JEDDAH: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed its deep concerns on Thursday over multiple reports indicating that the Sri Lankan government is cremating all people who die in the COVID-19 pandemic. This effectively bans burials, a practice followed by many religious minorities, including Muslims.
The issue has been raised by many human rights organizations, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief urged the government to respect burial rights of its Muslim minority.
The World Health Organization’s advice on governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic does not prescribe cremation as being in any way recommended. Hence, there is no reasonable justification to enforce cremation as an obligatory measure.
Accordingly, IPHRC urges the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its human rights obligations by respecting the right of its Muslim minority to practice their religion free from any discrimination, including the uncompromised right to honor the dignity of their dead in line with their religious beliefs and obligations.