Ban on social media and Emergency to remain in Lanka till Defense...

Ban on social media and Emergency to remain in Lanka till Defense Ministry clearance  

Colombo Correspondent,

The removal of both the Emergency and the social media clamp down will depend on recommendation of the Ministry of Defense and the approval of the Defense Secretary, sources affiliated to the Presidential Secretariat said despite the total calm that had appeared in Kandy over the weekend after days of communal unrest targeting the Muslim community in some areas of the district.

The weekend saw Muslim owned shops re-opening after a week’s shut down and the curfew imposed during the week at night-time, completely lifted although the roads in and around Kandy still had the presence of the tri forces, mainly in Muslim villages.

Meanwhile government sources emphasized that the social media ban will not be lifted until the Defense Ministry which is monitoring the situation approves it.

The reason for communal tensions to engulf Sri Lanka in February in Ampara and in Kandy in March is attributed largely to baseless inflammatory material. Social Media based rumour mongering in mid February of ‘sterilizing’ pills meant for Lankan Muslim men, being found in food in Muslim owned restaurants in Ampara, created a widescale fear psychosis among Sinhala Buddhists, similar to those leveled by Buddhist extremists in the past few years that the 10% Muslim minority population of Sri Lanka is planning to be the majority community in the years to come, by distributing various sweets and food items among Sinhalese,  mixed with ‘sterilizing’ chemicals. The government analyst report released last week on the ‘clumps’ in food in Ampara that led to communal chaos in the South Eastern district, confirmed it was nothing but ‘clumps of flour.’

Meanwhile, officials at the Presidential Secretariat said that the government will ensure that social media platforms are not used again by extremist groups especially in the background of a Facebook official in India stating that Facebook could not directly censor or filter posts made on the social media platform.  Lankan officials had approached the representative of the popular social media site to look  at Facebook censoring and filtering posts and comments.

Government officials said they attribute the fast normalizing situation to the clamping down on social media as well as the continued State of Emergency.

“Agitated minds have to reflect deeply on the chaos caused in the country and become calm. More time is needed for this,” an official said, adding that steps would be taken to look into the possibility of Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) censoring Facebook content instead of blocking the site altogether.