Social media platforms in Sri Lanka briefly restricted due to curfew and protests Global Voices Français

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On the evening of Sunday April 3, 2022, global internet monitor NetBlocks reported that access to major social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, etc.) in Sri Lanka was being restored. . Services were restricted towards the end of April 2 local time. It comes after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency on April 1, giving sweeping powers to the security forces. There are growing protests in the country demanding his resignation due to the current economic crisis. A thirty-six-hour curfew was also imposed from 6 p.m. on April 2 to 6 a.m. on April 4 to quell protests.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst financial crisis since its independence in 1948, amid depletion of foreign currency reserves. Power outages, fuel, petrol and medicine shortages and rising food prices have sparked widespread protests. According to the president, the state of emergency was necessary to protect public order and ensure essential supplies and services.

Protests against the Rajapaksa government and the powerful Rajapaksa family escalated on March 31, 2022, Thursday before the early hours of April 1. Citizen journalism platform Groundviews has been logging a timeline of the situation since March 31.

Blogger and activist Amalini De Sayrah tweeted:

No notice

People started noticing social media blocking on Saturday night. Activist and academician Sanjana Hattotuwa tweeted:

Netblocks confirmed the block on Twitter:

Some, like data scientist, author and fact checker Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, had full of advice about the VPN to use to bypass the block:

Political cartoons from Sri Lanka tweeted:

Open source researcher and evangelist Pradeeban Kathiravelu tweeted:

Contrary to the constitution

According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), the ban was implemented at the request of the Department of Defense.

Lawyer Gehan Gunatilleke interrogates:

Gunatilekke highlights in This thread that the Sri Lankan constitution governs the limits of freedom of expression and not the Sri Lankan telecommunications law.

Lawyer NK Ashokbharan also claimed:

Meanwhile, Namal Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan Minister of Youth and Sports and son of current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, tweeted:

However, Academician Ishara Paranawithana quips on Rajapaksa, recalling his additional portfolio – the State Minister for Digital Technology and Entrepreneur Development:

The Vikalpa citizen journalism platform highlights protest voices:

Demonstrations under curfew

On Sunday April 3, protesters were seen defying the curfew in Kandy and Colombo to turn out in large numbers to demand the resignation of the president. Police used tear gas on protesters in many places.

Despite the social media ban, many journalists like Kavinthan Shanmugarajah continued to share the news from the field on Twitter:

After a meeting on the night of Sunday April 3, 2022, all 26 Sri Lankan cabinet ministers resigned. However, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa still hold power. The government is due to appoint a new cabinet on Monday.

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