Berghof, Nazis and the LTTE

This blog is concerned with the agreement between GOSL and the NGO the Berghof Foundation which is typical of the GOSL attitude to foreign NGOs operating in Sri Lanka. This is also the subject of a comment in the article reproduced below by Susantha Goonatilake which also deals with another subject viz. the comparison of Prabhakaran's LTTE with Hitler's Nazi Party. While the latter is an inappropriate comparison some comments on it will also be made after considering the Berghof matter. The role of Berghof, and indirectly of other NGOs, is a matter of considerable importance as it highlights one of the serious defects of GOSL policy.

It has been revealed that an arm of GOSL, the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, has concluded an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Berghof which came into effect on 1 Jan 2006, i.e. shortly after the new President took over. We know that the President has undertaken to uphold agreements entered into by earlier administrations such as the CFA with the terrorists which is probably the greatest betrayal on the part of GOSL.

It is of course not unusual for Governments to come to agreements with private bodies. But what is wrong with this particular agreement are the objectives of the agreement and what Berghof is mandated to do. This is to assist the Government in what it calls the "Peace Building Project". The objectives of this project are given as:
  1. to change the attitudes of people towards system of power sharing
  2. to educate people to understand power sharing as the most effective and rational solution to the ethnic conflict
  3. to provoke a discourse to find the appropriate model that would satisfy the aspirations of the people in Sri Lanka
  4. to create higher degree of awareness on power sharing solution and impress upon the people
  5. to help people to abandon the long held prejudices against the sharing of power and equip at least the key opinion leaders at ground level to confront the misinformation efforts coming from the extremist elements
The agreement with Berghof obligates this group to "provide any assistance, advice and other support services for the program development of the Peace Building Project of the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, as requested and agreed upon by the two parties." Of course Berghof has agreed to provide the money for this activity. It is well known that GOSL politicians will sacrifice anything to get some money from somewhere

It is clear that the Peace Building project is aimed at brainwashing the people to accept the fundamental doctrine of the Mahinda Chintanaya, i.e. to grand "maximum devolution" to the Tamil separatists. This is the nub of what is called "power sharing". As a sovereign, independent and democratic nation power belongs to the people which is delegated to a democratically elected government for the duration of an electoral mandate. There is no question of sharing power with anyone, internal or external. This fundamental principle is to be subverted in the Peace Building Project" of GOSL. Another aspect is that the sharing of power is along racial lines. It is essentially a charter for racial and religious fragmentation of the nation. It will also be noticed that GOSL regards the terrorist conflict as an "ethnic problem". This is something that the President too has stated several times. The Peace Building Project is simply the Chintanaya stripped of its camouflage. Only the "patriots" do not see this.

Susantha claims that Berghof has been involved in conducting programs of "security sector transformation". This is basically an attempt to divert the security forces from its basic task of fighting the terrorist insurgents, not that the security forces have been employed in this task. We know that even though the security forces have been employed to clear areas of the LTTE in the Eastern province (in league with the Karuna group) there has been little evidence of security force action in the North. Berghof and other NGOs like ZOA are trying to keep it that way.

While Susantha correctly criticizes NGOs like Berghof and ZOA he does not seem to identify the fundamental factor facilitating their activity in Sri Lanka. This is the support given to them by GOSL. It is GOSL that is primarily responsible for the allowing these anti-national NGOs in Sri Lanka. And unless the blame is laid at the door of GOSL no amount of criticism of the NGOs is well directed. This seems to be the fundamental error in Susantha's approach to NGO activity in Sri Lanka. Writing books on NGOs is not enough unless the villains are correctly identified.

The other error in Susantha's article is to compare the LTTE and its leader to Hitler. This is something that many commentators do. This simply ignores that there is little real similarities with these international comparisons that cut across cultures, time and space. Hitler operated in the first half of the twentieth century and at that time there were probably more dictators than democracies in the world. Hitler is largely a product of the European context while Prabhakaran in mainly a product of the Tamil context, whose heroes were probably the great Chola rulers of the eleventh centuries who carved out large empires for themselves on the Indian subcontinent.

Hitler's persecution of Jews was largely the continuation of a millennium of Christian persecution of Jews. Velupillai Prabhakaran (VP) has of course expelled Sinhalas and Muslims from the area he hopes to have as his Tamil homeland and conducted ethnic cleansing in the border areas. Even if take VP to be a Christian there is little justification for this in Christian practice unlike the characterization of the Jews as 'Christ killers'. Even on the homeland comparison Hitler already had a homeland for the Germans, his aim was to unify all Germans into one Reich and rule the rest of the world. VP is not trying to unify all Tamils but to carve out a 'homeland' for SL Tamils. Besides in Sri Lanka the Helas are as much addicted to the homeland idea as the Tamils – consider for instance the agitation of the 'patriots' for Sinhaleh and Heladiva.

You do not make much of a case by making inappropriate comparisons.

Victor Gunasekara


Nazification at the Government's
Constitutional Core

Susantha Goonatilake

Asian Tribune : 2007-01-27

As the World War II came to a close, a question among the victorious democratic Allies was what to do with the German population who had been infected with the Nazi bug. An early 1946 secret assessment for the Allies showed that only one percent of the German population was against the Nazis and that without denazification, a free-election would bring the Nazis back to power. The universal agreement was on the immediate 3-Ds - Disarmament, Demilitarisation and Denazification. These issues become important for Sri Lanka in the light of new developments of the last few days, especially taking into account the parallels between the Nazis and the LTTE and the role of certain foreign governments and foreign funded NGOs to prop up both the LTTE Nazi ideology as well as their armed strength. First: to the parallels between the two barbarous regimes the Nazis and the LTTE.

Both believed in fictitious traditional homelands - in the case of the Nazis Lebensraum. Both believed in a one-man rule; in the case of the LTTE, the barbarous Prabhakaran going beyond Hitler. Prabhakaran calls himself the Sun God; Hitler never attempted to deify himself, he simply called himself Der Fuehrer - the Leader. Hitler borrowed religious symbols most famously, the swastika from our culture and evoked many pagan gods from Norway, but he was not such a maniac to call himself a God. Both Hitler and Prabhakaran dismissed genuine elections and rigged them. Both indulged in ethnic cleansing. Both used children for war, in the case of the Nazis Hitler Youth. Both brooked no opposition. Both suppressed all freedom of expression to glorify their racist dreams. Both demanded sacrifices for their racist hallucinations, Prabhakaran going further and instituting suicides squads.

Denazification in Germany

The aim of the denazification programme in Germany was that Nazism with its false racist and antidemocratic platform would never rise again. After World War II, the demilitarisation and disarmament was the easy part. The allies seized all weapons and arrested Nazis, suspected war criminals and all security suspects as given by Allied intelligence reports. But the racism of the Nazis had sunk in deep. The aim of the denazification programme was to rid German and Austrian culture, economy, society, press, judiciary and the political systems of all the ideology of the Nazi regime. All those associated with the former Nazi regime and who were in positions of influence were simply sacked, and all organisations associated with them disbanded. The most thoroughgoing denazification occurred in the Soviet occupied zone. In the Soviet zone, thousands of Nazi officials were simply shot. Members of the Nazi party and its front organisations were summarily sacked, and over one hundred thousand Nazi suspects were interned in Soviet camps

In the American zone of occupation, all symbols of the Nazi regime were removed - for example, the Nazi national anthem Deutschland Uber Alles was banned as was the swastika. Possession of Hitler's handbook Mein Kampf became a criminal offence. (In the late 1960s while being trained as an engineer in Germany my German colleagues would tell me only in whispers what the Nazi national anthem was). Shortly after the war, 90,000 Nazis were held in US concentration camps while 1,900,000 adults were forbidden from engaging in any work apart from manual work. Those forbidden to work in their hitherto professions included professors, journalists and teachers suspected of Nazi sympathies. Over 500 civilian courts were established to oversee 900,000 cases of suspected Nazis. Shortly after the war, the information section of the US Army took control of most German newspapers, radio stations, theatres, movies, magazines, and publishing houses as well as dealers in books so that Nazi propaganda could be prohibited and completely uprooted. A directive was issued by the US to confiscate all media that had a Nazi or militaristic agenda. Over 30,000 book titles including schoolbooks were banned, confiscated and destroyed. The possession of a banned book was a punishable offence. That was how after World War II, Prabhakaran and the LTTE look-alikes were treated by the West as well as by the Soviet Union.

Foreign Funded NGOs

In contrast, last week saw some extraordinarily statements in defence of foreign funded NGOs with their direct pro-LTTE agendas. Let me first take ZOA which was found with its pants down when they were discovered in an LTTE camp over run by the armed forces. What is this ZOA? Its website informs us that it is a Christian organisation. It adds ominously "Being Christian is also an important requirement for staff in our headquarters, for our expats abroad and local staff in the various country offices". In short, they discriminate in their recruitment against Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Foreign NGOs are not expected to interfere in local politics. Yet, in their Annual Report of 2004 David Verboom, ZOA Country Director bearing his LTTE fangs attacks both the Karuna faction as well as the JVP for taking anti-LTTE positions. Any self-respecting country would have simply chased out this Verboom.

Another organisation whose equipment was found at the LTTE camps overrun by the armed forces was Save the Children. When confronted by Colombo protesters, Save the Children disingenuously said that the LTTE had taken the equipment. Surely they should have made a great clamour at the very time they did. This doublespeak is in the same vein as that of Westborg once of Redd Barne the Norwegian Save the Children which transported tens of thousands of estate Tamils to the Vanni to change the ethnic balance in Sri Lanka. As Norwegian Ambassador this same character Westborg later smuggled in communication equipment for the LTTE.

Berghof Restructuring Country's Security

The most atrocious statement on behalf of doubtful NGOs was by the German ambassador defending a private organisation Berghof. (Question: why do governments come to defend private organisations, don't the latter have their own voice.) Because of the victorious Allied powers, Germany of today has been largely purified of the Nazi germ. Even the organisations tied to its three main political parties that operate in Sri Lanka have not tried to bring their particular agendas into the country. And in fact, the Sri Lanka left have worked with some organisations associated with the conservative Christian Democrats. (The Greens is a German political party founded by a Buddhist Petra Kelly and which has much congeniality with Sri Lanka and formally values local cultures but does not operate in Sri Lanka.) It is not these relatively innocuous organisations that the German ambassador tried to defend. It is a rogue private organisation the Berghof foundation. For those unfamiliar with this organisation, let me summarise its objectives and activities from their own publications I researched for a recent book on the recolonising agenda of foreign funded NGOs.

Security Sector Transformation

The Berghof Foundation wanted to conduct what they called "Training programmes on Security Sector Transformation." Their overall declared policy in their own words was "security sector and security sector reform". Under the security sector, they include the "military, paramilitaries and police forces" that is, all the security forces And among the "institutions with a role in managing and monitoring the security sector" Berghof has identified foreign funded NGOs and "the international community". Unrepresentative NGOs and the so-called international community are now to manage our security forces.

This "transformation of the security sector" under Berghof requires "demilitarisation" [their words]. In effect, at a time of grave danger to our sovereignty because of the LTTE, Berghof aims at disbanding at least some of our forces. This "transformation of the security sector" Berghoff claims is "critical to the success of peace agreements". This is shorthand for disarming the country's military, surrendering to the LTTE and then "peace" comes. These noble pro-LTTE efforts were to be done by "training" the armed forces. "The objective of this course" [on demilitarization and NGO control] will "aim at building knowledge within a group of selected military officers of the armed forces on key issues and key principles of the discourse on security sector transformation." That is, the aim of Berghof is to brain wash the Armed Forces to their way of thinking on demilitarization and NGO control.

This training aims at "the social ramifications of de-mobilization, disarmament" and "give a high priority to broadening the discussion on disarmament, demobilization" and to "right-size the political and economic role of the military". "Right sizing" means Berghof an alien foreign organization will determine through NGOs the right size of our military.

The Berghof Foundation has become an institution with a role in managing and monitoring the security sector. The 'International Community' has become responsible for guaranteeing the rule of law in Sri Lanka. Any demilitarization and professionalization of the Armed Forces which rests with the Commanders of the Forces are to be taken over by the NGO's. Any transformation of the security sector a responsibility of the Government is to be taken over by the NGO's

Berghof's openly stated security sector reform aim at "de-militarization, de-mobilization and comprehensive security sector reform". It also arrogates to itself a so-called "Independent Assessment" of High Security Zones which should be the sovereign rights of Sri Lanka. Berghof Foundation, an unrepresentative bunch of individuals aims at restructuring not only the armed forces but also our State. It aims "to address the most critical issues of finding constructive interim arrangements and a final negotiated settlement" to our ethnic problems - that is restructure the state. Thus it wants to structure "the form of the future state and inter-ethnic relations". At the centre of Berghof's "dialogues" is: "Re-structuring the state" . They want to do this by getting a small group of NGO actors to develop a "vision of what the constitutional order should look like in a re-structured Sri Lankan state". And on what basis?

Berghof accepts the fiction of Tamil traditional homelands. They assume self-determination rejected by the UN as a formula for the breakup of the world into 6000 different pieces. "To develop a closer understanding of the concept of self-determination, the Berghof Foundation facilitated the visit of two eminent scholars for a number of discussions and workshops in Jaffna and Colombo." One of these self-styled "eminent scholars" was Helena Whall, an LTTE supporter who published a charter for Tamil separatism, The Right to Self-Determination: The Sri Lankan Tamil National Question.

Berghof also brings in foreign countries as so-called "international stakeholders on Sri Lanka's process of conflict transformation". They thus want foreign countries to interfere in our internal affairs. Berghof has a careful plan of brain washing. "The main target groups of the Foundation comprise decision makers, their advisors, politicians and political practitioners, senior civil servants and influentials from all parties and sections of society." In short, like the Nazis of yore they target the entire spectrum of a country's thinking. Berghof wants to change radically what we think including in "defence academies".

Re-colonizing

Berghof is preparing us for re-colonization. Our armed forces are being targeted. Our state is being re-structured. The so-called international community and unrepresentative NGOs (Berghof has a list of NGOs they are collaborating with) and not our elected representatives are being made stakeholders on Sri Lanka. Some of the NGOs that are collaborating with Berghof read like a who's who of those who have taken stands against Sri Lankan sovereignty.

Berghof is registered in Colombo under the Sri Lankan Companies Act. But as the German ambassador rightly says Berghof operates under a Memorandum-of-Understanding with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Constitutional Affairs (signed July 2001). Our rulers/authorities have thus invited our own subversion. In the agreement, Berghof specifically wants to "change the attitudes of the people" away from their present beliefs. Anyone with any modicum of national feeling or a left perspective would easily see that this is an agenda for cultural imperialism reminiscent of Portuguese missionaries who wanted to change the minds of the people.

The question is who approved this clearly subversive organization which had reached directly into the innards of constitutional making? The agreement (I have seen it) mentions the buzzwords "impartiality and transparency". The Berghof agenda is nothing but impartial. We should take its "transparency" at its word and ask who in Sri Lanka masterminded this anti Sri Lanka arrangement. It attempts to make Sri Lanka into a banana republic. A Sri Lanka signatory to the document has been one Professor Ranjit Amerasinghe.


APPENDIX

Extracts from MOU between Berghof Foundation and the
Ministry of Constitutional Affairs (Peace Building Project)
effective 1 Jan 2006

OBJECTIVES OF THE PEACE BUILDING PROJECT

  1. to Change the attitudes of people towards system of power sharing
  2. to educate people to understand power sharing as the most effective and rational solution to the ethnic conflict
  3. to provoke a discourse to find the appropriate model that would satisfy the aspirations of the people in Sri Lanka
  4. to create higher degree of awareness on power sharing solution and impress upon the people
  5. to help people to abandon the long held prejudices against the sharing of power and equip at least the key opinion leaders at ground level to confront the misinformation efforts coming from the extremist elements

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARTIES

The Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies Sri Lanka Office, agrees to perform the following activities and provide the following resources in support of the project:

  1. Provide an amount of up to LKR 2500,000.- in January 2006 which is 50% of the budget forwarded and approved.
  2. The remaining 50% of the budget shall be provided in June 2006 on completion of all obligations according to the attached financial agreement.
  3. Provide any assistance, advice and other support services for the program development of the Peace Building Project of the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, as requested and agreed upon by the two parties.
The Peace Building Project of the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs & National Integration agrees to,
  1. Conduct awareness programmes (Seminars, Workshops & Public meetings)
  2. Prepare & publish educational material
  3. Organize Poster Campaigns
  4. Arrange Bill Boards
  5. Produce Newspaper supplements & Radio and TV Programmes.
  6. brief, consult, inform and invite staff of the Foundation as necessary in order to strengthen the partnership and mutual learning from the programme
  7. to provide narrative reports and financial reports in a timely manner

APPORTIONMENT OF COSTS

The costs of this project are apportioned as follows: