NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders condemns the blocking of five tamil language news websites which report on Sri Lanka. In a situation where print and electronic media is under severe self censorship, internet based media plays a critical role in providing information on Sri Lanka.
NfR sources in Sri Lanka have confirmed that five websites, namely
http://www.tamilwin.com, http://www.athirvu.com, http://www.saritham.com
http://www.ponguthamil.com, http://www.pathivu.com are not accessible through any of the Sri Lankan internet service providers. People in Sri Lanka can now visit those sites only trough proxy servers.
NfR believes that open discussion and freedom of information on issues that affect citizens is pivotal in the democratisation of post war Sri Lanka. NfR views this unhealthy development as a continuation of media censorship imposed by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). Although the GoSL has been accusing internet based media for unethical reporting the very same GoSL controlled media is well known for publishing politically motivated cooked up stories and many media monitoring reports has shown that state controlled media is the heavily biased in covering politically important issues.
In that context NfR views this ban as yet another politically motivated anti-democratic step towards creating a mind controlled society in Sri Lanka.
TamilNet, a popular news and opinion site on Tamil issues was the first site blocked by the GoSL. On June 19, 2007, on the orders of the GoSL all Internet Service Providers in Sri Lanka blocked the access to the TamilNet website. Since then GoSL has blocked dozens of news and opinion web sites reporting on Sri Lanka. Today major Sinhala language news and opinion websites operating from outside Sri Lanka, such as http://lankaenews.com, http://www.lankanewsweb.com, http://www.srilankaguardian.org/ remain blocked.
In November 2011 the GoSL proclaimed that any website dealing with Sri Lankan affairs must register with the government or face legal action. At the same time number of websites was blocked by the GoSL. In May 2012 Supreme Court rejected the fundamental rights case filed against blocking of websites by press freedom watch dog, the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka saying that there no basis to grant leave to proceed.
NfR calls on all media and democratic organizations to take note of this continuing media censorship in Sri Lanka and support and strengthen alternative Sri Lankan media, in defense of basic democratic rights of all people in Sri Lanka. At the same time NfR calls on internet based media in Sri Lanka to be ethical, balanced and fair in their reporting.