Families of 19 Muslims killed by the virus have refused to claim the bodies from a morgue in the capital Colombo, triggering an edict to proceed with cremation that was issued by Attorney General Dappula de Livera.
Rehab Mahamoor, a research assistant at Amnesty international, told Al Jazeera from Colombo that the cremation of Muslims against their religious beliefs was “unjust”.
"International guidelines clearly state bodies of COVID-19 victims can be buried or cremated and Sri Lanka stands to use the pandemic to further marginalise the Muslim community," Mahamoor added.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Council has said a majority of the country's coronavirus victims were Muslim.
The method of the disposal of the body has become a major talking point in the country, with a section of the media accused of running "Anti-Muslim hysteria" and pointing fingers at Muslims for the spread of the virus.