Human Rights, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict

Cutting off telecoms in Sri Lanka redux…

This from the FMM today:

Internet facilities and 8,000 telephones cut off in Jaffna Peninsula

The Free Media Movement (FMM) is deeply disturbed to learn that basic communications facilities to the Jaffna Peninsula have been blocked from 28th January 2007. Internet facilities and around 8,000 landline telephones of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) are dysfunctional to date. SLT, jointly owned by the Sri Lankan Government and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (NTT) of Japan, is the sole Internet provider in Jaffna Peninsula with a population of around 600,000 according to official statistics.

The FMM was told that there is no official decision by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority to block communications in this manner in the Peninsula.

However, a number of citizens in Jaffna and journalists confirm that there is no Internet access in Jaffna for the past 3 three days, when contacted through mobile phones.

SLT Jaffna office told FMM that for security reasons SLT link to Jaffna has been disconnected form Anuradhapura, a north central city.

Read the full statement here.

In Seeing mobile phones as a basic human right I noted that disconnecting & reconnecting basic telephony & communications to entire populations in the North & East is perhaps not the best way to win over the hearts and minds of those we seek to “liberate”.

Even from a military perspective, as this post notes, barring communications from conflict zones can actually be counterproductive.

Either way, 600,000 people today in Jaffna are denied the right to communicate with their fellow citizens and the rest of the world.