Old wine in new bottles or a genuine shift in thinking?
I encountered the LTTE’s new Department of International Relations website today, containing S. Pathmanathan’s blog and other really fun stuff. The site is registered through GoDaddy.com in Arizona, whereas the erstwhile LTTE Peace Secretariat site’s domain was registered to an individual based in Killinochchi, Sri Lanka who is quite possibly dead now or sans a few limbs, is in no condition to update the site.
Pathmanathan’s reasons for entering the world of blogging are revealing,
I also realised the importance of sharing of opinions with many who were not in a position to share opinions with me through direct means. How do I achieve this? In this advanced cyber era I soon realised that it was possible through a blog posting. This is why have I chosen to out to you using this method. The dimension of expressing opinions through political statements is very different to the dimension of distributing opinions through the web. It is not appropriate to release all opinions as political statements and notices. The internet gives me an opportunity to be close to the people and exchange views. I was attracted to this form of communication because of the ability to be able to reach many quickly.
Unsurprisingly, the LTTE Peace Secretariat site doesn’t load anymore even though the domain is still registered. All is not lost however, since two complete site archives I created in April 2008 and again in February 2009 are available here. These archives, invaluable for a researcher or historian, contain inter alia:
- Prabhakaran’s Heroes Day speeches from 1992
- All the news archives, press releases from 2003 including attached PDFs, photos and videos
- The official statements issued by the Royal Norwegian Government at the end of the 6 rounds of peace talks between the Government and the LTTE
- Proposals put forward by the LTTE for an Interim Self Governing Authority
- Historical documents such as the Thimpu Declaration
- Photos from 2002 on events that took place during the CFA
In looking at his past with the terrorist group, journalist DBS Jeyaraj notes that Pathmanathan, alias KP, is a formidable voice in the LTTE’s scattered remnants globally, though he also points to bitter power struggles that may undermine his new position. It’s clear that the new Dept. of International Relations is part of KP’s efforts to reach out and consolidate his position of authority and leadership.
Whether competing initiatives linked to other contenders appear on the web or not, its clear that the web and internet will play a predominant role in attempts to secure support and legitimacy for the movement and key individuals keen to appear as its new leaders.
Given the new site’s foundation as a blog (which the earlier Peace Secretariat site wasn’t) and given KP’s intention above, it may be that LTTE is now open to genuine dialog beyond its usual constituency in the diaspora and locally. How will this dialog be mediated and by whom?
The opinions page of the new website, at the time of writing, only notes, Opinions yet to receive… (sic) One hopes these opinions are progressive and civil. Nurturing, supporting and maintain such dialogue isn’t, and I say this from experience, an easy task, particularly when dealing with an entity as divisive as the LTTE, leave aside internal post-Prabhakaran power struggles that may seek to undermine and delegitimise this new site, its content and associated personnel.
Precisely because the future of LTTE’s new Dept. of International Relations is suspect, I’ve archived the complete site here and will continue to periodically update it.