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Sri Lanka has expressed deep concern over recent developments in the Maldives including the arrest of two Sri Lankan nationals.

Issuing a strongly worded statement today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also noted that the Government of Sri Lanka  “finds it deeply disturbing that Sri Lanka, a country which has always maintained the closest friendly relations with the Maldives is being used to initiate questionable action against political and social media activists.”

The full statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is given below:

Sri Lanka is deeply concerned about recent developments in the Maldives and events that have impacted on Sri Lanka, including the recent arrest of two Sri Lankan nationals in the Maldives, the questionable removal of a Maldivian social media activist who was in possession of a valid Sri Lankan visa, the stabbing of a Maldivian national in Sri Lanka, as well as the state of emergency that has been declared in the Maldives and the impeachment of the Vice-President.

Sri Lanka is also concerned by the impact of the State of Emergency on the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the Maldives and urges the Government of the Maldives to uphold the commitments it has made – including as a member of the Commonwealth and signatory to the Commonwealth Charter – to the universal and Commonwealth values of democracy and the rule of law.

Having endured similar challenges in its recent past, the new Sri Lankan Government is committed to the principles of democracy, good governance and the rule of law.  We also believe that the right to dissent is an integral part of a functioning democracy. Unlike the previous regime in Sri Lanka which silenced dissenting voices in the guise of fighting terrorism, the new administration is committed to the fundamentals of democracy.

It is in this context that the Government finds it deeply disturbing that Sri Lanka, a country which has always maintained the closest friendly relations with the Maldives is being used to initiate questionable action against political and social media activists. Sri Lanka encourages the Government of the Maldives to ensure that recent developments are not allowed to escalate into a source of regional instability.

Sri Lanka hopes that the Maldives will take steps to end the state of emergency, initiate measures to respect and protect freedom of expression and ensure that recent developments will not reverse Maldives’ hard-won democratic achievements.