January 02, 2005

CSFH Urges Responsible Giving in the Wake of Tsunami Tragedy

[January 2, 2004]

CSFH Urges Responsible Giving in the Wake of Tsunami Tragedy


It is time to give and give generously. As the death toll climbs past
150,000 and the world comes to grips with the devastation caused by the
deadly Indian Ocean tsunamis, numerous organizations across Asia are
stepping up to organize relief and rehabilitation. We at the Campaign to
Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) urge all individuals in the U.S. and elsewhere
to support them by donating generously.

However, our responsibility does not end with giving. It is also our
combined responsibility to ensure that our funds do not end up in
sectarian hands, and that this tragedy does not turn into another
opportunity for communal groups to gain foothold in our plural society.


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
http://www.stopfundinghate.org for details.) Affiliates of this
organization have been implicated by numerous national and international
human rights groups as having engineered the anti-Muslim Gujarat pogroms
in 2002 and the anti-Christian violence in 1998-2000. RSS itself is a
secretive organization, openly sectarian in its operations, and is not
legally permitted by the Government of India to accept funds from
abroad; consequently, its US affiliates (IDRF, HSS etc.) are raising
funds for organizations like Sewa Bharati, Jana Sankshema Samiti and
Vivekananda Kendra in India, all of which are intrinsic parts of RSS
operations in India and follow its divisive ideology.

We urge everyone to make the responsible choice in favor of supporting
secular groups with a long-standing commitment to the pluralistic ethos
and democratic ideals of India. On our part, we are following up on our
work of the past several years some of which is documented at
http://www.stopfundinghate.org . We will be happy to assist you with any
information and would really appreciate it if you will alert us to the
debates and discussions that you are involved in by emailing us at

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
CSFH (http://www.stopfundinghate.org)


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 expertise. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

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

Sri Lanka: http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/sri_lanka!Open
Indonesia: http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/indonesia!Open
Thailand: http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/thailand!Open

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