“Muslims are protesting by not consenting to cremations” – Shreen Saroor

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Muslims are not abandoning the remains of their relatives who died of Covid 19 but are not cooperating with the authorities who want to cremate the bodies against their wishes, a prominent Human Rights activist says.

Human Rights activist Shreen Saroor told EconomyNext today December 10, that this is a form of protest “as the community does not want to sign notes of consent to cremation as it goes against their beliefs.”

Her comments come as the authorities begin the process of cremating an estimated 25 bodies of people who died of Covid 19 which are lying unclaimed by relatives in hospital morgues around the country.

The process began after the Attorney-General Dappula de Livera gave the Health Department clearance to dispose of the remains “according to the Quarantine ordinance.”

The AG’s spokesperson Nishara Jayaratne said yesterday that “bodies of COVID-19 victims not claimed by families can be cremated in terms of quarantine regulations.”

This gives the police the authority to cremate the bodies.

In the Colombo mortuary, there are 42 unclaimed bodies in the freezers and of them, 19 are of those who died of Covid 19.

One body is that of an elderly Christian woman and the rest are Muslims, multiple sources told EconomyNext.

The remains of Muslims who have died of the pandemic are reported from the Peradeniya Hospital, the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital and the National Hospital for Infectious Diseases (IDH) in Mulleriyawa among others.

Last week 24 human rights organisations, civil society collectives, women’s rights groups and other bodies said in a joint statement that the victims of forced cremation of COVID-19 or COVID-19 suspected dead had in the highest court in Sri Lanka are deeply disappointed.





“Victims and communities are now left without a recourse in Sri Lanka for the continued injustice they suffer,” the statement said.

The statement said 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 on the grounds that it violates the right to freedom of religion and belief of some faiths and that the said regulation, in fact, violates the law under which the regulation has been made as the law itself permits either burial or cremation.

A number of international organisations including the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have appealed to the government to allow burials of those who do not want to cremate the remains of their loved ones.

The government of Sri Lanka has been staying the course of cremating the remains based on claims by lobby groups supporting it that Muslims could “weaponise” the bodies for terrorism.

In recent months the authorities, including leading figures in the Health Department have said that WHO guidelines which allow burial cannot be implemented on the island because of a high water table.

However efforts by the Muslims to make available land in arid parts of the country for a special Muslim burial ground for Covid 19 victims where the water table is low has not received approval, Saroor said.
(Colombo, December 10, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

Latest Comments


  1. What is this fuss over dead bodies from Corona?
    Once a person is dead, what is the use of that dead body? There is no way the deceased bother how his body would be disposed of.
    All that remain is memory of the dead.
    Allah will will treat his Soul in accordance to the merits the deceased had accumulated when he lived and NOT how he was buries and how much was prayers received.
    Sri Lanka Muslims creating much adore over nothing.

  2. Until it can be proven that covid-19 corpses will and can not contaminate ground water, no corpses should be allowed to be buried.

    1. Well, the best Scientists alive in the whole damn world are saying tht burial’s do not contaminate the water.. If so, the Spanish Flu Victims(who suffered from a different strain of Coronavirus) were all buried (more than 50Million)…You think its still floating around in water?

    2. If the real concern is contamination then sealed concrete cylinder will help us prevent contamination.
      But if it’s hatred in the bottom of the then virus will always find a way out to contaminate and hatred filled racist with arrogance will feel some satisfaction hearing cremation of diseased Muslim.
      A constructive sustainable solution will help prosperity while victimizing helpless will lead destruction.

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