Be very careful what you say in Sri Lanka

As a international traveler, it is essential to know the economic and political environment of any place you visit. With the advent of the Internet, countries are becoming quick to censor any form of political dissent and use force quiet resistance. In another attack on freedom of the press, the Sri Lankan government recently shutdown two entire publishing companies based in Colombo. Yahoo News reports on the censorship:

Sri Lankan police Friday shut down opposition news websites, accusing them of carrying “false and vulgar reports”, months after imposing censorship on news alerts issued by mobile phone companies.

Seven media organisations, including the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, condemned the closure of the Lanka Mirror and Lanka X News offices located within the same building in Colombo.

“A group of 25 officers from the police Criminal Investigation Department sealed the offices and nine employees were arrested,” the media organisations said in a joint statement. “We condemn this deadly assault on media freedom.”

The Sri Lankan defence ministry said the news organisations were shut down after officials obtained a court order to carry out searches and seize equipment.

Rights groups and employees said one website was the official news organ of the opposition United National Party (UNP), while the other website was also closely linked to the UNP.

“The CID sealed the offices of two websites carrying false and vulgar reports,” the ministry said in a statement. “People responsible for feeding information to the Internet through this office are being investigated.”

The sites have been highly critical of the government, which is already facing international censure over its human rights record and a string of unsolved murders of journalists and attacks on the independent media.

Some 17 journalists and media employees have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past decade, pro-opposition websites have been blocked and media organisations opposing government views have been attacked, according to rights groups.

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