Sept 17, Colombo: The Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka has denied reports that the government has decided to suspend granting of visas to Myanmar nationals.
Local media reports said that the government of Sri Lanka has suspended granting of tourist visas to Rohingya Muslims fearing entry to Sri Lanka as a result of the crisis in the state of Rakhine.
Reports quoting Minister of Internal Affairs S. B. Nawinna said the government has taken the decision to suspend issuing visas to Myanmar nationals as a result of the crisis in that country.
Controller General of Department of Immigration and Emigration Nihal Ranasinghe responding to BBC Sinhala service query stated that there is no truth in the media report.
"If such a decision is going to be taken, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Department of Immigration and Emigration will discuss the specific facts and take such an action," he said.
According to the BBC, it has been seen that some groups are carrying a propaganda campaign through social media posting photographs of what appears to be Rohingya residents entering Sri Lanka for asylum.
An internet petition has also been launched requesting the government to take action to prevent the Rohingya Muslims from entering Sri Lanka.
Responding a query regarding the social media claims, the Controller General said the government cannot respond to the various claims made in the social media.
"We as a government cannot practically respond to the claims made in social media. We have a responsibility as a department," he said.
However, the Controller General of the Department of Immigration and Emigration stressed that the Rohingya residents do not have access to Sri Lanka to enter as claimed and the officials at the airport have been advised.
Sri Lanka Navy on the 30th of April apprehended 30 Rohingya refugees, who had entered Sri Lankan waters while fleeing India, in the Kankasanthurai coastal area.
On August 09, the court ordered the Sri Lanka Department of Immigration and Emigration to hand over those refugees who were detained at the Mirihana detention camp to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
State Minister of State for External Affairs Wasantha Senanayake recently told the BBC Sinhala service that the Rohingya refugees can be safely stay in Sri Lanka until the UNHCR makes the decision regarding them.
The State Minister said the Sri Lankan government also agree with the United Nations call to immediately stop the attacks and violence against the Rohingya people.
"We agree with that request, but we should say that we are also not trying to sideline Myanmar," State Minister of External Affairs Wasantha Senanayake further stated.