46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Virtual Side -Event of COSMOS UK in Association with UHRC)

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Report on Forced Cremation and Continuing Challenge for Human Rights in Sri Lanka:
Systematic Discrimination of Minorities

Executive Summary
1. Council of Sri Lankan Muslim Organisations UK (COSMOS UK) is an umbrella
organization of twenty-eight Sri Lankan Muslim Organizations based in UK. In support
of the 46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, COSMOS UK is
sponsoring the side event focusing on the theme of Forced Cremation and Continuing
Challenge for Human Rights in Sri Lanka.
2. The following report aims to provide further underpinning and context to the side event
and acts to provide the necessary evidence underpinning the gross violations of human
rights in Sri Lanka.
3. Unfortunately, instead of uniting the people in the fight against COVID-19, the Sri
Lankan authorities have been creating deepening divisions between them. In complete
disregard for the basic human rights of the minorities, and despite strong protests and
pleas from the community leaders, and human rights watch dogs as well as appeals
from the international community, Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has been forcibly
cremating those who have died because of COVID-19.
4. One of the outcome sought as part of the side event is to raise awareness across the
UN Ambassadors of the human rights violations of GoSL and to provide them the
necessary resources to challenge and remove the discriminatory policies currently being
5. On Friday 26th of February 2021, after nearly a year of suffering by the minority
communities as a result of the discriminatory laws of forced cremation, the GoSL has
issued a Gazette notification to allow both cremation and burial options in the disposal
of COVID-19 dead bodies, as a recommendation from its ‘technical committee’. Whilst
this seems to bring an end one form of the human rights violation the minority
communities have endured in Sri Lanka, we urge international community to impress
upon the GoSL the Sri Lankan government;
a. to ensure that burial rights are respected, the deprivation of which has been
having a devastating and discriminatory effect on the Muslim and Christian
b. To stop the demonization campaign being carried out systematically against the
c. To end impunity and to punish offenders of hate crimes.
d. To stop the State sanctioned racism and discrimination against minorities
e. To respect the constitutional rights of minorities to practice their religion and
culture as enshrined in the UN Charter, UDHR and Sri Lanka’s constitution.
f. To uphold its international commitments to ensure that no one is subjected to
discrimination based on their religion, and the right to freedom of religion.
6. The second part of the report focuses on COSMOS UK’s previous reports on Sri Lanka
human rights violations. The report calls to explore how the rights of Muslims in Sri
Lanka are protected as per the Constitution and International Obligations Relating To
Minorities. The report was published in April 2019 and specifically sort a number of
a. To appoint commissions of Inquiry to inquire into anti Muslim violence from Aluthgama
to Digana and identify the causes and those persons/groups involved
b. To Punish Those Responsible for The Communal Violence from Aluthgama to Digana
c. Pay Due and Full Compensation to The Victims of Communal Violence
d. To Deal with Hate Racist Speech and Racist Groups as per Article 20(2) of the ICCPR
without impinging on the right to free expression and right to democratic protest.
e. To Apply the Rule of Law Fairly to All Communities
f. To Resolve the Longstanding Settlement Issue Relating to the Northern Muslims

Disclaimer :

Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect World Forum for Sri Lankan Muslims (wfslm.org) point-of-view.

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