Sri Lanka temporarily restricted access to social media platforms on Sunday, an independent local internet and media monitoring service reported.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp appeared to be blocked for people, NetBlocks tweeted.
Sri Lankan TV channel Ada Derana reported that the platforms had been temporarily restricted “at the request of the Ministry of Defence”.
The chairman of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission confirmed to Reuters news agency that the blocking of social media was ordered by the government.
“It was imposed in the interests of the country and the people to maintain calm,” Jayantha de Silva, chairman of the federal telecommunications regulator, told Reuters.
The upheaval of Sri Lanka
The social media restrictions came after the Sri Lankan government imposed a nationwide curfew on Saturday night to limit the movement of people until Monday morning.
Yet protesters, angry at the government’s handling of the ongoing economic crisis, defied the curfew and took to the streets to demonstrate.
More than 650 people who broke curfew rules have been arrested in Western Province, which includes the capital, Colombo, Reuters reported.
Protesters clashed with police on Thursday as they demanded the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency on Friday after protests outside his home turned violent, saying tougher laws were needed to bring order to the country.
Anti-government hashtags like “#GoHomeRajapaksas” and “#GotaGoHome” had been trending locally for days on Twitter and Facebook.
Opposition MPs defy national curfew
On Sunday, several dozen opposition MPs defied the national curfew and took to the streets to try to keep up the pressure on the authorities.
Lawmakers gathered at the official residence of opposition leader Sajith Premadasa in Colombo and began their march to nearby Independence Square.
Sri Lankan armed security forces set up checkpoints and reportedly blocked the protest.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis shows no signs of abating, as inflation and food prices, amid a shortage of foreign exchange reserves, continue to reach record highs.
The shortage of foreign currency in Sri Lanka to buy fuel means people live without electricity for several hours each day.
Exams have been postponed for millions of students and hospitals have been forced to push back routine operations due to a lack of equipment.
rm/jcg (Reuters, AFP)