Muslim Council of Britain calls on UN to halt forced cremations in Sri Lanka

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called on the United Nations (UN) to halt forced cremations in Sri Lanka.

The MCB said it has submitted a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) given the Sri Lankan Government’s ongoing policy on forced cremations.

Secretary General of the MCB, Zara Mohammed said the Council is very concerned that the Sri Lankan Government has ignored its own committee’s advice, which allows for the safe burial of the deceased.

“The Sri Lankan Government policy is unprecedented; no other state has carried out such unjust and discriminatory measures. We very much hope that the Sri Lankan Government will change its policy in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) advice,” Mohammed said.

Meanwhile, Tayab Ali, Partner at Bindmans LLP who represents the MCB and the applicants, said the forced cremations of Muslims who died of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka are a serious violation of the religious freedom of a minority group.

“It is a violation of international law to delay returning a family member’s body for burial in a timely way unless there is good reason to do so. In this case, the Sri Lankan authorities have departed from the WHO’s recommendation for the safe management of a dead body during the coronavirus pandemic without any justification. Our clients were already suffering from the distress of losing a family member to COVID. It is truly heartless for the Sri Lankan Government to add to that distress by unnecessarily forcing the bodies of loved ones to be cremated. We hope that the United Nations Human Rights Committee will take immediate action upon receipt of this complaint by granting interim measures to halt these cremations,” Ali said.

The Muslim Council of Britain further requested the UNHRC to immediately order the suspension of the forced cremations policy. (Colombo Gazette)

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