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Sri Lanka blocks access to social media protests spread across country

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A person takes a photo as a demonstrator walks near a bus that was set on fire at the top of the road to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's home during a protest against him as many parts of the crisis-hit country faced food, fuel and power shortage due to lack of foreign currency to import fuel, in Colombo, Sri Lanka March 31, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Sri Lanka's government has blocked access to social media platforms to stop news of anti-government protests triggered by food, fuel and power shortage from spreading across the country.

There is restricted access to major social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram, internet monitoring organization NetBlocks reported in a Saturday tweet.

⚠️ Confirmed: Real-time network data show Sri Lanka has imposed a nationwide social media blackout, restricting access to platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram as emergency is declared amid widespread protests.

📰 Report:

— NetBlocks (@netblocks) April 2, 2022

On Saturday, the government declared a 36-hour nationwide curfew to quell protests rallies staged against the president, demanding his resignation.

A day earlier, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed a state of emergency, which gave sweeping powers to security forces to clamp down on protests.

His move came a day after a crowd of angry protesters attempted to storm his home.

Protesters are angry over an unprecedented economic crisis caused by a shortage of essential items such as fuel, and price hikes for other goods.

Power cuts linked to the fuel shortage across the country have been another source of discontent for the angry protesters.

On Friday, anti-government demonstrations were reported in the Western Province, which includes the capital Colombo, and in the northern and central regions, as well as the southern towns of Galle, Matara and Moratuwa. All the demos held up traffic on main roads.

On Thursday night in Colombo, protesters demanded the president to step down due to his failed economic policies. One placard read, “Time to quit Rajapaksas”. “No more corruption, go home,” read another. Protesters chanted “lunatic, lunatic, go home and set fire to a bus.

Police fired tear gas and used water cannons against the demonstrators protesting outside the president’s home in Colombo.

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