Lanka Dissent reports that the website of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is under investigation by the Government of Sri Lanka because “… it directly contributes towards dividing the country and that it promotes the concept of a separate Eelam state.” The full news report is worth quoting:
Investigations are underway into the official website of the Tamil National Alliance, http://www.tamilalliance.net.
The government has received a complaint that the website directly contributes towards dividing the country and that it promotes the concept of a separate Eelam state.
A senior government spokesman said that the government intends to lodge a complaint with the Attorney General against the website and take legal action on recommendation by the AG.
After visiting the TNA website briefly (it takes ages to load), what seems to have piqued the Government seems to be a map of Eelam on the home page and some text on what the TNA considers is the traditional tamil homeland of the Tamils and the LTTE role in it.
Regulation 6 of the Emergency (Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities) Regulations No. 07 of 2006 makes it unlawful to “wear, display, hoist or possess the uniform, dress, symbol, emblem, or flag of” a “terrorist group” in Sri Lanka. Regulation 6 criminalises, not only “terrorism”, “any specified Terrorist activity,” but also “any other activity in furtherance of any act of terrorism or specified terrorist activity committed by any person, group or groups of persons.” Regulation 7 provides, among other things, that “No person shall… promote, encourage, support, advice, assist, act on behalf of; or organize or take part in any activity or event of, any person, group, groups of persons or an organization which acts in contravention of regulation 6 of these regulations.”
Roundly condemned by civil society, these regulations have been used to crack down on the freedom of expression and dissent in Sri Lanka, including self-censorship of journalists. Expressing its serious concerns with the regulations the Centre for Policy Alternatives noted in a statement that amongst other glaring problems the wide, overbroad language of several of the regulations could curtail legitimate democratic activity, dissent and the autonomy of civil society groups.
It’s impossible to agree with the TNA’s stance on the LTTE as “the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil peoples” in Sri Lanka. It is also never out of fashion to debate the archeological and historical proof of traditional Tamil homelands. But a malevolent investigation into the website of a registered democratic party that is represented in parliament for espousing what it believes and is open to its contestation has to be seen in light of measures taken by the government to viciously clamp down on dissent.
It is highly likely that the AG’s recommendation will be a closure of this website in light of the content published on it.
Of course, it’s interesting that the case has been made to the Attorney General’s Department at all since the Government has blocked access to the popular Tamil news website Tamilnet from Sri Lanka for close upon a year now, has openly called for hackers to be employed against websites it find inconvenient and has arrested journalists behind other critical websites.
Anyone interested in the content of the TNA website can download the entire website in PDF form from the Sites at Risk website here.
The Bottom Line newspaper has a related story published today that can be read here.