The Government has chosen Iranaitheevu as the location for burial of those who died of Corona virus. Iranaitheevu is an island inhabited by 100% Tamil Fisherfolk and of Catholic faith. Having been compelled to flee the island due to the war, the people were resettled in the island only in the year 2018 and are in the process of picking up the missing threads in their life. The people of Iranaitheevu have already began protesting against the decision and have handed over a signed petition to the government.
The choice of this island location for burial of bodies of those of Muslim faith appears to be ill advised and is highly disturbing. Burial rights for the dead had been denied for almost a year for those supposed to have died of the Covid pandemic and now when this dispute seems to have been resolved at long last, the contentious choice of the location generates a fresh and unwanted controversy. To the credit of the Muslim community their leaders in their sagacity have already offered several alternative locations in the Eastern Province and Mannar District for burial amidst their own religious community, which option should be accepted by the authorities so that any further misunderstanding or conflict may be promptly avoided. As a nation that is bedeviled by ethnic, religious and political divisions for a long time any misguided act is likely to lead the people and the country further into the divisive abyss.
Civil society has raised concerns and asked the relevant authorities and Ministry of Health to reconsider the choice of Irenaitheevu for burial of Covid bodies and to choose a location already offered in order to avoid the likelihood of misunderstanding and conflict among religious communities.
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