Feature Article

Colombo SLT extends TamilNet censorship to south of the island

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 January 2016, 00:03 GMT]
The Colombo regime of Maithiripala Sirisena (SLFP) and Ranil Wickramsinghe (UNP) have once again proved that they are not different from the previous regime of Rajapaksa in suppressing access to tamilnet.com for the vast majority of Internet users in the island who connect through ADSL broadband provided by ‘Sri Lanka’ Telecom PLC (SLT). The main stakeholder of the SLT ownership is the Government of ‘Sri Lanka’. The other dominant shareholder of the SLT is Egypt-based Global Telecommunication Holdings. The SLT has been continuously blocking access to TamilNet in the North and East despite the claim by the Maithiripala regime last January that the Government of ‘Sri Lanka’ would not be practicing Internet censorship anymore as it was during the Rajapaksa regime. Ironically, the marketing slogan of the SLT is: ‘One Country. One Voice.’

SLT version of 6th Amendment:
SLT version of suppressing freedom of expression: "One Country. One Voice”
Recent exchange of tweets on SLT blocking TamilNet in South
Recent exchange of tweets on SLT blocking TamilNet in South
On 09 January 2015, SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, appointed as Prime Minister by the newly-elected SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, told the reporters in Colombo that they were free to report whatever they wanted without the fear of being abducted and added that the programme of internet censorship, enforced by the previous regime was being lifted.

Following the so-called freedom of expression hype in Colombo in January 2015, TamilNet was periodically checking the availability of the website in the country of Eezham Tamils. The site became accessible through mobile broadband. However, the SLT was still blocking the access through ADSL connections.

In December 2015, the SLT ban on TamilNet seems to have been extended to the south of the island.

The Internet users in South have revealed on 29 December that tamilnet.com, which was accessible to them a few days ago, was no more accessible to them, particularly in the SLT-provided ADSL connections.

A visual artist from South, Lohan Gunaweera, who is a Sinhalese, tweeted on last Tuesday. “I thought the ban on TamilNet was lifted and it is no longer censored in Sri Lanka. But I cannot access it from my SLT ADSL connection,” he wrote after seeing a tweet of a TamilNet story titled "SL Governor Austin Fernando schemes Sinhala colonization of Batticaloa”. Another Sinhalese, Ranjith J Perera, a Colombo-based PR consultant responded: “If it's true it certainly would be alarming”.

Later, Mr Perera confirmed the block: “Can't access now. It was working less than a week ago.”

In the meantime, Lohan Gunaweera went on with another tweet: "I bet certain parties and invididuals didn't like TamilNet's most recent article,” attaching a screenshot image of the article.

* * *


The freedom-of-speech in the island has no meaning regardless of the regimes that come to power in Colombo as long as there is a constitutional ban (6th Amendment / Article 157A) that remains in force banning the democratic mandate of Eezham Tamils, who exercised their right to self-determination for the last time in the island in the General Elections of 1977.

TamilNet was the first website to be blocked by the SL State. The move came two years after the assassination of TamilNet Senior Editor Sivaram Dharmeratnam in April 2005 during the regime of Chandrika Kumaratunga.

All the major ISP providers in the island were instructed in June 2007 by Rajapaksa regime in June 2007 to block access to tamilnet.com inside the island.

Indirectly admitting the Internet censorship on TamilNet, Sri Lankan Media Minister and former military spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella then said, as reported by the BBC Sinhala: "We are looking for hackers to disable the TamilNet but could not find anyone yet."

But, TamilNet was still able to relay to the world the first hand coverage of the war, at a time when the Colombo regime and its international abetters wanted to conduct a genocidal war without witnesses.

In February 2010, there were reports in the Colombo press that the Rajapaksa regime had hired a group of Chinese intelligence experts to develop a ‘next generation’ Internet surveillance and censorship framework through the SLT.

The website was subjected to DDoS attacks in 2012. The coordinated attacks originated from IP addresses belonging to various countries, including India, Malaysia, Israel and Germany.

* * *


On 19 October 2000, BBC's Jaffna correspondent Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, who was also one of the ground reporters of TamilNet, was shot and killed in Jaffna, controlled by Sri Lanka’s military during the regime of Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Almost five years later, on 28 April 2005, Sivaram Dharmeratnam, a senior editor of TamilNet, was abducted and assassinated in Colombo and his body was later found in the high security zone behind the Sri Lankan parliament in Colombo.

Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga, who now heads the so-called ‘Office of the National Unity and Reconciliation’, remains tight lipped on the genocidal crimes committed under her rule.

Many of the mass graves still being exhumed in the country of Eezham Tamils are from the times of Kumaratunga's rule.

“One country. One Voice,” has always been consistent with the changing regimes in Colombo that continue to suppress the voice of the nation of Eezham Tamils with the approval of global and regional powers upholding the Colombo-centric unitary State against the military-less and state-less nation of Eezham Tamils.


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http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=38071