Friday, January 07, 2005

Rape Account in Sri Lanka

I'm posting this because the broader agenda of this blog continues to be to support progressive work of all kind, and without information like this, we can't. However, this recent spate of Western media stories about instances of violence against survivors of the tsunami by people from their own communities is really troubling me (see the last two posts as well). I don't understand what the dynamic is exactly that's prompting the writing of these stories, but I don't want to play a part in a game of blaming the victim societies if that's what's going on. On the other hand, ensuring that people know that child trafficking, violence against women, and similar issues are still happening seems central to the task of this blog. Thoughts are very welcome.

Courtesy AP via Yahoo!News:

Sri Lankan Teenager Raped by Rescuer

By SHIMALI SENANAYAKE, Associated Press Writer
GALLE, Sri Lanka - She survived the tsunami, only to suffer the brutality of her rescuer.

On a pilgrimage to a temple, the 18-year-old and her family stopped for a picnic by the beach. That's when the tsunami struck.

Flailing in the water, the teenager heard a voice. "He told me to grab his hand, that he will save me," she said.

She and the stranger were swept into a muddy river. When they reached a bank, he pushed her into a bed of brambles and raped her.

"I screamed and told him not to hurt me," the shy teenager told The Associated Press. "He put his hands around my neck and told me that even if he kills me right there, no one will know."

Since the Dec. 26 tsunami, authorities have received many reports of sexual abuse — including attacks on children — at refugee camps and elsewhere. But there was no one to help the 18-year-old — the waves killed her father, mother and seven other relatives.

Earlier that day, the family and neighbors had left for the Kataragama temple, venerated by Buddhists and Hindus, to celebrate her father's 65th birthday.

Their bus, which carried 32 passengers, stopped at a beach. The girl was wading at the shore with two nieces when the waves crashed around them. Fourteen of the travelers died.
At the teenager's home in a village near the southern town of Galle, her only surviving sister displayed photographs of their parents, brothers, sisters and their families at weddings and birthday celebrations.

She allowed the AP to interview her younger sister on condition the teenager and the family would not be named and no photographs would be taken. They fear being ostracized by the village because of the attack.

After the rape, the teenager said, "I felt lifeless." Soaked with mud, her body itched all over from the thorns.

Dazed, she saw two figures approaching.

"He told me not to breath a word," she said. "He spoke to the men and left me with them. I didn't say anything and was terrified because they, too, were men."

The teenager was loaded into a truck with corpses and the injured. She recognized her brother's body and fainted.

At Karapitiya hospital, doctors and nurses were kind, she said. Dr. D. Wasantha said the teenager didn't mention the rape until a day after being admitted, and was initially treated for respiratory problems from inhaling water.

"She was very reluctant to talk and we didn't want to probe too much as she was already very upset and kept saying not to tell anyone," Wasantha said.

After learning of the rape, the doctor gave the young woman pills to prevent pregnancy.

"I don't want to talk to the police. They ask a lot of questions I don't understand and don't know how to respond," the teenager said, toying with the corner of her brown T-shirt.

The teenager lived a sheltered life before the tsunami, but she did go to college for a time, studying the Sinhalese language, political science and economics. She dropped out a year ago to take care of the family household.

"I want to be a journalist," she said when asked about the future. Her eyes lit up and she smiled faintly, but that faded when her aunt said they hoped some man would marry the teenager.

Her sister soon dampened any idea of a quick marriage: She said gossip already was swirling around the village, where rape brings stigma and shame to the victim rather than the rapist.

Confirmed Child Trafficking in Indonesia

Courtesy Reuters via Yahoo!News:

UNICEF Confirms Tsunami Child Trafficking Case

By George Nishiyama

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The United Nations Children's Fund confirmed a case in Indonesia of trafficking in children orphaned or separated from parents by the Indian Ocean tsunami as ravaged countries were warned to be on high alert for kidnappers.

Reports of children being taken away surfaced soon after the killer waves swamped 13 nations, killing more than 153,000 people and leaving more than a million people injured and homeless. But the UNICEF (news - web sites) report is the first confirmed case.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also said Friday that an Indonesian aid agency had reported seven cases of child-trafficking since the Dec. 26 undersea earthquake that sent giant waves crashing ashore across Asia and East Africa.

Birgithe Lund-Henriksen, chief of the UNICEF Indonesia child protection unit, said UNICEF and Indonesian police had confirmed that a 4-year-old boy was taken out of Banda Aceh, the capital of devastated Aceh province, by a couple claiming to be his parents.

Local police were alerted after non-governmental organizations (NGOs) became suspicious when the couple took the child to a hospital in Medan, 450 km (280 miles) southeast of Banda Aceh, she said.

"NGOs grew suspicious when the couple were not consistent in their story," she said, adding they now say they are the boy's neighbors.

Lund-Henriksen said there were other reports of possible child-trafficking cases, including a sighting by an NGO worker of about 100 infants being carried in a speed boat in the middle of the night in Aceh province.

"We're absolutely concerned about trafficking. This is something that existed prior to the
earthquake tsunami. And with syndicates in place, it's clear they will take advantage of the chaos that's going on now," she said.

Lund-Henriksen said Medan had long been a departure point for smuggling children out of Indonesia for illegal adoption, forced labor, or work in the sex industry.


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned affected countries to be on high alert against trafficking of orphans or other vulnerable people, adding that it already had child-trafficking experts working in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand as part of its emergency response to the tsunami.

"To date, actual confirmed cases of human trafficking remain minimal. But we are boosting our counter-trafficking operations and working with governments," IOM spokeswoman Niurka Pinheiro told a news briefing.

Some 250,000 people are trafficked in, out and through the South East Asia region each year, according to IOM estimates. Many victims are exploited sexually or used for domestic labor.

"An NGO has reported seven trafficking cases in Indonesia," Richard Danziger, head of IOM's counter-trafficking unit, told Reuters. He declined to name the agency.

"Something like (the tsunami) can worsen an ongoing problem. We have not actually identified any cases ourselves. But you can't say it hasn't happened just because you haven't seen it," he added.

UNICEF has set up a children's center in Aceh province, and plans to set up 20 places to accommodate unaccompanied children and to prevent them from being taken away.
Countries hit by the tsunami, including Indonesia and Sri Lanka, and some outside the region such as the United States, have banned adoption of children orphaned by the disaster in a bid to prevent smugglers from taking advantage of the situation.

Indonesian Social Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab told Reuters this week: "The government has decided that orphans should stay in Aceh to maintain their cultural heritage."

He said the process of counting orphans was under way.

Why Politics Matters: Dalits Forced Out Of Relief Camps

Crossposted at SEA EAT. This is a great example of why you can't ignore political values just because there's a crisis. Article from AFP via Yahoo!News:

India's untouchables forced out of relief camps

KESHVANPALAYAM, India (AFP) - India's untouchables, reeling from the tsunami disaster, are being forced out of relief camps by higher caste survivors and being denied aid supplies, activists charged.

AFP Photo
AP Photo

Kuppuswamy Ramachandran, 32, a Dalit or untouchable in India's rigid caste hierarchy, said he and his family were told to leave a relief camp in worst-hit Nagapattinam district where 50 more families were housed.

"The higher caste fishing community did not allow us to sleep in a marriage hall where they are put up because we belong to the lowest caste," Ramachandran said.

"After three days we were moved out to a school but now the school is going to reopen within three days and the teachers drove us out," he said.

"Where will I take my family and children? The school had no lights, toilets or drinking water," available for the displaced.

More than 6,000 people died when tsunamis struck this southern Indian coastal district on December 26 and activists said that included 81 Dalits, who were daily wage earners working in agricultural lands.

The ferocious wall of sea water destroyed swathes of farm land and the Dalits no longer have any employment.

At Keshvanpalayam, the Dalits had only flattened homes to show while survivors elsewhere enjoyed relief supplies such as food, medicines, sleeping mats and kerosene.

No government official or aid has flowed into the village which houses 83 Dalit families more than 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Nagapattinam town.

Cranes and bulldozers cleared the debris of a neighbouring fishing community, but they are yet to reach the Dalit village.

Chandra Jayaram, 35, who lost her husband to the tsunamis, said her family has not received promised government compensation of 100,000 rupees (2,174 dollars).

"At the relief camps we are treated differently due to our social status. We are not given relief supplies. The fishing community told us not to stay with them. The government says we will not be given anything as we are not affected much," Jayaram said.

S. Karuppiah, field coordinator with the Human Rights Forum for Dalit Liberation, said in some of the villages the dead bodies of untouchables were removed with reluctance.

"The Dalit villages are in most places proving to be the preferred choice of the fishing community to bury the dead. If the Dalits ask for relief materials the government says they can only give the leftovers," Karuppiah said.

"The government is turning a blind eye," he said. "When Dalits bury the dead they are not given gloves or medicines but only alcohol to forget the rotten stench."

Another activist, Mahakrishnan Marimuthu, who heads the non-governmental Education and Handicraft Training Trust, said tsunamis dealt a double blow to the caste.

"They lost their jobs, houses and relatives. On the other hand the social discrimination is proving to be worse," he said.

The government denied the allegations and said it was providing relief to every tsunami-affected family.

"There is no intention of closing down any camps and we are providing relief to each and every family. We will provide temporary shelters as these relief camps are getting overcrowded," said

Veerashanmugha Moni, Nagapattinam's senior government administrator.
The United Nations (news - web sites) Children's Fund UNICEF (news - web sites) said government, relief agencies and aid workers did not discriminate against the Dalits but the caste issue always exists.

"All the aid going in is distributed the same way to all survivors. The social discrimination has been there during normal times," said Amudha, who heads a team of UNICEF volunteers in Nagapattinam.

"After the disaster happened it is still continuing. That is nothing new," she said.

Vijaya Lakshmi, spokeswoman for South India Federation of Fishermen Societies, agreed and said one could not wish away a centuries-old caste system when a disaster struck.

"If they (Dalits) are comfortable by staying separate they will," she said.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Update and Appeal from Indonesia Group

Crossposted at SEA EAT. Please note that they have been funded by US AID, an agency of the U.S. government, in the past. Thanks Jess:

Vol. 1, No. 8 - January 5, 2005

Aceh Aid at IDEP is a two-pronged initiative to bring appropriate aid directly to affected communities in Sumatra. IDEP, in cooperation with Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) / Orangutan Information Centre (OIC), is helping mobilize emergency supplies in Medan for delivery in Aceh Province. In cooperation with the Indonesian surfing community, IDEP is mobilizing and delivering aid to the hard-hit, remote islands south and west of Padang.

On January 4, a fully loaded 200 ton cargo vessel leased by AUSaid and supplied by AAAI departed Padang. It is offloading carefully selected supplies including specially packed buckets designed to help survivors build simple shelters and stay in their communities. The boat also carries equipment to make communities self sufficient in water supplies. These supplies are being offloaded to smaller craft and then handed directly to the survivors of small, isolated communities. As of January 5, AAAI has channelled about Rp 600,000,000 in donor funding into this initiative. Financial specialists on the ground in Medan and Bali are consolidating data to ensure full transparency. The Ferry is now at the island of Nias networking with smaller vessels to ferry aid and technical support back and forth to the areas in most need. In many coastal fishing towns, most of the men were killed while working on the beach or on their boats; only women and children survive. Needs on the ground change on a daily basis. Severe nutritional deficiency is already an issue after 10 days.

Very special thanks and Kudos to Chris & Christina who have opened up their home / hotel as the hub for relief aid activities in the area. Chris has been the chief scout and guide for the expedition to date. See : for details and photos.

Now we are responding to reports of serious nutritional deficiencies, and AAAI is focusing on buying fresh fruit and vegetables for rapid delivery to affected communities on the Sumatra coast and islands. Lee our Project Coordinator, is leaving Padang on the 7th and working together with IDEP’s community programs coordinator Samantha Sinclair who cut her Christmas vacation short and has arrived from Australia to take over his coordinative role on the ground in Padang. Robert Wilson from Rip Curl is arriving in Padang today to assist with coordinating the flow of support and activities as well.

Aid is being delivered as follows : Each family bucket contains essential food, health, sanitation, emergency shelter, and personal care items. These are branded goods which local people are familiar with, and can put to use immediately without any intermediation whatsoever. They were purchased in local shops by our volunteers and supporters in the community, locally, and are therefore labeled in the Indonesian language.

One in every five buckets is a “leader pack,” and its contents include a one-inch chisel, a hatchet/hammer, a shovel, a handsaw, a crowbar, nails, and other supplies.
One in every ten buckets is a “heavy leader pack,” which also includes a two-man saw and a sledge hammer.

The aid vessel is also carrying hundreds of 20 liter jerry cans.

The boat is also carrying two complete kits for drilling wells, and all the equipment need to pump-clear and restore existing wells which are tainted with sea water from the tsunami. These sets of equipment, which include powered and hand pumps, and piping, are are being used in local villages to repair and complete wells. Once the A.A.A.I. volunteers have demonstrated the process to members of stricken communities in this way, they will be able to make hundreds of wells themselves. Standard 350 liter water tanks for storage and treatment have been delivered, along with 50 kilos of chlorine. The team is still short of the certain types of water treatment chemicals, which we were not able to arrange to deliver from Singapore, due to depletion of funds and priority allocations as described above.


Our most immediate priorities at this moment are delivery of urgently needed food, supplies, tools, and knowledge to affected areas of Sumatra, through reliable channels, to reliable people, and supporting the efforts of our volunteers and partner organizations in the field. Therefore, we are no longer able to publish these updates on a daily basis during this critical phase of the disaster relief process.

World Neighbors, an international NGO with a focus on sustainable development, has elected to channel its funding through IDEP for people in need in Sumatra.

AID DELIVERED FROM MEDAN IN COOPERATION WITH THE SUMATRAN ORANGUTAN SOCIETY/ORANGUTAN INFORMATION CENTRE The third convoy of trucks Christine and Ade, Logistics Consultants on the ground in Medan since January 4, report that all aid in government warehouses in Medan is bottlenecked. This highlights the importance of the role of NGOs in delivering aid. In spite of tremendous obstacles, SOS-OIC continues to deliver AAAI aid directly to survivors in Banda Aceh and towns en route. Two convoys of trucks have already arrived in Banda Aceh another AAAI truck is now en route and due to arrive tomorrow. Because of the rapidly changing situation on the ground, SOS-OIC is not currently working in association with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) as previously reported.


Bali AAAI Headquarters is working hard to match a flood of international volunteer applications with stated needs from the field.

On our last update (no7) there was a typographical error in the names of one of the volunteers : Stefan Wodicka - Medic, Padang, should have read Stefan Zawada (apologies).

Christine and Ade our logistics and coordination team has now landed in Medan and has begun assisting with coordination and brought some new energy to the team on the ground, who are truly exhausted. More purchasing of much needed supplies is planned for tomorrow.

Our volunteers coordination desk in Ubud is accepting applications for skilled field volunteers -- doctors, triage specialists, SAR techs, engineers, sanitation experts, and others – for possible postings in the field in Sumatra. Contact


Following the Bali bombing, USAid funded IDEP to develop a fully integrated community-based crisis response response kit. This includes a workbook covering all stages of disaster management from an Indonesian grassroots perspective such as mitigation, response and short-term recovery.

Draft copies of this book have been sent to Medan and Padang where they have been immediately integrated into AAAI intiatives. In Padang, a program of training of trainers for public sanitation based on the manual is already underway. In Medan, components of the manual are being distributed.

How you can help Aceh Aid at IDEP

Online Donations by Credit Card
(Tax deductible in US, thanks to the cooperation ofTides Foundation)
Click on the donation link at
Or go directly to
Special thanks to Keith Pleas in Seattle, Lauren at Tides Foundation Julie Lerman at Data Farm in Vermont, and others for their help with this.

1. Go to
2. If you do not have a PayPal account set up, click "Sign Up" or "Join Now".
3. Follow all of the instructions for signing up with PayPal (they are rather complicated, so be patient).
4. When you are signed up, you are ready to send money.
5. Click "Send Money".
6. Follow instructions to send money, to
7. Note: When you try to make your first payment, you will see beside the "amount" line, that you need to click there to "Verify Credit Limit" first, before you can make a payment.

Wire Transfers to Indonesian Bank Account:
Account Name : Yayasan IDEP
ACCOUNT NO : 034.001229576.003
Bank : BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia), Cabang Ubud, Bali
Bank Address : Jl. Raya Ubud, Bali - Indonesia

Donations can also be made at the IDEP Foundation office, Jalan Hanoman No 44b, Ubud, and other locations in Bali.

The information provided here was accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. Conditions change rapidly.
We will provide as much information as we can, as often as we can.

(IN INDONESIA) 08133 8468073
OUTSIDE OF INDONESIA +62 8123 665 669

Debt Relief Information from Jubilee USA Network

From Jubilee USA Network. Please see the related actions in the sidebar to promote debt relief. Thanks Jess.

Jubilee USA Network Calls For Debt Cancellation for Tsunami Affected Countries

WASHINGTON, DC -- As the death toll mounts in the countries in Asia affected by the Tsunami and as governments prepared for the International Tsunami Summit in Indonesia on Thursday, Jubilee USA Network joined with debt cancellation campaigns from Asia and around the world to call for immediate and unconditional debt cancellation for countries affected by the Tsunami.

The US debt cancellation advocacy group was encouraged by reports that rich governments were considering a moratorium on debt payments by countries affected by the tsunami, and called on the US government to support an expanded version of the moratorium while cautioning that a moratorium must be followed by actual cancellation of debts.

"A moratorium on all debt payments from tsunami-affected countries is needed immediately. This moratorium must go beyond what has been proposed by the UK and Germany which would only apply to Paris Club debt - it must also include stopping payments to the IMF, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank," said Neil Watkins, Co-Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network. "These countries simply cannot be required to pay debts - many of which are unjust, odious, or illegitimate - while facing a humanitarian disaster of such a magnitude.".

The Indonesia-based debt International NGO Forum on Indonesia Development (INFID) insisted in a statement that Indonesia must receive an immediate moratorium on its debt payment but ultimately it "needs more than a debt moratorium. A debt moratorium would allow Indonesia not to pay its debt for a certain period, but it will have to fulfill its obligation to the
creditors in the future. Thus a debt moratorium is simply the debt burden to the next generation."

Binny Buchori, Director of INFID said today: "Every delay in deciding on Indonesia's debt means more lives lost in Aceh and North Sumatra. The international community must tackle the issue this week".

INFID reports that Indonesia's total external debt is upwards of $130 billion, or more than 60% of that country's GDP, which cripples its ability to finance its emergency and recovery program.

Jubilee USA Network also announced today that it has signed onto a letter initiated by Jubilee South and the Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development which will be released just before the January 6 Tsunami summit in Indonesia. The letter expresses sympathy and solidarity with the peoples of the countries affected by the Tsunami and states, "In addition to
emergency relief operations and rehabilitation, what we need immediately is unconditional debt cancellation now! Governments should not continue to prioritize debt service and stop paying onerous and illegitimate debts."

Jubilee USA also highlighted the need for debt cancellation for global South countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, including dozens not affected by the tsunami. Jubilee USA renewed its call for G-7 Finance Ministers and the IMF and World Bank to support full, 100% multilateral debt cancellation for all impoverished nations, without harmful conditions, at the next
meeting of Finance Ministers scheduled for February 4-5 in London.

Figure 1. Debt Data for Tsunami-Affected Countries


Figures do not include private/other types of debt.

in Millions US $











Data from Joint OECD-IMF-WB External Debt Statistics.

Neil Watkins
Interim Co-Coordinator
Jubilee USA Network
(202) 783-0129

Write a Letter To Support Debt Relief for Indonesia!

From Jess. Please see this related action alert also:

Action Alert!

Urgent Action, INFID:

Indonesia Needs Debt Relief after Tsunami Devastation

Please take action and circulate widely TODAY


Following the earthquake and tsunami in Aceh, North Sumatra and Nias, INFID calls on the international community to mobilise global solidarity and pressure rich countries to grant debt relief to the countries destroyed by the catastrophe as a form of global solidarity for poverty eradication. There are already positive indications that some countries are considering such measures, but further backing and official confirmations of the details of the proposals are needed.

Supporters of this appeal should contact decision-makers in their countries by Thursday 6th January (the day of a donor conference on Indonesian reconstruction) demanding:

1) A moratorium on Indonesia's debt repayments for the next 15 months
2) An international conference to deal comprehensively with Indonesia's debt problems

Specimen letter text appears below.


Destruction in Aceh, North Sumatra and Nias. The horrifying earthquake and tsunami have crushed major parts of Aceh, North Sumatra and Nias. The death toll of this catastrophe has reached 96,000 (including 270 students, 600 policemen, 1000 soldiers, 20,000 children) and thousands of others who were killed by the huge wave. Around 500,000 people were forced to leave their homes and villages because they have nothing left. Almost all public facilities are not functioning. Schools, hospitals, the electricity network, telecommunication facilities, roads, and government buildings cannot be used anymore. The huge wave has also ruined thousands of homes.

The reconstruction needs are enormous and pressing. Preliminary official estimates for the reconstruction of basic infrastructure in Aceh and North Sumatra are Rp. 10 trillion (US$ 1 billion), however this figure is undoubtedly too small because it considers only physical infrastructure not social reconstruction needs. The Government of Indonesia will not be able to self-finance this and is reliant on aid and debt relief from the international community. Indonesia has very tight budget and social spending is in any case too low owing to debt repayments even when there is no emergency. In 2004, the government agreed to make full payment of its principal and interest of Indonesia's external debt, amounting to Rp. 68.8 trillion (US$ 6.8 billion). For 2005, Indonesia has allocated Rp. 71.98 trillion (US$ 7.1 billion) to pay the principle and interest on external sovereign debt. This represents a quarter of Indonesia's domestic revenue. Indonesia will reimburse over US$ 7 billion every year from now until 2009, according to the Indonesian Central Bank.

Indonesia's debt payments for 2004 are 10 times more than spending on health and 32.7 times more than spending on housing.


In this context, Indonesia clearly needs significant debt reduction if it is to meet its constitutional obligations to meet the essential human needs of its peoples. Resources released through a debt write-down would help to kick-start the social and economic rehabilitation and reconstruction of the devastated regions. This translates into improved infrastructure, more employment opportunities and poverty reduction.

Governments of developed nations have a moral obligation to assist those whose lives have been turned upside down by this horrific disaster, and many governments have indeed pledged their help and support, which we warmly welcome. As well as new aid pledges several proposals have emerged from Germany, UK, Italy, France and Canada for a temporary halt to debt repayments by some of the countries devastated by the disaster, including Indonesia. These proposals will be discussed at the 'Tsunami Summit' to be held in Indonesia on 6 January and at the next meeting of the 'Paris Club' in France on 12 January.

There is a precedent for such actions by creditor nations. In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Honduras received significant debt relief including a Paris Club moratorium on bilateral debt service payments between November 1998 and December 2001.

INFID would like to stress however that while it welcomes the indication from some of Indonesia's principal creditor countries that they support proposals for a debt payment moratorium that these initiatives are insufficient. Indonesia's external debt burden will remain a serious drain on government resources this year and for many years to come.

INFID therefore proposes the following:

1. While we recognise that the Paris Club is deeply flawed, the overwhelming human need in Indonesia and other affected countries makes it an imperative for the club to grant an immediate and unconditional moratorium on the region's debt over the coming fifteen months;2. That during this time, an international conference on Indonesia's debt be convened with the objective of finding a lasting, just and comprehensive solution to Indonesia's debt burden. The guiding principle of this conference should be achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Assessments of debt sustainability should include calculations of Indonesia's financial needs to achieve the MDGs taking into account the prevailing conditions after the tsunami disaster.


Support INFID's proposals, by:

· Writing letters to the Head of States and the Ministers of Finance of rich countries, members of the Paris Club;· Writing letters to the President of the World Bank, Managing Director of IMF, President of the Asian Development Bank and the General Secretary of Paris Club.

Jakarta, January 5th, 2005
Ivan Hadar, Executive Secretary

Specimen letter text appears below. Please adapt, translate and send as soon as possible. Plus keep us informed of your actions and their outcome!

Wednesday 5th January

Dear [insert name of decision-maker here],

I am writing to urge you to take further action to support the hundreds of thousands of people affected in Indonesia and other countries by the devastating tsunami. I am concerned that the governments in the affected countries will not be able to take sufficient action to provide for the short-term welfare or long-term needs of affected people because of their budgetary situations. As well as new emergency aid I believe it is vital that a moratorium on debt repayments be instituted rapidly so that governments can spend money.

Indonesia last year spent one quarter of the government's domestic revenue on debt payments. This is clearly intolerable, especially in such circumstances, and we urge you to support a 15 month moratorium on Indonesia's debts and the convening of an international conference during this time to find a comprehensive solution to the debt problems of this and other affected countries. I look forward to your response setting out your government's detailed position on this very important issue.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert your name and address]

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

How's Your Country Doing on Tsunami Aid?

Crossposted at SEA EAT:

Below is a list, current as of 1/5/05, of what different countries have pledged so far in aid for tsunami afflicted societies (amounts in $US). The sources are various news stories in the mainstream media (AP, AFP, etc.) that are easy to find through Google or Yahoo!News.

Australia: $810 million
Germany: $674 million
Japan: $500 million
USA: $350 million
Norway: $183 million
France: $103 million
UK: $94 million
Canada: $80 million+ (government matching private citizen contributions)
Sweden: $75.5 million
Denmark: $75 million
Spain: $68 million
China: $64 million
Taiwan: $50 million
South Korea: $50 million
Netherlands: $32 million
Switzerland: $23.5 million
United Arab Emirates: $20 million
Formula One racing champion Michael Schumacher: $10 million
New Zealand: $10 million
North Korea: $150,000

Bush Gives Tsunami Victims From 14.6% of His Heart

Crossposted at Dark Days Ahead....

President Bush gave $10,000 of his own money today, according to the White House Press Secretary. Does this mean he's finally seeing the light on the significance of this disaster? Let's put this in perspective with some information from President and Laura Bush's tax returns:

2003 total income pdf: $822,126
2003 donations: $68,360 "to churches and charitable organizations, including Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, Tarrytown United Methodist Church, St. John's Church, the M.D. Anderson Clinic, and the Federal Government's Combined Federal Campaign."

2002 total income pdf: $856,058
2002 donations: $69,925 "to churches and charitable organizations, including Southern Methodist University, Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, Tarrytown United Methodist Church, and the Federal Government's Combined Federal Campaign."

2001 total income pdf: $811,100
2001 donations: $82,700 to churches and charitable organizations, including Tarrytown United Methodist Church, Evergreen Chapel (Camp David Church), Southern Methodist University, September 11th-related funds, and a variety of other charities.

Using the low figure for donations in the past three years, this $10,000 trumpeted by the White House Press Secretary represents 14.6% of what the Bushes usually give. Using the high figure for donations in the last three years, which is probably fairer given that the 9-11 disaster happened that year, this $10,000 represents 12.1% of what the Bushes gave.

Now, to be fair, I haven't given as much as 1.2% percent of my income from last year yet, so I'm open to charges of hypocrisy. Then again, I didn't make $401,803 in taxable interest last year. Maybe he could have found some other way to give a little more than 1.2% of his income from last year in order to help people deal with their entire families and towns being wiped out. Perhaps President Bush could have short shrifted Southern Methodist University or the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David this year in order to give a little bit more to thousands of orphaned children.

Or perhaps, God forbid, he could have given a little more from his 7 to 19 millions of dollars of personal wealth. The largest human catastrophe in recent memory, and a multimilionaire with hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in interest income alone can't come up with more than $10,000?

The next time they want to want to brag about the President's compassion to the press, maybe they ought to make sure it's not conservative compassion first.

More information on India NGOs from Campaign to Stop Funding Hate

This is a great document from the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate about particular sectarian organizations that they've (and we've) recommended to be wary of.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.Why are you trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from raising money for Tsunami relief?

We are not "trying to prevent" anyone from donating to any organization they wish to give their money to. We just want donors to know that by contributing to the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) or other organizations such as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Sewa International (SI, not to be confused with Seva Foundation) or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), they are in effect providing funds to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (sometimes translated as National Volunteer Corps, but most commonly referred to as the RSS). Now the RSS is not just any sectarian organization, but one that actively spreads anti-minority hatred, has immense reach in India, and a long history of fomenting violence against religious and cultural minorities in India [[1]].

If donors are interested in ensuring that (a) all people affected by the tsunami receive relief and rehabilitation support, irrespective of their particular caste, religion or cultural affiliation, and that (b) relief and rehabilitation work is not used to create long-term divisions and animosity by manipulating communities already made vulnerable by this catastrophe, THEN giving money to sectarian organizations such as the RSS would indeed be a very bad idea. On the other hand, by giving to organizations that have a track record of being transparent and free of the politics of hate, donors would ensure that their money is used to help people and communities based on their needs rather than based on what their religious beliefs or caste affiliations happen to be. But of course, if you agree with the RSS' agenda of creating long term communal/caste divisions in the guise of providing relief, we are not the ones you eventually have to answer to.

2.But IDRF is raising money for many different organizations. Do you mean to say that all of these organizations are affiliated to the RSS?

No. Of the long list of Indian organizations that IDRF purports to support, only Sewa Bharati (TN and Kerala), Jana Sankshema Samiti and Vivekananda Kendra are clearly identified as RSS affiliates. In which case, you may well ask, why do we claim that IDRF raises money for the RSS? For that, let's take a look at IDRF's history.

a) CSFH has documented that from the years 1994 to 2000, IDRF raised over $4 million for more than 180 groups. These groups included a whole spectrum of organizations, including some that were secular. However, IDRF chose to disburse over 80% of the funds in its control to RSS groups [[2]]. A long list of non-RSS organizations by itself is meaningless if the bulk of the funds are
going to go to member organizations of the Sangh [[3]].

b) Orissa cyclone, 1999: Right after the Orissa cyclone, IDRF raised money for 18 different organizations of which only 3 were prominent RSS affiliated groups (Sookruti, Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti and Bhau Rao Deoras Rashtriya Seva Nyas). However, of the $410,700 that IDRF disbursed for relief and rehabilitation efforts following the cyclone, just these 3 RSS affiliates together received over 40% of the funds ($163,000) [[4]].

c) Gujarat Earthquake, 2001: At the time of this disaster, IDRF raised $1,352,940 for 17 different groups. However, in this case again, just one organization -- RSS's main service front, Sewa Bharati -- got over 56% ($760,000) of the total earthquake funds [[5]].

With this history, we can only surmise that this time too, a disproportionately large share of IDRF's funds will go to Sewa Bharati and other RSS-affiliates. From the very beginning, IDRF has focused almost exclusively on the Sangh groups, listing them in its first press release and then publishing Sewa Bharati reports on its website on a nearly daily basis, each extolling readers to donate to Sewa Bharati. All of this lends credibility to our claims that IDRF is seeking to line the coffers of the RSS with this disaster as well.

3. What is wrong with the Sewa Bharati?

Before we go into that, it is useful to note that the RSS, the apex organization of the Sangh Parivar, [[6] lacks the most rudimentary features of a legitimate public organization in India, such as being registered with the government, having a bank account, or filing tax returns. Although it is all over the public space in India, organizationally, the RSS prefers to remain secretive and shadowy and operates in large part through front organizations run by trained swayamsevaks. [[7]] As mentioned in the response to question 2 above, Sangh organizations such as the IDRF have a history of using tragedies to raise funds for RSS activities in India.

That Sewa Bharati is an RSS affiliate is undeniable. Besides the fact that Sewa Bharati Tamil Nadu is housed in the same office as the Southern Region branch of the RSS, [[8]] it is also the RSS' preferred vehicle for Sewa (service) activities. For instance, if you go to the RSS' homepage ( ) and click the tab for its Sewa activity, the organization you land with is Sewa Bharati. Elsewhere, the RSS openly declares Sewa Bharati as its main service organization. [[9]] Given all this, IDRF's privileging of Sewa Bharati comes as no surprise.

While Sewa Bharati officially claims its "thrust areas" to be education, health and self help, a brief glance at some of the material published by the RSS [[10]] itself shows that Sewa Bharati's fundamental mission is that of Hinduization. We must be clear that Hinduization, Islamization or Christianization, has nothing to do with relief, rehabilitation or development and should not even be a side effect. Unfortunately, with the RSS, this is often the main effect.

In Madhya Pradesh, where Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (a Sangh organization implicated in the Gujarat pogroms [11]]) and Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh were the biggest beneficiaries of IDRF [[12]], the Madhya Pradesh government banned Sewa Bharati for its involvement in the violence against the Christian minority. [13]] Sewa Bharati has also been banned for planning to "stir racial hatred" in Ayodhya. [[14]]

Given its dubious past, it's clear that any donations to Sewa Bharati will, far from helping the victims of the current disaster, only sow the seeds for a future disaster.

4. Aren't the Tamil Nadu fisherfolk communities largely Christian? What influence can the Sangh have there?

That is exactly where the problem lies. It is true that there is a very significant dalit Christian population among the effected communities, but the Sangh, through its Tamil Nadu front - The Hindu Munnani - has been trying to divide that community along religious lines for the last decade. The Hindu Munnani is most active in Tamil Nadu amongst the fisherfolk communities.

With the funds coming to the Sangh in the name of disaster relief, the Munnani will be able to launch aggressive campaigns against the dalit Christians and the Sangh would have created a new potentially explosive situation just as it did so successfully in Orissa and Gujarat.

Do we want the situation in Kutch to be reproduced in coastal Tamil Nadu? (such as rebuilding temples and crematoriums and not rebuilding mosques and churches; such as discriminating against Dalits and Muslims in the rebuilding of houses). More importantly, the problem has never been of a single instance of discrimination. With such discriminatory use of resources, the RSS entered these villages in Kutch and established itself there with a consolidated power base. This meant that from then on, the RSS, could as part of the daily life of the village mount an aggressive campaign against the minorities, culminating sometimes in open threats and violence.

5.Why are you against Hindu organizations and not against Muslim/Christian groups? (After all, Catholic Relief Services has gotten the largest relief package going.)

We are not against Buddhist or Christian or Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or any other religious organizations. We are ONLY against organizations that use religious and caste ideology to foment hatred and violence, and the Sangh is the worst offender in this regard.

Various religious bodies, including temple, mosque and church-based groups, are doing tremendous work in the tsunami effected areas without differentiating between followers of different faiths. In fact we believe that when a catastrophe like the tsunami happens, groups centered around places of worship have more immediate access to the communities they are based in, and are sometimes able to deliver immediate relief faster than anybody else. In contrast, groups like the RSS use these crisis moments instrumentally to spread hate, anger and the fear of other communities.

While we agree that it is important to oppose all such organizations, not least the fundamentalist Christian and Muslim groups, who wait in the wings to pounce whenever tragedy strikes, it is far more important to confront and expose the RSS in India because it is exponentially more powerful than any other such exclusionist organization.

6. 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?

We should not let ourselves get fooled by the false dichotomy of "good work" versus "bad work." The fact is, as explained above, the Sangh becomes particularly active when natural disasters strike, because it sees natural disasters as golden opportunities to gain a hold over communities undergoing tremendous human suffering by performing "good work." It then stays around and slowly destroys the soul of the community by continually injecting its poison of divisions and hatreds that eventually explode in violence.

Not giving money to the Sangh is in no way going to obstruct the relief and rehabilitation of any of the communities suffering from the destruction wrought by the tsunami. Please remember that the Sangh does not provide any particular access to any of these communities; there are a host of grass-roots groups who not only have transparent operations and secular values, but also have a long history of working with these communities and do not manipulate or use a crisis situation to advance sectarian agendas. Donors can find lists of agencies at many sites, including at CSFH's site (, of US-based organizations connected to such grass-roots operations in India. The list provided by CSFH is just a small sample of such groups and includes organizations that have a wide range of people at their helm--from former US President Clinton to business executives to development activists--and are able to deliver relief without sowing the seeds of hatred. We do not recommend any particular agency or organization, donors must choose the ones they are most comfortable with, but we are certainly saying that the organizations we list, and we cannot stress this enough, will not create conditions of hatred and violence, unlike those affiliated to the RSS.


[1] See;

[2] See

[3] The Sangh Parivar, usually just called the Sangh, is the 'family' of organizations either directly controlled by the RSS or owing allegiance to it and following its ideology.

[4] See the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 annual reports of the IDRF:


[6] See footnote 3.

[7] Swayamsevaks are the volunteers of the RSS.

[8] See this RSS website; and

[9] See H. V. Seshadri, former RSS General Secretary, as quoted in

[10] Ibid.

Support Debt Relief for Tsunami Afflicted and Developing South

Crossposted at DailyKos. Support debt relief for tsunami-stricken countries and other developing nations. E-mail the contact at Jubilee South to sign on. Thanks, Jess, for sending this:

From: Lidy Nacpil
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 3:32 AM
To: Debt Campaigns
Subject: Debt and Disaster

Please see below a sign-on statement prepared by the Jubilee South secretariat. Please write to us if you want to sign on. Please circulate and ask others to sign. After five days -- we will circulate the statement again with all the signatories thus far so that we can all send it to Northern and Southern governments, and to the IMF, WB, ADB, UN and other international institutions via email.

In the face of Debt and Disaster: Long-lasting Relief for the Peoples of the South!

We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity for the peoples of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and many other South countries who are currently suffering from the devastation unleashed by the tsunami last December 26. We cannot overemphasize how profoundly saddened we are by the climbing death toll, numbering over 25,000 as of this writing, and the many thousand others missing or injured, the destruction of property,
the loss of livelihoods and the widespread dislocation of communities.

The Philippines was also severely hit by super-typhoons in the last few weeks, leading to the death of more than 1,000 people, the destruction of over 10,000 hectares of farmlands, and rendering 53,000 families homeless and without access to clean water.

Now, more than ever, at their hour of greatest need, the peoples of the South must be heeded in their long-standing demand for debt cancellation. In the face of this massive destruction, northern and international creditors should not continue to hold South peoples in bondage for
debts that have in large part, only contributed to their impoverishment and deprivation.

If there is any measure of sincerity in the outpouring of compassion from North governments for the peoples of the South, let this be through concrete action. In addition to emergency relief operations and rehabilitation, what we need immediately is:


Southern governments should not continue to prioritize debt service, and squander much needed public funds:


Prioritize relief and rehabilitation, basic social services, clean and safe water, and other human development programs!

December 28, 2004

Jubilee South
Jubilee South - APMDD (Asia/Pacific Movement for Debt and Development)
Freedom from Debt Coalition of the Philippines

(Please sign on)

International NGO Calls for Debt Relief for Tsunami Countries

Below is a statement from the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development. There's no action item attached, unlike the Jubilee South item posted above and in the sidebar. Thanks, Jess.

Jakarta, December 31, 2004

Indonesia needs more than debt moratorium to recover from the biggest human tragedy:

Tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra

The death toll in the tsunami tragedy that swept Indonesia, in Aceh and North Sumatra is feared to have killed nearly 40,000-80,000 people.

We grieve over the catastrophe and the death of the people in Aceh and North Sumatra. We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity for the people of Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Malaysia who are currently suffering from the devastation unleashed by the tsunami.

Governments and international aid agencies have reacted promptly to the catastrophe that hit the countries bordering on the Indian Ocean and have already started comprehensive aid operations. To date, Japan has pledged 30 million US Dollar, the European Union 40.5 million, the United States 15 million, Australia 7.8 million, China 2.6 million and Singapore 1.2 million US Dollar. Aid agencies such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF, Medicines sans Frontiers, Oxfam and others call for donations.

However, the magnitude of the disaster has literally left these countries paralysed that an extraordinary global effort is needed, especially in the area of financing recovery and reconstruction programs.

The financial condition of Indonesia, with very limited space for development spending in the
budget, a budget deficit of around US$ 3 billion, and the huge debt burden: a total of US$ 134,85 billion (domestic and external) or more than 60% of the GDP, cripples its ability to finance the
emergency and recovery program. The Government of Indonesia estimated that it needs 10 trillion Rupiah or US$ 10 billion or 1/3 of the annual loan and grant that it receives through the consortium of donors/creditors: the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) for recovery program in Aceh, North Sumatra and other affected areas.

We therefore welcome the call of the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to give Indonesia a debt moratorium.

However, we are of the opinion that Indonesia needs more than a debt moratorium. A debt moratorium would allow Indonesia not to pay its debt for a certain period, but it will have to fulfil its obligation to the creditors in the future. Thus a debt moratorium is simply shifting the debt burden to the next generation.

We believe that Indonesia will need all the sources available to implement reconstruction and recovery programs as well as saving the future generations. Debt repayment in the future would seriously affect Indonesia's ability to do this.

We therefore call:

1. To the international creditors to give debt relief to Indonesia and other Southern Countries affected by the tsunami so that we would have enough rooms for prioritising reconstruction and recovery programs;

2. To international governments and organisation that all supports for Indonesia and
other Southern countries in response to the disaster should be in the form of grants and aid;

3. To the Government of Indonesia to use the initiative from Germany, to negotiate for a comprehensive debt relief;

4. To the Government Indonesia to ensure transparency and accountability in channelling aid to Aceh, North Sumatra and other affected areas.

Jakarta December 31, 2004

Binny Buchori

Executive Secretary

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

U.S. Sec. of State Rhetorically Links War on Terror, Tsunami Assistance

Crossposted at DarkDaysAhead.... I understand that Powell's just doing his job, but I find this a really offensive public relations display, particularly in light of the fact that some of the people who died and are dying in Indonesia right now were deported from the US through mass profiling of people from Muslim-majority countries because of a different set of "American values in action." Here's some of the text of the article:

U.S. money and military assistance to countries where tens of thousands died in the tsunami may lessen anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world and help in the fight against terrorism, Secretary of State Colin Powell...said Tuesday.

"I hope that as a result of our efforts, as a result of our helicopter pilots being seen by the citizens of Indonesia helping them, that value system of ours will be reinforced," Powell said...

"It turns out that the majority of those nations affected were Muslim nations," Powell said. He said of the U.S. aid, "We'd be doing it regardless of religion, but I think it does give the Muslim world and the rest of the world ... an opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action."

We ask for doctors and they send us soldiers

42 US Marines landed in Sri Lanka yesterday and not a soul said a word. As they got out of the plane that brought them to Colombo they posed for the cameras, and smiled. Looks like they'd done the one week(!) crash course on how to smile in a miss world show.

They say 1500 are on their way.

read Sri Lanka tsunami aid becomes geopolitical game
on AlertNet
Foreign troops in Sri Lanka only for relief work: Lanka Govt

We ask for doctors and they send us soldiers. How many people here think they're really here to help Sri Lanka? Can I see a show of hands? No one? Only the bloody Sri Lankan Government thinks they're here to help. (Maybe they're here to help the Sri Lankan Government! They did ask for access to LTTE areas!)

Send them in boys! With their setup-in-less-than-a-minute tents and their fancy GPS-bleep-bleep-thingies. Frankly, I consider this an invasion. Nothing less. Diego Garcia just wasn't big enough (Maybe it doesn't exist anymore. Has anyone checked?) for all the operations they're planning in the South Asian region. And they really didn't like the Indians making a move on the Trincomalee harbour either. Well, neither did the Sri Lankans, but DAMMIT if we gotta give it to someone we'd rather give it to the Indians than to the Americans.

And brilliant timing for Dixit to kick it don't you think? The one guy who could've (whatever his shortcomings were) done wonders for India-Sri Lanka relations and defense ties has to call it quits just when he's most needed. And the Indo-Sri Lanka defense pact which was due to be signed is down the drain I guess. (Not that I backed it, but I do think there needs to be more cooperation of EVERY kind in the South Asian region. If it has to begin with defense, then so be it) Bloody hell it just couldn't get better for the Americans.

Bye bye rest of the world. I'm going to be a unwilling secondary American citizen soon. Like the Afghans and the Iraqis.

Where to Donate, from HRW Staffer

From Nisha, works at Human Rights Watch New York office:

The following is a list of recommended local NGOs in SE and South Asia. It is not a comprehensive list, but provides contact information for some of the main local aid coalitions. My colleagues and I have worked with many of these organizations or otherwise know their work well. In addition to major international relief organizations, these local and national NGOs are mobilizing their grassroots networks to distribute aid and to begin the long process of reconstruction. These organizations often have longstanding networks and relationships with the affected communities, and excellent familiarity and experience in the region.

I urge people to give generously. If you usually give $20 to such efforts, think about a $100 donation. If you usually donate $100, think about $500. The need is great and the recovery process complicated and long. Some of these organizations accept credit card donations online, others need to have the money wired to them. I will be wiring funds to groups in Indonesia and Sri Lanka—so anyone interested can feel free to contact me at:

Nisha Varia
nisha DOT varia AT gmail DOT com


A group of NGOs have created the Civil Society Coalition for Tsunami Victims. They are accepting money, food, medicine, and clothing. The members include Kontras, SHMI, Imparsial, Aceh Kita, JMP-KWI, Walhi, LBH Apik, Amos, Yappika, Kalyanamitra, TRuK, AWG, Ciliwung, SEGERA, and LPPI.

For logistical ease, funds can be sent to Kontras. They can also be sent by credit card through which is matching up to $25,000 in donations (be sure to mark "Sumatra" or "Indonesia" in the online form if you want the funds going specifically to Indonesia). If anyone wants contact info for any of the other groups, let me know.


Kontras Secretariat
JL. Borobudur No. 14
Menteng, Central Jakarta
Contact : Mus: 0815-9649542; Arie: 0815-6867741 Money can be wired to their bank account in Jakarta:
Bank Name: Bank BII Proklamasi Branch
Bank Address: Jalan Proklamasi, Jakarta, Indonesia Bank Account: Rupiah Account 2-072-267-196 Swift No: IBB KIDJAA

A second grassroots group organizing relief efforts is Solidaritas Perempuan.
They focus on poor women. Funds can be wired to the following account:
Solidaritas Perempuan
Account Number : (USD)
Perserikatan Solidaritas Perempuan
Swift Code: ABN - AIDJA
Bank Name: ABN AMRO BANK N.V. Jakarta Main Branch Jl. Ir. H. Juanda 23 - 24 Jakarta 10029 Indonesia PO.BOX 2950 Phone : 62 - 21 - 2312777
Fax: 62 - 21 - 2313222


The Foundation for Co-Existence (FCE), Sewa Lanka Foundation (SLF) and the National Anti-War Front (NAWF) have jointly formed the Civil Society Initiative for Relief and Reconstruction to organize emergency relief and humanitarian aid. Each organization has a strong presence in these regions through their branch offices, Island wide networks of over 1000 civil society organizations in peace building and development activities, and a combined staff capacity of over 500.

Total accountability and transparency and non discriminatory services are ensured in this relief and reconstruction effort. All contributions will be acknowledged with a receipt.

The bank account details are as follows:

Bank: HSBC
Address: Colpetty Branch, 51A Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
Account Name: Foundation for Co-Existence – Disaster Fund
Account Number: 003-078219-003

Please feel free to e-mail us for further information or clarification: FCE - tsunamiaid AT fcoex DOT com or foundation AT fcoex DOT com, NAWF -nawf AT eureka DOT lk, Sewa Lanka – sewahq AT sri DOT lanka DOT net.

Further details about the partner organizations are available via their individual websites:

FCE –, Sewa Lanka –, NAWF –

Sarvodaya is a Sri Lankan organization with the largest community network in the country. To donate to Sarvodaya online by credit card you may donate directly through the Sarvodaya donation page:

or through the Nonviolent Peaceforce (100% of the money collected at this site will go to Sarvodaya):

P.O. Box F
College Park, MD-20741, USA.
(Please indicate "Relief and Rehabilitation Fund" in the check memo)

For additional information call: 1-888-TALK-2-AID or (301) 422-4441 or email: info AT aidindia DOT org

Web:, Email: info AT aidindia DOT org, Phone: 1-888- TALK-2-AID

Monday, January 03, 2005

Appeal From Indonesia-Based Group

Crossposted at Tsunami Help, link to donate from U.S. on sidebar.

2nd Donation Appeal for Indonesian Tsunami Victims

Civil Society Coalition for Quake and Tsunami victims

Dear friends,

This is our second donations appeal to inform you that YOUR HELP IS STILL DESPERATELY NEEDED!

We have so far selected, equipped, and dispatched 59 volunteers to Banda Aceh and Medan crisis centers within 2 days (30-31 Dec 2004). They comprised of people with knowledge of medical, Search and Rescue, and survival techniques. Selection process was focused on choosing those with skills and the physical ability to reach remote areas. Some have reached subdistricts in Banda Aceh to distribute logistics and aid while teams of activists and volunteers from Medan, North Sumatera have finally reached Meulaboh, on the devastated western coast and Bakongan. The UN expected that the death toll will rise to 100,000 people with survivors not receiving aid and medical help in time.


We have organised for donations pools in Europe and US with the generous help of Friends of the Earth Europe and Global Greengrants Fund to reduce the large deductions from transfer fees to individual donations. If you are residents of either areas, and would like to send your financial support, please read below:


Global Greengrants Fund is a U.S. 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and will match the first $5,000 donated to this special relief effort. 100% of Tsunami Fund donations will be sent to these relief efforts. Greengrants' U.S. tax ID number is: 84-1612422

For information on how to donate by credit cards on-line, wire transfer, checks, stock and more, please go to :

*For Sumatera relief, please note that the donation is on behalf of "WALHI" on your on-line-format or wire transfer because GGF is organising for Tsunami relief in other areas.

For further information, please contact: Chet Tchozewski chet AT greengrants D-O-T org


Since bank-transfers to Indonesia are very expensive, FoE Europe is offering a cheap way for those who live in EURO-countries. You can transfer your money to the FoEE account and we will transfer the money on block to WALHI (FoE Indonesia). (Transfers within the Euro zone are for free.) FoEE guarantees that all donations are transferred to FoE Indonesia without reductions. Please mention TSUNAMI on your transfer.

Four you donations please use the following account:
Friends of the Earth Europe (Belgium)
IBAN: BE02 4279 1524 2140
Please mark the transfer with "TSUNAMI"!

Additional information (normally not needed for Euro-transfers):
KBC Bank, Place Stephanie 10, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Account number: 427-9152421-40

Please use this possibility only for transfers within the Euro Zone. If you want to receive confirmation that your donation has arrived, please send an e-mail to martin.rocholl AT foeeurope DOT org with your name and the amount donated. Please also note that FoE Europe cannot give receipts, which would allow you to deduct taxes (for this you have to find an aid-organisation in your country).

All the funds collected in the United States, Europe, and other international donations is transfered to our account below:

Name on Account : Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia
Account No. : 3-000026-173
Name of Bank : Citibank
Branch : Menara Citibank
Address : Jln. Metro Pondok Indah Kavling II/BA, No. 1, Jakarta, INDONESIA
Swift Code : CITI IDJX
Routing Code : DDA 10995291

For further information, please contact Ovi or Estee at:

The Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for the Victims of Earthquake and Tsunami
Crisis Center
Jl. Tegal Parang Utara No.14
Jakarta Selatan 12790

HOTLINE : +62-21-794 1672

Daily updates available at:

Fax: +62-794 16 73

Ovi's mobile : +62-(0)815-976-7273 or e-mail: ovi AT walhi DOT or DOT id
Estee's mobile : +62-(0)811-89 53 29 or e-mail: estee AT walhi DOT or DOT id

For more information, please contact:

Helvi Lystiani
International Outreach (National Office)
Email Helvi Lystiani
Work phone: +62-(0)21-791 93 363
Fax: +62-(0)21-794 1673

Reuters: India Resists U.S. Assistance to Sri Lanka

Crossposted at Dark Days Ahead, courtesy Reuters, via YahooNews:

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's tsunami devastation has drawn a huge international aid response, but a geopolitical game of influence between India and the United States is playing not too subtly in the background, analysts said on Monday.

"There is no innocence in the politics of humanitarian assistance," said Jayadeva Uyangoda, head of the department of political science at Colombo University.

Uyangoda said Washington's decision to send as many as 1,500 Marines and an amphibious assault ship to Sri Lanka was seen in New Delhi as not "merely humanitarian".

"It is a symbolic intrusion into India's sphere of influence," he said.

Nearly 30,000 Sri Lankans were killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami and nearly a million have been made homeless...

Feminism and Personal Empowerment, Sri Lankan Tsunami Relief Style

Courtesy and Crossposted at Morquendi via Chiens Sans Frontieres:

Subha's Story

I’m 16. Besides, I’m a girl, I’m just a girl. And in the wake of the Tsunami tragedy that has swept across Asia recently, killing thousands, displacing millions, and ruining many, I have been wishing, for the first time since I was about 10 running around in shorts with short hair, that I wasn’t a girl. That instead, I was a boy. Many times I’ve argued with my brothers, or my male friends, many times I have felt distressed and useless. Many, many times I’ve defended myself when people have said things like ‘If your going to volunteer in any of the affected areas machang, don’t take the girls. They’ll only become a pain’. Many times have I wondered in frustration what on earth they are talking about. Yet, after long hours of endless arguing and fighting, I am learning to keep quiet. Let them talk. They’ll see.

Since the 26th, the day on which the Tsunami occurred in all it’s hideous glory, the tiny country has been wrapped in chaos and utter pandemonium. The death toll rises daily, having started considerably small from about 2000, and is currently tipping the scale of credibility at about 30,000. The enormity of the disaster is simply that : unbelievable. Of course, I haven’t been directly affected. All week long, I’ve been hearing horror stories about those who survived, and those who didn’t survive. About those who survived, and those who didn’t. And in the middle of the gargantuan loss of lives, property, homes and land, millions are displaced, homeless, suffering from diseases, injuries and mental trauma that can’t be treated soon enough. Numbers that only make one’s mouth hang open in shock are mourning the loss of loved ones, the loss of home, a place to live, of everything they own, of a dignified lifestyle. They suffer in camps; women have their periods, children are dying from disease, thousands of corpses decompose in local morgues, and authorities struggle to feed and clothe everyone while trying to provide them with the needed medical facilities. Sri Lanka has changed geographically, the land having caved in from the South and the East. We’re no longer a pearl, or a pear, or a tear drop. We’re a drowning blob in the Indian Ocean, gasping for our share of air, and fighting to rise from the ashes. While all hell has broken lose in the Southern and Eastern coastal areas, I continue to live my pathetic, sheltered life in Colombo, with all my party clothes and my mobile phone. Or so one would think. I however would like to think, things have changed for me.

The only way to fight the depression was to dive into some work. Since I’m on school holidays, it means I’m at home, doing next to nothing, or out with my friends, doing next to nothing important. This happened, and threw me out to sea. Not literally, thankfully, but the feeling was quite the same. My whole life, my entire 16 years of existence started to feel superficial, shallow and insignificant. I wallowed in misery, watching the morbid footage on news, and reading ghastly stories on the papers. It’s all anyone could talk about. It’s all I could think about. The magnitude of the disaster was truly overwhelming. Maybe it’s in my blood, maybe it’s the Interactor in me, whatever it was, was screaming at me to do something. To get in there, get involved, and help. This was when I was told I couldn’t visit Galle with my brother and mother the very next day. That I couldn’t volunteer in Batticaloa, or go down to the South to help those stationed in camps. Although I understood the dire situation, and the barbaric living conditions that one would have to deal with were they to visit any of the areas affected right away, I was stunned that the lamest of all excuses seemed the most used. I am a girl.

Since last Sunday, I have been trying to make myself feel better. I have been on a mission to sacrifice whatever time I spend doing nothing, at the various places and organizations collecting donations in Colombo. I have packed, carried, lifted, sealed, sorted and loaded dry rations, clothes, books, shoes, medicine, soap and linen by the amazing tons. Their collected in ceiling scraping mountains. And that feeling is somewhat relieving. The feeling that there are thousands of people in the city alone that are willing to give so generously, but most of all, that somewhere, somehow, I am being useful. It has been my only source of consolation. I have bumped into, and worked with many people that I’ve never met, but also with many of my friends and other youngsters from in and around the city. Everyone is friendly, efficient, and enthusiastic. They never tire. It’s really refreshing.

Two days ago however, I took a larger step. One might say a small leap, after having hopped around for 5 days. Together with some of my friends, I got involved in a damage assessment project being carried out by the Ministry of Defense. The ministry’s claim was that the main issue was the lack of system and organization. Unknown to us Colombo people, a lot was going on in the wake of the disaster. Women were being gang raped, trucks carrying donations were being hijacked, conmen and thieves were stealing food stuff and clothes from the camps by the truck loads, and the donations were being misdirected heavily. Things would go from bad to worse, if nothing was done. What they need, they said, is a system that works around the entire country. We were to carry out the experiment. If successful, it would be the prototype for a planning system everywhere. The three key words were: order, organization, and control. 10 of us were sent with Special Task Force officials escorting us, making us feel rather important, into the Mattakkuliya and Modera areas in northern Colombo which were ruined by the tsunami. We were to assess the damage.

Five days after the calamity, the situation was slowly calming down. Three large churches, St. Mary’s, St. James and De Mazenod were the main providers of shelter and aid to these people in need. The local schools, community centers and church halls were housing the displaced people who had no homes to return to, providing a temporary refuge to those who needed time and resources to return to their ruined homes and start cleaning up. Because these people live mainly in poor slum communities between the sea and the Kelani river, they were caught by surprise when both bodies of water began rising to surround the pockets of habitation and crash in on their homes. The waters swept away many of the wooden structures and whatever was inside them; those fortunate enough to own cement structures suffered the loss of money and property. Everyone lost everything. Cupboards, beds, mattresses, cooking utensils, electrical appliances, and even livelihoods due to the loss of boats and implements. ‘Nothing is left’, they cried to us. They survived with only their clothes on their backs. Even in this small area, six bodies were found, and one remains missing.

We visited over seven camps, and saw over 3000 displaced people. The small St. Mary’s Community Center was the worst off. It had 76 people living in it. Many had rashes on their feet due to standing in contaminated water; conjunctivitis had spread like wild fire amongst everyone, both young and old alike. There had been no doctor to visit them since they were brought there, last Sunday. A small 4 year old boy, who had slipped and fallen during one of his 4 year old antics, had very neatly split his forehead open. The mother, young Dilani Priyangika is the randomly appointed ‘in–charge’ of the refugees there. Unable to give the wound the stitches it needed, she had dressed it with whatever medical aid they were given on the first day. When we visited, the wound had obviously been infected, and forced his left eye almost completely shut with swelling. Dilani, however, has bigger worries. As the person in charge, she sees it as her duty to make sure everyone is fed and kept alive. She says no aid comes their way, and whenever it does, conmen and robbers come and steal it for themselves, sometimes donning the guise of a refugee, when really, they are not. Although they have clean water for drinking, and have toilet facilities in the building, she says they are not attended to, due to there being much larger damage in other areas. Most importantly, they have no access to a doctor, nor do they have organized, educated personnel to run this place the way it should be run.

On the contrary, the church run camps are equipped and efficient. They have credible records of all their residents, and are fully prepared to feed and clothe anyone who does not have a home.

What was heartbreaking though, were the affected areas itself. Small patches of slums have been entirely damaged if not washed away. RFK Watta had witnessed the only deaths in the area. Kadirana, Pichchamal Watta, Summitpura, and Gemunupura had been underwater till as recently as Friday. I looked around at the angry yet sad people who returned to the sites of their homes during the daytime, and at what remained of their homes. Occasionally one could see a plank or two, or a ceiling sheet, all that was left toshow us that a home had once stood there. I thought to myself ‘how unbelievable the damage must be on the coast… in Galle, in Batticaloa. How simply colossal.’

The people complained of their loss, but also of neglect. They told us that we were the first people to visit their destroyed homes. There had been no government officials, not even from the Grama Sevaka’s office, or from the Municipality, looking into the damage and the disaster caused last Sunday. They felt they had been left to fend for themselves. Although the churches have been making sure that the communities get the required food and clothing, the municipality has broached only one of the above mentioned areas to help clean up the dense mud and filth that lay in places that were once homes to families. The unhygienic situation caused by the mud that has come in with the water from the river, as well as all the garbage that came in with the river water has made it impossible for most to bring their children back to their homes. One father says all he wants is for his family to be under the same roof again. One mother says all she wants is someone to help rebuild her humble home. Many children said all they want is a clean home to go back to. These areas have gotten no media coverage, nor have they gotten the attention of the local government authorities in whose hands their fates lie.

And now, right now, I feel I have helped. Those people needed someone to listen patiently to their lamenting, someone to yell at and take their anger out on, someone to visit their homes and tell them that they had every right to feel the way they did, to carry those children, and play their first game with them since the water engulfed their homes and dragged away their school books, someone to gather the information and hand it over to the Ministry with the promise that action will be taken soon, someone to instill some hope, hope that was thought lost a long time ago. At our briefing at the Ministry, when a STF officer handed out some gruesome and graphic photos of the bodies and the damage in Galle, he took them away the moment they touched my hands. He thought me too sensitive and unfit to see those pictures. ‘You’re a girl’ he told me, like I didn’t already know that all too well. Well this girl is helping. She is doing what she can.


Appeal, Limited Matching Grant from Greengrants Fund

Crossposted at Tsunami Help. From Hugh: Just wanted to share this alternative to the large, mainstream NGOs in terms of support of communities hit by the tsunami.

- Greengrants to Match Donations to Tsunami Relief Effort -

In response to the devastation from the recent earthquake and tsunami in Asia, Global Greengrants Fund is offering a way for U.S. donors to get direct aid to NGOs on the ground in Sumatra, Sri Lanka and India. Impoverished coastal communities in these regions have been completely destroyed, and the resulting humanitarian crisis requires a generous international response. Greengrants, as a U.S. based 501(c)(3) organization, can provide U.S. donors with a tax-deduction and will send 100% of your donation directly to the two groups described below.
Greengrants will also match the first $5,000 donated. We have a pre-existing relationship with the two organizations listed below, which allows for quick and easy transfer of funds. And we are currently working to identify groups in India that can accept immediate funds for relief efforts as well.

- Sri Lankan Relief Effort

The Saviya Development Foundation in Galle, Sri Lanka will respond to the devastation caused by the Tsunami by providing relief resources tothe 25 refugee centers along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Saviya will use donations to supply food and water to families in the area who have lost their homes and property, support medical efforts at the refugee centers, and to resolve local residential problems. In the past, Saviya has received Greengrants funds to restore and preserve the Madu Ganga wetlands, and to engage local school children in this process.

- Sumatra Relief Effort

WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), has established the Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for the Victims of Earthquake and Tsunami to provide aid to the victims. The coalition has set up crisis centers in Jakarta and Medan, North Sumatra. All funds received will be allocated
for emergency response as well as the post-emergency phase of rebuilding and restoration of shattered livelihoods. WALHI has received funding from Greengrants to protect forests in Indonesia. Daily updates on the relief effort in Sumatra are available at:


Global Greengrants' Fund is a U.S. 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and will match the first $5,000 donated to this special relief effort. 100% of Tsunami Fund donations will be sent to these relief efforts.
Greengrants' U.S. tax ID number is: 84-1612422

- Credit Card Donations. To contribute using a credit card, visit: and click on the "donate now" button. Please note that the donation is on behalf of the Tsunami Fund.

- Check. Checks mailer and post-marked by December 31, 2004 are eligible for a tax deduction in 2004. Contributions after December 31, will be deductible for 2005.

Mail checks to: Global Greengrants Fund - Tsunami Fund, 2840 Wilderness Place, Suite E, Boulder, CO 80301

- Wire Transfers. To send funds via wire transfer: Account Name: Global
Greengrants Fund; account number: 558-611-8597; SWIFT code: WFBIUS6S;
and routing number: 121 000 248.

- Stock Donations. If you are interested in contributing stocks, call Kelly Purdy or Erika Carlson at 303.939.9866 to get our full banking information, or email kelly AT greengrants d-0-t org / erika AT greengrants d-o-t org.

For additional information on international donors providing relief assistance please visit the Grantmakers Without Border website at:, or the Tides Foundation at:

Thank you for your help with this important effort.

Global Greengrants Fund (

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Information on How To Give Wisely

Crossposted at Tsunami Help. Thanks Varsha for sending this.

Campaign to Stop Funding Hate 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.


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.


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 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 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 info AT stopfundinghate D-O-T 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.

Thank you


A partial list of non-sectarian, grassroots groups involved in relief

1. AID - Association for India's Development

2. American India Foundation

3. Asha For Education

4. India Literacy Project

5. India Relief and Education Fund

6. Indians for Collective Action

7. Pratham

8. Singh Foundation

9. Vibha

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

The International Red Cross has country specific operations which may be accessed and supported through the following links:

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