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CSFH Urges Responsible Giving in the Wake of Tsunami Tragedy
It is time to give and give generously. As the death toll climbs past 150,000 and the world comes to grips with the devastation caused by the deadly Indian Ocean tsunamis, numerous organizations across Asia are stepping up to organize relief and rehabilitation. We at the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) urge all individuals in the U.S. and elsewhere to support them by donating generously.
However, our responsibility does not end with giving. It is also our combined responsibility to ensure that our funds do not end up in sectarian hands, and that this tragedy does not turn into another opportunity for communal groups to gain foothold in our plural society.
KEEPING ACCOUNTABILITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE ON THE AGENDA
The response to the tsunami tragedy in the US has been heartening, with hundreds of dedicated volunteers making enormous effort to raise resources for relief operations in India and elsewhere. Many of these groups have a long history of carrying out grass-roots, non-sectarian development work in India, and have been able to effectively mobilize their networks at this time to administer relief. They can be counted upon for working closely with affected communities in a transparent and accountable manner. The immense loss of life in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, makes it incumbent on us to consider giving to our suffering Asian neighbors, either through transnational organizations or through informal networks of local community-based organizations. (See below for a partial list of such organizations).
Many of us are also members of a variety of linguistic, regional and cultural associations. Because of their social and cultural affinities, such organizations are well equipped to intervene in on the ground activities. Precisely because of these reasons, sectarian groups try to use them as vehicles to advance their own agendas. We therefore urge you all to not only take an active part in the fund raising activities of these organizations but also be involved in discussions on how and where the funds are to be used. Disasters of this kind are occasions when we should be on high alert to keep social justice at the top of the agenda.
STAY CLEAR OF SECTARIAN GROUPS SUCH AS IDRF, HSS, SEWA INTERNATIONAL AND VHPA
Please remember the lessons of past natural calamities: Latur earthquake in 1993, Orissa cyclone in 1999 and the massive earthquake that shook Gujarat in 2001. Sectarian groups in the guise of non profits have swooped in on these areas engulfed in tragedy (funded in large part by unsuspecting donors in the US) and established their presence in the grief-stricken communities on the pretext of providing relief. Not only did this lead to unequal disbursement of relief among various communities, but it also caused further fracturing of these struggling communities along lines of caste and religion.
This time too, the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Sewa International and Vishwa Hindu Parishad-America (VHPA) have all put out appeals for Tsunami relief. CSFH has done extensive research on these groups and traced their linkages to the parent organization in India: the violent and anti-minority Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). (See http://www.stopfundinghate.org
for details.) Affiliates of this organization have been implicated by numerous national and international human rights groups as having engineered the anti-Muslim Gujarat pogroms in 2002 and the anti-Christian violence in 1998-2000. RSS itself is a secretive organization, openly sectarian in its operations, and is not legally permitted by the Government of India to accept funds from abroad; consequently, its US affiliates (IDRF, HSS etc.) are raising funds for organizations like Sewa Bharati, Jana Sankshema Samiti and Vivekananda Kendra in India, all of which are intrinsic parts of RSS operations in India and follow its divisive ideology.
We urge everyone to make the responsible choice in favor of supporting secular groups with a long-standing commitment to the pluralistic ethos and democratic ideals of India. On our part, we are following up on our work of the past several years some of which is documented at http://www.stopfundinghate.org
. We will be happy to assist you with any information and would really appreciate it if you will alert us to the debates and discussions that you are involved in by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are building a FAQ to be posted on our site and it will be helpful to know the kinds of questions being raised. Meanwhile, please feel free to use the list below as a starting point to identify the kind of organizations that are worthy of support.
A partial list of non-sectarian, grassroots groups involved in relief operations:
1. AID - Association for India?s Development http://www.aidindia.org/CMS/
2. American India Foundation http://www.aifoundation.org/
3. Asha For Education http://www.ashanet.org/
4. India Literacy Project http://www.ilpnet.org/news/Tsunami/index.html
5. India Relief and Education Fund http://iref.homestead.com/
6. Indians for Collective Action http://www.icaonline.org/
7. Pratham http://www.prathamusa.org/
8. Singh Foundation http://singhfoundation.org
9. Vibha http://www.vibha.org/emergencyrelief/
These groups are partnering with various mass-based organizations and NGOs in India, such as the Tamil Nadu Science Forum, the National Fishworkers Forum, Vidyarambam, APVVU (agricultural workers? union in AP), People's Watch, Bharathi Trust and Bhoomika Trust.
Among international organizations, Doctors Without Borders is reputed to be the most committed and experienced with meeting disasters with professional expertise. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org
The International Red Cross has country specific operations which may be accessed and supported through the following links:
Sri Lanka: http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/sri_lanka
Additionally, we urge you to also spread the word about the Red Cross's 'Family Links' initiative which helps locate separated family members throughout the affected region. You can find out more about this from http://www.icrc.org/home.nsf/home/webfamilylinks
Also see CSFH's FAQ:
* Why are you trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from raising money for Tsunami relief?
* But IDRF is raising money for as many as 11 organizations. Do you mean to say that all of these organizations are affiliated to the RSS?
* What is wrong with the Sewa Bharati?
* Aren't the Tamil Nadu fisherfolk communities largely Christian? What influence can the Sangh have there?
* Why are you against Hindu organizations and not against Muslim/Christian groups? (After all, Catholic Relief Services has gotten the largest relief package going.)
* OK fine, the IDRF is part of the Sangh and the Sangh is violent at times. But they also do good work during crises such as this tsunami, so why should I not support them in their good work? Are you not obstructing the relief and rehabilitation of people who have been hurt by trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from getting donations for the Tsunami relief?
* "The Hindu organizations most responsible for violence against Christians are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal,and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS). According to a former RSS member, these groups cannot be divorced from the ruling BJP party: "There is no difference between the BJP and RSS. BJP is the body. RSS is the soul, and the Bajrang Dal is the hands for beating."
* "The groups most directly involved in the violence against Muslims include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that heads the Gujarat state government. Collectively, they are known as the sangh parivar, or family of Hindu nationalist organizations."
As evidence of IDRF-funded RSS-indoctrination, see http://www.idrf.org/dynamic/modules.php?op=modload&name=My_eGallery&file=index&do=showpic&pid=346&orderby=dateD
The gentlemen (?) on this photo are KB Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar, the first two dictators of the RSS. You can also their photos on the RSS's homepage: http://www.rss.org