Government not informed of move to seek Maldives assistance to bury Muslims

By Easwaran Rutnam

The Government has not been informed of moves to seek Maldives assistance to bury Muslim coronavirus victims, Cabinet co-spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Rambukwella told reporters today that the matter has not been discussed with the Cabinet.

However, he said that the Foreign Ministry will most likely respond to reports that Maldives assistance had been sought.

The Minister insisted that the Government will not take any arbitrary decision on the matter and decides only based on the advise given by a group of medical experts appointed to study the issue.

“We strongly believe that when you appoint a committee you take their advise. Otherwise  you don’t appoint them. You just take arbitrary decisions. If someone suggests that the remains can be taken somewhere we will refer it to the committee and take a final decision,” he said.

The Maldives Government had said yesterday that it was considering a request from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to facilitate Islamic funeral rites in the Maldives for Sri Lankan Muslims succumbing to the coronavirus.

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid tweeted saying Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is considering the special request from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“President Solih’s decision is based on the close longstading bilateral ties between #SriLanka & Maldives, and to ensure help to face the challenges of the pandemic. This assistance will also offer solace to our Sri Lankan Muslim brothers and sisters grieving over burial of loved ones,” Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said.

Earlier, the Health Ministry had said it was to propose concrete graves to end the forced cremation of Muslim coronavirus victims.

Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath had told Colombo Gazette the proposal will be made at the next meeting by the expert committee appointed to address the issue.

He said that suitable dry land will be looked at to make concrete graves to bury the remains of Muslim coronavirus victims.

Dr. Hemantha Herath said that he feels the forced cremation issue will be resolved soon.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had recently instructed the authorities to find suitable land to bury coronavirus victims.

He gave the instructions following talks held with the Health Ministry, officials and a group of Muslim Parliamentarians. (Colombo Gazette)

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