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Monday December 4th, 2023

Muslim Covid burials issue: First bodies to be buried in Ottamavadi in Batticaloa

#Stopforcedcremations – Demonstrations against the forced cremations of Muslims who die of Covid have popped up across the North and East

ECONOMYNEXT – The first burials of Covid 19 victims are due to take place today, in two designated burial sites in the Eastern Province officials said.

This brings to an end the long drawn out campaign by the Muslims and some Christian groups for the right of the families of the Covid deceased to bury their dead.

The first burials will take place in a burial site at Ottamavadi in the Batticoloa District in the Eastern Province the Vice President of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council Hilmy Ahamed told EconomyNext.

The spokesman for the Covid Prevention Task Force Col Media Vijitha Hettiarachchi said that seven bodies of Covid 19 victims have been dispatched from mortuaries for burial.

EconomyNext learns that these bodies had been kept in mortuary freezers until the issue about whether they were to be cremated or buried was settled.

Graves being dug in Oddamavadi for the burial of Covid victims

Sri Lanka has earned the ire of the World Islamic Community, the Human Rights organisations as well as the World Health Organisation for insisting that all the remains of Covid dead should be cremated.

More than 190 countries around the world are allowing both cremation and burial and Sri Lanka is seen as an outlier, insisting that all bodies be cremated.

Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya Parliamentarian Imtiaz Bakeer Markar implored with the government today to go ahead with the promise the country gave to visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that burials will be permitted.

“How can this country can be seen as compassionate if it keeps on torturing our community in this manner,” he asked in a video released to media.

Cremation is abhorrent to those who follow the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Their daily prayer includes the line “save us from the fires of hell.”

Bakeer Markar said cremation is like facing the fires of Hell.

The issue is a major factor at the United Nations Human Rights Conference now underway in Geneva.

Sri Lanka is facing a hostile resolution sponsored mostly by Western countries demanding sanctions against alleged war crimes committed by troops and political leaders during the last stages of the separatist war.

Sri Lanka has been banking on the support of Muslim countries to avoid censure, but the racist elements in the government which have been insisting on the cremation of Muslim Covid 19 victims has reduced the possibility of Islamic countries backing Colombo.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in a statement designated Sri Lanka’s Muslims as an oppressed minority in a presentation to the UNHRC placing them in the same basket as the Muslims of the Israeli Occupied territories in Palestine. (Colombo, March 5, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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Gov minister highlights abortion rights, sex-ed for children, and Sri Lanka men killing their women

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legislators have politicized the topics of rape and violence without addressing the elephant in the room, Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said in parliament on Monday (4).

“All the members here are talking about rape. What happens after that? We must talk about abortion rights. That is not something anyone wants to touch on, and that is why we are in this place right now,” Thondaman said.

“Despite alarming statistics on rape and violence, women are often blamed and punished for it. The criminalisation of abortion is a major example of this.”

Sri Lanka has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. According to a 2016 estimate by the Health Ministry, he said, approximately 658 abortions take place a day, and close to 250,000 a year.

“That’s 250,000 women whose lives you are endangering.”

He added that what was needed at this point in time was comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for children and young people.

“Only through CSE in schools will children and young people develop, accurate, age appropriate knowledge attitude and skills; positive values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, diversity and attitude and skills that contribute to a safe, healthy and positive relationship.”

Thondaman pointed out that CSE plays a pivotal role in preparing young people for a world where HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender based violence still pose a risk to their well-being.

“CSE basically empowers children take control and make informed decisions freely and responsibly.”

Thondaman also highlighted the findings of a 2021 study (Fatalities_20211109_UNFPA) by the UNFPA and the University of Kelaniya that showed that a majority of women killed in Sri Lanka were murdered by those close to them.

“62 percent of homicides of Sri Lankan women are committed by either an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member. 84 percent are killed in their own homes by someone they know.”

Police and the judiciary have failed Sri Lanka’s women, the minister pointed out.

“Only 5 percent of these cases, between 2013-2017, were ever concluded. Men claim they were provoked, or are of unsound mind or have mental illness: These have been successful defenses. And the Police often express sympathy to this narrative as opposed to the victim’s.”

“We have a history of protecting oppressors.”

It takes 7-10 years for a child rape case to conclude, he pointed out.

Establishment of child courts are needed, he said, as well as several legislative amendments. “The government is working on a new law to reform the domestic violence act, reform of marriage and divorce laws to ensure there is an easier path to divorce: no one should be forced to remain in a marriage that is either abusive or not healthy.” (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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