File photo: Sri Lankan soldiers listen to an address by Shavendra Silva on cyber warfare
Sri Lanka’s Terrorist Investigations Division (TID) arrested a Tamil youth in Wattala last week claiming that he had posted content about the LTTE on Tik Tok, which was being monitored by the authorities ‘cyber patrol unit’.
The 25-year-old Tamil youth, who was born in Mullaitivu and living in Hatton, has since been detained by counter terror police under the widely criticised Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Sri Lanka’s DIG Ajith Rohana confirmed the arrest and said the Terrorism Investigation Division and the Criminal Investigation Department are working through special teams to monitor activities using the Internet and social media. Tik Tok is a popular social media app that allows users to share short video clips.
The detention of yet another Tamil youth comes after several similar arrests of Tamils over alleged social media posts. Dozens of Tamils have been held in recent months, particularly in the Eastern Province, as the Sri Lankan security forces launched a crackdown, using alleged posts on social media as an excuse to detain them.
Amongst those arrested recently is Murugupillai Kokulathasan, a photographer attached to Batticaloa Press Club who was arrested on November 28, 2020, over allegations that he had published pictures of the LTTE on Facebook. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on Sri Lanka's prosecutors to drop the absurd terrorism charges, labelling them 'Kafkaesque'.
Last year, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Germany reportedly called for the establishment of an “anti terrorism task force on cyber security” to monitor social media platforms, citing the success of Tamil campaigns and activism in the diaspora. Also last year, accused war criminal and Sri Lankan army chief Shavendra Silva addressed Sri Lankan soldiers at a 'Zero Day of Virtual Battle' exercise, noting that the Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC) had 'increased capabilities'.