INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
Censorship, Disinformation & Murder of Journalists
Sri Lanka blocks TamilNet
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 15:32 GMT]
'..States that want to oppress a people
do so by breaking their political will to resist injustice... It is
easier to enslave a people who have lost their ability to understand the
nature of their oppression..' D.
Sivaram, Founding Editor of Tamilnet,
memorial speech for
Slain Batticaloa journalist
Aiyathurai Nadesan, 7 August 2004
Sri Lanka blocking
TamilNet, deeply disturbing says Free Media Movement
Government denies any knowledge
of the site having been blocked - reports BBC
Borders (RSF) condemns Colombo for blocking access
Sri Lanka seeks
hackers to down pro-Tiger website - reports AFP
Protect Journalists calls on Sri Lanka government to restore domestic access
to the TamilNet Web site
Tamilnet banned? - How
to continue to access the site from Sri Lanka
has completed 10th year of its web publication on
7th June 2007. TamilNet is a globally based news
agency, run by an independent group of persons, to
cover news and views related especially to the North
and East of Sri Lanka. TamilNet has earned its
credibility for news reporting and has become an
indispensable news source to opinion makers
worldwide. Not surprisingly, the Government of Sri
Lanka has thought of rewarding the TamilNet on its
10th anniversary by clandestinely blocking it to the
public of Sri Lanka.
Readers from Sri Lanka have informed TamilNet
that local internet service providers have indicated
that the access block was implemented by directives
from "higher authorities."
Even though the Sri Lankan state has a history
behind it for silencing the voice of the Tamil
public from the time it burnt down the Eezhanaadu
newspaper office in 1981 in Jaffna, this is the
first time, after the advent of Internet, it has
moved to block access to a transnational website
such as TamilNet.
With this unprecedented move, Colombo has denied
the public of Sri Lanka access to independent
NorthEast news, development related views and
diaspora opinion on Tamil affairs which are
otherwise not covered by the local media.
The de facto climate of self-censorship that has
already plagued local media in Sri Lanka has now
culminated in the infringement of the freedom of
the global media. The timing of the act, strangely
coincides with the scheduled visit of the
representatives of Reporters sans frontičres (RSF)
and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to
Sri Lanka is plunging into undeclared military
dictatorship and shameless ethnic cleansing, with
open preparedness to challenge all norms of the
International Community. The TamilNet wishes to
place the issue before the conscience of the Global
Community and to all those proclaimed guardians of
Democracy, Human Rights and Freedom of Expression.
TamilNet's appeal to the 'norms of the
international community' may be understandable
(in terms of the
'Black Pebbles, White Pebbles' approach), we
may also need to recognise that in practise, the
international community's recognition of these
'norms' has always been selective and driven by
own strategic interests, whether it was in
the case of Pinochet of Chile, the Shah of Iran,
or Guantanamo Bay or the
Shock and Awe of Iraq. We may also want to
pay attention to the words of
notion of a 'liberal' national news media is one
of the most enduring and influential political
Said that, TamilNet is right to
place 'the issue before the conscience of the
Global Community and to all those proclaimed
guardians of Democracy, Human Rights and Freedom
of Expression' but we should not be
surprised if the response of the 'proclaimed
guardians of Democracy, Human Rights and Freedom
of Expression' in so far as they are governments
will be directed by the
strategic interests of the concerned
governments in relation to the
uneasy power balance in the Indian Ocean
region. And the same will be true of responses
by government funded NGO's, whether that funding
is direct or indirect. Here, the analysis
by Edward S. Herman, David Peterson and George
Szamuely (on 25 February 2007) titled
Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party
is educative. We may want to remind ourselves,
yet again, of the
words of the Leader of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai
Pirabakaran in 1993 -
are fully aware that the world is not
rotating on the axis of human justice.
Every country in this world advances its own
interests. Economic and trade interests
determine the order of the present world,
not the moral law of justice nor the rights
of people. International relations and
diplomacy between countries are determined
by such interests. Therefore we cannot
expect an immediate recognition of
the moral legitimacy of our cause by the
In reality, the success of our struggle
depends on us, not on the world. Our success
depends on our own efforts, on our own
strength, on our own determination."
It seems that the actions of
the Sri Lanka government (and the 'international
community') are directed to prove that
Velupillai Pirabakaran was right.
Sri Lanka blocking access to TamilNet, deeply disturbing says
Free Media Movement
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 11:40 GMT]
Text of Press Statement by the Free Media Movement - Sunanda Deshapriya
Convenor, Free Media Movement
"The Free Media Movement is deeply disturbed to learn that Tamilnet -
www.tamilnet.com - a web based Tamil news website, is now being blocked by
all major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Sri Lanka on the orders of
This is a significant turn in the erosion of media freedom in Sri Lanka and
clearly demonstrates the extent to which media is censored and the free flow
of information curtailed, without any accountability, transparency or
judicial oversight. Tamilnet is one of most widely visited and well-known
news websites in Sri Lanka. Hosted abroad, the website is frequented by
journalists from all ethnicities, civil society and the donor and diplomatic
community as well as the diaspora for situation updates, analysis and
feature articles. Popularised from relative obscurity by the late Tamil
Sivaram Dharmaratnam, who up until his murder in April 2005 was its
Editor. Though widely considered to be biased towards the LTTE, Tamilnet
offers alternative perspectives, insight and information not often featured
on other websites and in mainstream print & electronic media in Sri Lanka.
The ban on Tamilnet is the first instance of what the FMM believes may soon
be a slippery slope of web & Internet censorship in Sri Lanka. It is also a
regrettable yet revealing extension of this Government's threats against and
coercion of print and electronic media in Sri Lanka since assuming office in
late 2005. The ban damningly occurs at a time when an International Mission
on Press Freedom and the Freedom of Expression is in Sri Lanka to ascertain
and alert stakeholders to the chilling decline in media freedom, violence
against journalists and an unbridled culture of impunity.
The FMM stresses that the danger of censoring the web & Internet is that it
gives a Government and State agencies with no demonstrable track record of
protecting & strengthening human rights and media freedom flimsy grounds to
violate privacy, curtail the free flow of information and restrict freedom
of expression - thus adding a heavy price in terms of diminished civil
liberties to the high toll exacted by terrorism itself. The action by the
Sri Lankan Government also contravenes established best practices in the
free flow of information on the Internet and internationally recognised
principles of the Freedom of Expression on the web. In particular, the ban
goes against the declaration by Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE on
Freedom of the Media in 2005 that states, inter alia;
#2. In a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what
they wish to access and view on the Internet. Filtering or rating of online
content by governments is unacceptable... Any policy of filtering, be it at
a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of
#4. ... A decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be
taken by a judge, not by a service provider. Such proceedings should
guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.
Blocking access to media and restricting information are characteristic of
the reprehensible strategies adopted by terrorists. The FMM is gravely
concerned that the Sri Lankan government, in adopting the same tactics and
strategies, severely undermines media freedom and the freedom of expression
and calls upon it and relevant State authorities to immediately rescind the
orders to block the access to Tamilnet."
Government denies any
knowledge of the site having been blocked
Reports BBC, 20 June 2007
A popular pro-Tamil Tiger website says it has been blocked in Sri Lanka. Reports
from Colombo say the TamilNet website, which is regularly checked by diplomats
and journalists, can no longer be accessed. It is not clear who has blocked it
or why, but the website, and independent media campaigners, said the government
was to blame.
Government Information Director Anusha Pelpita denied any knowledge of the site
having been blocked. TamilNet is a popular source of information for the
substantial Tamil diaspora thousands of miles away in Europe and North America.
Attempts to access the site in Sri Lanka have mostly thrown up error reports.
The media rights group Free Media Movement said all major internet service
providers had blocked the site on government orders, the Associated Press
"This is a significant turn in the erosion of media freedom in Sri Lanka and
clearly demonstrates the extent to which media is censored and the free flow of
information curtailed, without any accountability, transparency or judicial
oversight," the group said in a statement.
"The ban on TamilNet is the first instance of what the Free Media Movement
believes may soon be a slippery slope of web and internet censorship in Sri
Lanka," it said.
borders (RSF) condemns Colombo for blocking access to TamilNet
[TamilNet, Thursday, 21 June 2007, 02:34 GMT]
The full text of the press release:
Government censors Tamilnet by blocking access to website
Reporters Without Borders today condemned government censorship of the
English-language news website Tamilnet. Sri Lanka's Internet Service Providers
have been blocking access to the website on the government's orders since 15
"Tamilnet is a source of news and information that is known throughout the world
and for the past 10 years its coverage of Sri Lanka's civil war has proved
essential," the press freedom organisation said. "The government must put a stop
to this censorship and restore access to the site at once."
The blockage came just days after the 10th anniversary of Tamilnet's creation on
7 June, and coincided with the arrival of a delegation of international press
freedom organisations, including Reporters Without Borders, to look into the
sharp decline in media freedom in Sri Lanka.
Created in London by members of the Tamil expatriate community, Tamilnet devotes
much of its efforts covering the civil war between the Liberation Tiger of Tamil
Eelam separatists (LTTE) and paramilitaries. The site has often been accused of
supporting Tamil nationalists.
Its editor, Sivaram
Dharmaratnam, was murdered on 28 April 2005.
Sri Lanka seeks hackers
to down pro-Tiger website reports AFP, 20 June 2007
COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's government said it would like to hire hackers to
dismantle a pro-Tamil Tiger website, as media groups said access to the site was
already blocked. Tamilnet.com has been blocked for several days on the "advice"
of the government, local rights group the Free Media Movement (FMM) said. A Sri
Lanka Telecom official confirmed the site was being filtered.
When asked about the decision, the government's spokesman insisted he was
unaware of the measure -- but said authorities should expand their arsenal in
the long-running ethnic conflict.
"I do not know, but I would love to hire some hackers," Keheliya Rambukwella
said, while adding that he had no access to people who could do the job.
London-based Tamilnet.com, which publishes news and opinion about the ethnic
conflict in Sri Lanka, confirmed its site was blocked by Sri Lanka Telecom --
the war-torn country's main Internet service provider.
"The de facto climate of self-censorship that has already plagued local media in
Sri Lanka has now culminated in mischievous infringement into the freedom of
global media," Tamilnet.com said.
The government owns just under 50 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, which is run by
NTT of Japan. The Sri Lanka-based FMM said it was "deeply disturbed" over what
it said was yet another attack on media freedom. "This is a significant turn in
the erosion of media freedom in Sri Lanka and clearly demonstrates the extent to
which media is censored," the media group said in a statement.
Some Internet service providers, who have their main offices abroad, still allow
access to the website, which is an influential source of Tamil views on the
island's separatist conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives in 35
The censorship move also coincides with a visit to Sri Lanka by a group of
international media rights activists investigating widespread reports of
increased attacks on and intimidation of the local media.
calls on Sri Lanka government to restore domestic access to the TamilNet Web
New York, June 20, 2007—The Sri Lankan government should restore domestic access
to the TamilNet Web site, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The
Free Media Movement, a Colombo-based press freedom group, and news outlets
reported Tuesday that Internet service providers had blocked access to the site
on government orders.
TamilNet, which openly supports Tamil rebels fighting a secessionist war, is
widely read by Tamils in Sri Lanka and around the world. Despite its partisan
nature, it is also used by diplomats and non-governmental organizations to learn
of conditions in Tamil-controlled areas that are not open to other journalists.
“We call on the government to rescind its decision. All journalists in Sri Lanka
must be allowed to carry out their work,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive
Clashes, air strikes, and assassinations have killed 5,000 people over the past
19 months in Sri Lanka, according to The Associated Press. More than 70,000
people have died since the secessionist conflict began in 1983.