Mar 10, 2018

President’s decision to block social media, correct - Mangala

Although he does not personally endorse censorship of social media, at this decisive moment, the decision taken by the President to temporarily block social media sites was an appropriate and vital decision, said Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, adding that he fully supports the move made by the President.

The minister made this comment in response to a query made by Sri Lanka Mirror regarding the reports being published that the Finance Minister was opposed to the blocking of social media sites.

He said at a time like this not only fundamental rights and media freedom matter but one would have to take into consideration the country’s situation and the President’s move to block social media sites temporarily has yielded positive results.

Samaraweera had noted through twitter while abroad that racial violence should be made an un-bailable offence and politicians who give leadership to such racial violence should have their civic rights suspended.

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"Special but temporary measure”:

With the country blocking social media, from 12 noon on March 08th all communication activities in the country had broken down, said social media researcher Chanuka Wattegama.

The TRC had taken measures to block social media sites temporarily on the instructions of the government, having come to light that social media was being used to spread malicious racial content about the Kandy incidents.

Issuing a statement, the Telecommunication Minister Harin Fernando said the decision to block social media was a very special but essential measure.
“We observed how technology that was intended to unite people was being used to divide them during the recent past,” he noted.

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''At a time like this the government has to take drastic measures to stop the violence” – Chanuka Wattegedara

Expressing his views to BBC Sinhala Service, social media researcher Chanuka Wattegedara said although there would be allegations that blocking social media was against basic human rights, under the current situation in the country, it had to be done as certain factions were using social media to worsen the situation.

“We witnessed how certain parties were using social media to gather people from outer regions when the situation in Kandy was turning for the worse. Hence, in a situation like that, the government is forced to take drastic measures to control the situation,” he said.