Role of Civil Society -P. Butenis – March 12,2011
Posted on March 17th, 2011

Ira de Silva London, Canada

The Editor
The Island
Colombo, Sri Lanka

 Dear Sir:

 Reading the letter from Ms. Butenis in defence of NGO’s was a surprise particularly as the U.S. is so strong on the word accountability demanding it from all and sundry. Why would Ms. Butenis try to explain/defend any call for NGO’s to be accountable for the monies received and provide the public with audited accounts of the millions they have supposedly spent on the upliftment, development and other meritorious actions they are claiming to use the money for, particularly as they are called “non profit organizations”? What has been published are the amounts they have received but for which civil society has not been provided details of expenditure. It is no secret that those who run these NGO’s allocate to themselves the necessary millions to support their expensive lifestyles. In keeping with U.S. “democratic traditions” Ms. Butenis should support the call for accountability and ask these NGO’s that have received U.S. taxpayer funding to provide audited accounts. That simple answer would put paid to any doubts and criticism.. It is not too late for Ms. Butenis to call for and make public full accounts of money allocated and the projects that have benefited. If she sets the example, perhaps other countries that funded these NGO’s could be persuaded to follow the U.S. lead.

 Ms. Butenis came to Sri Lanka in September 2009. Had she been here during the campaign by the Sri Lankan security forces in the Vanni in the 2008-May 2009 period she would have seen the extent to which NGO’s had provided direct and indirect support to the LTTE. For all the billions they had spent in the north and east of Sri Lanka for decades, supposedly helping the war affected population, other than the Peace Secretariat that the Norwegians built for the LTTE, there was not even a toilet that had been built for the civilian population. Had there been construction of houses and other infrastructure for the civilian population, the rehabilitation of the war affected would have been less difficult and not taken so long. What was evidenced was the extent to which NGO’s had provided cover and assistance to the LTTE in building camouflaged bunkers, the air conditioning units bearing the names of the NGO’s who provided them, machinery and other assistance for the LTTE military effort complete with instruction manuals, the provision of tractors for the LTTE to build walls to contain the civilian population (courtesy the Norwegians) and other such well documented use of NGO funds. As for the NGO’s who spent their millions on theories that the LTTE could not be defeated militarily, that dialogue was the only course of action (note: the U.S. has a stated policy of not negotiating with terrorists), that the LTTE should be “accommodated”, that seminars should be continually provided to non-LTTE Sri Lankans to brainwash them into believing in the invincibility and legitimacy of LTTE claims, to the general public in Sri Lanka, these NGO’s were and are merely carrying out the dictates of their western masters who believed in dividing Sri Lanka and getting for the LTTE all that they demanded. It is time that they were held accountable if not for their duplicity at least to account for the monies spent by their organizations.

 It is heartening to hear that Ms. Butenis believes in organizations that improve the lives of people in Sri Lanka. There is no doubt that there is a role for NGO’s to play in building a prosperous, united and democratic Sri Lanka. For that to happen it is essential that those NGO’s who are spending millions that do not subscribe to these goals should be exposed, their activities examined and if they do not conform to these stated objectives that they should be asked to comply or be terminated. Also, Ms. Butenis knows that the GOSL has every right to call for accountability of their NGO’s just as the U.S. does . She should therefore not appear to be defensive about accountability and transparency but compliment the GOSL on this initiative and consider it a start to rebuilding Sri Lanka.

 Yours truly,

 Ira de Silva
London, Canadsa

One Response to “Role of Civil Society -P. Butenis – March 12,2011”

  1. gdesilva Says:

    It is high time that these US officials told their own US Administration to be accountable to the US taxpayers. They have squandered trillions of taxpayer dollars in so many foreign countries with zero returns for the ordinary US citizens.

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