‘No protests says Daily Mirror’, from Ravaya newspaper, 1st August 2014

Ravaya flags today that Daily Mirror threatened its own journalists to not participate in a media protest held on 31st July, noting that they would lose their jobs if they did so. See English translation of the article here –

via: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qKUCeRXbBqZdYsuTn-6RHwYpevkPjEIuOBV1_8F43V0/edit

« Sri Lanka: The subversion of independent thinking » by JS Tissainayagam

Therefore the Rajapakse government, which began its existence by suppressing the independent media and went on to stifle political dissent expressed through protests, has now taken the next step: expelling foreign passport-holders who discuss rights, democracy and allied subjects.

Via http://asiancorrespondent.com/117138/sri-lanka-the-subversion-of-independent-thinking/

source: www.asiancorrespondent.com

« Censorship and threat of violence hang over Sri Lanka’s press » by James Crabtree

Sri Lanka’s bloody 25-year civil war earned the south Asian island a reputation as one of the world’s least safe places to be a journalist. Reporters faced extensive censorship and the threat of violence. Today, four years after the final defeat of the Tamil Tiger guerrillas, the government of charismatic, populist president Mahinda Rajapaksa argues that, with wartime restrictions lifted, the media are freer than at any time in a generation.

The reality is more complex. Threats and attacks on journalists continue, while organisations that monitor press freedoms, including the US civil liberties group Freedom House, say Sri Lanka now suffers from a subtler but no less extensive system of media control, marked by occasional violence, widespread intimidation and extensive self-censorship.

Via http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/3012db08-4613-11e3-b495-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2k82Tii5D

source: www.ft.com

 

« ‘Flying Fish’ and the Constriction of the Arts in Sri Lanka » by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

State propaganda also has it that the film Flying Fish is not in consonance with the country’s culture. Where is that culture codified? Who decides on what the country’s culture is and isn’t and who gave them the mandate to do so? What kind of culture would it be if the arts are suppressed? How can one conceive of culture without the arts and art without the freedom of the artist to create? One can well imagine the fate of the Sigirya and the Isurumuniya art if these Taliban-type cultural police had served in ancient times.

Has Martial Law been declared in the Arts in Sri Lanka? If the ‘Defence authorities’ whatever that may mean, exercise a veto over the arts, what do they NOT exercise a veto over in civic life? Where do they get the Constitutional and legal right to do so? How does one classify a society in which such a de facto veto exists? Behind an increasingly illiberal democracy are we headed to the type of ‘mixed regime’ which in Latin America of the 1970s was termed a ‘State of National Security’ or a ‘civilian–military junta’? Is a ‘civilian–military junta’ already operating alongside or within the democratic state; more manifest in the former conflict zones but increasingly influential in the island as a whole?

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/07/19/flying-fish-and-the-constriction-of-the-arts-in-sri-lanka/

source: Groundviews

Content for civil society and activists: Combatting growing surveillance and censorship of online content in Sri Lanka

3 September 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka: In late July 2012, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) released in Tamil, Sinhala and English, three short-form videos and informative posters on online freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. This content is now available on Flickr and YouTube, in addition to the other web repositories noted below. All the content can be distributed, embedded, emailed, broadcast and republished freely. The posters are designed to be clearly legible even in black and white, A4 prints.

The Sri Lankan govenrment has since 2007 systematically clamped down on critical content online. Over 2012, this process has dramatically accelerated <http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=6f67b11e0a&e=625e121e01> . The government is now actively pursuing the introduction of draconian laws and taxation to clamp down on, as it sees fit, inconvenient content online. When the new law comes into force in the near future, it will be a new chapter in censorship, affecting all web users in the country, whether or not they are activists or human rights defenders. As Sanjana Hattotuwa, Senior Researcher at CPA and Editor of the online civic media platform Groundviews<http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=f7d73a1a45&e=625e121e01>  notes,

The impunity of powerful individuals, retrogressive laws and censorious taxes respectively showcase so much of what’s wrong and getting worse with the freedom of expression our country. We are impervious to the violent censorship of Tamil dissidents in the country, writing against both LTTE and the State, during and after war. But the noose now ensnares a larger community. If you’re producing content on how you see and choose to describe Sri Lanka, you’re now liable for criminal prosecution, regulation and possible taxation. It’s as simple as that.

CPA produced in 2010 <http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=c0bf64b5e7&e=625e121e01>  and again in 2011 <http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=3f1b3debbe&e=625e121e01>  two key reports, the only ones of their kind to date, looking at the erosion of the freedom of expression on the web and Internet in Sri Lanka. As far back as August 2010, when it was evident that the Sri Lankan government was becoming increasingly censorious online, we held a workshop in Colombo<http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=129e54a13a&e=625e121e01>  looking at how critical dissent online could be strengthened and protected. In early 2011, we produced an online security poster <http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=93ececf0b4&e=625e121e01>  that was widely distributed amongst Sri Lankan civil society in print and electronically.

In mid-2011, we translated from English online security flashcards in Sinhala <http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=2197fb4c7b&e=625e121e01>  for activists to use when producing and sharing sensitive content online. Also in 2011, the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) endorsed a blog post by Sanjana Hattotuwa on how web based platforms could be made more resilient to censorship and denial of service attacks (Advice for colleagues on the digital front lines <http://cpalanka.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=746409e6de7b1c2a97474620a&id=ee50637cfb&e=625e121e01> ).

CPA’s posters and videos released in July 2012 complement this content and are aimed at informing ordinary users to leading activists who use the web in Sri Lanka today to be more safe in what they say, produce and do. The content can also help circumvent, to the extent possible, website blocks and online surveillance, including over mobile phones. All the videos and posters are available in Tamil, English and Sinhala.

  • The POSTERS are available for download here – https://www.box.com/s/7e91672c5119f472f064. They are very high resolution and will print perfectly in black & white as well as in colour, on any size upwards of A4. You can also freely share, resize and embed on websites, blogs, Pinterest and Facebook.
  • Limited numbers of high-resolution colour prints of each set of posters will be printed in all three languages, and CPA will send them to those working on FOE issues in Sri Lanka. Please write to sanjanah [at] cpalanka [dot] org directly if you need any copies, which will be sent free of charge within Sri Lanka, subject to availability.
  • The VIDEOS are available at https://vimeo.com/album/2019015. They can be downloaded, viewed online over any PC or mobile device and embedded on any social media platform or blog.

Please engage with this content, and share as widely as possible amongst your friends, colleagues and through institutional networks.

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in the firm belief that there is an urgent need to strengthen institution- and capacity-building for good governance and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka and that non-partisan civil society groups have an important and constructive contribution to make to this process. The primary role envisaged for the Centre in the field of public policy is a pro-active and interventionary one, aimed at the dissemination and advocacy of policy alternatives for non-violent conflict resolution and democratic governance. Accordingly, the work of the Centre involves a major research component through which the policy alternatives advocated are identified and developed.