Monday, 21 March 2011

“Whose side are they on?”

“Whose side are they on?”

by S.M.M.Bazeer

* “And so from hour to hour, we ripe and Ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and Rot
And thereby hangs a tale”
- William Shakespeare (As You like It (II.vii.28) )


(February 01, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) During my meeting in Germany, I met Mr. Wolfram Zunzer, a German national and a key member of the BF. He had an in-depth knowledge about Sri Lankan Diaspora in which he produced a well researched paper entitled “The role of Diaspora in Europe for the peace process in Sri Lanka”, which he presented in the conference organized by the Evangelical Academics in February 2005.




Recently Dr. Norbert Ropers, the Director of the Berghof Foundation had been asked to leave Sri Lanka by the Sri Lankan Government as he failed to attend before the parliamentary commission. The Berghof Foundation is funded mainly by Germany in order to promote good governance in Sri Lanka. Whenever there were any allegations against the BF, the BF’s defence was that it was not an INGO and that it operated in Sri Lanka under its MOU with the Sri Lankan Government. Dr. Norbert has produced some valuable research works, in respect of conflict resolutions in Sri Lanka. However there are a number of INGO’s in Sri Lanka that are engaged in peace activities and some of them serve the purpose of the vested interest groups and harbor anti-government elements in their fold in the name of democracy and true peace. This is inevitable in countries like Sri Lanka where corruption and human rights violations are a norm, let alone poverty. This state of affairs creates an opening for socio-political reformers to seek sanctuary in the INGO’s and they gradually become more indebted to INGO’s than their country. Until we find a mechanism to eradicate this kind of malice, we may not reach the point of index, which is set by developed countries and their academics. The Berghof Foundation have done their homework on Sri Lankan conflict, within their assignment, but at times they have intentionally or unintentionally stepped out of their remits by incorporating the identified LTTE campaigners in their efforts to bring about good governance. The BF conferences and workshops held in Sri Lanka and other parts of the world catered for those who wish to contribute to peace in Sri Lanka and the pro-LTTE academics and their so called peace workers alike. Most of the time I saw the Tamil academics and Tamil peace activists consolidate their nationalistic politics and become supporters of the LTTE.



Being a participant in one of their meetings in Germany some years ago, I met Dr. Ropers and Mr. Wolfram Zunzer of the Berghof Foundation. It was there that I observed the close workmanship of pro-LTTE members and supporters with the International organizations that are involved in development, conflict resolution and human rights. It is also unfortunate that those who are close to the LTTE are also close to many INGO’s in the West and Europe. It was in this meeting, that I observed the Tamil delegates, who represented various NGO’s in Sri Lanka and overseas convene with the pro-LTTE campaigners and/or the LTTE representatives like Dr.Mahewaran, Father Emmanuel and Mr. Reggie, former TRO Chief in Sri Lanka. Among the other participants were, Mr. Cheran, a well-known Tamil poet and an academic from Canada, who was also seen more closely affiliating with the LTTE campaigners in private, although he claimed to be a critic of the LTTE.

The conference also invited a Palestinian Peace Organization to participate in the event along with the Sri Lankan Diaspora and created a milieu to draw parallel lines in their struggle for liberation. In the conference, Cheran was seen in the company of a well known LTTE Diaspora member. It was quite fascinating that Cheran wanted me to attend to some points about the expulsion of the Northern Muslims by the LTTE before I was to make my speech. I then delivered my speech and dealt with the points in respect of the expulsion of the Northern Muslims, particularly dealing with the aspect of Cheran’s queries and then addressed him to ascertain whether my explanation had clarified his queries.

However, it appeared that Cheran never expected my direct public response and became embarrassed and remarked that he did not ask me to explain that to him. This contrast in opinion, made me question whether this was the same man, whom I had previously met in Colombo in the early 1990’s and later in New York in 2002 at two different human rights meetings. He views have remarkably changed and his “Life killing words” (One of the title’s of Cheran’s book-“Ueir Kollum Varthaikal”) have been resurrected into “life saving words” in the name of Tamil nationalism.

In the conference, Mr. Eliyathamby Anandaraja, the head of TRO in Germany also presented his papers on TRO activities in line with the presentation of the “Tamileela economist”, Dr.Maheswaran. When I raised questions about the TRO’s ethnical line Mr. Reggie jumped on me. He was immature in his approach and tried to explain to me later that a Muslim youth was employed by TRO in their Colombo office and he had recently resolved a land dispute between a Muslim and a Tamil in Mullaiteevu , by restoring the land right of the Muslim to the detriment of the other. He is now said to have claimed asylum in the UK. The official report of the conference noted that “A Muslim representative asked the TRO members whether they had provided help to the Muslim minority in the Northeast in the past. The addressees agreed that the TRO hardly had delivered to Muslims in the past, and pointed out how important it now is to guarantee the diversity of stakeholders and beneficiaries in a TRO lead process. There was consent among Tamil participants that a transparent funding mechanism lead by TRO/LTTE is possible “

During my meeting in Germany, I met Mr. Wolfram Zunzer, a German national and a key member of the BF. He had an in-depth knowledge about Sri Lankan Diaspora in which he produced a well researched paper entitled “The role of Diaspora in Europe for the peace process in Sri Lanka”, which he presented in the conference organized by the Evangelical Academics in February 2005. He had also sent me a copy of his research Paper Nr. 26 on “Diaspora Communities and Civil Conflict Transformation”, a few months prior to the conference and I noticed that there was an additional page of erratum being attached to the book. The amendments seemed to be a precautionary prevention clause in an attempt to avoid unnecessary hassle from the Tamil Diaspora. The erratum page was printed with a request that read, “Please change this page”. The erratum page states that, “These Tamils and their affiliated development organizations have increasingly perceived the TRO as a key actor for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the North and East. There is the hypothesis by a number of authors (i.e. Collier 2000, Gunaratna 2003) that a certain percentage of the money collected by the TRO or TRO sub-organizations is currently made use of by the LTTE. To our knowledge, the largest share is used for development work and for paying the overheads to sustain the embryonic institutional structures of the quasi Tamil state in the North and East.” However on the page 28 of the book; “Diaspora Communities and Civil Conflict Transformation”, Mr. Zunzer remarks:- “These Tamils and their affiliated development organizations have increasingly perceived the TRO as a key actor for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the North and East. What can safely be assumed is that only a small percentage of the money collected by TRO or TRO sub-organizations is currently made use of by the LTTE for buying weapons” The largest share is used for development work and for paying the overheads to sustain the embryonic institutional structures of the quasi-Tamil state in the North and East.”

Mr. Zunzer was a considerate man, who always implemented extreme circumspection when there were disputable points and this was one of them. On page 28 of the book he implicated the TRO’s contribution to the weaponry of the LTTE and in the erratum page he quoted that this information was derived from Gunaratna and Collier, ( anti-terror authors) thereby marginally escaping any possible tirade from his Diaspora associates. The TRO gradually lost its charity status in the UK, USA and Sri Lanka and became obsolete but those who were behind the grand scheme know the art of replacing the TRO with other charities. The history of TRO goes back to the large sum donated by MGR ( M.G.Ramachandran, actor turned Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) to Pirabakaran.

Although the TRO is under scrutiny by the Sri Lankan government, it is still a registered charity under the Sri Lankan Companies Act and this is misused by “White Pigeon” in London. During the 15th year Diwali show celebrations hosted by Kings College London, the White Pigeons were advertised in their Diwali show Itinerary and confirmed their associations with the TRO in Sri Lanka. Will the Sri Lankan government deregister the TRO in Sri Lanka so it can not be used in London as a recognized Sri Lankan charity?

2/1/2008 Srilanka guardian

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