A terrible leak, missed speech and open sourced terror assemblage
10 December 2010
Source: Daily mirror srilanka
By Dr. Harinda Vidanage
The recent events which led to the cancellation of a talk scheduled to be given at the Oxford students’ union by President Mahinda Rajapaksa brought about a multi-dimensional analysis and political response. The crux of the arguments was on the role of pro-separatist and pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora operations.A multitude of academics, politicians and security analysts brought out arguments, interpretations all stressing on the much needed counter measures to curb such transnational political actions. The article attempts to locate the challenge of Tamil diaspora activism in the context of new spaces of politics and national security challenges and point out certain facts that have been sidelined in many arguments of counter measures that the state should adopt.
The writer in previous articles based on the upcoming new forms of terror threats urged the state and policy makers to look at this new threat as an assemblage of factors and forces that are both hostile to the state and the current regime. Defence analysts and security experts some of who have developed much regard even in western strategic circles seem to have missed this critical form of new terror activities. The pro LTTE Tamil diaspora and what I would call pro separatist diaspora are still beeing analyzed through the frameworks of ‘net work centrism’. Rohan Gunaratne in a recent interview with a national weekly calls for strategic perspectives of dismantling of the network architecture and urges the state to prepare counter propaganda solutions.
Investigations revealed that the Sri Lankan president’s speech was cancelled through initiatives collaborated by an assemblage that was utilized by pro separatist Tamil diaspora activists. The collaborators in this assemblage included local politicians, British politicians, British rights activists, student activists, NGO representatives and global media organizations. Thus a mere network form of mobilization could not support such diverse organizations to reach an organic unity to challenge a leader of a sovereign nation. The rise of the internet and its potentials such as to develop networks of terror organizations were highlighted in research on new media in the late 90’s and earlier towards the new millennium but this has changed recently with the rise of non network centric operations of terrorists and anti state movements using the fluidity of cyber space. Wikileaks may not be the first event of massive online operations targeting states and transcending zones that are declared ‘safe’ or ‘secret’ in line with national security of a sovereign state. Yet the massive Wikileaks revelation of diplomatic wires classified as confidential or top secret prompted the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to remark, “Let’s be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America — it’s an attack on the international community.”
Thus what Clinton has uttered is not just the magnitude of this single leak but it hints at the new challenges to a state’s sovereignty that originate from spaces that no single sovereign state has total control of. As a researcher on cyber politics and new forms of terror the writer and the community of researchers he represent are seen by many as fans of mere science fiction or geeks who have developed fetishes to the Matrix or Terminator series. It’s time that these researchers, academics and analysts to be taken seriously.
The writer wishes to point out to the new making of the pro separatist Tamil disapora politics. The term pro separatism is intentionally used to make the point that separatism in Sri Lanka preceded the LTTE and the LTTE is a violent creation and manifestation of separatist ideology that prevails both within Sri Lanka and globally. Locally most of the Tamil media should be found at fault with its subtle and nuanced spread of the ideology of the separatism symbolized by its overt messages of North East centrism. Even in the post LTTE context if one studies the local Tamil press apart from the state print media, it is clearly evident in the highlighting of visits of pro-LTTE diaspora activist Niraj David to Israel and the discussion of the creation of Israel. These are nuances of the deep ideology of separatism entrenched in certain journalists’ mind set. This is why primarily the state should intervene and back dissident anti separatist Tamil activists to set up an alternative media which can discuss the ‘Ilangai Vishayam’ promoting Sri Lankanism instead of compartmentalizing on North and East. This will enable to liberate to a certain extent the ideological inhibitions of the separatist project.
The state should also be vigilant of the seasoned veteran journalists’ comments which appear on international press, internet news sites and personal blogs. Most of these journalists achieve wide coverage in both local and international press. If one carefully analyses the articles these articles while claiming to be opposing the LTTE seem to be discursively constructing the new LTTE structures. These include the information on new LTTE leadership in the diaspora and the romantic language when references are made of ex-tigers with a degree of heroism attached to them. These constant articles represent the notion that separatism is surviving and is the dominant ideology of Tamil diaspora.
Finally the state must realize it possesses the one and only weapon that can neutralize serious assemblages of separatist diaspora. This is the fundamental point the writer intends to make in this article. As mentioned earlier many security experts call for renewed strategies of a counter propaganda campaign, but the writer argues that they have missed the key ingredient in making this strategy work. That is to incorporate the voice of ordinary Tamils living in post-LTTE Sri Lanka especially the voice of the youth. If there is a serious counter argument put forward by the Tamil society in Sri Lanka to the diaspora that the local Tamils are seriously contending the key claims made by the Tamil diaspora the total energy that is driving them will be neutralized. Western states are blamed by local politicians for support to the LTTE but what the states are supporting is not exactly the LTTE but the ideology of separatism. Thus the key force that can defeat this will be a liberal thinking Tamil society in Sri Lanka urging for a non separatist agenda and total political harmonization of communities under the identity of Sri Lankan citizenry. The state and policy makers should not forget that for three decades the LTTE suppressed the right of expression of Tamils under them. Now the diaspora and certain media are trying to do the same to the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
Thus the state possesses the strategic sources that these new terror assemblages can be defeated both locally and internationally. All it needs is a synthesis of a broader political will of inclusivity and sense of what new threats are emerging due to the opening up of political space beyond the traditional sovereign limits of geography. This should be backed by setting up a national resource pool of academics, policy makers and defence experts and promoting research integration to state policies on areas such as diaspora studies, new media and new security discourse. If not we would be just spending our national wealth on projects and programmes in the name of our country which lacks focus reducing such strategies to a hostage of fortune.