13 December, 2017

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This Is Not The Rajapaksa Regime Anymore, This Is The Gotabaya Regime

By Nimalka Fernando

Dr. Nimalka Fernando

Dr. Nimalka Fernando

The MOD & The NGO Surveillance Secretariat, Keep Your Letter In Your Archives As A Document To Remind You Of Your Collective Shame!

The Rajapakse regime has either become completely retarded or imbued with a deep sense of paraplegic paranoia. It seems as though the Defense Secretary has become so “high and mighty” that he has once again forgotten that his motherland has citizens like us with a strong backbone. 

I was totally baffled to see the letter signed by a “Mr. D.M.S Dissanayake” who is supposed to be the Director/Registrar of the National Secretariat for Non Governmental Organizations on a Ministry of Defence and Urban Development letterhead addressed to all Non-Governmental Organizations. The main part of this letter focuses on ‘Non-Governmental Organizations acting beyond their mandate’  with emphasis on “It has been revealed that certain Non Government Organisations conduct press conferences, workshops, training for journalists and dissemination of press releases which is beyond their mandate.  We reiterate that all Non Government Organisations should prevent from such unauthorized activities with immediate effect”. I can only laugh at this document since while trying to take away our freedom of expression I do not think the person who signed this letter understood what he was writing or expressing.

The activities of the NGOs are defined and conducted under the statutes developed by members of an organization. In simple language this is what we call “a Constitution”. The Constitution in most NGOs will encompass a vision and mission statement in very general terms. The NGO’s objectives and activities are broadly drawn up and an action plan is evolved in consultation with the people that the NGO works with.  A work plan is then drawn up by the members of an NGO and approved at relevant meetings. All of this is based on the vision and mission of an NGO. The vision and mission is our mandate. Among the many strategies adopted by NGOs holding workshops, press briefings, training and disseminating information about our activities through press releases form the core of action. It is through such activities we share our vision our mission and our ideas. As an example of implementing our vision we can even walk around on the streets along the beautified gardens of Colombo or hold a workshop somewhere  promoting our vision for peace and against religious extremism. We do this to raise awareness on serious issues. This is an activity we implement within the mandate given to us by our constituency from all over Sri Lanka. It is our constituency that gives us this mandate and not the State, the ruling class or a political party as popularly believed by archaic political buffoons frozen in the 1970’s and 80’s. I’m sure they haven’t even read Chapter 3 of Sri Lanka’s present constitution. When Mahinda Rajapakse went to Geneva with files tucked  inside his brief case did the then regime ever asked him whether he had a mandate to do so. He went to Geneva remember wearing an INGO badge. Inside that building he was representing an INGO.

Further we must remind you that in the contemporary world our activities are broadly defined based on the principles of the various UN Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We as NGOs view poverty eradication not merely as a developmental issue but as a struggle to enhance our entitlements. The NGO Secretariat has also forgotten this fundamental principle.

Now according to this circular sent by the person who is heading the NGO Secretariat all these activities become prohibited forthwith. He has acquired powers from “somewhere” to say that such activities are `unauthorized’. Mr. Dissanayake this is truly a disappointment and if you are a senior civil servant you should have known better than this. To me, this document does not look like a document drafted by a civil servant. Instead it looks like a document drafted by a military person who believes that they are operating a police state. You have in fact signed a document which threatens the very core of democratic life and norms in Sri Lanka.  This is what makes me wonder whether the NGO secretariat consists of respected civil servants or persons drawn from the military establishment to serve a retired Colonel.

Surely Mr. Dissanayake you cannot be serious?  How can you without giving reasons nor explaining the term “unauthorized” make our legitimate activities “unauthorized”? Who decided what is unauthorized an under what circumstances? Who deemed that the NGOs cannot hold press conferences? By issuing this circular you have chosen to make a complete mockery of law and order because you have relegated our government and defense establishment to an institution that takes ‘pot shots’ at NGO’s while turning a blind eye to the Gnasara’s of this world spreading hatred and violence. What would be even more worrying is that you were fully aware of the implications of your actions and in the spirit in which your amalgamated ministry chose to breakdown “unauthorized structures” in the Colombo city and elsewhere you now presume that NGOs can also be bulldozed into oblivion.

By the use of the word “unauthorized” you make your shameful political objectives clear to me. You are being utilized by a regime which sees NGOs as a form of resistance against fascism. While all the ‘yes men’ in the UPFA stayed silent in the face of injustice it is us who  continued to combat the machinations of the extremist bloc within the UPFA who were deliberately built a militarized political ethos and destroyed the existing checks and balances in our society. With the impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake this bloc brought all tiers of the state under its control. This is not the Rajapakse regime anymore, this is the Gotabhaya regime. Its most popular word is unauthorized, and it uses this word to describe anything that it does not like and bulldozes it.

There are repeated calls from the CSOs and also by the international community especially during the Universal Periodic review for the removal of the MOD oversight of NGOs.  It is our position that MOD is not our line Ministry.  The incapacity to understand the dynamics of NGOs is well reflected in this letter.  Your letter does not even refer to a law, a regulation or court decision and hence there seems to be no reference to the authority from which you decided to tell us that we cannot hold media briefings and hold training programs.  It is obvious to me that your have exceeded your mandate for surveillance when you decided to heed the request of your boss and send this letter to try and intimidate NGO’s.

Since I believe that the Constitution of Sri Lanka is still valid to us and we still live in a Democratic society we are entitled to form associations and assemblies and engage in democratic activism like training, dissemination of our ideas.  We have always promoted ideas for peace and co-existence, national integration and affirmed equality of all people living in this beautiful country. As a feminist I fight for the day when Sri Lanka will respect its Constitutional obligations and affirm equal status of women.  This is a indicator of democracy – at least one. I do not think the first Lady is my symbol/nor indicator  of equality for all Sri Lankan women.

Truly, do you believe in the vision of the brothers who run this government and have a fancy imagination that we live in North Korea? The city has to be designed to suit the fancy of the `Kurakkan’ design. People have to eat like the `Kurakkan’ family and clad themselves in Kurakkan Satakkas. Women are modeled after the `Kurrakan’ lady. There has to be an extent to this abomination and vulgarity. For our own sanity and your own sanity this has to stop. The world abhorred Kim Il Sung and Joseph Stalin. I had the privilege of meeting the victim a young human rights defender from North Korea while recently whose life story is depicted in the famous file Camp 14. Even though we do not have such camps I am of the opinion that our minds have been put into camps and our society and social mind sets have been put into camps by the three brothers. Therefore the background to this `order’ has to be viewed with great fear in some sense. But we cannot let this fear get the better of us and we cannot let Sri Lanka suffer the same fate as North Korea or Stalinist Russia.

Mahinda Rajapakse knows the power and impact of the civil society because he worked with us. In fact many people around him who provide strategic planning ideas come from the NGO community and have been trained by the Berghoff Foundation which this government threw out. The consultants who lectured the Members of Parliament during the weekend workshops in Beruwela should be honest enough to agree with me. But I do not expect honesty from theme anymore. The traits of the regime they advise are dishonesty and misinformation. They are now trying to curtail our dynamic engagement with the media as the regime is facing unpopularity.

Mr. Dissanayake, it is only a court of law that could decide whether the work and activities we are engaged in are “unauthorized”. Let there be an adjudication of such. Many people will disagree with me regarding this position since pursuing such a course of action would be like seeking a judgment from the thief’s mother as the highest authority to decide such a matter is held by a Rajapakse stooge. Nonetheless I think the institution requires testing and we should challenge such an authority. We will conduct our work as usual and it is up to you to prove that what we are doing is `unauthorized’. You can choose to draw a line in the sand but we can choose to cross it. Try and stop us.

Civil society and Democratic citizens will defy this nonsensical letter purported to have originated from the Registrar of the NGO Secretariat. If this letter is authentic I can only be saddened by the fact that this civil servant does not know the subject of his task nor is attuned to international norms and standards governing our operations. The government pledged to work in corporation with NGO’s during the Universal Periodic review. Sri Lanka agreed to corporate with civil society. One of the learning experiences for the members of the Human Rights Commission who received some orientations during their visit to Geneva in March 2013 under the Commonwealth assistance program would have been the importance of having a constructive engagement with NGOs undoubtedly.

Therefore I wish to call upon Mr Dissanayake and all those who are behind this circular to withdraw this letter forthwith. I would like to also urge all my colleagues to throw this document into the dustbin. I would like to request the MOD and the NGO surveillance Secretariat to keep your letter in your archives as a document to remind you of your collective shame.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Nimmi,be careful Gota will bite you.

    • 3
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      NF.
      Hat off to you. It is bravery to come out boldly with the truth but nothing but the truth. The irony is, these “Kurakkan “wolves cannot understand what you have written in English and they rely on a fakir like Lalith Weeratunga to monitor them of what has been said. The Kurakkan lady has no time to look at these(She doesn’t know how to) other than spending time whole day in the gym and get massaged her beef.
      Most important need at the time is to get your statement printed in English, Sinhala and Tamil and let its goes to the hands of the public. It is an urgent action. Please do.

      • 2
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        Great job and hats off to our lady Dr.Nimalka Fernando.

        Dr.Nimalka and other NGOs should conduct many of these press conferences, workshops, training for journalists and educate public on their constitutional rights, liberties and freedom and specially women, minority and childrens rights etc,etc.

        Dr.Nimalka and others have all the rights to conduct seminars and to educate public on peoples rights and how to face marauding public servants, draconian laws and suppression on media and information.
        Sri Lanka is lacking behind in all these areas where now drugs, rape and intimidation is rampant, and politicians and BBS racists have become the God fathers and decision makers in Sri Lanka.

        These have to be stopped and stopped immediately by educating public.

  • 7
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    Nimalka,

    I wish you are the ‘common candidate’. You have a backbone.
    Hats off to you.

    • 1
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      Nimalka, I wish you are the ‘common candidate’. You have a backbone. Hats off to you.

      You are proposing her partner Vasudewa as priminister

  • 0
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    Admire [Edited out]

  • 2
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    The way to communicate this to the Buffalo populace is to tell them that the Rajapaksas’ know that the populace are undereducated fools and want to keep them that way by blocking the NGOs !

    Anybody thought of that ?

    Isn’t it better than BRAVE, empty rhetoric !

  • 3
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    I strongly condemn this undemocratic act. This act should be annulled immediately. Each person has right to freedom of expression. State has to safeguard this constitutional right instead of violating it for the sake of power.

  • 2
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    Wow! Well said.

  • 2
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    Dont be a fool Nimalka. What is this disgraceful nonsense you have written? Send the bloody letter back stating clearly that it violates the constitution and hence is being rejected. Then file action against the sender and the relevant ministry for violating your constitutional rights. Stop blundering around like a foolish schoolgirl. This is a serious test for the citizens of Sri Lanka. Do you believe in democracy or are you going to let a demented Nazi take democracy away with one single letter.

    I have always thought that Sri Lankans do not believe in democracy. For Sri Lankans democracy is only for other people not for them. That is why even your NGOs are not democratic.

    I think that what you are facing is because of this secret fascism that every Sri Lankan harbors. Now let us see whether you have the guts to fight it and make the sacrifices involved. The tone of your letter is not one of fight. It is a shameless and abject pleading and a cowardly scapegoating of this D.S.M Dissanayaka who is some poor minion who has obviously already been cast—d. When you funded Mahinda Rajapaksas trip to Geneva did you not know who and what he was? You damn well knew and you damn well stood for the fascism that he stood for. Now you have to destroy the monster that you created. Happy fighting girl! Have a ball.

  • 1
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    Dont be a fool Nimalka. What is this disgraceful nonsense you have written? Send the bloody letter back stating clearly that it violates the constitution and hence is being rejected. Then file action against the sender and the relevant ministry for violating your constitutional rights. Stop blundering around like a foolish schoolgirl. This is a serious test for the citizens of Sri Lanka. Do you believe in democracy or are you going to let a demented Nazi take democracy away with one single letter.

    I have always thought that Sri Lankans do not believe in democracy. For Sri Lankans democracy is only for other people not for them. That is why even your NGOs are not democratic. I know because I have been at the receiving end of may of your NGOs on many occasions and have even been threatened and asked to change my positions and had my funding stopped when I flatly refused.The way you gang together without any principle other than expediency and defend and assist all kinds of dirty ugly crooks is quite disgusting. This is the price you pay for that kind of backboneless behavior where all are expected to scratch each others backs.

    I think that what you are facing is because of this secret fascism that every Sri Lankan harbors. Now let us see whether you have the guts to fight it and make the sacrifices involved. The tone of your letter is not one of fight. It is a shameless and abject pleading and a cowardly scapegoating of this D.S.M Dissanayaka who is some poor minion who has obviously already been cast—d. When you funded Mahinda Rajapaksas trip to Geneva did you not know who and what he was? You damn well knew and you damn well stood for the fascism that he stood for. Now you have to destroy the monster that you created. Happy fighting girl! Have a ball.

  • 0
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    Regime change or enemy within?

  • 1
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    An inept ineffective Opposition looks askance to the NGOs for deliverance, when they should have no role to play at all in local politics, especially if those NGOs funded and controlled from abroad, serving an alien master.

    • 2
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      I fully agree with you Ram.The opposition is hand in glove with the government.

  • 4
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    Kudos to you Dr. Nimalka! You deserve our respect and admiration for taking the Rajapaksa bulls by the horn. You have the backbone and guts to call their bluff. May you have more and more strength and courage to spearhead the struggle and may you have divine intercession and protection too, in your effort.

    The ‘uneducated and uncultured’ Rajapakshas (as described by Chandrika) have ruined the country after winning the war. By destroying the country’s fabric of good governance it has bequeathed the nation with a lawless state run by a bunch of rogues and criminals akin to Ali Baba and 100 thieves. The Parliament, judiciary, police, bureaucracy, and institutions such as the Election Commission, Bribery Commission, AG’s Department have all been rendered useless. Our future generations will rue the day the Rajapakshas were elected to office.

    In your article you say “I can only laugh at this document…….. and I do not think the person who signed this letter understood what he was writing or expressing”. Yes, true, a letter signed by a senior civil servant has exposed his incapability to write two sentences in intelligible English. Look at the letter which went round the world with bad English and poor choice of words. You should have attacked him on this front too, just to ridicule this public official for writing bullshift for his master.
    Nihal

  • 2
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    “We reiterate that all Non Government Organisations should prevent from such unauthorized activities with immediate effect”.

    It’s time an NGO organised a seminar to expose government officials to the use of good English !!

  • 1
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    If only Ranil Wickremasinghe had one tenth of the guts of this lady!

  • 0
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    So now you see. The government has a majority and the government can bring in any law that it wants to so much for the democracy you would have us adopt. This cannot be stopped by signing petitions or lighting candles and you know that very well. The affected people have to take up the matter on their own – if they want to; and they probably will not want to with one or possibly two, exceptions.

    This “‘all not-for-profit or non-profit organizations’ will have to register with the Minister of Defense as NGOs. Any organization that does not register with the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development will have their bank accounts closed and obtaining foreign funds will also be expressly forbidden”is something that every political party including the UNP would dearly love to do. So do not expect the UNP or any other party to oppose such a law not even the Mano monkey.

    The UNP will in fact ask what is wrong with having not for profits register with the ministry of defense and what is wrong with preventing foreign governments and foreign organizations funding not for profit companies registered and functioning in Sri Lanka.

    On the other hand not for profits that do register with the MOD and establish their bona fides may find themselves in a stronger position both in order to access international funding as well as to secure government assistance and facilitation for their work. This will be very much in keeping with the cultural ethos and ideological positions of the Sinhalese Buddhists who now rule this land. I hope you understand and accept that it is the Sinhala Buddhist ethno cultural and ideological complex that now rules and not the Anglo Imperial Christian multi ethno cultural complex that you grew up within around the gal palliya at polwatta in “colpity”.

    Any people wishing to see any other culture and ideology emerging as the dominant one will obviously be in an insignificant minority and will be faced with an apparently impossible task. It will make more sense for them to migrate to some country that welcomes their culture and ideology leaving the Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala Buddhist ideology to Sri Lanka. The less than a hundred of these people will not be a big burden to countries that welcome their ideological leanings and their departure will leave Sri Lanka and all Sinhala Buddhists in peace and joy. The sooner this is done the better, unless there are some factors that I do not see or am deliberately ignoring in which case the Sinhala Buddhists had better sit up and take care.

    The species Homo sapiens is rapidly reaching a critical situation in relation to access to resources and global governance for species survival and conflicts over vital resources have already begun. Resources are not only chemical and physical origin. They could also be relational and spatial as well. Should Sri Lanka possess any resource that is seen as vital for species survival, the aspirations of Sinhala Buddhists or any other sectarian entity will be crushed on the grounds of the primacy of species survival. Such pressures do not differentiate between individuals and hence all inhabitants of the island, whatever their ethnic, religious or ideological identities may be are likely to be subjected to these pressures arising from the intention of ensuring species survival.

    A sensible way forward would be that of studying the global situation of the species, familiarizing ourselves with the various species survival paths which lie ahead and collaborating with those elements who are dedicated to species survival. These elements are likely to ride roughshod over all religions, cultures and ethnicities and also the global doctrine of human rights and equity as they seek to gain control of all available resources in order to reduce the human population to manageable numbers, place genetic modification at the disposal of evolution and seek the spread of life throughout the universe. Such initiatives will see national aspirations and ethnic conflict as a nuisance that deserves to be crushed sooner rather than later and will probably come up with ways to do so.

    Each must choose where they stand and with whom they will build their alliances and collaborations.

    Good luck to one and all. The grave beckons and I go albeit with some disappointment at not being able to linger long enough to see the outcome of the species struggle for survival and evolutionary continuity. But other sensibilities will perceive that outcome, and so it shall be.

  • 0
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    We respect you always. You are very brave. Amidst very serious and threatening atmosphere you honestly express your own opinion well. People who love this country and justice will salute you…

  • 0
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