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Zuhair questions Muzammil’s stand on final rites for corona victims

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Resumption of burials:

Former People’s Alliance lawmaker and President’s Counsel M.M. Zuhair, yesterday (12) questioned National Freedom Front (NFF) MP Mohammed Muzammil strong objections to allowing burial of Muslim coronavirus victims.

Zuhair, one-time Sri Lanka’s top envoy in Iran has sent us the following statement in response to yesterday’s lead story headlined ‘Resumption of burials a high risk the country cannot afford to take’ : In the context of the World Health Organisation (WHO) supporting the options of cremation or burial of Covid 19 victims; the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) commending the WHO guidelines as well as the government’s March 27th rescinded regulation permitting both cremations and burials; the Quarantine Ordinance of the country providing for both burials and cremations; the country’s top epidemiologist Dr Paba Palihawadana stating that there is no evidence that Covid 19 is spread by contaminating water; the GMOA and eminent medical professionals calling for a review of the current regulations in the context of WHO guidelines and the government said to be reviewing the present regulations in a manner applicable to all citizens, the Island’s lead story of today has come as a surprise.

The National Freedom Front (NFF) Member of Parliament Mohammed Muzammil is entitled to his views, but neither he nor I, are competent to be judgmental scientifically or medically to contest Dr. Paba Palihawadana, the GMOA or the other eminent professionals. Indeed the government and all communities ought to be scientifically guided by the medical experts on the matter. The experts will know best why the WHO guidelines provide for both options. They will know why nearly 200 countries world- wide have permitted and adopted burials of Covid 19 victims as an option. They know as to why over fifty countries and islands with high water tables have also adopted burials as an option.

If Covid 19 is thought to spread through contamination of water from the burial of afflicted dead bodies, then the question raised in a parliamentary debate in the country queried how millions of gallons of Covid 19 used daily at quarantine centres are allowed to freely enter water out-lets!

The government has been made aware that regulation 61A of 11th April 2020 making cremation as the only mode of disposing Covid 19 dead bodies is in violation of section 3(1)(i) of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance and section 17(1)(C) of the Interpretation Ordinance. The regulation is also in violation of Code of Criminal Procedure Act (CCPA) empowering Magistrates to judicially deal with sudden deaths.

Medical personnel, armed forces and health workers rendering a yeoman service in the forefront of containing the spread of this deadly virus may be exposed not only to the risk of infection but also to actions of violating the law. It is to the credit of persons who feel wrongfully deprived of the option of burial that they have fully cooperated with the authorities in ensuring that Covid 19 is contained, without following up on other options.

There is a wide section of the people across all communities who are said to prefer burial of their loved ones, so long as the medically competent experts accept the WHO guidelines as worthy of adoption without getting trapped into mythological or ghostly fears. Such burials must be by the State subject to strict health guidelines as in the case of cremations.”

 

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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