NGO activist in Jaffna urges Tamil diaspora to be vigilant on Colombo-centric manipulations

[TamilNet, Monday, 19 June 2017, 17:05 GMT]
NGO Secretariat functioning under SL Minister Mano Ganesan is a smoke screen operation of the Colombo-centric discourse seeking to suppress and manipulate the civil structures in the North and East. The so-called ‘National Secretariat for Non-Governmental Organizations’ (NSNGO), also known as NGO Secretariat, is trying to control the local civil and NGOs by creating ‘federations’ at district-level while SL Prime Minister's office seems to exercise full control over the outfit, says Vijayaratnam Kesavan, a civil rights activist in Jaffna. The NGO secretariat is being deployed during the last three months to eliminate the already compromised independency of NGOs and the civil groups in the North-East, he said, criticising the move to create NGO federations at district level while there are already well-functioning independent coordination mechanisms in existence for the last 25 years. 



It seems like SL Minister Mano Ganesan is only having a say in matters related to registration and visa facilitation. The other matters are strictly controlled by the SL Prime Minister’s office, he said.

Why did the SL State avoid to issue a proper Gazette notification if the secretariat is fully operating under the domain of Mano Ganesan's SL Ministry of ‘National’ Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, he asked in a video interview, explaining the concerns of the local NGOs in Jaffna.  

Even during the times of Rajapaksa regime, the SL State was issuing Gazette notifications when the NGO Secretariat was brought under the control of the SL Defence Ministry, he added.

The SL State is trying to block independent flow of funds from Tamil diaspora to independent Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and local Non-Governmental Organisations. 

There has been a perfect mechanism to coordinate the NGOs and CBOs for the last 25 years in Jaffna district. Also in other districts, there are proper coordinating mechanisms without the direct control by the SL State.  

“When the NGO secretariat officials came to Jaffna with one or two Colombo-based civil activists as advisors, several questions were raised by us. They could not properly respond to those questions. They said the district-wise federations and the registration with the NGO secretariat was to take place islandwide in all the 25 districts to ease the work of the NGOs and their liaising with the State mechanism. But, such federations have not been created in other districts outside the Northern and Eastern provinces,” he said. 

The move also aims to disrupt independent, open and transparent flow of resources from Tamil diaspora to SL military-occupied North-East in the future.

There was an expectation that there will be a mechanism under NPC Chief Minister for mobilising funds from the Tamil diaspora. 

Three months have elapsed since a federation was launched in Jaffna by the NGO Secretariat. There has been no activities. In the meantime, they also want to create DS division level federations, which also causes greater concerns, Mr Kesavan further said. 

“We got alerted when the NGO Secretariat was trying to connect civil activist groups with NGOs in creating the district-wise federations. It is definitely a move to compromise the independency of the civil society,” he said.  

The dialogues, which should take place between and among the various stakeholders, including the Tamil diaspora, should be facilitated in an open, transparent and free environment.

Anything being taken forward by a State-controlled or State-funded outfit through closed door engagements are “politically motivated,” Kesavan says. 

There is a serious need to create an independent platform as the effort to create an independent Chief Minister’s Fund mechanism has been sabotaged and intentionally put on hold by the SL State, he further said. 

The Tamil Diaspora should be particularly vigilant on deceptive dialogue moves, the NGO activist said, citing the recent visits ‘managed’ and coordinated through Colombo’s ministries.


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