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 Post subject: Sri Lanka accuses NGOs of ethnic bias and political agendas
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 1:53 am 
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Date : 2005-04-06

Sri Lanka accuses NGOs of ethnic bias and political agendas

@ - Asian Tribune -
By Sugeeswara Senadhira - Asian Tribune Bureau Chief in Colombo

Colombo, 06 April, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka expressed serious concerns over certain Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) that use the ethnic issue to work towards hidden political agendas. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof Wiswa Warnapala said that some NGOs had developed into an organized network associated with the country's ethnic question and warned that it was a very dangerous trend.

“There are NGOs with a secret agenda. Some of them are trying to infiltrate political parties and I see this as a very dangerous trend,” he said. Speaking on disaster management he said that after the tsunami disaster several hundreds of NGOs entered the country as ‘saviours of the people in the tsunami affected areas.’ This sudden growth in the number of NGOs is the reason for concern, the deputy minister said.

Although Prof. Warnapala did not name any NGOs in his scathing criticism; it is no secret that the government is unhappy over the foreign donations to the Tamil Refugee Organization (TRO) which is a front organization of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Many countries have contributed funds to the TRO and the government sources revealed that Norway has granted fifty million Kroner (US$ 8.3 million) to the TRO. “As there is no accountability or transparency in TRO accounts, there is no way of preventing the LTTE from using substantial part of the funds for arms,” a defence ministry source said.

TRO was not registered in Norway until tsunami tragedy of December 26, 2004. However it was registered in Norway on the advice of e Norwegian government purely to legitamise the contribution.

“NGOs specializing on the question of ethnicity; then there are others who are self appointed experts on elections and electralism and there are still others who are self-appointed experts on good governance,” deputy minister said in an obvious reference to the election monitoring organization PAFERAL and the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), an NGO working on issues like good governance and democratic rights.

“I need to tell you that all these NGOs have a political agenda. I would like to dub them as organizations, which are servile to the West. Some NGOs openly display their servility to their neo-colonialist masters and there are others who try to infiltrate universities and promote a form of academic colonialism,” Prof. Warnapala said. “NGOs would want to create a political culture of their own and impose it on the Sri Lankan nation. It is this, which needs to be opposed in the larger interest of our country.”

However the government will not change its policy to mobilize NGOs in its disaster management action plan. However, the NGOs are expected to function under the guidance of the National Council for Disaster Management.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning has taken steps to establish a center for non-governmental sector under which certain conditions have been laid down to monitor their activities. Although there are hundreds of NGOs registered in Sri Lanka only a fraction of the number operating in the country.

Recently the government decided to levy a three percent tax on NGO funds. However the NGOs working on relief and rehabilitation have been exempted from tax.

- Asian Tribune -

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