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Sri Lanka strengthens diplomatic ties with Myanmar's junta despite international condemnation

The Global New Light of Myanmar

A Sri Lankan ambassador presented credentials to Myanmar's ruling military junta, even as countries around the world continue to condemn the regime for its human rights abuses. Sri Lanka joins the likes of India and Saudi Arabia, who have strengthened ties with the Myanmar regime, in opposition to many embassies that have downgraded diplomatic ties.

At 10:00 am on June 7, Chairman of the State Administration Council (SAC) Prime Minister Senior General Min Aung Hlaing accepted the credentials of Ambassador-Designate of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to Myanmar Mr J M Janaka Priyantha Bandara at the Credential Hall of the Office of the SAC Chairman in Nay Pyi Taw. 

During the ceremony, the officials engaged in dialogue about diplomatic relations, the expansion of tourism services, assistance from Myanmar to Sri Lanka, business affairs, cooperation in the agriculture sector and political development. 

The move comes despite the series of flagrant human rights abuses that have come to define the Myanmar regime, since the violent military coup in February 2021. Notwithstanding international pressure and condemnations, the Sri Lankan government has historically allied itself with the Myanmar regime.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena has cited a shared adherence to Theravada Buddhist philosophy as a guiding factor in the two countries' political alliance, whilst extremist and racist Buddhist monks in both countries have held longstanding close ties.

The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called on member states of the Human Rights Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.

The UN's Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar was set up in March 2017 and headed by Marzuki Darusman who also co-authored the 2011 report produced by a panel of experts on mass atrocities in Sri Lanka. “The world’s attention may have moved away from Myanmar since [the] coup, but civilians continue to pay a high price. The military’s ongoing assault on civilians in eastern Myanmar has been widespread and systematic, likely amounting to crimes against humanity,” said Rawya Rageh, Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International.

In April 2021, Sri Lanka was also met with widespread protests and condemnation as a result of its invitation to Myanmar's military junta to the 5th Bay of Bengal Initiative of the Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) summit, that was being held on the island. 

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