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Sri Lanka's invitation to Myanmar's military junta sparks outrage

Sri Lanka has been accused of officially recognising the military regime in Myanmar which seized power on February 1, after Sri Lankan foreign secretary Dinesh Gunawardena sent a letter to Wunna Maung Lwin, a military-junta appointed foreign secretary, inviting him to a ministerial meeting.

Dinesh Gunawardena, addressed the letter to Wunna Muang Lwin inviting him to attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative of the Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC). The letter also extended an invitation to the retired colonel to attend a meeting scheduled to be held virtually on March 31st, preceding the virtual BIMSTEC meeting on April 1st. The foreign ministry office released a statement following the alleged leak of the letter saying that it had invited all members of the BIMSTEC, which also include India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Thailand.

Sri Lanka’s official address to the military junta means it has become the first country to recognise the military regime following the coup. The recognition led to outrage from protestors with #ProtestBIMSTEC and #ProtestSriLanka trending on Twitter in Mynamar after the letter had been leaked online.

Last month Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was detained by the country’s military following a military coup in which the top army commander, Min Aung Hlaing, seized control. Following the coup, protests broke out across the country which has resulted in mass arrests being carried out by the military. At least 60 protestors have been killed since the military take over, according to the Independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Despite the invitation Sri Lanka's foreign secretary Jayanath Colombage told Reuters that the invitation did not mean they have accepted the military government and that “We [Sri Lanka] have not taken a position on that”.

Sri Lanka’s and Myanmar military and senior government officials stand accused of committing genocide. In Myanmar, the armed forces launched a genocidal campaign against Rohingya Muslims and the close ties between both militaries are well documented. 

Read more at Reuters.

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