Ban leading NGOs, confiscate their assets and freeze their bank accounts.
Posted on January 8th, 2020

By: A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA

The sovereignty of a country is defined as the supreme political power of a ruling government to regulate its affairs within its specified territory without outside interference. Policies are thus formulated by the people of a sovereign nation via the elected government to suit the needs of the nation. Our country, similar to many other countries in the world, was free of foreign interference in all its affairs till the introduction of a despicable Act titled ‘registration of non-government agencies Act in 1980 by the government of J.R.Jayawardene. This tyrant government allowed the capitalists in this country to import everything and completely destroy the nascent industries (textile, tyre, sugar, steel, cement, etc) and at the same time permit the foreign individuals and organizations to enter the country to exploit our natural resources and take charge of local policy formulations by themselves or in collaboration with anti-national westernophile elements in the country.

The above referenced Act facilitated foreign governments and vicious foreign organizations to conduct unrestricted interference in the country in all fields, economic, social, religious, educational, cinematic and ethnic activities in the country through the vicious outfits called NGOs (Nefarious Gruesome Outfits)which received millions of dollars for their shameless and reprehensive servile activities from the foreign governments and the organizations in a clear-cut interference in the sovereignty of the country.. Just think who will pump billions for nothing in return? These lobbyist NGOs fulfil the needs of their funding agencies whose ultimate aim was none other than creating a new form of colonization around the world.

These NGOs and their international outfits called INGOs (Intensively Nefarious Gruesome Outfits)  had been involved in change of governments in our country and in the developing countries recently.  For instance just before the 2015 elections they mushroomed like piglets and within two months there were more than 45 NGO outfits handling Sirisena’s misinformation, mud-slinging , and fake news campaign spreading unbelievable,  incomprehensible  and unimaginable news which were presented under Goebbel’s theory to subdue the Sri Lankan voters.  The same thing happened for the 2019 November 16 election as well but only the dogmatic Tamils and a fair percentage of Muslims swallowed the bait.  All their attempts to mislead the Sinhala Buddhists utterly failed. 

During the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency NGOs were blatantly acting as a government of their own interfering in all activities of the country and hence there were growing opposition from the religious leaders and the patriotic organisations urging the government to take stern action to control these NGOs.  Accordingly, the Ministry of External Affairs, on 11th July 2014, issued a notification which required al Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Sri Lanka to register with the National Secretariat and abide by the regulations specified in the relevant Acts.

The External Affairs Ministry statement said that all NGOs registered with the NGO Secretariat are liable to submit annual Action Plans containing details of the activities which would be undertaken in the forthcoming year for approval and explained that the work of Non-Governmental Organizations in Sri Lanka is based on the provisions of the legal framework provided by the relevant Acts and Regulations.

The statement stressed that some NGOs had exceeded their mandates and hencee the Director/Registrar of the NGO Secretariat was compelled to issue the said instructions, which was a mere reiteration of the existing provisions for their smooth and noted that although all Non-Governmental Organizations operating in Sri Lanka are required by law to be registered, to ensure transparency and accountability, it has also been found that this is practiced in the breach.

The Ministry highlighted that while 1421 NGOs have been registered with the NGO Secretariat and continue to carry out their activities legitimately in the country, only a very few are not abiding by the regulations.

The Ministry said it is universally accepted for a legal framework to be in place governing the conduct of NGOs and the action by the Government of Sri Lanka is in accordance with such practice.

A report published in the Daily News on 23rs September, 2014 said that Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa urged the NGO community to discuss their issues rather than opting to internationalize them. He has made this statement at a meeting held with the representatives from 11 NGOs engaged with CHOGM 2013 and the associated Commonwealth People’s Forum, had been based on the issuance of the NGO Secretariat circular and the new issues that have emerged following the government highlighting on the need for NGOs to work within their mandate.

The discussion has covered into government surveillance of NGO activities, power devolution, issues on missing persons and the unwillingness of NGOs to dialogue with the government. The Defence Secretary had made several proposals in order to iron out differences that have arisen between the NGOs and the government.

Two decisions had been reached during the meeting which included regularizing meetings between the NGO Secretariat and the NGOs to collect relevant information and to solve issues and bringing the Defence Secretary into dialogue with those NGOs that are more strongly and openly critical of the government Among one such proposal had been for the NGOs to work closely with the NGO Secretariat liaison offices in district secretariats in order to resolve any problems that would be encountered in the field. He had also expressed his commitment to environmental protection and on the possible role that can be played by NGOs in working in the environmental sector.

A total of 11 NGOs had participated in the meeting with the Defence Secretary which included Colombo District Business Development Co-op Society, Maternity & Child Life Development Foundation, Eco friendly Volunteers (ECO-V),The Sarvodaya Movement, Seva Lanka Foundation, Vanni Cultural Fund, National Peace Council, Centre for Poverty Analysis, Oferr Ceylon, Manawa Shakthi Padanama and the Human Rights Organization of Sri Lanka.

These objectives must simultaneously co-exist within a vigorous debate on NGO activism that is founded on a shared appreciation of the roles that both NGOs and their detractors play in a democratic society. The argument here is not to suppress debate on NGOs, but to couch such commentary in a manner that helps those who locate themselves within NGOs to reform them from within. While it is a tragedy that maligning NGOs in Sri Lanka seems to be a pursuit in itself, it is possible that NGOs which creatively address such criticism can change the tenor of the present debate into one that is more conducive for the exchange of ideas that at the end of day would help all Sri Lankans to enjoy the benefits of a just, peaceful and democratic society.

This endeavour is critical because NGOs exist in a symbiotic relationship with their constituencies. NGOs cannot assume, even though it may be the ideal that they work towards, that social empowerment can be conflated with unqualified support for NGOs in the light of increasing attacks on their activities. NGOs must and should deal with criticism leveled against them. The essential fragility of NGO interventions in the light of growing extremism and intolerance is becoming far too evident. NGOs need to develop ways in which they engage with such criticism head-on. It is only in the continuous process of dialogue with its harshest critics that NGOs can hope to maintain a semblance of credibility in the eyes of these critics.

Issues of transparency and accountability are at the core of much criticism leveled against NGOs. Given the vast sums of money that are involved, it is not unfair to request ways in which NGOs open up, where they should subject their on-going interventions to public scrutiny. NGOs should not create dependencies.

Peace building is about a committed and sincere attempt to assist the motherland, which requires the transfer of knowledge to local actors in order to eschew the creation of new dependencies which may create new fault-lines between and within communities. There is also the need to build systems and social networks that function long after donor aid has dried up. Serious internal discussions need to take place on the foci, scope and strategic engagements that NGOs undertake in pursuit of their ideals. Internal debate on the propriety of handling finances and management needs to be exercised by the management levels of NGOs, but need to involve all levels in order for such debates to be sustainable.

The report said that a fundamental problem with NGOs is that across the spectrum, their impact in shaping the mindset of the masses is limited by their ineffective engagement with the mainstream media. This is primarily due to inadequate training on how best to use mainstream media for advocacy purposes and many Sri Lankan NGOs fail to publicize their activities and circulate their ideas in the media to incorporate the values they promote into the political arena. They are unable to inform and shape public opinion, clearly picture the situation of the on-going reconciliation process, and fully address the concerns of the public regarding the that process.

The report further stated that many NGOs, even those based in Colombo, don’t have the capacity to conduct such vigorous self-assessments without donor support – despite perceptions to the contrary and it is imperative that support mechanisms that proactively engage with key concerns raised on the role and nature of NGO activism are helped about by donor commitments to such processes. In order to counter allegations of partisan bias and the perceptions of duplicity.  It said that the danger of acquiescing to such Western agendas that are discordant with building local capacities is that it creates in the minds of those who most desperately need assistance the impression that one is only trying to help for parochial or mercenary gain, instead of a deep seated commitment to help the community stand on its own feet. Hence what is required are dialogues that support progressive reformist tendencies in NGOs, while at the same time exploring ways in which such reform can take place in the eyes of those who are outside of NGOs frameworks. To this end as the Defence Secretary has suggested that the NGOs ought to commence a dialogue with the NGO Secretariat liaison offices in district secretariats in order to resolve any problems that would be encountered in the field, while expressing his commitment to environmental protection and on the possible role that can be played by NGOs in working in the environmental sector.

In many countries establishment of NGOs or organising activities with foreign patronage is taboo and those indulging in such activities will face severe penalties and several years of jail terms.  An Amnesty International report published in February last year (2019) said that Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment.  The report said that the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-

NGO laws have been implemented.

The Secretary General of Amnesty International Kumi Naidoo said that in many countries, during the past two years alone, almost 40 pieces of legislation that hamper the work of civil society organizations have been put in place or are in the works around the world. These laws commonly include implementing registration processes for organizations, monitoring their work, restricting their sources of resources and, in many cases, shutting them down if they don’t adhere to the unreasonable requirements imposed on them. A report published in The Guardian” said that more than 60 countries have passed laws that curtail the activity of non-cto inhibit NGOs from operating at full capacity, under which international aid groups and their local partners are vilified, harassed, closed down and sometimes expelled.

In October 2018, Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior rejected registration applications from 18 international NGOs, and dismissed their subsequent appeals.

NGOs in Belarus are subjected to strict state supervision. Working for those NGOs whose registration request is rejected is a criminal offence.

In Saudi Arabia, the government can deny licenses to new organizations and disband them if they are deemed to be harming national unity”. This has affected human rights groups, iwho have not been able to register and operate freely in the country.

In Egypt, organizations that receive funding from abroad need to comply with stringent and arbitrary regulations. This has led many human rights defenders being banned from travel, having their assets frozen and prosecuted. Some could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of receiving foreign funding. Sweeping new legislation on terrorist entities” encompass human rights and civil society organisations. NGOs are already required to register with the government.

In China, new legislation tightly controls the work of NGOs from registration and reporting to banking, hiring requirements and fundraising. NGOs in that country are required to register with police and obtain approval to carry out activities, and submit annual activity plans and budgets to a supervisory unit.

In Russia, the government has labelled NGOs who receive foreign funding foreign agents” – a term synonymous with spy”, traitor” and enemy of the state”. The government applies this legislation so broadly and such organizations are heavily fined, and put on the foreign agents” register. In July, the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy became the first organisation to be banned under the new law.

n Hungary, a number of NGOs are being forced to label themselves as foreign funded” to discredit their work and the general public desist them. Organizations failing to comply with these rules face high fines and ultimately the suspension of their activities.

In Indonesia’s disaster coordination agency has issued guidelines on the involvement of foreign aid workers, stating that they needed to conduct all activities through local partners, and be registered with government agencies.

In some countries, the attack on NGOs is particularly targeted against organizations that defend the rights of marginalized groups, promoting women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTI rights etc..

In India, the government labelled the environmental NGO Greenpeace as anti-national”, blocking its bank accounts, deporting foreign workers and preventing local staff from travelling abroad. Licences for more than 13,000 organisations have been revoked for alleged violations of a law on foreign funding.

To be continued….

One Response to “Ban leading NGOs, confiscate their assets and freeze their bank accounts.”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    DO WE NEED NGOs AND INGOs IN SRI LANKA ? THEY ARE ONLY DUPLICATING THE GOOD WORK OF ALREADY ESTABLISHED ORGANISATIONS.

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