of the need to do so,” said one of the petitioners against the policy on forcible cremation. It was brought to the attention that Catholics and Muslims, in deliberations have agreed to all the restrictions including with regard to gathering, handling, washing, praying and specialized mode of burying and all they want was only to be buried adhering to all health conditions.

Under international law limitations of rights such as the freedom to practice one’s religion has to be prescribed by law and the limitation must be necessary and proportionate.
Restrictions and limitations on religious gatherings, congregational prayers and mass celebrations of religious festivals can be necessitated because social distancing is vital to reduce the spread of the virus and are being adhered to and cooperated voluntarily.

“Over and over again we have asked the government to give us the reasoning for this policy and they have failed to provide any evidence that burial of COVID-19 dead can contribute to the spread of the virus or provide any health threat,” a son who did not consent for the cremation of his father and hence had to abandon the father’s remains said.

There have been national and international criticism of the government of Sri Lanka on its rare decision to cremate COVID-19 and COVID-19 suspected dead, despite clear guidelines by the World Health Organisation explaining that the burial of such victims poses no danger to public health. The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations office in Sri Lanka, United Nations special experts and regional human rights groups have separately written to the government calling for the policy to be changed to ensure COVID-19 dead were handled with dignity and human rights of all are protected. Numerous national civil society organisations, religious groups and individual activists have also written letters and signed petitions to the government calling for a change to the policy.

Human rights groups have been warning that the ethnocentric position of the government, in the context of the state’s failure to challenge hate campaigns and violence against Muslims, points to racism and discrimination targeting the country’s approximately nine per cent Muslim population.
These measures affect more than one religious group, but it is particularly terrifying Muslims for whom the burial of the dead is a non-negotiable religious practice. They feel targeted, bullied and threatened by the manner in which the government is acting on this.
As of3rd December 2020, Sri Lanka had over 25,000 cases of COVID 19, 124 deaths, of which over 50 were Muslims.

This press statement is signed by: Centre for Policy Alternative, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Law and Society Trust, Women’s Action Network, Alliance for Minorities, Affected Women’s Forum, Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Sisterhood initiative, Hashtag Generation, Rural Development Foundation, National Peace Council, Mannar Women’s Development Federation, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Human Elevation Organisation, Eastern Social Development Foundation, Islamic Women’s Association for Research and Empowerment, Association of the Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared, Muslim Women’s Development Trust, AalumaiWomen’s Group, Nisha Development Centre,


Does beef cause cancer?

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"Studies have indicated that hard dry fish is not associated with cancer whereas soft dry fish is associated with cancer."

Recently some prominent medical doctors in Sri Lanka claimed in electronic media that beef is a carcinogenic food which means a causative agent of cancer. We as responsible medical professionals would like to analyse this statement in the light of science and give a balanced, neutral opinion on “What causes cancer.” In this article we will be presenting a broad overview of cancer-causing foods, food habits and other lifestyle factors backed by scientific evidence.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally and is second only to cardiovascular diseases. It was responsible for 9.6 million deaths in 2018. More than two thirds of these deaths occurred in low and 
middle-income countries.

Five leading cancers in the world are lung, breast, colorectal, prostate and skin cancer. In 2014 the commonest cancer in Sri Lanka was breast cancer followed by oral, thyroid, bowel (colorectal) and oesophageal (food pipe) cancer. Generally, the incidence of cancer increases with age. Different cancers affect males and females differently. For instance, the breast cancer affects females mostly whereas most sufferers of lung cancer are males.

Tobacco smoking has been implicated in 17 different cancers. In addition to that there is limited evidence of causing breast cancer and leukaemia in smoker’s children. Even second-hand smoking (that is, people who passively inhale the air contaminated with tobacco smoke) is a well-recognised cause of lung cancer. 
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with breast (female), colorectal, laryngeal, liver, oesophageal, oral and pharyngeal cancers. According to WHO data, on average a Sri Lankan male (≥15 years of age) consumes 18.9 litres of alcohol and a female consumes 6.7 litres of alcohol per year. These figures have steadily increased over the past 40 years.

Meat is an important source of protein, some vitamins (e.g. vitamin A and B) and minerals (e.g. zinc, iron) . Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. They are the building blocks of life. Out of 28 amino acids found in humans, 9 cannot be synthesised in our body. They are known as essential amino acids. Meat is an important source of essential amino acids. Therefore, they should be provided with diet. (11) (12)
According to IARC, the consumption of red meat is classified as “Probably carcinogenic to humans”. This means that unprocessed red meat is not a confirmed causative factor of cancer. Red meat refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat and this includes beef, lamb and pork. Chicken, turkey, duck, goose and rabbit do not fall under the category of red meat. The processed meat like; sausages, salami, ham and bacon are categorised as “carcinogenic to humans” (category 1), i.e., proven to cause cancer, but it is dependent on quantity eaten.

The other important factor to consider is the amount of red meat or processed meat consumed. It appears that higher amount of their intake is associated with cancer. It is clearly shown that the increased intake of fruits and vegetables protects against cancer. There is conflicting reports regarding the role of fish and sea food consumption in cancer prevention and causation. There is evidence of Cantonese-style salted fish (dry fish/ ‘Karawala’) causing nasopharyngeal cancer specially if consumed during young ages. Studies have indicated that hard dry fish is not associated with cancer whereas soft dry fish is associated with cancer. In summary, processed meat has been shown to be definitely a cancer-causing food while red meat is categorised as potentially carcinogenic, but only if consumed in large quantities. Preserved foods, saturated/animal fats, cholesterol, high sugar foods, spicy foods and refined carbohydrates have a positive association with bowel cancer. Vegetables and fruits play a protective role against bowel cancer.

Trans-fat is an important cancer-causing agent. Many routinely consumed food items have high concentration of trans-fat. Frying with coconut oil is less likely to produce trans-fat, but when it is re-used, the production of transfat will increase. Routine physical activity is linked to reduced incidence of many types of common cancers. Additionally, it reduces the risk of death among patients with breast and bowel cancer. Long-term, uncontrolled diabetes is a risk factor for cancers. Obesity is also proven to be a risk factor for cancer.

The causal relationship with processed meat or red meat and bowel cancer should be understood in the correct context. Moreover, there are many other foods and lifestyle factors which can lead to cancer. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between necessity and harm when making food choices and following different lifestyles. Making healthy lifestyle changes is the most effective way to reduce cancer risk. These include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and not drinking too much alcohol.

Dr Kamal Naser, MBBS (Jaffna), MD (Colombo), FRCP(Lond), FRCP(Glasg), FACE Consultant Physician, Sherwood Forest NHS Hospitals Trust, UK
Dr Suhail Abdul Wahab MBBS (Peradeniya), MRCP(UK), Sherwood Forest NHS Hospitals Trust, UK)



හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා: ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අවනීතියේ ජීවමාන සංකේතය – සුනන්ද දේශප්‍රිය

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මානව හිමිකම් නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා අත්අඩංඟුවට ගැනුණේ පසුගිය අලුත් අව්රුදු උත්සවය මැද අප්‍රෙල් 14දාය. කොව්ඩ් 19 සම්බන්ධ ප්‍රශ්ණයක් උඩ ඔහු හමුවීමට අවශ්‍ය යැයි ඔහුට දුර කථන පණිවඩයක් දුන්නේ සෞඛ්‍ය බලධාරීන් යැයි පෙනී සිටි පිරිසකි. නමුත් නිවසේ දොර හැරිය විට පැමිණ සිටියේ රහස් පොලිස් නිලධාරීන්ය.

එනයින් මුල් දුරකථන පණිවිඩයේ සිට අද දක්වාම ඔහුගේ මානව අයිතීන් පාගා දමමින් ආක්ෂක හේතූන් මත යැයි රඳවා ගෙන සිටින, හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා, මෙරට ක්‍රියාත්මක අවනීතියේ ජීවමාන සංකේතයකි.

ඔහු අත්අඩංගුවට ගැනීමට පැමිණි නිලධාරීහු, නීතියේ පාරිශුද්ධබව කෙළසමින් හිජාස් පෙනී සිටිමින් තිබූ නඩුවලට අදාළ ලිපිගොනු ද අත් අඩංඟුවට ගත්හ. සිංහල බස නොදන්නා ඔහුගේ ඊජිප්තු ජාතික සහකාරියට සිංහලයෙන් ලියන ලද ප්‍රකාශයකට අත්සන් කරන්නටයැයි බල කෙරුණි.

දැන් මාස හතක් ගතවී තිබේ. එනම් දින දෙසියකට නොඅඩු කාලයකි. තවමත් ඔහුට විරුද්ධව කිසිදු චෝදනාවක් ගොනු කර නැත. ඔහු තවමත් රඳවා සිටින්නේ ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ ජනාධිපති රාජපක්ෂ විසින් දින 180න් 180ට නිකුත් කරන රඳවා තැබීමේ නියෝග යටතේය.

ඔහුට නිසි නීතිඥ සහාය ලබා ගැනීමට ඉඩක් නැත. ඔහු රඳවා සිටින්නේ හුදකලාවය. අත්අඩංඟුවට ගැනීමෙන් පසු ඔහු වරදකරුවකු ලෙස පින්තාරු කිරීමට පොලීසිය දරන ලද තැත දැන් දුර්වර්ණ වී ගොසිනි. එහෙත් ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ ඔහු අධිකරණය හමුවෙහි ඉදිරිපත් කිරීම දිගින් දිගටම වලක්වා තිබේ. පොලීසිය මුලදී කියා සිටි පරිදි ඔහුට විරුද්ධව සාක්ෂි ඇත්නම් නඩු පවරන්නේ නැත්තේ මන්ද?

අත්අඩංගුවට ගන්නා පුද්ගලයින් නීතිය ඉදිරියෙහි වරදකරුවන් වීමට ප්‍රථම පොලීසිය සහ මාධ්‍ය විසින් වරදකරු කිරීමේ දුරාචාර සංස්කෘතියේ ගොදුරක් බවට ද හිජාස් පත්කර තිබේ. දරුණූ මානව විරෝධී අපරාධයක් වූ පාස්කු ඉරිදා ඝාතනයන්ට කවරකු සම්බන්ධ යැයි මතයක් ගොඩ නැගූවිට එවැනි අයකු වෙනුවෙන් ඉදිරිපත්වීමට බොහෝ දෙනෙක් බිය වෙති. හිජාස්ට කර ඇත්තේ එයයි.

2017 වසරෙහි නොවැ 30 දා මඩකළපුවෙහි වව්නතිව් පොලිස් මුරපොළෙහි සිටි පොලිස් නිලධාරීන් දෙදෙනෙකු ඝාතනය කර ආයුධ පැහැර ගන්නා ලදී. ඒ පිළිබඳ සැකපිට කදිරගාමර්තම්බි රාජකුමාරන් නම් හිටපු එල්ටීටීඊ සාමාජිකයකු මහත් මාධ්‍ය ප්‍රචාරයක් සමඟ අත් අඩංගුවට ගන්නා ලදී.

එම අත් අඩංඟුවට ගැනීම ගැන පොලිස් මාධ්‍ය ප්‍රකාශක කියා සිටියේ තහවුරුවූ සාක්ෂි මත ඔහු අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් බවයි. එසේ නමුත් 2018 පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරයෙන් පසු එම ඝාතන කරන ලද්දේ ද සහරාන් ප්‍රමුඛ අන්තවාදී කණ්ඩායම විසින් බව හෙළිදරව් විය. කදිරගාමර්තම්බි ඇප පිට නිදහස් කරන ලදී. එසේ නොවී නම් ඔහු තවමත් නඩු නැතිව දශක ගණනාවක් සිරගතව සිටින දෙමළ සිරකරුවන් ගොන්නට එක්වනු නොඅනුමානය.

මෙැවැනි පොලිස් කතා මෙරට අපමණය. හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා සම්බන්ධයෙන් පොලීසියේ කතා ද දැනට පත්ව ඇත්තේ ඒ ගණයටය.

හිජාස් දිගින් දිගටම මානසික වධ බන්ධනයන්ට පත් කරමින් සිරගත කර තිබීම භයානක පණිවිඩයකි. එනම් මානව හිමිකම් සම්බන්ධයෙන් මැදිහත්වන නීතිවේදීන් සහ නීතිවේදිනියන් ප්‍රවේසම් විය යුතු බවයි.

කණගාටුවකට මෙන් ඔහට යුක්තිය ඉටු කළ යුතු බවට ප්‍රබලතම හඩ නැගෙන්නේ මෙරට ඔහුගේ වෘත්තීය ප්‍රජාව අතුරින් නොව අන්තර් ජාතික නීතිවේදී ප්‍රජාව වෙතිනි. පසුගිය දා එංගලන්තයේ සහ වේල්සයේ මානව හිමිකම් නීතිඥ කම්ටුව ප්‍රකාශයක් කරමින් කියා සිටියේ නඩු නොපවරා දීර්ඝ කාලයක් හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රැඳවුම් බාරයේ තබාගෙන සිටීම මහත් කණස්සල්ලට කරුණක් බවයි. මෙම කමිටුවට එක්සත් රාජධානියේ ජේෂ්ඨ නීතිවේදීන් සහ නීතිවේදිනියන්ද ඇතුළත් වෙති.

“ නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රඳවා තබාගැනීමෙන් නිදහස් කරන ලෙසත් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ නීතිවේදීනට පළිගැනීම් සහ හිරිහැර පැමිනවීම් පිළිබඳව බියක් සැකක් නැතිව සිය රාජකාරිය කළ හැකි පරිසරයක් “ ඇති කරන ලෙස ඔව්හු එමගින් ඉල්ලා සිටියහ.

අන්තර් ජාතික නීතිවේදී ප්‍රජාව නඩු නොපවරා හිජාස් දිගින් දිගටම රඳවා කබා ගැනීම හෙළා දකිමින් මෙවැනි ප්‍රකාශ ගණනාවක්ම ප්‍රසිද්ධ කර තිබේ.

එසේ නමුත් පිල්ලෙයාන්ට ඇප දී නිදහස් කිරීමට උපදෙස් දෙන නීතිපති දෙපාර්ථමේන්තුව මාස හතක් ගතවීමෙන් පසුුත් තවමත් මානව හිමිකම් නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා සිරගත කරගෙන සිටී.

මානව හිමිකම් විරෝධී දේශපාලන අධිකාරිය, ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත සහ ජාතිවාදය යන භයානක දුශ්සංයෝගයේ ගොදුරක් බවට පත්ව ඇති ඔහු, වත්මන් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අවනීතියේ කැපී පෙනෙන සංකේතයකි.

ඔහුගේ නිදහස වෙනුවෙන් කටයුතු කිරීම අප සැමගේ ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී යුතුකමය.

(ජේෂ්ඨ පොලිස් අධිකාරී ශානි අබේසේකර සම්බන්ධයෙන් ද දැක්වෙන ආණ්ඩුවේ පිළිවෙත එවැනිම එකක් බව සමහර වි‌ට ඊටත් වඩා දුෂ්ඨ එකක් බව සටහන් නොකළ හොත් අඩුවක් වනු නොනුමානය.)

ප්‍රහාරය ඇරඹේ.

අපේක්ෂිත පරිදි 20වන සංසෝධනයේ ගිනියමින් මෙරට මාධ්‍ය නිදහසට කණ කොකා හැඩවීම ආරම්භ වී තිබේ.

පසුගිය දිනවල වාර්තා වූ මේ ප්‍රවෘත්ති දෙස බලන්න.

රාජ්‍ය නොව සංවිධාන විසින් පවත්වාගෙන යන මාධ්‍යන්ට නිල ජනමාධ්‍ය හැදුනුම්පත නිකුත් නොකිරීමට ආණ්ඩුව තීරණය කරන ලදී.

පාර්ලිමේන්තුවෙහි අයවැය ඉදිරිපත් කිරීම වාර්තා කිරීමට ජනමාධ්‍යට ඉඩ නොදෙන ලදී. එනමුත් විදේශ තානාපතිවරුන්ට එම අවස්ථාවට සහභාගිවීමට ඉඩ සළසා තිබුණි. අගමැති රාජපක්ෂ අයවැය ඉදිරිපත් කළේ ඉඳගෙනය. තවමත් පාර්ලිමේන්තුව ජනමාධ්‍යවේදින්ට තහනම්ය.

ඊටත් කලින්, පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ කෝප් කමිටුව වාර්තා කිරීමට පසුගිය රජය සමයෙහි මාධ්‍යට දී තිබූ අවසරය ඉවත් කර ගන්නා ලදී.

දානයකට ගිය රාජපක්ෂ පවුලේ උදවිය මේසයක වාඩිවී දානය වළදන අන්දම පෙන්වන ජායාරූපයක් ප්‍රසිද්ධ කළ විපක්ෂ ජනමාධ්‍යවේදියකු රහස් පොලීසියට කැඳවන ලදී. එම ජායාරූපය විකෘති කර රාජපක්ෂ පවුල වෙනුවට භික්ෂුන් ආදේශ කරන ලද පුද්ගලයා ගැන පරීක්ෂනයක් නොපවත්වන ලදී.

මඩකළපුවෙහි ගව පට්ටියක් පවත්වාගෙන යන අයකුගේ ඉඩම යුද හමුදාව බලයෙන් අල්ලා ගන්නට යන්නේ යැයි වාර්තාවක් පළ කළ දෙමළ ජනමාධ්‍යවේදියකු එරාවුර් පොලීසියට ගෙන්වා ප්‍රශ්ණ කරන ලදී.

දෙසතියක් ඇතුළත මර්ධනකාරී සිංගප්පූරු මාදිලියේ “ ව්‍යාජ පුවත් පාලන” නියමන පනතක් ගෙන එන බව ඇමැතිවරු දෙපලක් විසින් ප්‍රකාශ කරන ලදී.

වෙබ් අඩවි 30ක් තහනම් කිරීමට රජය සළකා බලමින් සිටින බවට තවත් පුවතක් පළ විය.

විදෙස්ගතව සිටිමින් “ව්‍යාජ” පුවත් සමාජ ජාල මගින් බෙදාහැරියේ යැයි කියන දෙදෙනෙකු මෙරට පැමිණියහොත් අත් අඩංඟුවට ගන්නා බව ආණ්ඩුවේ ප්‍රකාශකයකු කියා තිබුණි.

එවැනි “ව්‍යාජ පුවත්” පළ කළේ යැයි අත් අඩංඟුවට ගෙන සිටින පිරිස දුසිම් ගණනාවක් විය හැකි යැයි විපක්ෂ දේශපාලනඥයකු ප්‍රකාශ කළේය.

අත් අඩංඟුවට ගත යුතු මාධ්‍යවේදීන් දෙසිය ගණනාවකගේ ලැයිස්තුවක් පොලීසියට දී ඇතැයි සජබ පා.ම. ඉම්ටියාස් බාකීර් මාකර් පාර්ලිමේන්තුවට කියා සිටියේය. ආණ්ඩුව එම පුවත ප්‍රතික්ෂේප කළේ නැත.

20වන ව්‍යවස්ථා සංසෝධනය ඉවත් කර ගන්නා ලෙස ඉල්ලමින් ප්‍රකාශයක් නිකුත් කළදාට පසුදා උදෑසනම එයට අත්සන් කළ අමරපුර රාමඤ්ඤ සාමාග්‍රී සංඝ සභාවේ නිලතල උසුලන අනුනායක මහාචාර්ය ආදී මහතෙරුන් හමුවීමට ගිය පොලිස් නිලධාරීන් පිරිසක් එම ප්‍රකාශය ගැන කරුණූ විමසූහ. එමගින් තර්ජනයට ලක් කැරුණේ විසංවාදයට ඇති අයිතියයි.

පොහොට්ටු පක්ෂය විසින් දේශපාලනිකව පාලනය කරන රාජ්‍ය ජනමාධ්‍ය සඳහා රජයේ සියලු අායතන පළ කරනු ලබන දැන්වීම් වලින් 25% ලබා දිය යුතු බවට අමාත්‍ය මණ්ඩලය තීරණය කළේය. එමගින් සමාන භූමියක තරඟයට තිබිය යුතු ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී අවස්ථාව රජයට අයත් නොවන මාධ්‍යන්ට ඇහිරේ.

සියළුම රාජ්‍ය ආයතනයන්ට නියෝගයක් යවමින් ජනාධිපති ලේකම් පී.බී. ජයසුන්දර කියා සිටියේ සියළුම වෙළද දැන්වීම් සහ ප්‍රචාරකයුතු සදහා වෙන් කර ඇති අරමුදල් පාවිච්චිය නතර කරන සේ ජනාධිපතිවරයා තමාට දැනුම් දී ඇති බවය. මෙය ජනමාධ්‍යන්ට මරු පහරක් වනු ඇත.

තවද මේ තාක් මේ කිසිවක් ගැන ජනමාධ්‍ය සංවිධාන කිසිවක් විරෝධය ප්‍රකාශ කර නැත!

සෙස්ස පස්සටය!

මැඩිල්ලේ හිමිගේ වචන

මැඩිල්ලේ පඤ්ඤාලෝක හාමුදුරුවන්ගේ පන්සලට පොලීසිය පැන්නේ කිසිදු දැනුම්දීමකින් තොරවය. මැඩිල්ලේ එසේ මෙසේ භික්ෂුවක නොවේ. අන්ත ජාතිවාදය නැමැති සිය මතවාදී බලයෙන් රාජපක්ෂවරුන් රාජාසනය වෙත වැඩම්වන ලද භික්ෂුවකි. පසුදාක එ හිමියන්ගේ පන්සලට කඩා වැදුණු රහස් පොලිස් නිලධාරීහු එවෙළෙහිම තමන් ප්‍රකාකාශයක් දිය යුතුයැයි බලකර කියා සිටියෝ ය. එයට පෙර, දැන් අධිකරණ ඇමැති වන අලි සබ්රි ගැන කතාකිරීම තහනම් කරමින් එහිමියන්ට එරෙහිව අධිකරණ නියෝගයක්ද ලැබී තිබුණේය. මෙවර මැඩිල්ලේ හිමි කියන්නේ තමන්ට එරෙහිව පොලීසිය උසි ගන්වන ලද්දේ ඇමැති ජොන්ස්ටන්ගේ අරක්කු ලැයිසමට විරුද්ධව තමා කතා කළ නිසා බවයි.

සිය පන්සලට පොලීසිය කඩා පැනීම ගැන මැඩිල්ලේ හිමි කියා තිබුනේ “ඔන්න සර්ගේ සෞභාග්‍යයේ තරම!” කියාය.

මේ සිදුවීම මතකයට නංවන්නේ ලොව පුරා යළි යළි පුනරුච්චාරණය කැරෙන මාර්ටින් නිමලොර්ගේ වචනය. “ඔවුහු අන්තිවේදී මා සොයා ආහ.”

රහස් පොලීසිය මෙළෙස නොදන්වා කඩා පැන බලහත්කාරයෙන් කටඋත්තර ගත් ප්‍රථම වතාව මැඩිල්ලේ හිමිගේ පන්සල නොවේ. මේ වනාහී විරුද්ධවාදීන් මැඩළීමේ දේශපාලන පොලීසියේ සුපුරුදු හැසිරීමය. එළෙස හැසිරීමට පොලීසියට බලය ලැබී ඇත්තේ දේශපාලන පිටුබලය නිසාය. පසුගිය කාලය පුරා මැඩිල්ලේ වැනි භික්ෂූන් කියමින් සිටියේත් තමන් විසින් විරුද්ධවාදීන් ලෙස සළකන විශේෂයෙන්ම දෙමළ සහ මුස්ලිම් දේශපාලනඥයිින්ට මෙවැනි විරුද්ධව පියවර ගත යුතු බවය.

දැන් බූමරංගය ආපසු කැරකී ඇවිත් තිබේ. සමහර විට තවම බූමරංග එන්නට පටන් ගත්තා විතරය. හොඳ හොඳ සෙල්ලම් කෙළින්නේ එළිවෙන ජාමෙට යැයි කියනු ලැබේ.

ඔහොම යං!


Compulsory cremation of Covid-19 dead bodies of Muslims: Science, human decency and racism

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human decency

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

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

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


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

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

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


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]


















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 without charges, with rights groups saying he has been denied due process rights.

Sri Lankan authorities said he had been detained for links to the perpetrators of the 2019 Easter Bombings, which left more than 250 people dead and injured more than 500 – the Indian Ocean island nation’s worst attack since the end of civil war in 2009.  Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the police had not presented “any credible evidence” against Hizbullah, adding that he was denied his due process rights and kept in custody despite calls from UN experts “that prison populations must be reduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19”.  The president’s spokesperson Mohan Samaranayake did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.  Hizbullah, a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, was arrested under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows the government to detain suspects without charge and or having to present them before a judge.  “Even though the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration has said that it does not want to continue its support to the Human Rights Council resolution, the Sri Lankan government remains obliged to keep its pledges, including to repeal PTA, regardless of the party that might be in power,” Ganguly added.  A person can be detained for 90 days under the PTA, with the option to renew the incarceration period for another 90 days for up to 18 months.  The New York-based HRW has dubbed the PTA a “draconian” law, one that the previous Sri Lankan government headed by Maithripala Sirisena pledged to revoke in a 2015 Human Rights Council resolution.  Rights groups have raised concerns over shrinking space for dissent since President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – a Buddhist hardliner – took power last November on the promise to boost security in the island nation in the wake of the deadly bombings.  In August, the HRW said the government of President Gotabaya has waged “a campaign of fear and intimidation against human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, and others challenging government policy”.  According to Thyagi Ruwanpathiran, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, Hizbullah’s arrest “had a chilling effect on anyone involved in peaceful dissent and advocacy, be it lawyers, human rights defenders or members of the minority Muslim community”.  “There is a real fear of being targeted for your professional work where you could suffer reprisals from the state,” she told Al Jazeera.  The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, the European Union and UN Human Rights Core Group on Sri Lanka have also expressed their concerns regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention of Hizbullah.  A local magistrate court in the capital, Colombo, is hearing his case again on October 28, but activists say there is little hope of bail.  ‘Pure fabrication’ Of the several accusations made against Hizbullah include his relationship with Yusuf Mohammad Ibrahim, a business owner, whose sons Inshaf and Ilham were two of the seven perpetrators of the Easter Sunday bombings. Hizbullah was Ibrahim’s lawyer.  Hizbullah, along with Ibrahim, also served on the board of the Save the Pearl charity, which works with underprivileged children.  Ilham also served on the board briefly in 2016 briefly, until he was asked to step down, a report by Amnesty International said. According to the human rights group, these associations with Ibrahim and Save the Pearl were being used to detain Hizbullah.

“The detention order says that Hejaaz [Hizbullah] is being investigated for allegedly ‘aiding and abetting’ the Easter Sunday bombers and for engaging in activities deemed ‘detrimental to the religious harmony among communities'”, the Amnesty report said.

Another accusation against Hizbullah is that he indirectly, through a school funded by Save the Pearl, fed “extremist” ideas and thoughts to children between the ages of 8-13, Hafeel Farisz, one of Hizbullah’s lawyers, told Al Jazeera.

The children from Al-Zuhriya Arabic College in Puttalam district were interrogated by the police for several days in April, during which they were threatened and coerced into accusing Hizbullah of providing “terrorist” training, said the lawyer.

Farisz said the children described accusations against Hizbullah as “pure fabrication”.

It was also revealed in the media that the children questioned had filed for legal action against the police for “infringement of their fundamental rights”.

‘Real fear’
Critics say Hizbullah was targeted because of his work on interfaith relations and reconciliation amid rising Islamophobia in the island nation fraught with sectarian and ethnic divide.

Hilmy Ahmed, CEO of Young Asia Television, told Al Jazeera from Colombo that Hizbullah was a “victim of the hate campaign that has been staged-managed by extremist Buddhists”.

“Hejaaz [Hizbullah] is a non-violent and extremely values-based individual who would never promote any form of extremism let alone violence,” Ahmed said, adding he had known the accused for more than 20 years.

Since the Easter bombing, anti-Muslim sentiment has been running high, with rights groups blaming Buddhist nationalists for “hate speech” and “mob violence” against Muslims.

Groups such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Buddhist far-right group, has been accused behind attacks against Muslims since 2009 when the Sri Lankan forces defeated Tamil separatists, ending a civil war that lasted nearly 30 years.

The BBS has previously successfully run an anti-halal campaign and called for a ban on the burqa, a full-body veil worn by some Muslim women that covers the face as well.

Muslims, who comprise about 10 percent of the population, say they have faced discrimination and hate speech from hardline Buddhist groups, who wield influence in the current governing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party led by the Rajapaksa brothers.

Earlier this year, the government decision to cremate Muslims who died of COVID-19, caused anguish in the community, as the traditional Islamic funeral was denied. Families said it was against WHO guidelines and done to harass Muslims, who were blamed for spreading the virus that has killed more than one million people globally.




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