Sri Lanka’s Groundviews back online after takedown

A note for the Sri Lanka watchers who visit regularly. Sanjana Hattotuwa, the founder of the citizen journalism website Groundviews messaged me this morning to say that the site is up and running again after suddenly going down within Sri Lanka over the weekend. Hattotuwa is the driving force behind the site, which is headquartered at the Center for Policy Alternatives, an independent Sri Lankan think tank.  

In his message, Hattotuwa said:

Reports indicate Groundviews, Vikalpa [Groundviews’ partner site in Sinhala] and Transparency International are now accessible again through Sri Lanka Telecomm‘s ADSL network. Could have been a dry run for future action, could have been someone who flipped a switch without being told to do so, could have been a signal to us to shut up. But this was no mistake, or a random technical glitch.

Transparency International’s reporting on corruption in Sri Lanka has longed angered the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and it didn’t earn much favor when it honored Attotage Prema Jayantha, better known by his pen name Poddala, with one of its Transparency International Integrity Awards in 2010.

Groundviews is a mandatory daily check-in for anyone looking for a critical but balanced viewpoint on Sri Lankan affairs. I’ve always been surprised that it has been able to keep running, given what has happened to other sites. Lanka eNews‘ office was burned to the ground, its editor driven into exile, and its staff still living in Colombo arrested, harassed, and threatened. TamilNet, a news site run by Tamil Sri Lankans living in exile, has been blocked since 2007, though Groundviews does supply a workaround on how to access it.

As one commenter on the Groundviews site said after the announcement that it had been shut down: “It was bound to happen wasn’t it?”