Lankan fishermen in Myanmar set free

Boats2The Government of Sri Lanka has secured the release of 17 Sri Lankan fishermen, as well as their 03 boats which had been detained by the Myanmar authorities for allegedly poaching in the territorial waters of Myanmar in October 2014, the Foreign Ministry said today.

The cases filed at the Kyauk Phyu Township Criminal Court of Myanmar against the 17 Sri Lankans were withdrawn by the Departments of Fisheries and Immigration on the directive of President Thein Sein of Myanmar, upon the request of the Government of Sri Lanka.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had given a special directive to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Myanmar to intervene with the authorities concerned, in order to take speedy action to secure the release of the crew members who had been detained in Myanmar for a prolonged period.

A delegation comprising the Director General of Consular Affairs of the Ministry and the Deputy Director (Technical) of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources visited Myanmar recently on the instructions of Deputy Foreign Minister, Ajith P. Perera and held wide ranging meetings with the relevant political authorities and officials including, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Director General of the Union Attorney General’s Department of Myanmar.

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar informed the visiting delegation that President Thein Sein had given a special Presidential directive to the relevant Union Ministers to release the Sri Lankan fishermen and vessels, taking into consideration, the longstanding historical and friendly relations between Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Myanmar are expediting the immigration formalities to repatriate the released Sri Lankan fishermen at the earliest.