Sri Lanka is experiencing severe food, fuel, and other basic shortages, as well as dramatic price increases and debilitating power outages, in its most painful slump since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.
The day after a crowd attempted to attack his residence in Colombo, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency. On the directives of defence officials, internet service providers shut down sites like as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Before the order went into force, anonymous campaigners called for huge protests on social media. According to police and neighbours, hundreds of people disobeyed the curfew and formed small rallies in several Colombo neighbourhoods but dispersed peacefully.
After significant shortages of basics, high price increases, and debilitating power outages, the anti-government hashtags “#GoHomeRajapaksas” and “#GotaGoHome” had been trending locally on Twitter and Facebook for days.
Sri Lanka implemented the temporary state-wide social media shutdown as part of government efforts to contain public unrest sparked by the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. Authorities limited access to networks like as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram for a few hours after a state of emergency was imposed amid huge protests. The service restriction was intended to prevent protestors from organising, but it was reversed just a few hours later after the action failed to prevent demonstrations. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government also revoked the state of emergency — which gave him sweeping powers to detain people and seize property — within days of imposing it, despite the political and economic turmoil gripping the island nation.
Social media activist, Anuruddha Bandara’s father said his son was taken away by someone from the north Colombo police station of Modera. According to the police, he was wanted to be questioned over his social media activities. He was released on bail. Sri Lanka Young Journalists Association had also written to the Human Rights Commission urging them to intervene to find him.
Accordingly, the Crimes Division of the Modara Police had confirmed to the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka that Anuruddha Bandara was in custody.
|Prime actors: President Gotabaya RajapaksaSecondary actors: Defence authorities, Internet service providers||Intent: suggests aspersive intent||President Gotabaya Rajapaksa order a social media ban against the protest on economic crisis and his resignation.According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), the ban was implemented on a request made by the Ministry of Defence. ||Target audience: Sri-Lankan populationPlatforms: Social media||Human rights:Right to information, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly.|
ABCDE Framework Analysis:
It was Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who declared the state of emergency and order the Ministry of Defence to proceed to shut down all social media sites.
Behaviour: The declaration was made to halt the protest on the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The actors were using unlawful ways to curb freedom of expression of journalist and mass population in Sri Lanka.
Content: The act was declared with the objective of suppressing freedom of expression. The ban on social media carried element threat against fundamental freedoms.
Degree: The content was targeted against people protesting over the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and demanding resignation of authorities responsible. However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa still hold power. The government is set to appoint a new cabinet.
Effect: The content violated right to information, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly.
The Case has been identified as influence operation since it was a coordinated efforts on part of Sri Lankan government and its Defence ministry along with internet service providers to repress the mass population.
The Sri Lankan government lifted the ban it had imposed on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram after declaring a nationwide public emergency and effecting a 36-hour curfew ahead of a planned anti-government rally over the worst economic crisis in the island nation. The services of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TokTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger were restored after 15 hours. The services had been fully or partially blocked.
The move was aimed at preventing masses from gathering in Colombo to protest the government’s failure to provide relief to the public suffering from shortages of food, essentials, fuel and medicine amidst hours-long power cuts.