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Sri Lanka imposes nationwide social media blackout amid protests against economic crisis

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has imposed a social media blackout amid curfew and protests, NetBlocks, an internet watchdog, has said.

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Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber and YouTube are among the sites that have been reportedly hit with the fresh restrictions. The South Asian nation has been battling a shortage of essentials as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in decades.

“Confirmed: Real-time network data show Sri Lanka has imposed a nationwide social media blackout, restricting access to platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram as emergency is declared amid widespread protests,” NetBlocks tweeted.

Ahead of the planned protest for Sunday, the island nation had declared a 36-hour curfew from Saturday to Monday as the country faced a severe power crisis and rising inflation.

The curfew announcement – which is aimed to restrict demonstrations – came ahead of a planned anti-government agitation. Anger is mounting over the poor handling of the country’s resources and economy.

The island nation of 22 million people is having a hard time dealing with blackouts for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports.

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“Sri Lanka: The declaration of the state of emergency in the name of public security should not become a pretext for further human rights violations. The order declaring a state of emergency intends to restrict the rights to freedom of association, assembly and movement as well as due process protections,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

“In the context of growing public discontentment with the government’s handing of economics crisis, the state of emergency could have the effect of stifling dissent by creating fear, facilitating arbitrary arrests and detention,” the statement added.

On Friday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued the Extraordinary Gazette declaring a state of public emergency in Sri Lanka with immediate effect.

Rajapaksa said the emergency was declared in the interests of public security, protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.

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