United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, today  stated that the Government should take a decision regarding the disposal of the COVID-19 victims after discussions with all communities and not to segregate people on religious lines.

Wickremesinghe said it was the right of the people to decide whether to cremate or bury their dead and that the Government should have consulted with Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims religious leaders before making a decision on this matter.

He was addressing a meeting of the Working Committee of the UNP at Sirikotha.

"Christians bury their dead, Muslims bury their dead. We respect their wishes because they do so based on their religious beliefs. There are occasions when Buddhists as well as Hindus are buried, while there are also occasions when they cremate the dead. We must respect these personal decisions. The United National Party has always promoted unity between religious communities," the UNP said in a statement.

It added said His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith stated, this is a personal decision. This is also a fundamental right of the people of Sri Lanka. It is the responsibility of the Government to resolve the issue of whether the bodies will be buried or cremated in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In regards to this matter, segregation of people according to religion should not be done. The government must discuss this issue with the religious leaders and ensure that the situation does not lead to a division according to race, religion or caste.

It is imperative to pay attention to the recommendations of the health sector. Religious leaders should be involved in these discussions with the health authorities.

It is also important to look at how countries such as Korea, India and Germany have dealt with this issue, as well as the recommendations of the World Health Organization. We acknowledge the fact that the health sector’s recommendations must be adhered to. Therefore, we request the Government not to act unilaterally nor to politicize such sensitive issues. A final decision must be reached after discussions with all relevant communities and authorities.