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  • A country obsessed with racial and religious conflicts
    Sri Lanka, as a nation has been wasting time debating sensitive racial and religious issues for the past several years, without gaining anything. Only thing the country has been witnessing as a result is communities distancing themselves from each other, while portraying a false unity among them. 
    The situation seems to have come to a head with people of various communities being emotionally charged over these issues subsequent to the attacks on three Christian churches and three major tourist hotels by the Islamic terrorists on April 21, 2019, which was also the Easter Sunday.
    The terrorist attacks which caught the nation off-guard demanded united action by all communities and political parties to handle the immediate situation and to prevent future recurrence of...
    Read More...
  • Burqa ban: Security, human rights and male chauvinism
    A few years ago, on a Turkish beach exclusively for women, a bikini-clad woman offered her prayers. The video clip of the woman going through the postures of the Muslim prayer went viral and created a major debate among the Muslims.  Some censured her for not adhering to the dress code for prayers, but others said what mattered was her piety and not the dress.
    Following the release of the Easter Sunday terror attack commission report, Sri Lanka is mulling whether to ban burqa – the Muslim dress that covers a female body from head to toe – and niqab, which only shows the eyes of the wearer, but the issue needs to be looked at from human rights, security and spiritual angles to come to a right decision.
    If at the one end of the spectrum is public nudity, burqa will...
    Read More...
  • South African Muslim bodies seek intervention over burqa ban in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister of South Africa urged to intervene
    South African Muslim organisations have called on the country’s foreign minister to intervene in the proposed Sri Lankan ban on the burqa and closure of hundreds of Islamic schools. This followed the announcement by Sri Lanka''s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, during the weekend that his country would ban the traditional full-face covering worn by some Muslim women because it posed a threat to national security. This was quickly followed by a statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, which said a decision would only be taken on the proposal after consultations and further discussion. The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) has now asked South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to intervene in the matter. UUCSA had earlier also called for such intervention when...
    Read More...
  • Banning Burqas and Madrasas illegal: Fmr MP
    Former MP M.M .Zuhair said yesterday it would be unlawful to ban Burqas and Madrasas. Issuing a statement, he said some observations and recommendations of the Commission on Easter Sunday attacks are invasive of the absolute protection given to every person under Article 10 of the Sri Lanka Constitution. He said the Commission’s report though good in parts, can be seen as an attempted assault on Islam for the heinous crimes of a dozen suicide bombers. The right to the freedom stated in Article 10 is ‘assured to all religions’ under Article 9. No one, not even Presidential Commissions can invite or promote the State or any limb of the Executive or Judiciary to violate the freedom guaranteed under Article 10.This protection is guaranteed notwithstanding any national security concerns, as the law stands today. In this constitutionally...
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  • Pakistan says likely ban on Niqab in SL to serve as injury on Muslims
    The Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak today said the likely ban on Niqab in Sri Lanka will only serve as an injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. In a tweet, the Ambassador said that at today’s economically difficult time due to COVID-19 pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at the international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country. Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said today that in addition to banning the burqa, the cabinet proposal would also include banning the niqab which covers the face of the wearer except the eyes. The...
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  • යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 8 කින් හිස්බුල්ලාට සහාය
    මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛ නීතිඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යුරෝපීය රටවල් අටක මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කර තිබේ. නෙදර්ලන්තය, ජර්මනිය, එංගලන්තය ස්වීඩනය, එස්ටෝනියාව, ලිතුවේනියාව, ලක්සම්බර්ග් සහ ෆින්ලන්තය...
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  • Eight EU HR Ambassadors raise concern over Hejaaz Hizbullah
    In a statement issued today, Eight Human Rights  Ambassadors of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden called on the Sri Lankan government to " respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah". The statement issued by the Ambassadors of the United Kingsdom, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands said that after ten months of Detention, Hejaaz Hizbullah was being accused of speech related offences. Prominent Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department on the 14th of April 2020. He was thereafter accused in the media of various activities related to terrorism. He was thereafter produced on the 18th of February 2021 where the Attorney General informed court that the entire case against Hizbullah was to be based on purported statements made by children. Hizbullah...
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  • Circular on burial of COVID-19 victims issued
    The circular containing the guidelines with regard to the burial of COVID-19 victims has been issued, the Health Ministry said. Some key guidelines are as follows, The relatives of the deceased should inform the Director/ Head of the health care institution (Where the death has occurred) of their desire to bury the corpse without delay. The Director of the hospital/ Head of the health care institution should obtain a written request from relatives for burial. The relatives need to provide a coffin in advance. It is the duty of the director/ Head of health care institution to transport the corpse in a coffin provided by the relatives to a designated location in Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (office of JMO) / BH Welikanda where the corpse will be received by the designated officer. The vehicle transporting the...
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  • Muslims to raise concerns over Iranaithivu burial with global bodies
    A leading Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka will this week send an official letter of concern to the global Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Muslim Congress, seeking their intervention to urge the Sri Lankan government to allocate a decent land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims. The Daily Mirror learns that the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre, which is a member of the World Muslim Congress will raise serious concerns with the global bodies and will also send a letter to the World Muslim Congress office in Geneva urging for immediate intervention after the government announced that burials of the COVID-19 dead would take place on the Iranaithivu Island, in the Gulf of Mannar. Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaithivu Isle for the burials and instead urged...
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  • Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal further remanded
    Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were further remanded till March 18 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court today. They were earlier remanded under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.   http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Hizbullah-and-Madrasa-School-Principal-further-remanded/108-206945
    Read More...
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News

A country obsessed with racial and religious conflicts

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Sri Lanka, as a nation has been wasting time debating sensitive racial and religious issues for the past several years, without gaining anything. Only thing the country has been witnessing as a result is communities distancing themselves from each other, while portraying a false unity among them. 
The situation seems to have come to a head with people of various communities being emotionally charged over these issues subsequent to the attacks on three Christian churches and three major tourist hotels by the Islamic terrorists on April 21, 2019, which was also the Easter Sunday.


The terrorist attacks which caught the nation off-guard demanded united action by all communities and political parties to handle the immediate situation and to prevent future recurrence of such barbaric acts, but what really occurred thereafter was something totally unacceptable.


The whole issue was politicized with political parties and their supporters vying to get mileage from the carnage. Media outlets used the situation to rouse communalism, according to their respective political affiliations. Communal forces were seen in full swing in sowing hatred among the masses.
Everybody has since been attempting to identify or tie up all his/her adversaries – political or otherwise - with the perpetrators of the disaster. The immediate upshot was that while the real victim community was waiting to be meted out justice by the authorities for the losses they suffered in terms of lives and limbs, two other communities started to fight over various issues.


The then Trade Minister Rishard Bathiudeen and two provincial governors, Azath Salley and M. L. M. A. Hisbullah were accused of being behind the carnage. However, they are still at large with even the former having received the clean sheet from the top most official of the police. Even the Parliamentary Select Committee and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that probed the terrorist attacks had exonerated them. (Sally was arrested on Tuesday for openly challenging the country’s law, despite him being later said to be questioned in connection with the terrorist attacks).


The debate then turned towards Madrasas - the Muslim religious schools, and Quazi courts, the courts that have been established by the Judicial Service Commission under the Muslim Personal Law in Sri Lanka. Then a Sinhala newspaper reported that 4000 Sinhalese women had been sterilized by a Muslim doctor called Shafi Shihabdeen, diverting the attention of the country from the terrorist attack. However, with the two main candidates of the Presidential election vying for the minority votes, all these and the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks were forgotten by October 2019.


Four months after the ascension of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the President, the COVID-19 entered the country creating another dispute over the disposal of dead bodies of pandemic victims. It was the subject matter for the media and the politicians for a year, with politicians rekindling it whenever its tempo was subsiding. Twice President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the officials to find a dry land for burial of cadavers of COVID- 19 victims which provoked protests interestingly by pro-government elements. 
Yet, nobody protested when the government had to give up its hardline on the issue, against the backdrop of the UNHRC sessions where some tough measures were proposed against selected authorities in the country over alleged human rights violations. Nevertheless, as if government wanted the debate to be dragged on the authorities first decided to bury the bodies in Iranaithivu, an island 20 km off the mainland in the Kilinochchi District, before they were sent to Ottamavadi.


In the meantime, another controversy was about to be opened with the Prime Minister submitting in September last year, a proposal to ban cattle slaughter to the Cabinet. However, it only provoked few demonstrations and “voice cuts” in favour of the government and the Cabinet decision vanished into thin air. It was later revealed that the decision had been taken while the South Asia’s largest meat processing factory was being built in Katunayake Investment Promotion Zone. The factory was opened on December 12.


As if the tension between the Sinhalese and the Muslims did not suffice, government ministers wanted to abolish the provincial council system that was introduced under the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987. Subsequent to the issue cropping up during the ongoing UNHRC session, now the government is to hold the provincial council elections soon, despite there being legal issues to be sorted out before calling nominations for the elections. 
Then came the report compiled by the Presidential Commission that probed the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. It too contributed to the heightening of communal tension rather than to a healthy debate on how to mete out justice to the victims of the carnage and how to prevent recurrence of such terrorist attacks.


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on March 12 issued an extraordinary gazette (2218/68) under the highly controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for “De-radicalization from holding violent extremist religious ideology.” The gazette, despite it having not literally aimed at arrest of extremism among Muslims in this country is nothing but a move to control the activities of Muslims that might be harmful to the society. Also it seems to have stemmed from the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the terrorist attacks on the Easter Sunday in 2019.


Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara on last Friday said that he had signed a Cabinet paper to ban unregistered Madrasas, the Islamic religious schools and Burqa a face veil worn by some Muslim women. However, again the government said it will decide on Burqa after consulting relevant stakeholders. The backtracking seems to be a result of two tweets by the Pakistani High Commissioner Saad Khattak and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Ahmad Shaheed, expressing their displeasure over the proposed ban.


Despite the possibility of the gazette on “De-radicalization” and the Burqa ban too falling into the category of maintaining the communal heat, a healthy and constructive debate on the purpose of them is essential. Whatever the modalities of implementation proposed by the gazette are, one cannot contest the purpose of it which prescribes rehabilitation of those indoctrinated with violent extremist ideologies.


There is no assurance that all those brainwashed by the extremists who killed 269 people on the Easter Sunday two years ago, have been put behind bars or at least identified. Former Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who was also a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee that probed the Easter Sunday carnage, citing CID officials say that hundreds of those who had been indoctrinated by Zahran Hashim’s National Thawheed Jama’ath (NTJ) must be at large. Whatever the number may be, it is acceptable that a killer ideology would not vanish overnight just because the apparent major players have been killed or arrested.


It was revealed during the investigations that the terrorists had first targeted the Kandy Esala Perahera and the police after the attacks on churches and hotels had announced that they were planning to attack what are known as “Hubbu Mosques,” the mosques with the graves of Islamic saints. Therefore no community could be assured of their safety unless the killer ideology is arrested. 
However, the gazette gives the responsibility of identifying the radicals to the police. And there wouldn’t be trial by the courts of law either. With regard to the radicalization among Muslims, are the police competent enough to ideologically differentiate the radicals and the ordinary Muslims to weed out the former, without being influenced by the various media hypes and politicians?


In fact, face veil is a controversial issue among Muslims as well. The point expressed by the Pakistan and the UN was that the ban would marginalize a community. But, on the other hand, the people concerned have to accept the fact that the face veils such as Burqa and Niqab are counterproductive in terms of integration of various communities.
However, the country must dedicate its time and energy mainly for a fruitful debate on economic and social development, rather than wasting time on communal issues that are detrimental to the social progress and useful only to power-hungry politicians.

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/A-country-obsessed-with-racial-and-religious-conflicts/172-208061

 

Burqa ban: Security, human rights and male chauvinism

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A few years ago, on a Turkish beach exclusively for women, a bikini-clad woman offered her prayers. The video clip of the woman going through the postures of the Muslim prayer went viral and created a major debate among the Muslims.  Some censured her for not adhering to the dress code for prayers, but others said what mattered was her piety and not the dress.


Following the release of the Easter Sunday terror attack commission report, Sri Lanka is mulling whether to ban burqa – the Muslim dress that covers a female body from head to toe – and niqab, which only shows the eyes of the wearer, but the issue needs to be looked at from human rights, security and spiritual angles to come to a right decision.
If at the one end of the spectrum is public nudity, burqa will be at the other end. As civilized people, we denounce public nudity as indecent. But neither do we depict burqa as the highest form of modesty. Both extremes need to be shunned.


We are born naked but soon we are clothed by our parents or caregivers to protect ourselves from the elements and also as an adornment. As we grow up, we wear clothes also to cover our private parts. Scriptures tell us that Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover their nudity after they disobeyed God and discovered their shame. 
But there are tribes who wear no clothes. They are not ashamed of their nakedness. But such indigenous people live in isolation and remain deprived of the benefits of the civilization-building process.


The general understanding is that as human beings, we wear clothes to protect ourselves from the elements, as an adornment and to cover parts of our bodies which are sexually attractive to the opposite sex, depending on one’s threshold of modesty.  The consensus is that we should be clothed in public. As to how much to cover is a matter that is diversely defined, depending on culture, social norms and individuality.  In South Asia, saree is regarded as a form of modest clothing for women as it covers much of their torsos and the legs, but in the Middle East, saree is seen as not-so-modest as it exposes the midriff. 
Just as the choice of clothes is our right, one may argue that the freedom to be nude or the freedom to be scantily clad -- depending on one’s interpretation of modesty -- is also a human right.


However, even in liberal societies, where shortness is promoted by men as women empowerment after the miniskirt revolution of the 1960s, the freedom to be nude is curtailed. In those countries, although courts have recognised nudity as freedom of expression, they also recognise that nudity should be regulated through legislation as it causes public disorder. The consensus is that nudity should be disallowed unless it is the norm. 
Whether burqa, niqab or hijab – the scarf that covers the head and the chest -- is worn due to choice or coercion, human rights jurists have defended a person’s right to wear them. This was confirmed in the 2018 ruling of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The Committee ruled that France had violated the human rights of two women by fining them for wearing niqab.


It found that the French niqab ban disproportionately harmed the petitioners’ right to manifest their religious beliefs, and that France had not adequately explained why it was necessary to prohibit this clothing. The Committee said it was not convinced by France’s claim that the ban was necessary and proportionate from a security standpoint or for attaining the goal of “living together” in society.


The Committee acknowledged that States could require that individuals show their faces in specific circumstances for identification purposes, but considered that a general niqab ban was too sweeping for this purpose. 
The Committee also concluded that the ban, rather than protecting fully veiled women, could have the opposite effect of confining them to their homes, impeding their access to public services and marginalising them.
Recently, in Switzerland, people voted in a referendum in favour of a niqab ban, though the Government said it was not for the ban but would prefer a mechanism whereby the wearers would be required to reveal their facial identity on request for security purposes.


The ban on burqa and niqab in many countries is justified on the basis of public security, with these clothing types being seen as symbols of extremism and oppression or enslavement of women rather than expression of spirituality.  On security grounds, even several Muslim countries have banned burqa and niqab.  They include Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In Muslim Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, even hijab is banned. In secular Turkey, hijab had been banned in public institutions until Islamic-leaning Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan lifted the restriction in 2013.
While burqa and niqab have become serious human rights and security topics, there is a perennial debate among Muslims on whether Islam really pushes for burqa and niqab.  Islam accords prime importance to modesty and bashfulness -- known as Haya in Arabic – and it is part of faith.


Although from a security perspective, the full covering of the female body is being seen as a threat, the spiritually inclined in all major religions may say the more we make ourselves sexually less attractive to others with our clothing and behaviour the more righteous will be our conduct. Look at the nuns and the Bhikkunis. 
Interpreting the Quran and the prophet’s tradition, some scholars, especially those of the hardline Salafi and Wahhabi order, say rather unconvincingly that niqab or burqa is wajib or a must. They believe the entire body of a woman, including her shape, is her private part and therefore should be covered, lest she becomes an object of lust to be ogled by men.


But those who say niqab or burqa is not compulsory also put forward Quranic verses and prophet’s sayings. They insist a woman needs to cover her head and the bosom, but her face and hands could be exposed. Some progressive scholars point out that the problem is not with women but with men, for the Quranic command to ‘lower thy gaze’ or be chaste in thoughts and action is addressed first to men and then to women. Did not Jesus Christ ask men not to look at a woman lustfully, for if they do they have already committed adultery with her in their hearts?


There is much male chauvinism in the pro-niqab/burqa camp, with male scholars trying to impose their hardline interpretations on the females whose views are rarely sought or respected.  
Amidst views and counterviews between the human rights and security schools of thought, the golden means, perhaps, is to impose a temporary restriction based on the security threat which needs to be assessed from time to time with a view to lifting the ban. 
Ironically, at a time when we struggle to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the facemasks we wear to protect ourselves from the virus have made us -- women and men -- niqabis or niqab wearers. Hence the move to ban niqab may appear ridiculous.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Burqa-ban-Security-human-rights-and-male-chauvinism/172-208057

 

South African Muslim bodies seek intervention over burqa ban in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister of South Africa urged to intervene

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South African Muslim organisations have called on the country’s foreign minister to intervene in the proposed Sri Lankan ban on the burqa and closure of hundreds of Islamic schools.

This followed the announcement by Sri Lanka''s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, during the weekend that his country would ban the traditional full-face covering worn by some Muslim women because it posed a threat to national security.

This was quickly followed by a statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, which said a decision would only be taken on the proposal after consultations and further discussion.

The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) has now asked South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to intervene in the matter.

UUCSA had earlier also called for such intervention when Sri Lanka decided that Muslims should also be cremated rather than buried, in defiance of Muslim requirements, which prohibit cremation. The cremation ruling was rescinded later.

“The UUCSA will once again appeal to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation to engage with its counterparts to stop state-sanctioned Islamophobia,” Yusuf Patel, the secretary-general of UUCSA, told the weekly Post.

“Muslims in Sri Lanka have become targets of virulent hate speech in mainstream and social media. The ban on the burqa and the closure of schools are meant to appease Sri Lanka’s Buddhist majority, who thrive on entrenching sectarian and religious divides through hate propaganda,” Patel said.

Adding its voice to the call for action against Sri Lanka, the South African Muslim Network (Samnet) said it was hypocritical of the Sri Lankan government to target Islamic schools.

“There are other religious groups who also have institutions that teach their religious teachings, but there has been no attempt to target those,” Samnet chairperson Dr Faisal Suliman told the weekly.

“Such moves like this, on the Muslim community, will likely give rise to radicalism, fundamentalism and underground movements, which will in fact be a greater source of insecurity than working with religious schools, interacting with them and looking at the syllabi taught. By doing this, they will be ensuring that there are standards and uniformity of the teachings.”

Suliman said Samnet would express its concerns to both the local foreign ministry as well as the Sri Lankan embassy in South Africa. (PTI)

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/South-African-Muslim-bodies-seek-intervention-over-burqa-ban-in-Sri-Lanka/108-208064


 

Banning Burqas and Madrasas illegal: Fmr MP

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Former MP M.M .Zuhair said yesterday it would be unlawful to ban Burqas and Madrasas.

Issuing a statement, he said some observations and recommendations of the Commission on Easter Sunday attacks are invasive of the absolute protection given to every person under Article 10 of the Sri Lanka Constitution.

He said the Commission’s report though good in parts, can be seen as an attempted assault on Islam for the heinous crimes of a dozen suicide bombers.

The right to the freedom stated in Article 10 is ‘assured to all religions’ under Article 9. No one, not even Presidential Commissions can invite or promote the State or any limb of the Executive or Judiciary to violate the freedom guaranteed under Article 10.This protection is guaranteed notwithstanding any national security concerns, as the law stands today.

In this constitutionally protected background, the statement made on Saturday by a government Minister that he has signed and gazetted his order banning the right of women to wear Burqa styled dress and that Madrasas will also be banned soon, stands condemned as a violation of Article 10 read with Article 9 of the Constitution.

In addition to the violation of the Constitution, the first of the two constitutes an unlawful attack on the honour and reputation of women as declared in Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an international treaty to which Sri Lanka is a party.

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Banning-Burqas-and-Madrasas-illegal-Fmr-MP/108-207723

 

Pakistan says likely ban on Niqab in SL to serve as injury on Muslims

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The Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak today said the likely ban on Niqab in Sri Lanka will only serve as an injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe.

In a tweet, the Ambassador said that at today’s economically difficult time due to COVID-19 pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at the international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country.

Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said today that in addition to banning the burqa, the cabinet proposal would also include banning the niqab which covers the face of the wearer except the eyes. The burqa includes a full face cover, with a mesh on the eyes.

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/top_story/Pakistan-says-likely-ban-on-Niqab-in-SL-to-serve-as-injury-on-Muslims/155-207755

 

යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 8 කින් හිස්බුල්ලාට සහාය

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මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛ නීතිඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යුරෝපීය රටවල් අටක මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කර තිබේ. නෙදර්ලන්තය, ජර්මනිය, එංගලන්තය ස්වීඩනය, එස්ටෝනියාව, ලිතුවේනියාව, ලක්සම්බර්ග් සහ ෆින්ලන්තය යන රටවල්වල මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් මෙම නිවේදනය නිකුත් කර ඇත.

කීර්තිමත් නීතීඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා 2020 අප්‍රේල් මාසයේ සිට දිගින් දිගටම සිරගත කර සිටීම පිළිබඳව කනස්සල්ලට පත්ව සිටින බවද එම තානාපතිවරු පවසති. මාස 10 ක් රඳවා තබා ගැනීමෙන් අනතුරුව හිස්බුල්ලා මහතාට දැන් ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත සහ වෙනත් නීති යටතේ කථනය ආශ්‍රිත වැරදි සම්බන්ධයෙන් චෝදනා එල්ල වී තිබීම කනගාටුවට කරුණක් බවද ඔවුහු පෙන්වා දෙති.

හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුස්ලිම්වරුන් ඇතුළු සුළුතර ප්‍රජාවන්ගේ අයිතිවාසිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛයකු වන බවත් වෙනස් කොට සැලකීමේ ප්‍රතිපත්ති පිළිබඳ දැඩි විවේචකයකු බවත් සඳහන් කරන ඔව්හු, රටක මානව අයිතිවාසිකම් ආරක්ෂා කිරීම හා ප්‍රවර්ධනය කිරීම සඳහා මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ගේ කාර්යභාරය ඉතා වැදගත් බවත් ඔවුහු සඳහන් කරති.

මානව හිමිකම් ක්‍රියාකාරීන් ආරක්ෂා කිරීම සහ ඔවුන්ට හිංසා සිදුවීම වැළැක්වීම සඳහා රජයන්ට විශේෂ වගකීමක් ඇතැයි ද පෙන්වා දෙන එම තානාපතිවරු, හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටීම සඳහා මානව හිමිකම් පිළිබඳ මහ කොමසාරිස්වරයා ඇතුළු පිරිස සමග එක්වන බව ද ප්‍රකාශ කරති.

http://www.lankadeepa.lk/latest_news/%E0%B6%BA%E0%B7%94%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%9D%E0%B6%B4%E0%B6%BA%E0%B7%9A-%E0%B6%BB%E0%B6%A7%E0%B7%80%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8A-8-%E0%B6%9A%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%8A-%E0%B7%84%E0%B7%92%E0%B7%83%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%B6%E0%B7%94%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8F%E0%B6%A7-%E0%B7%83%E0%B7%84%E0%B7%8F%E0%B6%BA/1-587195

 

Eight EU HR Ambassadors raise concern over Hejaaz Hizbullah

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In a statement issued today, Eight Human Rights  Ambassadors of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden called on the Sri Lankan government to " respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah".

The statement issued by the Ambassadors of the United Kingsdom, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands said that after ten months of Detention, Hejaaz Hizbullah was being accused of speech related offences.

Prominent Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department on the 14th of April 2020.

He was thereafter accused in the media of various activities related to terrorism. He was thereafter produced on the 18th of February 2021 where the Attorney General informed court that the entire case against Hizbullah was to be based on purported statements made by children.

Hizbullah and his Lawyers have maintained that the entire case is a fabrication by sleuths.

The statement further said " Mr. Hizbullah is a leading advocate if the rights of people from minority communities including Muslims in Sri Lana and a vocal critic of discriminatory policies" .

The statement called on the government to respect persons such as Hizbullah.

" We join the UN High COmmissioner for Human Rights, special procedures mandate holders, in urging the Government of Sri LAnka to respect Human Rights defenders such as Hizbullah" it said.

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Eight-EU-HR-Ambassadors-raise-concern-over-Hejaaz-Hizbullah/108-207510

 

Circular on burial of COVID-19 victims issued

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The circular containing the guidelines with regard to the burial of COVID-19 victims has been issued, the Health Ministry said.

Some key guidelines are as follows,

  • The relatives of the deceased should inform the Director/ Head of the health care institution (Where the death has occurred) of their desire to bury the corpse without delay.
  • The Director of the hospital/ Head of the health care institution should obtain a written request from relatives for burial.
  • The relatives need to provide a coffin in advance.
  • It is the duty of the director/ Head of health care institution to transport the corpse in a coffin provided by the relatives to a designated location in Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (office of JMO) / BH Welikanda where the corpse will be received by the designated officer.
  • The vehicle transporting the corpse to "Nachchikuda pier" will leave daily at 5.30 a.m. from the designated receiving center nominated by the DGHS.
  • Corpse carried by authorized officers will be handed over to the respective authority at the "Nachchikuda pier" which is supervised by the area MOH representative PHI.
  • Burial will take place by the facilitation and coordination of the Police/Security personnel at an Island earmarked by the Government of Sri Lanka in the presence of relatives, MOH his representative PHI of the area of burial.
  • Religious activities are permitted only at hospital.
  • The relatives or unauthorized persons are not permitted to obtain photographs, video and video calls in the health care institution/s.
  • Only two relatives are permitted to be present at the burial.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Circular-on-burial-of-COVID-19-victims-issued/108-206952

 

Muslims to raise concerns over Iranaithivu burial with global bodies

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A leading Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka will this week send an official letter of concern to the global Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Muslim Congress, seeking their intervention to urge the Sri Lankan government to allocate a decent land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims.

The Daily Mirror learns that the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre, which is a member of the World Muslim Congress will raise serious concerns with the global bodies and will also send a letter to the World Muslim Congress office in Geneva urging for immediate intervention after the government announced that burials of the COVID-19 dead would take place on the Iranaithivu Island, in the Gulf of Mannar.

Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaithivu Isle for the burials and instead urged the government to find a suitable land elsewhere in the country.

The Daily Mirror learns that two lands have been proposed by the Muslim community - the Kupiyawatta burial grounds in Colombo and a five acre land in Mannar, in the north which belongs to a local mosque in the area, where ground water level reports have been carried out by the Geologists from the Department of Geology from the University of Peradeniya.

When questioned, a senior geologist from the Geology Department of the Peradeniya University confirmed that ground water level reports had been carried out on both the lands and the proposed land in Mannar was found to have low water levels.

Senior Muslim officials said the proposed land in Mannar was ready to undertake burials of the COVID19 dead immediately and were concerned why these requests were ignored by the health authorities who were notified.

Meanwhile Minister of Water Supply, Vasudeva Nanayakkara told Daily Mirror that according to his knowledge, he was not aware of any feasibility report carried out on the Iranaithivu Island to bury COVID-19 dead but said he had proposed two more lands, one in the North and another in the East which had low water levels and was suitable to bury the COVID19 dead. He said he had handed over these recommendations to the expert committee for them to decide.(JAMILA HUSAIN)

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Muslims-to-raise-concerns-over-Iranaithivu-burial-with-global-bodies/108-206971

 

Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal further remanded

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Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were further remanded till March 18 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court today.

They were earlier remanded under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Hizbullah-and-Madrasa-School-Principal-further-remanded/108-206945

 

Govt turns blind eye on Muslims’ request to bury COVID-19 dead in Kupiyawatta; go ahead with Iranaitivu isle

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Muslims in Sri Lanka will make an urgent appeal to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to find a suitable land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims, instead of burying them in the island of Iranaitivu, in the Gulf of Mannar, stating it was not a practical solution to bury the victims there.

The Daily Mirror learns that the trustees of the Maradana mosque have written to the Director General of Health, Dr. Asela Gunawardena requesting the Kupiyawatta Muslim burial ground in Colombo to be utilized for the burial of COVID-19 dead as a ground water table test report was carried out recently by the Department of Geology, University of Peradeniya, where it was determined that the water table was detected at a depth of 2.5 to 3 meters which is suitable for COVID-19 deceased burials according to the Health Ministry's expectations.

In the letter, a copy which was seen by Daily Mirror, the trustees have also confirmed that if permission is granted for burials in the Kupiyawatta burial grounds, any additional guidelines issued by the Health Ministry would be complied with when undertaking the burials.

An official from the trustee board said this ground water table report had been handed over to the Health officials as soon as the report was received, but there had been no word from the authorities who he claimed even failed to discuss it or table it at the task force meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

On Monday, the trustees of the mosque handed over the letter, addressed to the Director General of Health along with the ground water report, to Temple Trees, in an urgent attempt to seek Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's intervention.

A letter will also be sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this week, attaching the ground water table report, urging him to reconsider and grant permission for burials in the Kupiyawatta grounds.

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Islamic Center,  Mohammed Hussain told Daily Mirror that while they will make an urgent appeal to the President and Prime Minister, if necessary they will also go to the OIC and World Muslim Council urging for a suitable land to be allocated.

He said it was disappointing that the groundwater level report conducted by the University of Peradeniya on the Kupiyawatta burial ground was not even tabled at any official discussions and urged for immediate redress. "We will not protest but we appeal the government to reconsider," he said.

The Iranaitivu Island which is located in the Gulf of Mannar is located 10 kilometers away from the mainland and requires a boat to access it. Presently 12 to 15 families are residing on it and it also has a navy facility.

Once the fresh guidelines are issued by the Director General of Health, the navy's assistance will be sought to transport the bodies on to the island from the mainland.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva said the families residing there will continue and things will be organized once the fresh guidelines are issued by the Health Ministry.

Cabinet Spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Daily Mirror that the idea to select Iranaitivu Island was made by the expert committee, taking into consideration all the scientific criteria as well as the new strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Rambukwella dismissed claims that it was a political decision stating that the decision was made by the experts and not politicians.

He said a special vehicle which will include a container with a freezer, and where the driver's compartment will also be seperate, will be utilized to transport the bodies on the long journey, from hospitals  and two family members will be able to attend the funeral and give the victims a dignified burial. All health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry will be followed.

Rambukwella said that all suggestions over the land, which came in from the Muslim community was also taken into consideration.

Meanwhile the inhabitants of Iranaitivu Island will launch a protest on the island today against the government's decision to bury the COVID-19 dead there.(JAMILA HUSAIN)

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Govt-turns-blind-eye-on-Muslims-request-to-bury-COVID-19-dead-in-Kupiyawatta-go-ahead-with-Iranait/108-206917

 

Technical committee gives clearance; ban on COVID-19 burial revoked

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The government decided today to allow the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims after the technical committee appointed in this regard gave clearance, a Minister said today.

The decision follows the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing concerns over the cremation of dead bodies of Muslims at a high level meeting. OIC Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen said the OIC is “concerned on the situation of Muslims in Sri Lanka."

Sri Lanka counts on the support of these countries to defeat a resolution to be moved by the core group of countries led by the United Kingdom.

Earlier, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced in Parliament that burials would be allowed.

Later, State Minister Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said it would be referred to the technical committee of experts to take the final decision. (Kelum Bandara)

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/top_story/Technical-committee-gives-clearance-ban-on-COVID-19-burial-revoked/155-206622

   

කොරෝනා මළ සිරුරු භූමදානයට අවසර

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කොරෝනා වයිරසය ආසාදනය වීමෙන් සිදුවන මරණවලදී මළ සිරුරු භූමදානය කිරීමට රජය අවසර දී තිබේ. ඒ සඳහා වන ගැසට් පත්‍රය අද (25) රාත්‍රියේ මුද්‍රණයට යැවුණ අතර සෞඛ්‍ය ඇමතිනී පවිත්‍රා වන්නිආරච්චි මහත්මිය ඊට අත්සන් තබා තිබේ.


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Justice has failed Sri Lanka civil war victims: UNHCR

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Efforts to ensure justice for victims have failed, Michelle Bachelet says while introducing her report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council.
Twelve years after the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, domestic efforts to ensure justice for victims have failed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday.

Introducing her report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet said the effect of the conflict on thousands of survivors from all communities was devastating.
“Despite commitments made in 2015, the current government, like its predecessor, has failed to pursue genuine truth-seeking or accountability processes,” she said.

“The impact on thousands of survivors, from all communities, is devastating. Moreover, the systems, structures, policies and personnel that gave rise to such grave violations in the past remain – and have recently been reinforced.”

The decades-long civil war between the Sri Lankan security forces and the separatist Tamil Tigers ended nearly 12 years ago in 2009.

The war killed about 100,000 people, including up to 40,000 Tamil civilians killed by the Sri Lankan forces in the final onslaught, a charge the government denies.

UN reports have accused Sri Lankan troops of shelling hospitals and indiscriminate aerial bombardments, executing surrendering rebels and causing the disappearance of thousands of minority Tamils.

Bachelet said the independence of the judiciary and other accountability bodies has been “deeply eroded” following a recent constitutional amendment and accused the Sri Lankan government of blocking the possibility of genuine progress to end impunity.

“The independence of the judiciary, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission and other key bodies has been deeply eroded by the recently adopted 20th Constitutional Amendment,” Bachelet said.

“The growing militarisation of key civilian functions is encroaching on democratic governance. The continued failure to implement comprehensive reforms – or to vet personnel – leaves in place security and military officers who have been implicated in alleged grave crimes and violations.”

She said longstanding, structural and systemic issues persisted in Sri Lanka and warned there were “clear warning signs that past patterns of violations could be repeated”.

A UNHCR report last month said the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reversed some advances made under previous administrations in protecting human rights in the country.

Surveillance of rights activists and dissidents has increased and a climate of self-censorship has emerged, it said.

Rajapaksa won the 2019 presidential election on a nationalist agenda which included a promise that troops who crushed the Tamil rebels would not be prosecuted.

Rajapaksa was the top defence official when government forces crushed the rebel fighters in a military campaign that ended in May 2009. His brother Mahinda was president then and is currently the prime minister.

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka urged the UN Human Rights Council to reject a forthcoming resolution voicing “serious concern” over the “deteriorating” rights situation in the country.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the council the resolution was a “political move” and part of an “unprecedented propaganda campaign” against Sri Lanka.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia have submitted a draft resolution for consideration by the 47-member council next month.

SOURCE : AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/25/justice-has-failed-sri-lanka-civil-war-victims-unhcr

   

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