US envoy in Sri Lanka defends social media, blames “hate filled people” for violence

US envoy in Sri Lanka defends social media, blames “hate filled people” for violence

Colombo, March 12 ( The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap blamed “hated-filled” people for the recent anti-Muslim violence in Central Sri Lanka and not the social media which have been banned as a security measure to stem the spread of volatile messages.

In a tweet Keshap said “hate filled people” exploited new ways to fan the flames of intolerance and violence and these are the real main culprits of racial tensions.

“Social media is an imperfect, evolving, and fluid platform that uses new technology to connect and reflect human societies as a whole, including the good and bad,” he added.

Atul Keshap, US Ambassador in Sri Lanka

The ban on social media is being criticized in various quarters in Sri Lanka including the ruling United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. A UNP MP and State Minister in the government Dr.Harsha de Silva tweeted that as peace has returned, the 72 hour ban on social media should be lifted.

Joint Opposition MP Namal Rajapaksa tweeted that it is ironic that a government which brought in the Right to Information Act should ban social media.

He pointed out that while those in government now appreciated the role of the social media in the run up to the 2015 Presidential elections are now against the social media when public opinion is going against their regime.

Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka said that it would check efforts to beat the ban on the social media by using platforms like VPN.

In a bizarre step, the police arrested an 18 year old student of  a leading school in Colombo for spreading racial hatred on social media. On Monday the Colombo Magistrate’s  Court remanded him till March 26.

(The  featured image at the top is a cartoon in the state-owned Sunday Observer. The media ministry ,which controls the paper, is under the United National Party )