In Sri Lanka, there have been violent protests across the country for days. The government wants to stop them and quickly blocks the internet and social media.
Colombo – The island nation of Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis. This has resulted in violent unrest within the population for several days. The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took drastic measures to counter the tensions.
Among other things, the holiday paradise imposed a curfew – and decided to block the online networks. The government instructed the country’s internet service providers to temporarily restrict access to social media such as Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp.
Sri Lanka: Government shuts down the internet – WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook blocked
By shutting down the Internet, Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa and his cabinet wanted to nip protests in the capital Colombo and other places in the bud. Previously, opposition to the government had formed on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtags #GoHomeRajapaksas and #GotaGoHome.
The opposition sharply criticized this decision. “President Rajapaksa should better recognize that the tide of his autocratic rule has already turned,” said MP Harsha de Silva of the main opposition alliance, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).
Sri Lanka: Even President’s Nephew Against Internet Blockade – “Completely Useless”
According to media reports, the head of the Sri Lankan Internet Regulatory Authority has resigned because of the Internet blocking. In addition, the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission ruled that the Ministry of Defense’s Internet blocking order was illegal. The online blockade was then lifted.
But not only the opposition defended itself against the temporary internet ban. There were also negative tones within the government. “I will never condone the social media blocking,” wrote Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, the president’s nephew, on Twitter. He bypassed this via VPN, he explained. Therefore, the measure is either way “completely useless”. He has since resigned, as have many other ministers.
Sri Lanka: People protest despite curfew – one demonstrator dies
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s government was unsuccessful with its Internet ban. Crowds took to the streets despite Rajapaksa’s declaration of a state of emergency on Friday (April 1). Even a 36-hour nationwide curfew, which was imposed by the police a day later, and a significantly increased military presence did not stop the wave of protests.
Hundreds of people ignored the curfew in Colombo on Saturday evening (April 2). Many SJB deputies initiated a protest march in the center of the capital on Sunday (April 3) together with hundreds of fellow campaigners. A fatal incident occurred near Rajapaksa’s residence. A man died, according to police, from an electric shock. He is said to have climbed up a high-voltage pylon beforehand, and local residents said the deceased wanted to protest against the regular power outages. In the city of Peradeniya in the center of the country, the police used tear gas against protesting students over the weekend.
Sri Lanka: Dramatic economic crisis – experts make gloomy forecasts
In Sri Lanka, serious bottlenecks in essential goods, drastic price increases and recurring power failures are currently causing a massive economic crisis. This was exacerbated by the consequences of the corona pandemic.
According to experts, the economic situation in Sri Lanka has continued to deteriorate because the government has been accumulating loans for years and has pursued the wrong tax policy. Numerous experts doubt whether the country can still service its debts. (kh)
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