Social media blackout in Sri Lanka amid curfew, unrest, says watchdog: 10 points

Published on Apr 03, 2022 08:28 AM IST

Sri Lanka has been battling a shortage of essentials as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in decades.

Sri Lankan army soldiers stand guard in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, April 2, 2022. Sri Lanka imposed a countrywide curfew starting Saturday evening until Monday morning, (AP)
Sri Lankan army soldiers stand guard in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, April 2, 2022. Sri Lanka imposed a countrywide curfew starting Saturday evening until Monday morning, (AP)

Sri Lanka has imposed a social media blackout amid curfew and protests, NetBlocks, an internet watchdog, has said. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber and YouTube are among the sites that have been reportedly hit with the fresh restrictions. The South Asian nation has been battling a shortage of essentials as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in decades.

Here are ten points on Sri Lanka crisis:

1. “Confirmed: Real-time network data show Sri Lanka has imposed a nationwide social media blackout, restricting access to platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram as emergency is declared amid widespread protests. (sic),” NetBlocks tweeted.

2. In its report, the watchdog further said: “Real-time network data collected from over 100 vantage points across Sri Lanka show the restrictions coming into effect across multiple providers from midnight. Metrics corroborate user reports of service unavailability across the country, showing that all of Sri Lanka’s major network operators including Dialog, Sri Lanka Telecom, Mobitel, Hutch are covered by the measure." The South Asian nation has a history of imposing countywide social media restrictions amid unrest, it underlined.

3. The country of 22 million has been dealing with blackouts for up to 13 hours a day while the government scrambles to secure foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports, reports said.

4. A 36-hour curfew was announced on Saturday till Monday morning, a day after a public emergency was announced.

5. The curfew announcement - which is aimed to restrict demonstrations - came ahead of a planned anti-government agitation. Anger is mounting over the poor handling of the country's resources and economy.

6. On Thursday night, use of tear gas shells and water cannons was reported as thousands gathered outside the house of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

7. A day later, the president announced a public emergency. “Whereas I am of the opinion that by reason of a public emergency in Sri Lanka it is expedient to do so in the interests of public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community," he said in a statement.

8. Despite curfew orders, peaceful protests were seen on Sri Lanka streets on Saturday.

9. UK-based rights body Amnesty International has criticised the restrictions. "The declaration of the state of emergency in the name of public security should not become a pretext for further human rights violations. The order declaring a state of emergency intends to restrict the rights to freedom of association, assembly and movement as well as due process protections," it said.

10. Sri Lanka plunged into crisis as the tourism sector was hit due to the pandemic. The country has billions in debt.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI)

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