27 September, 2020

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Friday Forum Says NGOs Are Voluntary Associations And Accountable Like Private Persons Only If They Break The Law !

Popular terms such as “accountability” and “transparency” are at times used with reference to NGOs by unscrupulous persons both within and outside the Government, to promote their own agendas, the Friday Forum accused today.

Jayantha Dhanapala

Jayantha Dhanapala

Issuing a statement the Friday Forum said; “We must remember that NGOs are voluntary associations of people for purposes that they define for themselves.” ” NGOs are accountable like private persons only if they break the law of the land.” it further said.

Criticising the recently issued circular to NGOs the Friday Forum said; “The policy-making establishment of NGO Secretariat and the Ministry of Defence seem unaware of the laws of our country, or are deliberately adopting policies that violate them. It is shocking that the Prime Minister and Ministry of External Affairs are seeking to justify these violations and the Defence Ministry circular on NGOs, supporting an erosion of our Constitution and the law of the land on the peoples’ right to freedom of association, freedom of speech and information.”

We publish below the statement in full;

Democratic Governance, Voluntary Associations and People’s Rights

Some months ago the Friday Forum issued a public statement that reflected on certain emerging trends in our country, and posed the question whether Sri Lanka is moving towards authoritarianism.  Though circulated widely, this statement did not receive extensive publicity in the national newspapers.  A recent letter issued “To all NGOs” by the Director/Registrar of an Institution known as the “National Secretariat for NGOs” located in the  Ministry of Defence confirms our concerns that the government is on a dangerous path that will soon erode every basic norm of democratic governance.

This letter of the National Secretariat is titled “NGOs acting beyond their mandate.” It states that “it has been revealed that certain NGOs conduct press conferences, workshops, training of journalists, and dissemination of press releases.”  These are activities which are described as “beyond their (NGOs) mandate.”  The letter demands that “all NGOs should prevent from such unauthorised activism with immediate effect.”

This circular clearly violates the rights of the people under our Constitution, as well as legally binding international treaties ratified by the Sri Lankan State before this government assumed office.  The rights of the Sri Lankan people to freedom of association, access to information, and freedom of speech and expression, are guaranteed in specific provisions of our Constitution. They have been interpreted by our Supreme Court and accepted as critically important areas for realising the fundamental rights of our people.

In Channa Pieris v. The Attorney General (1994) Justice A R B Amerasinghe expressed the views of the Supreme Court and stated that the citizen’s right to freedom of association (under Article 14 (1) (c) of our Constitution) is linked to other freedoms, including freedom of thought and conscience (Article 10), and the right to free speech and expression (Article 14 (1) (a). Group associations, he said, advances these rights.  In the Janaghosha case (1994) Justice Mark Fernando said that these articles of the Constitution “recognise the right of every Sri Lankan to be different; to think differently; and to have and to express different opinions – not merely a right to dissent privately in silence but to communicate disagreement openly by word, conduct or action by peaceful and lawful means”. “Dissent or disagreement,” said Justice Fernando “is a corner stone of the Constitution….”  His Lordship stated that democracy requires not merely that dissent be tolerated, but that it be encouraged.  In Wanigasuriya v. S I Pieris (1985) GPS de Silva (subsequently Chief Justice) said that “a democratic polity … implies that consent (of the governed to be governed) shall be grounded in adequate information and discussion aided by the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources.”

Popular terms such as “accountability” and “transparency” are at times used with reference to NGOs by unscrupulous persons both within and outside the Government, to promote their own agendas. We must remember that NGOs are voluntary associations of people for purposes that they define for themselves. They are established in Sri Lanka according to diverse frameworks including under the Companies Act 2007. Some NGOs have registered under the controversial Social Services Act, and agreed to provide information on their budgets and work programs. NGOs are accountable like private persons only if they break the law of the land. The existing laws and procedures should not restrict NGOs and the people’s fundamental rights under the Constitution, including the freedoms referred to in the above decisions of the Supreme Court. If there exist laws and practices that contravene these basic principles of democracy and our right to freedom of association and expression, then such laws should be repealed or amended, and such practices abandoned. Our laws and practices should always be within the principles of the fundamental rights assured by our constitution and the international standards to which our country has subscribed to better secure the rights of our people.

Police officers, at the same time, have a duty as officers of the state to ensure that people can exercise their right to assemble together peacefully and enjoy their right of free exchange of information and views. Such assemblies must be protected from invasion by miscreants or other uninvited persons, as liberty of the individual needs as much protection from other individuals as from governments.

The Government and the current Foreign Minister consistently refer to the rights of a sovereign Sri Lankan State to resist national and international review of the government’s performance on human rights.  They do not seem to know, or are deliberately concealing from the public, the fact that the concept of the sovereignty of a State has been modified significantly by many decades of development in Constitutional and International Human Rights law.

A state which has a national constitution guaranteeing the enforceability of citizen’s fundamental rights, and a state which is bound by international law under treaties that it has voluntarily signed, must fulfill legal obligations to citizens under these instruments.  The Sri Lankan state has surrendered sovereignty to the extent that it has voluntarily agreed to have its performance reviewed both by its citizens and the community of member states of the United Nations. The government, acting through the Defence establishment, cannot violate the rights of the people that elected it to public office, and justify these violations by referring to state sovereignty. Our Constitution says very clearly that “In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the people, and includes the powers of government (legislative power exercised by Parliament, executive power exercised by the President) fundamental rights and the franchise” – Article 3 and 4 (a) and (b). The perception that any critical review of government performance by the people including by NGOs and civil society is an act of treachery, which undermines the independence  and sovereignty of our country, has been rejected time and again in interpretations of our national Constitution by respected judges of the apex court, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

NGOs are important actors that have recognised legal status under national and international law, to raise awareness on issues concerning governments’ performance relating to human rights protection and fulfillment. Sri Lanka as a member state of the United Nations must conform to these current norms on NGO and civil society participation, and their role and responsibilities in evaluating the human rights situation in our country. All the activities mentioned in this letter of the NGO Secretariat fall within and not outside the mandate of NGOs, supporting critically important citizens’ rights.

The criticism of the circular after it was sent to NGOs has led to contradictory statements by officials. The External Affairs Ministry issued a strong statement justifying the circular as a legal order because NGO’s were failing to follow guidelines set for registration under the Social Services Act. However, Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratna stated in Parliament that the circular from the Ministry of Defence was not an order but a circular of “instruction” with a “request” to act within the guidelines that NGOs had accepted at the time of registration.

The public should note that the circular quoted above states that “NGOs should prevent from such unauthorised activism with immediate effect”. Is this the Prime Minister’s idea of language of gentle persuasion or is this a military order from the Defence Establishment?

The policy-making establishment of NGO Secretariat and the Ministry of Defence seem unaware of the laws of our country, or are deliberately adopting policies that violate them. It is shocking that the Prime Minister and Ministry of External Affairs are seeking to justify these violations and the Defence Ministry circular on NGOs, supporting an erosion of our Constitution and the law of the land on the peoples’ right to freedom of association, freedom of speech and information.

The recently issued and obnoxious circular to NGOs must be challenged by the people of this country.  We must not legitimise this public rejection of the norms of democratic governance by a government that has been elected to hold office on behalf of the people.  We cannot allow an erosion of the Constitutional guarantees on peoples’ rights by a defence establishment that is steadily and dangerously acquiring a status and role in government that is both illegal and dictatorial.

Jayantha Dhanapala                                                      Professor. Savitri Goonesekere

On behalf of The Friday Forum;

Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Ms. Manouri Muttettuwegama, Professor Camena Guneratne, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Rt. Reverend Duleep de Chickera, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Dr.Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Ms, Damaris Wickremesekera, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Mr. Danesh Casie-Chetty, Mr. Faiz-ur Rahman, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Dr A.C.Visvalingam, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Professor Ranjini Obeyesekere, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne

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    Jayantha Dhanapala

    “Popular terms such as “accountability” and “transparency” are at times used with reference to NGOs by unscrupulous persons both within and outside the Government, to promote their own agendas, the Friday Forum accused today.”

    Can you ask why Lankaweb has indigestion and constipation with Amarasiri’s Posts?

    Why Double standards?

    Is Lanka Web only for Shills?

    At least CT posts your opinions, but Amarasiri is NOT afforded that at Lankaweb.
    Why Double standards?

    It was like the Church banning the Copernican Heliocentric Model.

    Post Script:

    Are there liars at Lankaweb? Why is that Amarasiri’s posts give indigestion and constipation to the moderators of Lanka Web when Amarasiri points out the lies and distortions? Is it because Lankaweb is a lie and distortion spreading media of the para-Sinhala Buddhist racists, and there is no room for alternate opinions from Agnostics and Egalitarians? So Lankaweb’s following claim is a lie, and therefore they are liars.

    THE LANKAWEB LIE, GIVEN BELOW:
    “We believe in Free Speech, Right of Expression that Creates Platform for Dialogue. Therefore we do not moderate every comment posted on this web site. Once filtered through the initial registration process, any subsequent comments can be posted directly on the website to make it truly interactive. However, any abusive comments will be deleted forthwith and contributor’s membership will be cancelled immediately.”

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    NGOs do more than what the Friday forum want to say.

    Are NGO Agendas Dictated By Western Assumptions?

    LAUREN DURAND, SEP 26 2012

    NGOs, despite their altruistic motives, have always been imperialistic to a certain extent. Since the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863, humanitarian aid has been guided by the principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality (ICRC 2011). The Cold War tempered with those principles because donor countries were more inclined to provide development assistance to their allies. Nonetheless, immediate relief was always provided regardless of the foreign policies of great powers (Fox 2002). The end of the Cold War caused a radical change by politicising humanitarianism and creating neo-humanitarianism, a supposedly enhanced form of assistance better adapted to “new wars” (Weiss 2007). This essay will argue that new humanitarianism has worsened the imperialistic character of NGOs. This essay does not seek to doubt the noble intentions of NGOs and their activists but it question the gaps between aims and outcomes created by the inappropriate strategies employed by Western states. First, I will argue that universality, one of the core principle of humanitarianism is challenged by a new human-rights based approach which has hierarchised victims into deserving and underserving. Furthermore, new humanitarianism rejects neutrality and urges NGOs to seek the moral high ground. Finally, the excessive economic and political dependency produced by new humanitarianism makes NGOs the tool of Western imperialism.

    During the Cold War, the main goal of NGOs was to provide immediate relief to all populations in conflict zones without discrimination. Aid was prioritised in terms of needs. After the fall of the Soviet Bloc, humanitarianism took a turn: the principle of universality preached by the ICRC was replaced by a human rights-based approach (Fox 2002). In their efforts to impose a Western idea of a civilised society, donor countries created conditional aid (De Torrente 2004). Relief aid became a means to achieve political westernisation by selecting the populations worthy enough of help. This politicisation of NGOs is questioned because it assumed they are morally superior and capable of deciding who deserves help and who does not. Donor countries only award help to states willing to abide by the rules they set. Conditionality does not correspond to the needs of developing states. In most cases, the implementation of democracy prevails over the rights to safety, food or water. Sierra Leone was the victim of conditional aid when Western states withdrew their support with the intention of starving out the autocratic regime in power. Instead, the biggest toll was taken by the population when famine broke out (De Torrente 2004). The refusal of assistance acts as a sanction and aims at encouraging states to respect “universal” principles such as market liberalisation or democratisation that will promote their development and growth (Sujay 2009). New humanitarianism is oblivious to cultural relativism and the notion that Western structures may not be adapted to developing states is not even considered. This proves that former colonisers have not learned their lessons and still try to impose unadapted measures on societies different from their own. Conditional aid shifts the accountability of NGOs from the developing state and its population to the donor state.

    Furthermore, conditional aid is a violation of international law. Indeed, the fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilian persons in time of war explicitly establishes the duty of states to provide humanitarian assistance to population “without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, nationality, religion or political opinion” (ICRC 1949). Moreover, the refusal to provide aid directly violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by denying people the “right to life” and the right to “food, clothing, housing and medical care” (UN 1948). By giving up universality, NGOs are ignoring their raison d’être: international humanitarian law.

    Bernard Kouchner, founder of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a classic neo humanitarian structure, was the first to claim the inefficiency and limitations of humanitarianism due to its refusal to engage politically (Rieffer-Flanagan 2009). He asserted the ICRC was an accomplice of crimes against humanity for helping undeserving parties in a conflict and refusing to denunciate violations of human rights (Chandler 2001). Aid agencies were criticised after the Rwandan genocide when they delivered aid to a million refugees in Zaire in 1996. Most of those refugees were the “genocidaires” themselves who could now reorganise and finish what they had started (Storey 2010). Moreover, NGOs relied on local Hutu elites to manage refugee camps since they were thought to already possess the leadership skills. The downside was that those elites could take advantage of their power positions and use aid as leverage to impose their political views on refugees (Belloni 2007). NGO officials justified their actions by stating that since no one else was willing to feed these people, they were the ones who had to do it (Storey 2010). The critiques of their action implied that NGOs were expected to take a moral stance and only help the deserving victims of conflicts instead of providing aid without discrimination. Universality is no longer a capstone of humanitarianism and thus NGOs are starting to be considered as instruments of the Western world.

    Along with universalism, impartiality of NGOs is also challenged. New humanitarianism advocates for an engagement in long term action that would create peace and end conflicts (Chandler 2001). Humanitarian relief is turning into goal oriented development aid. “Denunciation” and “right to intervention” replaced neutrality and impartiality as the guiding principles of humanitarianism (Chandler 2001). By invoking a responsibility to protect, Western governments justify their interventions in sovereign states. NGOs considerably trespass their mandate and appropriate the role of peacekeepers and diplomats which they cannot legitimately hold. The violation of national sovereignty was acceptable when it was for relief purposes but the altruistic imposition of structural changes resembles colonialist behaviour. Rieffer Flanagan argues that neutrality was anyway never really present in humanitarianism because if NGOs decided to provide aid to both parties or to neither of them, it automatically benefited the stronger party (2009). NGOs are therefore encouraged to take sides in conflicts if morality requires them to since there is always unintended consequences anyway.

    This goal oriented humanitarianism, by seeking long term solutions, neglects the short term and essential objective of relief: saving lives (Fox 2002). Whereas before the Cold War, governments were able to distinguish between humanitarian relief and development aid, they now seem to have merged into one. Because NGOs try to engage in peacebuilding operations, they adopt a policy of “do no harm” which dictates that in case their actions might cause future problems, they should not act (Chandler 2001). NGOs are therefore compelled to make prophetic assumptions on the evolution of complex emergencies that are unravelling as a result of a myriad of uncontrollable and unpredictable factors. Belloni argues that this reckless behaviour only prolongs war and misery (2007).

    Human rights based humanitarianism is designed to address the root causes of the conflict and create sustainable peace. Instead, it simply creates a sentiment of resentment towards donor countries. As a result, conditional aid can be a threat to the safety of NGO personnel (Fox 2002). Being the sole vehicle of funds, they gain power beyond their capacity. Seen as the agents of imperialism, humanitarian workers are targeted by anti-Western movements and parties of the conflict. The ICRC learned this lesson the hard way in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when four of its personnel were killed as the result of their decision to take aid away from the most powerful faction in order to reallocate it to its more needy opponent (Mills 2005). While this was a politically neutral decision, it was seen by the disgruntled warring party as favouritism. As a result of those casualties, the ICRC withdrew from DRC and neither group benefitted from assistance. The lack of safety of personnel in the field therefore limits their ability to distribute aid since they are not be able to access certain zones. New humanitarianism, in addition to exacerbating the divide between North and South, seems to have decreased the possibilities of aid agencies.

    Finally, NGOs are by their nature and structure inherently prone to imperialism. NGOs are know as the third sector but over the years, they have slowly merged into both the first sector, the state, and the second sector, the market. The omnipresence of NGOs in developing countries has created an economic and political dependency in those states and may end up harming the local leadership. Humanitarian aid has therefore become institutionalised as part of the state and is no longer considered external intervention (Hearn 2007).

    NGOS are characterised by hierarchies and multi-billion dollar budget that make them appear as transnational corporations rather than members of the civil society (Petras 1999). Those self appointed altruists depend almost completely on contributions from donors such as foreign countries, international organisations or individuals who “invest” in developing states. NGOs are forced to act as profit making businesses in order to survive (Sujay 2009). They must engage in publicity as if they were advertising poverty. The media is the largest medium of fundraising. They tell the story of the poor African victims being oppressed by their corrupted governments and being saved by the wonderful NGOs (Chandler 2001). Journalists engaged in “pornography suffering” (Chandler 2001) to create awareness among the public and induce them into sending donations. Those deceptive methods participate in creating a patronising image of African states as incapable children needing to be rescued.

    Moreover, the “membership” system of NGOs has delegated a small portion of power to uninformed foreigners reading about issues on the internet and persuading themselves they are acting for the greater good (Petras 1999). NGOs impose their will and the one of Western states and thus ignore local values. For example, MSF was faced with an ethical dilemma in Somalia when they were unable to amputate a number of people suffering from severe infections because the people in question only wanted to live if they could do so with their bodies whole (Bell and Carens 2004). MSF felt their mission was being threatened because they were unable to carry their mandate but the point of view of the Somalis was essential and needed to be respected. Imposing measures in that case would have been cultural imperialism.

    As well as being increasingly integrated into the neo-liberal market system, NGOs are also politicised. Despite their appellation of “non governmental” organisations, they are not only exceedingly dependent on foreign governments, but are also starting to act as such themselves (Hearn 2007; Petras 1999; Shivji 2007). This is due to their heavy reliance on donor countries who dictate their behaviours and policies. As a result, funds are directed according to donor countries’ geopolitical interests (De Torrente 2004). In case of excessive violence, the reaction of the international community and therefore NGOs is usually mediocre as show the example of the DRC were little is being done to improve the situation. Belloni argues that the will to intervene militarily and provide aid is directly proportional with the geographical proximity of the threat (2007). This is why developed states gave five times more aid to Kosovo in 1999 than they gave to Sudan. NGOs are therefore bound by the ambitions of donor states. This absence of transparency endangers their legitimacy.

    Governments are also dependent on NGOs because they use them to uphold their international reputations and image of good Samaritan (Sujay 2009). However, this does not mean that NGOs are free to act as they please. Because they are guided by the will of Western states, they are to follow political agendas. Fletcher argues that NGOs simply act as “transmission belts” for foreign policies and ideologies to replace local structures, knowledge and hierarchies (2003). Humanitarian agencies are even being accused of replacing existing political elites by taking over their responsibilities (Storey 2010: 385). Donor states do not admit to this imperialism and designate this relationship as a partnership for development (Shivji 2007). To build up their legitimacy, donor states are increasingly trying to “indigenise” (Hearn 2007) NGOs by creating local branches. From 1988 and 1996, the number of local NGOs tripled in Kenya in an attempt of the West to fade its obvious presence (Hearn 2007). Nonetheless, those new NGOs are still very much controlled thus this reform of top down humanitarianism is simply an illusion.

    The recent reforms of humanitarianism and NGOs have led them to become the tool of imperialist donor nations who have caused them to renounce their core values. The rejection of neutrality and universality to the profit of denunciation and intervention was, according to Kouchner, the first step towards efficiency. However, this has only highlighted the already existing sentiment that Westerners think they are morally superior and deem themselves capable of making decisions that will determine the future of whole nations. The politicisation of NGOs has been widely questioned. Indeed, their increasing reliance on donor states’ ideologies has disrupted their actions and pulled them away from their original purpose: immediate relief. The legitimacy of NGOs is being questioned as they take on the roles of interim governments, development agencies or peacekeepers. The deepening and widening has caused humanitarianism to be associated with imperialism as NGOs take on duties they are not qualified to assume.

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    Who gives a damn about the Friday Forum!

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    I think the FRIDAY FORUM HAS A SPECIFIC AGENDA IN SRI LANKA

    NGOs a Cover for Spying

    U.S., British and other foreign nongovermental organizations are providing cover for professional spies in Russia, while Western organizations are bankrolling plans to stage peaceful revolutions in Belarus and other former Soviet republics bordering Russia, Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev told the State Duma on Thursday.

    Patrushev said the FSB has monitored and exposed intelligence gathering activities carried out by the U.S. Peace Corps, the British-based Merlin medical relief charity, Kuwait’s Society of Social Reforms and the Saudi Red Crescent Society.

    He said foreign secret services rely on NGOs to collect information and promote the interests of their countries.

    “The imperfectness of the legislation and lack of efficient mechanisms for state oversight creates a fertile ground for conducting intelligence operations under the guise of charity and other activities,” Patrushev said in televised remarks.

    He said a bill to regulate the activities of foreign NGOs will be submitted “soon” to the Duma. He said the bill would change registration procedures for foreign NGOs, but did not elaborate.

    The unusually harsh rhetoric caps a year of growing concern among NGOs about a government crackdown on their activities. The worries were sparked by President Vladimir Putin in his state of the nation address last May when he questioned whether NGOs were really pursuing their stated missions and sharply accused them of advancing their sponsors’ interests.

    A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on behalf of the government-funded Peace Corps, dismissed Patrushev’s claims as “completely baseless.”

    “We deny them utterly,” the official said.

    The Peace Corps began sending volunteers to Russia in 1992, but the program was abruptly canceled in 2003 after Russian authorities refused to issue visas to volunteers, saying Russia was as developed as West European countries and those countries did not receive Peace Corps volunteers.

    Patrushev, however, offered a new explanation in December for why the Peace Corps had been shut out, hinting that its volunteers in Russia had been surreptitiously gathering intelligence. The program’s leadership denied the accusation at the time.

    In the Duma, Patrushev also said the FSB has uncovered a “regime change” plan for Belarus that involves Western organizations and the Ukrainian activists who played a key role in that country’s Orange Revolution last year.

    He said directors of the U.S. International Republican Institute’s CIS offices recently met in Bratislava, Slovakia, to discuss ways of supporting the Belarussian opposition. “At the meeting, they discussed the possibility of continuing orange revolutions” in former Soviet republics, Patrushev said. He said the directors decided to allocate $5 million for projects to support the opposition and to study the feasibility of recruiting Ukrainians to train the opposition.

    Lisa Gates, a spokeswoman for the International Republican Institute’s headquarters in Washington, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

    Patrushev said the threat of uprisings looms in other former Soviet republics as well, and that representatives of the secret services of those republics met in April to discuss it. While he did not say what countries apart from Belarus might see uprisings like those in Ukraine, in Georgia in 2003 and in Kyrgyzstan this year, he said those three uprisings show that “certain forces in the West are trying to weaken Russia’s influence” with its neighbors. He would not identify the Western countries.

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who addressed the Duma after Patrushev, used more diplomatic language to express Kremlin concerns about the West’s growing influence in the former Soviet Union. While conceding that influence from “third countries” was growing, Lavrov insisted that “we are not putting a claim on monopolizing [the influence] in this region, but we won’t tolerate any one else having a monopoly either.”

    Calls to the Saudi Red Crescent office in Riyadh went unanswered Thursday evening, and Marie-Francoise Borel, spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, declined to comment when reached by telephone in Geneva.

    Merlin representatives in London could not be reached for comment.

    Social Reform Society officials in Kuwait City also could not be reached for comment. The organization’s Moscow branch was registered in 1993 as a charity organization aimed at Russian-Kuwaiti cooperation. In February 2003, however, it was included on a government list of 15 international terrorist groups accused of presenting a national threat, and its operations were subsequently banned from Russian soil.

    FSB officials have previously asserted that foreign NGOs collect sensitive information on Russia and are used as a cover by career spies. However, Thursday was the first time that Patrushev publicly pointed the finger at educational exchange programs as a means to advance foreign interests.

    Patrushev’s assessment of Western activities was echoed by a nationwide poll released by the state-controlled VTsIOM polling agency earlier Thursday. The poll of 1,600 people in early April found that “every second Russian” is very suspicious about U.S. and EU activities in the former Soviet Union.

    Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Patrushev’s worries were “natural for the leader of a secret service.” What is alarming, however, is that the political leadership has begun to share his fears, he said, referring to Putin’s criticism of NGOs in his state of the nation speech last year.

    Petrov also said he believed Patrushev overestimated the role that Western organizations are playing in former Soviet republics. “If it indeed takes only $5 million to overthrow a regime, that means public discontent is so overwhelming that the regime is already hanging on by a hair.”

    Meanwhile, Patrushev said Thursday that the FSB staged a successful operation that captured key members of a terrorist group responsible for at least nine attacks, including a series of explosions in Voronezh in 2004 and this year and suicide bombings outside Moscow’s Rizhskaya metro station and on a train heading to the Avtozavodskaya metro station last year. Some 70 people died in the two bombings.

    Patrushev said FSB officers have detained three people suspected of organizing the attacks. He identified them by their last names, Khubiyev, Panarin and Shavorin. Another suspected member of the group was arrested in Voronezh.

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      Jim softy

      “I think the FRIDAY FORUM HAS A SPECIFIC AGENDA IN SRI LANKA”

      I think the Lankaweb, and their Shills HAS A SPECIFIC AGENDA IN LANKA, to Promote Sinhala “Buddhist” Racism and Lies, in the Land of Native Veddah

      Child Abuse by a Monk in Habaraduwa

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

      Can you ask why Lankaweb has indigestion and constipation with Amarasiri’s Posts?

      Why Double standards?

      Is Lanka Web only for Shills? At least CT posts your opinions, but Amarasiri is NOT afforded that at Lankaweb. Why Double standards?

      It was like the Church banning the Copernican Heliocentric Model. Post Script:

      Are there liars at Lankaweb? Why is that Amarasiri’s posts give indigestion and constipation to the moderators of Lanka Web when Amarasiri points out the lies and distortions? Is it because Lankaweb is a lie and distortion spreading media of the para-Sinhala Buddhist racists, and there is no room for alternate opinions from Agnostics and Egalitarians? So Lankaweb’s following claim is a lie, and therefore they are liars.

      THE LANKAWEB LIE, GIVEN BELOW:

      “We believe in Free Speech, Right of Expression that Creates Platform for Dialogue. Therefore we do not moderate every comment posted on this web site. Once filtered through the initial registration process, any subsequent comments can be posted directly on the website to make it truly interactive. However, any abusive comments will be deleted forthwith and contributor’s membership will be cancelled immediately.”

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    Only for the FRIDAY FORUM NGOs are accountable and transparent.

    The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has information on preparation of new velvet revolutions on the post-Soviet space by a number of foreign non-governmental organizations. “Foreign special services are proactively using non-traditional methods. They promote their interests using educational programs of various non-governmental organizations and collect information, particularly, on the post-Soviet space,” FSB director Nikolai Patrushev told the Russian State Duma deputies.

    According to him, the Russian special services know that a western non-governmental organization allocated about $5 million to finance a velvet revolution in Belarus.

    “Moreover, oppositionists who made the orange revolution in Ukraine can be involved in the training of Belarussian oppositionists,” Patrushev added.

    Among these non-governmental organizations are the US Peace Corps, the Red Crescent from Saudi Arabia, some Kuwaiti organizations and others, he said.

    In his words, heads of the CIS special services are aware of the dangerous situation. They held a session in April to discuss the threat of further revolutions in the post-Soviet states.

    A bill regulating activities and registration of foreign non-governmental organizations on Russian territory will be submitted to the State Duma in the near future, Nikolai Patrushev said.

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      oh, the FSB? the renamed KGB, that followed Stalin’s every word to torture and kill thousands? how reliable. no conflicts of interest at all there.

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    Do the NGOs train Journos in the West?.

    Are these NGOs better than our Journos?

    Will our Journos quiz this NGO boss about this denigration ?.

    Safe Sex demonstrations and Hormone Implants in rural women among poor Sinhala Buddhists and Muslims to apply brakes to their growth rates need to be looked at too by the authorities.

    Just imagine what damage the 400 NGOs with their LKR 700 Million plus Budget can inflict on our great majority who are poor rural people.

    By the way these heavies who barrack for the NGOs don’t use them or their services for the Elite in Colombo.

    Are our Elite mates so well off that they do not need NGOs or their help?.

    If that is the case why do they need to change regime?.

    Is it purely to push our poor Dalits into the Elite league?..

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    Friday Forum,

    I fully endorse this statement of Friday Forum and it is timely.

    However I disagree only on one point.Unfortunately “The Colombo Telegraph” has also highlighted this part of the statement

    The relevant part of the statement is given below;

    “Popular terms such as “accountability” and “transparency” are at times used with reference to NGOs by unscrupulous persons both within and outside the Government, to promote their own agendas. We must remember that NGOs are voluntary associations of people for purposes that they define for themselves. They are established in Sri Lanka according to diverse frameworks including under the Companies Act 2007. Some NGOs have registered under the controversial Social Services Act, and agreed to provide information on their budgets and work programs. NGOs are accountable like private persons only if they break the law of the land”

    Accountability and Transparency are key elements in “Good Governance”

    Good Governance is a universal norm.

    The governments/Public Sector, Private Sector, Civil Society
    including NGO’s are bound to practice good governance always without exception.

    Unfortunately Friday Forum has misunderstood the connotation of the term, ‘Accountability” and confused with accounts, Accountability is not merely about income and expenditure or where the funds of NGO’S came from or how the NGO’S had spent that money.

    Accountability in the context of Good Governance means answerablity/responsibility.

    The Civil Society/NGO is accountable to the members of the respective civil societies and to the public they propose to serve.

    It is a holistic term.

    In the name of Good Governance I appeal to the Friday Forum to withdraw this part from your statement and reissue.

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    Friday coffee gang has no idea about transparency.

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      I would have appreciated if the Friday Coffee Gang became transparent and accountable. They should have told the public first where do they get funds and what their expenses and contributions are.

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        It is pretty likely that a body like Friday Forum is “run” on its member’s contributions. This is how another body of concerned citizens used to operate for a number of years from 1971. It was only many years after it had grown and taken on more responsibilities that that particular body looked elsewhere for part of its funding.

        Maybe it is hard for some to believe that there are concerned citizens who come together on issues and then decided to put their thinking into the public arena, solely at their own expense. In the case of a body like Friday Forum, judging from the names, its membership appears to be mostly middle class people with sufficient (though not “excessive”) means to act in this manner without going elsewhere for funding.

        Moreover, Friday Forum should be judged (if necessary)by what it writes and puts into the public domain for our education and consideration. What more is necessary?

        If you disagree with what they say then bring arguments against it. Querying their possible funding, etc., is irrelevant.

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          When Dhanapala was a member of the board of Dialog which acted under govt. instructions to block Colombo Telegraph, while Friday Forum has been criticising the regime about violating the rights of the people, was it wrong for the CT to call the bluff on Dhanapala?

          Just because the NGOs are made up of concerned citizens should not they also be held accountable for the same standards which they want society to uphold?

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        P.S. to my previous response to Jim Softly:

        I should have said “middle class PROFESSIONALS”– indicating people who are more likely to have some spare cash to do “good works” without being paid.

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    NGOs are not “non-governmental” organizations for they receive funds from neocon governments and foundations associated with western think tanks. So, they are accountable to their funders. It is correct to say NGOs are compelled to work as subcontractors to their funders.

    All NGO are top heavy and bosses well paid with perks and benefits for them to be entrenched where matters. But none of them are answerable to an elected constituency. For that reason, NGOs need not respect local cultural values. Indeed they aim to introduce neocon values in place of aged old values. Though they are not elected NGOs try to force their whims and fancies on democratically elected government in the name of human rights.

    So, its a good thing that the government of Sri Lanka warned the NGOs about unauthorized and activities beyond their mandate.

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      Friday forum is a NGO and they are trying to establish neo-con .. neo-liberal values and middle eastern politico-religious cultures here.

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    As NGOs get big money from overseas, govt should start taxing them. That should become good revenue to the govt.

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    The great tragedy of this country is that either you have well meaning but totally ‘heads in the clouds’ types like the FF guys or you have rotter propagandists like \rajpal \abey of the Daily \Shit and his crowd.

    What happened to the MIRJE of the past and like movements>

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