In Sri Lanka, a Sinhalese Buddhist was supposedly murdered by a group of Muslims. The situation happened in the city of Kandy. After foreseeing a rise of communal violence, the government opted for blocking social networks and messaging services in the whole country for 3 days.
Although these types of measures are intended to restrain communal violence, it might provoke opposite results. Some citizens fear that they can´t get in touch with friends and relatives if an emergency occurs. The block affects Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, and Instagram. However, in the city of Kandy, the Internet was completely shut down.
States of emergency in Sri Lanka
Last time that government imposed a State of Emergency (SoE) was about 10 years ago during the civil war. But now the situation is different. It reminds to what is happening in its neighboring India. In that country, the government has already imposed 70 blackouts. Millions of residents have been affected.
In Sri Lanka, a group of women who are also rights activists sent a written message to the government asking to call off the online blockage by defending the whole country rights to freedom of expression and information. In the document, women explained how important and widely spread is the use of internet services to the point that about 4.5 million already use Facebook. They also pointed out how all levels of society access them. Women and all kind of minorities rely on social networks to claim their rights and participate in society.
They argued on opposite direction by affirming that such blockages can´t prevent acts of violence. There were also reasons to be concerned. Journalists and citizens will not be able to keep in touch and it could affect public safety during the crisis. They went beyond the obvious and expressed that blockages could stimulate the use of illicit tools to overcome the situation. Some took the opportunity to complain of being labeled as terrorists or political agitators just for trying to defend their rights.
In the meantime, first reports are saying that the situation in Kandy is under control and getting calm. However, only time