Responding to the Sri Lankan authorities’ decision to end the practice of forced cremations for victims of COVID-19, Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, said:
“This is a long overdue but welcome move by the Sri Lankan authorities. Forced cremations, which should never have been carried out in the first place, have denied the Muslim community the right to say goodbye to loved ones in accordance with their religious beliefs. The ending of this cruel practice, which has not been scientifically proven to prevent the spread of the virus, allows Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority a dignified burial in line with Islamic burial rites. The decision is a testament to the tireless struggle of families of victims, activists, and members of the Muslim community.
“We are, however, concerned by media reports of a proposal before the Cabinet of Ministers to ban face veils. It is essential that one type of religious discrimination is not simply replaced with another. We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to reject this regressive step, which would only serve to stigmatize and marginalize Muslim women.”