New York, June 20, 2007—The Sri Lankan government should restore domestic access to the TamilNet Web site, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The Free Media Movement, a Colombo-based press freedom group, and news outlets reported Tuesday that Internet service providers had blocked access to the site on government orders.
TamilNet, which openly supports Tamil rebels fighting a secessionist war, is widely read by Tamils in Sri Lanka and around the world. Despite its partisan nature, it is also used by diplomats and non-governmental organizations to learn of conditions in Tamil-controlled areas that are not open to other journalists.
“We call on the government to rescind its decision. All journalists in Sri Lanka must be allowed to carry out their work,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director.
Clashes, air strikes, and assassinations have killed 5,000 people over the past 19 months in Sri Lanka, according to The Associated Press. More than 70,000 people have died since the secessionist conflict began in 1983.