We respect Sri Lanka's national security but also support freedom of expression: US

Sri Lanka witnessed anti-Muslim riots in Kandy, in which several homes, businesses and mosques were damaged during three days of violence.

Published: 08th March 2018 02:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2018 02:59 PM   |  A+A-


Sri Lanka's army soldiers and police personnel stand near a vandalized building in Digana, a suburb of Kandy. | AP


WASHINGTON: The United States today said it respects Sri Lanka's national security, but asked Colombo to ensure the freedom of expression of its citizens.

The Indian Ocean island nation has witnessed anti-Muslim riots in Kandy, in which several homes, businesses and mosques were damaged during three days of violence.

The violence erupted after the death of a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority last week.

To rein in communal violence, a state of emergency has been imposed by the President Maithripala Sirisena government.

Internet access was also restricted in Kandy and social media websites including Facebook and instant messaging app Whatsapp blocked.

"While we respect Sri Lanka's national security, the US supports an open, reliable and secure Internet where the rights that all persons have offline are also protected online, such as freedom of expression," a State Department spokesperson told PTI.

"The United States values freedom of expression and access to information as a key component of democratic governance," the spokesperson said while responding to a question on blocking of social media sites and imposition of emergency in Sri Lanka.

Earlier, the US Embassy in Colombo said it is important that the Government of Sri Lanka act quickly against perpetrators of sectarian violence, protect religious minorities and their places of worship, and conclude the State of Emergency swiftly, while protecting human rights and basic freedoms for all.


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