Feature Article

Development crimes, Norway and Tamil diaspora

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 July 2010, 23:52 GMT]
“While the West is hoodwinking Tamils with war crimes investigations, what takes place in the island in full swing with the abetment of those who abetted the war are development crimes, demographic crimes and cultural crimes to complete genocide. The balance tilted by the international community has now placed Eezham Tamils to face several armies: an occupying army, settlement army, a retrogressive cultural army and the ‘development army’. Meanwhile, some Tamil individuals argue that diaspora should stop prioritising politics, but should ‘reconcile’ to subordination and engage in ‘rehabilitation’, without realising that it is they who have imperceptibly fallen into a vicious political agenda of the oppressors”, commented a social activist responding to ‘development’ circles in Norway advocating the diaspora to engage in ‘development’ accepting a questionable Sinhala NGO as the ‘monitor’.

Recently a Tamil diaspora team was enticed by some ‘development’ elements in Norway to undertake a visit to the island to explore ‘development’ of the North and East in collaboration with the Green Movement of Sri Lanka (GMSL), a Sinhala NGO of questionable political background.

“This was a landmark trip as this was the first time in the history of development interventions in the North East of Sri Lanka that the Tamil Diaspora Organizations had agreed to work with a Sri Lankan-based NGO to initiate development interventions in NESL”, said a report of this team that has returned from the visit.

“The Project Team is of the opinion that the GMSL will be a good partner to work with as they have the experience, expertise, network, resources and partnerships to help TECH Norway, TECH Germany, TECH Malaysia, FOKUS and The Development Fund [a Norwegian NGO] to implement projects on the ground in NESL”, the report further said.

Praising those who have arranged the collaboration, the report said: “Ms. Alice Ennals and Ms. Aina of The Development Fund had chosen well when they recommended that the Tamil Diaspora work with The Green Movement in development interventions in North East Sri Lanka”.

“GMSL took a big risk when they allowed the project team to travel by road along the A9 highway as this was the first time that approval had been given to foreigners to travel by road to Jaffna. GMSL can be the Task Force for development interventions in NESL as they have the support of the Government of Sri Lanka, hence accessing restricted areas, getting the Presidential Task Force approval and the Government Agent’s approval can be made easier and faster,” the report argues.

The project team proposes conceding monitoring responsibilities to GMSL. The Norwegian funding agencies earlier insisted that funds could be channelled only through NGOs recognised by them, such as the GMSL, for accounting purposes.

TECH, The Economic Consultancy House (also stands for Tamil Eelam Consultancy House) was the brainchild of an exceptional academic and technological genius of Eezham Tamils, the late Professor A. Thurairajah, who was a former vice chancellor of the University of Jaffna. TECH was envisaged to become the core development agency for the cause of Tamil Eelam.

Meanwhile the following is what progressive Sinhala political activists think of the Green Movement of Sri Lanka, which they shared with TamilNet:

“Green Movement is well connected to the Jatika Hela Urumaya (JHU).

“The leader of the Green Movement is a person named Suranjan Kodithuwakku.

“He had been closely associated with Champika Ranawaka's (JHU leader) politics, at least since 90s, long before Champika formed the JHU.

“After the '89 [JVP] massacres, Champika formed his first political organization called "Janatha Mithuro" (friends of the people) in 1992. According to their official manifesto, 'Janatha Mithuro's ideology was supposed to be "Green Socialism". Green Movement's current leader Suranjan was a keen follower of Janatha Mithuro those days.

“Though no one can prove, Green Movement is a sort of unofficial front organization of the JHU. In fact the JHU has several such front organizations, though they do not accept it openly. For example, apart from the Green Movement, there is another one known as Balashakthi Sansadaya (Energy Forum), which is led by two other long-standing political colleagues of Champika Ranawaka from the '80s. (Asoka Abeygunawardane and Bandula Chandrasekara)

“One could easily see the common nature of all these organizations: both organizations (Green Movement and Energy Forum) are supposed to be working on environmental issues and until recently Champika was the minister of environmental affairs.

“The most important thing is this: After the JHU was officially formed in February 2004 as the successor of the Sihala Urumaya party, JHU officially appointed a group of people as the members of their advisory council. Green Movement's Suranjan Kodithuwakku is one of them. Energy Forum's Asoka Abeygunawardane is another one.

“Recently there was a news item in certain websites, saying that the Green Movement has decided to distance themselves from the JHU. The Green Movement wanted to spread the news that they are breaking away from the JHU. The whole drama seems to be a well planned one. If they didn't officially announce that they are distancing themselves from the JHU, the funding NGOs will have a problem in providing them with funds.

“One thing for sure: Suranjan Kodithuwwakku will never break away from Champika. They might be plotting to enter the Tamil areas under the pretext of environmentalist activism”.

TamilNet contacted Ms. Alice Ennals on her Norwegian organisation’s connections with the Green Movement. The following was the reply:

“Green Movement of Sri Lanka (GMSL) has been a partner of Development Fund (DF) for more than ten years, and play an important role as an environmental advocacy organization, in Sri Lanka and internationally. As the environment affects Sri Lankans across political, ethnic and geographical barriers, we are aware that GMSL interacts with a wide range of stakeholders in Sri Lanka.

“DF currently has 11 local partners in different parts of Sri Lanka, addressing all ethnic communities”.

It is learnt that the diaspora Project Team, convinced of the prospects of doing 'some thing' for the people in distress, has not only accepted dominating partnership of the GMSL but has also entered into collaboration with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Task Force. During the whole visit it was under running advice by some in Norway.

Currently, the diaspora Project Team Leader from TECH Malaysia is to hold a Dialogue with Tamil Diaspora Organizations in Europe in August or September 2010.

TECH Norway, TECH Germany and TECH Malaysia to embark on a “communication exercise” where they work constructively towards gaining the support of Tamil Diaspora Groups towards development interventions in NESL, the report said.

The report begins with the usual faulty premises of the so-called developers that the 30 years war is over. But, any war can be over only with a peace treaty and with a political settlement is a universal fact.

The Tamil developers should have the backbone to ask what is the big idea in the West in asking Tamils to accept the domination of chauvinistic Sinhala elements in development without political solution.

Why paltry assistance to victims and political advantage to the oppressors who are denounced even by fellow Sinhalese?

Whether what is envisaged as ‘development’ is preparing the conquered to become a service community to the conquerors?

Is it worth for the diaspora to go after funding sources in the West that have no sense or sensibility to the emotional needs of the victims?

What genuine reconciliation of Eezham Tamils with Sinhalese could be achieved through Tamils conceding undue political advantage to a terrorist state that is incapable of perceiving and accommodating Nations in the island to bail it out from crimes, when the Sinhalese themselves denounce it?

But elements in the West seem to think that both ‘reconciliation’ and a dictatorship state favourable to their manoeuvrings are possible by making ‘defeated’ Tamils to work under the auspicious of the NGOs of the Mahinda Rajapaksa - JHU ilk.

Can’t we think of any thing other than falling prey to the usual game of the hierarchy of development brokers? A Sinhala NGO that received ‘aid’ to give food parcels to the camps has now built a three-storied building in a prime land in Jaffna from the money it ‘saved’.

Why can’t the diaspora think creatively in convincing the world of the need of reaching out its people in the island in alternative ways?

If the diaspora can’t think creatively and yet it wants to do ‘some thing’ for the suffering kith and kin let it give aid to them directly or even individually. The people at home are definitely creative enough to build themselves up without depending on the development brokers. Eezham Tamils have been doing that for ages and they can do it now too.

These are opinions heard in the diaspora circles that have long-standing commitment to the cause of Eezham Tamils.


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