The Colombo: Sri Lanka government imposed a nationwide social media blackout after midnight on Sunday, April 3, according to an internet observatory.
Twenty-six social media platforms were affected – including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram – by a software vulnerability.
NetBlocks updated its Twitter account to report that “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.”
The planned protest for Sunday was announced a few weeks ago, but the island nation had already issued a statement announcing that it will hold its own protest.
The country faced a severe power crisis and rising inflation on Saturday, and from Monday until Wednesday the situation was still extremely difficult.
The government of the island nation of 22 million people is struggling to deal with blackouts for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to find foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports.
The London-based rights watchdog, the International Federation of Human Rights (IFHR), warned the Sri Lankan government on Saturday that the declaration of emergency in the island nation, in the name of public security, should not become a pretext for human rights abuses.
Amnesty International has voiced concern that the declaration of a state of emergency in Sri Lanka would be used as 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, which is reviewed by Amnesty International under its definition of human rights violation.
“In the context of growing public discontentment with the government`s handling of economics crisis, the state of emergency could have the effect of suppressing dissent by creating fear, facilitating arbitrary arrests and detention,” according to the statement.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued the Extraordinary Gazette on Friday, 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.