By Malinda Seneviratne –
The news/views website, Colombo Telegraph is blocked for users from Sri Lanka. This is not the first occasion this has happened. Colombo Telegraph is not the first website that has been blocked either. Tamilnet, which was the voice of the LTTE was blocked years ago. Other sites which like people to think that gossip, wish and other mischievous missives marketed as ‘news’ that the operators of the websites believe would in some way help their political project(s) have also been blocked. Pornographic sites have been blocked too.
As I argued in a piece titled ‘The staunchest friends of the regime’ that sites like Colombo Telegraph helps the regime. It’s an old theory, true, but dissent and criticism is more containable within democratic structures and in this case such opposition gets off loaded into virtual space largely inhabited by invective-spewing hotheaded cowards who are loathe to walk the talk.
But CT is bigger than that. CT gives space to a wide range of political views. While it has its complement of regime-haters (mostly out of disappointment and rage that preferred outcome(s) did not materialize), there is enough cogent criticism to make such whiners irrelevant and even sufferable. The benefits outweigh the negatives.
CT, more than any other source, mined Wikileaks for documents pertaining to Sri Lanka, many which wrecked the sweet picture of the USA and UN that those opposed to the regime, for example, may have entertained.
This blocking of CT is a violation of my right to information, my freedom to visit websites that I find useful. It is a childish and pernicious move on the part of the blocker(s). CT is not a threat to my security and not a threat to national security, and even if that were the case, the best way of responding to that kind of threat is to engage using the same weapons, primarily word and argument. This, is counterproductive, and moreover offers free ammunition to those who actually may have pernicious designs on the nation and national interest.