The HRC is preparing to vote on a resolution expressing concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan minority community leaders urged members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to take into account the discrimination faced by minorities in the island nation ahead of a key vote on its record in human rights.
The warning comes as the UN human rights body prepares to vote Tuesday on a draft resolution expressing deep concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in the country .
The Sri Lankan government has faced widespread criticism from advocacy groups and regional governments for alleged discrimination against its minority Muslim population.
Of the 47 states due to vote in Geneva, several have predominantly Muslim populations, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In particular, Sri Lanka’s decision last year to mandate that all COVID-19 victims should be cremated has sparked a backlash, international human rights groups and human rights experts. UN man condemning this decision.
Muslim groups protested the move, which they said prevented them from following the funeral traditions of their Islamic religion. Muslims make up around 10 percent of the Sri Lankan population.
In February, the government ruled that the bodies of those who died from COVID-19 could be buried.
The U-turn was greeted by the leaders of some Muslim nations, including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who visited Sri Lanka last month.
Mahendran Thiruvarangan, a professor at Jaffna University, said the Sri Lankan government’s decision to allow the burial of the bodies of COVID-19 victims after nearly a year has shown its hypocrisy.
Muslim countries that are members of the HRC should not fall into this trap, he said, adding that discrimination against minority groups and the polarization of the minority community of the majority of the country – Sinhala Buddhists – has since intensified. the coming to power of the new regime.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently paid a two-day official visit to Bangladesh (March 19-20) where he met his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation said in a statement on Sunday that its secretary general, Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, received a phone call from Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and discussed the situation of the Muslim community. and relations between the OIC and Sri Lanka. .
Al-Othaimeen praised the phone call of the Sri Lankan presidents and his willingness to open up and reach out to international organizations and praised the decision of the Sri Lankan government on the right of Muslims to bury their dead in accordance with to Islamic rites. declared.
HilmyAhamed, deputy chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, said Sri Lankan governments were trying to push for support from Muslim nations before the UNHRC vote tomorrow could be successful.
After all, the traditionally Islamic nations are themselves the biggest violators of human rights in the world, he said.
Burqa ban a proposal
The government has also come under fire from regional allies and Muslim groups after Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara said earlier this month he signed a cabinet document endorsing the ban on the burqa. He also said the government would permanently ban the garment, which covers the body and face and is worn by some Muslim women.
Shortly after, the country’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that the call to ban the burqa was a proposal, which was based on precautionary measures to ensure national security, after investigations by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks, and that the government would take the time to consider the proposal.
Minister Weerasekara told Al Jazeera that he had presented the national security proposal and that the proposal was to ban all face coverings.
If people say that minority groups are discriminated against, this is all wrong. Everyone – Sinhala Tamils and Muslims – lives as brothers and sisters. About 52% of Tamils live among Sinhalese. Where is the discrimination here?
A Muslim or a Tamil can buy land anywhere and start a business, but a Sinhala cannot go to Jaffna and settle there. So there is a feeling of discrimination against the majority, he said, adding that most of the discrimination allegations made against the government were made-up stories.
Passing a UN resolution could open the door to prosecution of military and government figures for their role in ending a 37-year separatist war that ended in 2009.
In January, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on the International Criminal Court to investigate the conflict and called for sanctions against key generals and others accused of war crimes.
Bachelet accused Sri Lanka of breaking its promises to provide justice for thousands of civilians killed in the latter stages of the war.
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