The Discussion of Covid 19 and Burial

Different violent ideologies against Muslim Communities were established several years after the civil war in Sri Lanka. Sinhala religious activists such as Bodu Bala Sena and their activities too contributed to arouse those violent ideologies in people’s minds. Violent ideologies against Muslim communities in Sri Lanka grew faster after the Easter attack on 21st April in 2019. Ahamed Shaheed, a special reporter in United Nations Organization has requested to take urgent actions against such violent ideologies. He spoke about this during his 12 days visit in Sri Lanka last August.


The prevailing violent ideologies against Muslim communities grew along with the first wave of Covid 19 in Sri Lanka. Different Muslim organizations requested the Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka to take actions against such violent ideologies that aroused with Covid 19 situation against the Muslim communities in Sri Lanka. From the 11th of April all the Covid 19 deaths were supposed to be cremated under such a background prevailing in the country. 


The first Covid 19 death in Sri Lanka was reported as a Muslim person in Negombo, Poruthota. Later it was confirmed that his death had not happened due to Covid 19. It is clearly discussed in the report named as “Upan Bima Saha Nawatha Pamineeme Kathandara” by Amalini De Sera and Natasha Van Sahafe. According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, burying the corpse of the deceased was the most protective action. But as soon as the death took place on 30th March, the corpse had been cremated before they get the report of the PCR test even without informing the relatives. From that day onwards, cremation has become the only protective funeral arrangement for the Covid 19 deaths as decided by the Health Ministry. The Ministry of Health issued a gazette on the 11th of April making it mandatory to cremate all Covid 19 deaths. On 13th April the former minister Rauf Hakeem has condemned the action of cremation that has been taken place at the death of the Muslim deceased in Negombo in a letter he has posted in facebook. He has also mentioned that it is a violation of Islamic rules, traditions and beliefs.


This matter has been discussed in the parliament too. According to Dr. Meththika Withanage in the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, there is a danger of mixing the Covid 19 virus with the groundwater when the corpses are buried and there is a possibility of spreading the virus via water.  This comment began to socialize immediately in social media as well as in print media.  But Dr.Meththtika Withanage later mentioned to the newspaper “Anidda” that she has not done any research to check whether Covid 19 spreads via water. She also said that she is unknown to any of such research done by other scientists. Thus it became an imagination of her. 


According to the research “Coronavirus in water environments; occurrence, persistence and concentration methods- A scoping review”, it is not yet confirmed whether the Covid 19 virus spreads via water.


According to the updates of the World Health Organization on 24th March 2020 and 04th September 2020, there is no proof that Covid 19 spreads through a corpse. It only spreads through contact and respiratory droplets. Thus it proves that burying a Covid 19 death is a protective measure. 


Meanwhile, Mrs. Hanna Sigar, a resident coordinator of the United Nations has sent a letter to the prime minister requesting him to consider burying Muslim Covid 19 deaths as their right.



The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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