Indian-origin man fails to find burial place for wife's ashes

Published: 22nd October 2013 01:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2013 01:32 PM   |  A+A-


An Indian-origin man in Hong Kong is finding it difficult to secure a place to bury his wife's ashes after she died in April this year.

Mariasusai Andrews, an Indian Christian, couldn't find a place for the burial of his late wife Nirmala's ashes even after six months of her death.

She died at the age of 51 after she developed lung cancer.

The urn containing Nirmala's ashes is still in a funeral home, after no final resting place was found, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.

According to the report, Andrews was not able to secure a spot in a lucky draw allocation for government-run cemeteries in June because the letter sent to him asking for an explanation was in Chinese language when, in fact, he had filed the application in English.

“It seemed like they were not very earnest. They are not genuine and they are not respecting (us),” Andrews was quoted as saying.

The family is not allowed to use the Hindu cemetery where many Indians are buried as they belong to the Christian community.

Andrews is associated with a church in the city which is not a member of the Chinese Church Alliance, which controls Christian cemeteries in the city, and, therefore, he didn't get a place there as well.

Chinese Permanent Cemeteries also turned down his request saying that, according to law, the cemeteries under the organisation only take ethnic Chinese applicants.

Andrews and his family said they have been living in Hong Kong for 30 years and made it their home, so he does not want to take the ashes of his late wife to India.

“Hong Kong is home. I find living in India very difficult now. As for the children, it is virtually impossible (for them to settle back there),” he said.

“Even in death, ethnic minorities still don't get equal rights,” Annie Li Man from minority rights advocacy group Unison said.

The chairman of the Chinese Equal Opportunities Commission, York Chow Yat-ngok, said he had written to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which is in charge of government cemeteries.

Chow added that the family would get a second shot at the new lucky draw.

The department, however, apologised for sending a Chinese letter to the family.

Chow said cemeteries and burial grounds were exempted from the anti-discrimination ordinance.

The cemeteries can refuse applications based on race or religion.

He said the Chinese population in Hong Kong is also affected by the space shortage for the burial of ashes.

“I hope (the government) would look at the suffering people go through, due to an unequal law,” Li said.

“These ethnic minorities seriously see Hong Kong as home and when they pass away, they'd like to be buried here.”

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