The Sri Lankan Government has blocked more websites from being accessed in the country, after calling on all news websites to register with the media ministry.
The websites now blocked include Lankawaynews, the official website of the UNP, Sri Lanka Guardian and Sri Lanka Mirror, extending the list of banned websites, which already includes TamilNet and Lankanewsweb and Lanka-e-news, a website which was blocked last week, prompting condemnation by the US embassy in Colombo:
“While the embassy does not endorse the views of any particular media outlet, the US believes that a free and independent media is vital to ensuring the health and continuation of any democracy.
“Freedom of expression, including unfettered access to internet news websites, is a basic right which must be respected. We therefore call on the Sri Lankan authorities and the management of Sri Lankan telecommunication firms to stop activities aimed at blocking free access in Sri Lanka to all legitimate media websites, including lanka e news.”
The Free Media Movement (FMM), a Sri Lankan media watchdog, have criticised the move, calling it a ‘brutal crackdown’.
Speaking to BBC Sandeshaya, the convenor of FMM said "The government did not hold any discussion with the media organisations regarding the registration of these sites and the sites were blocked on the same day the statement was released,"
The UNP reacted to the move with outrage, calling the move ‘undemocratic’.
“We will continue to campaign against such moves and even take legal action.”
“If the Government claims that there is intrusion into the private lives of certain individuals, then there are ways of taking legal action against those responsible.
"Also politicians must remember that since they are public figures and their actions affect the public they could come under close scrutiny. Even the decision for those carrying any content relating to matters in Sri Lanka to register with the authorities is absurd, and shows that the Government is paranoid,” the media manager of the opposition party, Mangala Samaraweera said.
See our previous articles:
Sri Lanka orders news websites to register (06 Nov 2011)
US ‘deeply concerned’ over Lanka’s media freedom (01 Nov 2011)
Sunday Leader editor threatened by ‘Sinha Regiment’ (03 Nov 2011)
When Dutugemunu met the Queen... (02 Nov 2011)
Status: Not Free (19 Oct 2011)