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The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, said in a statement that rule amounts to a human rights violation.

“We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said. “Such hostility against the minorities exacerbates existing prejudices, intercommunal tensions, and religious intolerance, sowing fear and distrust while inciting further hatred and violence.”

Sri Lanka introduced the rule in March, saying there was a risk that bodies with the coronavirus could contaminate the ground water if they were buried. The WHO, as well as Sri Lankan medical groups, have said that burial of those who died of Covid is safe.

More than 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, a faith in which cremation is common. But 9% of people in Sri Lanka are Muslims and many say cremation goes against their religious beliefs.

Sri Lanka, which has a population of 22 million, has seen 283 deaths from the coronavirus out of more than 59,000 reported infections.

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