Saturday, June 13, 2009

Opinion: Wordpress Suspending Our Blog and the Larger Context

Voices in Exile noticed on June 10 that Wordpress had suspended our blog, and our blog said that the site had been suspended due to a violation of the terms of service. We are not sure on which day the blog was suspended. Wordpress suspended our account and did not notify us about any concerns before, at the time of, or any time after the suspension until we notified them. This is very unfortunate, since we see ourselves as a forum for the free expression of people's opinions and for intelligent dialogue on all of the confusing happenings around Sri Lanka and the world. We contacted Wordpress regarding this incident, and telling them that our blog holds itself to high standards of content and openness of dialogue. Here is the response from them, one day later:

I am really sorry for that happening - I cannot see why yet but I can assure you it will not happen again.
The blog is back just as you left it and I very much apologise for the trouble we caused you.


Also on June 10, Bob Rae, Canadian shadow foreign minister and former Premiere of Ontario, reported that after having flown to Colombo to see firsthand the situation in Sri Lanka, he was turned back on the "tip-off" from Defence officials based on "intelligence reports" that he was a security threat and a supporter of the Tigers (now defeated). Bob Rae has been a moderate and critical of Tigers in his 30 years of following the conflict. It has been reported that members of the Sinhalese Diaspora were instrumental in making the case to prevent Rae from visitng Sri Lanka, and that these people have been in frequent contact with the representatives of the Sri Lankan government, including at the highest levels. As far as Voices in Exile, well, (theSL Defence Ministry's website) is an official follower on our Twitter accout -- what an endorsement!!

We also note that website was shut down (along with and simultaneously after the killing of LTTE political and military leadership, on May 17, 2009. That has been shut down seems concerning to us, since it is actually a very scholarly website with original articles and copies and documentation of academic articles, human rights reports, legal reports, history, interviews, etc. and is clearly not affiliated with the LTTE. Thus, what motivation would the site maintainers have to shut it down of their own volition?

We see that in Sri Lanka and in the West, websites are getting shutdown, innocent people (no matter how helpful, powerful or famous) are being vilified and humiliated. So it makes us wonder... Did people complain to Wordpress like they did about Bob Rae? Did Wordpress act on a volume of complaints rather than read our blog? When the representative from Termination of Service Reports responded to us, why did the rep. not tell us why our blog account was suspended, and that they didn't know why, when they can find this out for other accounts that have been suspended?

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