COVID-19: Sri Lanka chooses remote island for burials

A remote island was chosen by Sri Lanka’s government for the burial of Covid-19 victims from minority Muslim and Christian communities.

The government previously forced minorities to cremate their dead in line with the practice of the majority Buddhists. It claimed burials would contaminate ground water.

But the government backed down in the face of criticism from rights groups, including Amnesty International, and the United Nations. Islam prohibits cremation, and Muslims make up nearly 10% of the population. Iranathivu island is the designated site for burials.

Some 300 kilometers away from the capital, Colombo, it was chosen as it is thinly populated.

Muslims were angered by the ban, introduced in April, and said there was no scientific basis to it. The WHO, in its guidance on how bodies of those who died from COVID should be handled safely, said there is no scientific evidence that cremation should be used to prevent infection.

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