The Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (CNGOS) Jaffna is an Alliance which is in operation for more than 25 years. It is operating as an organization, integrating 28 Voluntary Service Organizations, as an organizations free from party-politics.
In the past periods, it undertook the task of coordinating the people welfare related activities and it had been raising its voice continuously for matters related to the people. Tirelessly it had worked for the people’s welfare during Tsunami and war disasters. Because of this it had been subjected to several crises by the former Government. As a consequence to several regulations and indirect pressures which were instituted and aimed at curtailing Voluntary Service activities of the Civil Societies, several Civil Organization suspended their Volunteer Service activities. Civil Society Organizations were pushed into crisis situations. Particularly, an environment was created where several International Organizations which were operating locally were compelled to get out. Meanwhile, because of the severe controls imposed on the Local Establishments were pushed into a situation where they were unable to provide their services and in one way they were de-activated. However local organization carried on regardless, their voluntary services, to suit their capacities.
In this context, a regime change occurred in 2015 and a new Government took over.
It was expected that through this an independent environment will be created. Among the Sri Lankan people, an expectation prevailed that Democratic natured situation and opportunities for the freedom of expression would be created. In that context the Civil Society Organization also anticipated that that an environment where they could resume their people’s welfare related voluntary Service tasks. In this new political environment, an expectation that, Resources required for the services related to welfare of the people of the areas affected by war, especially, the Funds of the Donor Agencies, Expert Assistance and Physical Resources will reach North and East, was found to be existing. It is a well- known fact that the best way for an established peace and democratic activities is the strengthening of the Civil Organizations. For this, it is important that the Civil Societies of the affected community be strengthened. The Council of Jaffna District Non-Governmental Organizations also believes in this.
However at this juncture it could be said that no progress has been instituted after the new Government took over the reins. This is a cause for much concern. No consideration has been given to the re-construction of the Voluntary Services of the Civil Society Organizations, which had been destroyed by the former Government. As far as Jaffna District is concerned no attempt was in that direction. No support was offered for attempts made to re-construct Civil Organizations destructed by the former Government. Several factions including Donors, Organizations of the UN, International Non-Governmental Organizations, High Commissioners of International Countries, Sri Lanka Government and the Northern Provincial Council did not pay their attention on concerns regarding it. However, lot of talk had been made on the importance of the Civil Society Organizations. The importance of the opinions of the Civil Society Organizations also had been felt. The voices of the Civil Society Organizations had gained importance in the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
In this context, while adequate efforts were not being made to re-build the Civil Society Organizations which acted as the voice of the people affected by the war and the activities of Government and destroyed by the former Government, new Civil Organizations mushroomed in abundance. New Civil Society groups were created. It could be said that the affected were either not given any opportunity in them or trifle opportunities were provided to them. All the resources were orientated towards such new Civil Organizations. This intricate activity paved the way for the Civil Organizations created in the names of the affected in the North and East, centering on Colombo, guzzled the resources for themselves. Excessive resources were set aside as Administrative costs. Lot of new offices were set up but put up their shutters after short periods. Affected people were just considered as contributors in participating in events and signing the attendance. The opinions and contributions of the affected Civil Society were not sought in the planning and the implementation of the events. A few eye-washing activities were ‘staged’. It could be said that, no projects which could be claimed by the affected as their own activity were formulated.
In one way, the affected people are either cheated or continued to be cheated. The question is, why the High Commissioners of various International Countries and International Donor Organizations and the various Organizations of the UN are not understanding this. This raises doubts, as to whether the affected are being deliberately cheated. This give rise to questions as to why a true, honest and active criteria was not followed in seeking the suggestions of the affected? Why are they denied of a chance to formulate and administrate the project by themselves? What is the purpose behind showering the resources on organization which have no connection with North and East instead of strengthening the Civil Society Organizations in the North and East. It is a great puzzle, as to why a process of meting out is encouraged.
Hence, we, on behalf of the 28 Voluntary Organizations of the Jaffna District modestly request the High commissioners for the International Countries, the organizations of the UN, International Donors, the Sri Lankan Government, and the Northern Provincial Council that,
- More attention should be on Re-construction of the Civil Societies destroyed by the former rulers. This re-construction should be undertaken on the basis of Designing the projects with the participations of the Civil Society Organizations of the affected areas, handing over responsibilities of the projects to them and making them eligible for staking a claim on the activities related to the projects.
- Alertness be maintained regarding those who zooming in on the North and East like winged white ants, without being related to the affected Society or to the long term war experiences. They should be assisted to maintainthe transparency of their activities and projects.
- They should understand that there is a planned network and politics behind the ‘mushrooming’ Organization and acquire the ability to direct them to act in a way conducive to the welfare of the affected.
- They find ways and means of helping the Re-construction of the affected Society and establish commitment to the opportunities of the affected being strengthened, preventing the guzzling of resources by factions not related to the affected society and having good talent in speaking English and drafting project proposals in faultless English. Only the Re-construction of the affected society will pave the way for sustainable peace, Reconciliation and Transitional period justice. On the other hand, The Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (CNGOS) Jaffna is putting out a call for all faction to work in unison to prevent the above being undertaken just as an ‘eye wash’.
CNGOS’s original report published in Tamil is available below: