THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE
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A Foreign Exchange of Hate:
IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva
A Report by Sabrang Communications Pvt. Ltd. (India) / SACW (France)

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Saffron Dollar Special Issue February - March 2004
Campaign To Stop Funding Hate
March 18, 2004

Dear Friends,

As a second year passes us by since the genocide in Gujarat, we are heartened to note that the battle against the fascistic forces that overtook Gujarat in February-March 2002 has not lost its momentum. This issue shows how secular, feminist, and cultural fronts are tackling Hindutva. A report released by AWAAZ, a South Asian organization based in the U.K, shows how Sangh front outfits in that country have been deceiving well-meaning British donors by channeling millions of pounds to RSS organizations implicated in violent sectarian activities in India. The report is devastating in its meticulous detail, and has put both the U.K. based Sangh outfits as well as the RSS on the defensive. As the fallout unfolds CSFH encourages readers to follow this extremely important report; the full report is available at: http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/index.htm while media coverage of this report and its far-reaching implications is available at: http://stopfundinghate.org/resources/news We invite you to participate in the action alerts below (and spread the word!), and as always, welcome your feedback (news@stopfundinghate.org). We hope you will bear with the length of this special issue, as it covers an extremely important development on the second anniversary of the Gujarat genocide.

Contents:

1) British Report on RSS-linked Charity backs "Stop Funding Hate" Findings
2) Open Letter of solidarity to women of Gujarat from 7 U.S. based women's organizations. (ACTION ITEM! - please support by signing petition)
3) Traveling Film South Asia - sponsored by Ekta & CSFH

 

BRITISH REPORT ON RSS-LINKED CHARITY BACKS “STOP FUNDING HATE” FINDINGS:
An investigative report says that a charity in the United Kingdom has channeled millions of pounds raised from the British Public to organizations affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India – the same organizations that are deeply implicated in the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. Prepared by Awaaz – South Asia Watch Ltd., a London-based secular network, the report is titled “In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism.” The report points out that organizations such as Sewa International, the fund raising arm of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) in the U.K, have been raising funds in the name of charity but siphoning the money to RSS front organizations in India.http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/index.htm

In November 2002, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH), had produced a report, “The Foreign Exchange of Hate” (FxH), that showed that a Maryland based charity, the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), was a front for the RSS and was raising money in the U.S. to send to organizations that were implicated in violence against religious minorities (mainly Muslims and Christians) in India.

Welcoming the Awaaz initiative, a spokesperson for CSFH stated that “the British report corroborates the assertion of the FxH report that front organizations raise money in the Indian diasporic communities, ostensibly for the purposes of development and education, but channel these funds towards political agendas that are inimical to a tolerant, secular and plural society.” The RSS, as is well known, has been repeatedly indicted by Indian and international human rights organizations for initiating large-scale violence and hatred against minority groups.

The bulk of the British funds were collected in the name of charity, avowedly for humanitarian relief after the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, and the Orissa cyclone in 1999. The Awaaz report states that the money was then used to expand the political base of the RSS with strategic reconstruction projects and to foster its network organizations, including the Sewa Bharati and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. The report also points out that a large amount of the money raised by Sewa International is used for promoting projects such as the Ekal Vidyalayas which are run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an organization that promotes a vicious and violent sectarian agenda.

The British report is yet another instance of thorough documentation of the foreign funding of the RSS. With the publication of “In Bad Faith” it is now clear that the RSS has received significant sums of money in the name of development and relief from both the UK and the US. In a press release, Awaaz UK said that “Sewa International is the UK equivalent of the American charity, the India Development and Relief Fund; both organisations work towards the same purpose – to fund, promote and glorify extremist RSS fronts in India.”

AWAAZ REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: The Awaaz report makes certain key connections:

(1) RSS front organizations in India have received millions of pounds from British donors through the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and its fund-raising arm, Sewa International. The Leicester-based Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) is the UK branch of the RSS. Running about 70 weekly physical and ideological cells in the UK, the HSS is modeled on the RSS; actively promotes RSS ideology, and shares the RSS aim of turning India into a Hindu nation. Sewa International is not a registered charity; instead it uses the charity registration number of the HSS to raise funds.

(2) Sewa International’s deep connections with the extremist RSS were not made known to donors and the British public who gave funds in good faith for humanitarian causes. Sewa International’s activities around the Gujarat earthquake (2001) and the Orissa cyclone (1999) demonstrate a pattern in which a human tragedy is used to enable the dramatic expansion of the RSS. All two million pounds raised from the British public by Sewa International for the Gujarat earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation was for a major RSS affiliate, Sewa Bharati. While Sewa International funded Sewa Bharati for reconstruction work, it was found that the RSS actually conducted the inaugural ceremonies or handed over completed villages, taking the credit. A rebuilt village, Chapredi, included a dedication plaque glorifying the RSS; while RSS supreme leader K. S. Sudarshan undertook the opening ceremony for Rapar village.

(3) Similarly, a large portion of the 260,000 pounds raised for Orissa cyclone relief in 1999 went to enable the expansion of the RSS, for the building of Ekal Vidyalaya, and for the glorification of its leaders

(4) Gujarat earthquake appeal funds raised by the Sewa International were for the RSS-allied Lok Kalyan Samiti in Chanasma village, which has been implicated in the violent cleansing of all Muslims from the village and illegal occupation of premises and land belong to the waqf board.

(5) Almost a quarter of the Sewa International earthquake funds went for the building of sectarian RSS schools, run by the RSS’s Vidya Bharati. (6) There are serious allegations that the RSS discriminated against Muslims and dalits in earthquake relief distribution, and that the RSS and its allies intimidated secular NGOs undertaking relief work. The report is based on site visits, interviews, and analysis of documents.

 

OPEN LETTER TO THE WOMEN OF GUJARAT:
[ACTION ALERT: SIGN PETITION AT http://www.thePetitionSite.com/takeaction/541267538 ]

In an open letter, seven U.S.-based women’s organizations have expressed solidarity with the women of Gujarat who suffered and continue to bear the brunt of the state-sponsored communal genocide in February-March 2002. The organizations, AASRA (Boston, MA), Chaya (Seattle, WA), Daya (Houston, TX), Manavi (NJ), Narika (Berkeley, CA), Saheli for Asian families (Austin, TX) and Sakhi for South Asian Women (New York, NY), demanded that the government of Gujarat be held accountable for the crimes committed in the state.

They also demanded that those who perpetrated the crimes in Gujarat be brought to justice. The continued harassment of Muslim women by the Gujarat police and by members of the Sangh Parivar must be halted immediately, they stated. The over 100,000 people, who were displaced by the violence, must be given adequate relief and rehabilitation. The women’s groups asked the international community to break the silence, and join in solidarity with the women in Gujarat and with those working to end communal violence.

“The widespread sexual subjugation of Muslim women and girls in Gujarat is a testament to the fact that women's bodies were the battleground on which state-sponsored violence was perpetrated. Women bore the brunt of the violence in Gujarat just as women bear the brunt of violence every day in their own homes at the hands of family members and loved ones,” they stated.

Many of the groups responsible for orchestrating and perpetrating the violence in Gujarat received and continue to receive funding from the Indian community in the United States, they pointed out. “We are concerned that the overseas Indian community donates to these charities believing that the funds will be used for development and humanitarian purposes when in fact they are routinely diverted to finance communal politics. Hence, we strongly urge the NRI community and individuals to ensure their contributions go to worthy charities and not to organizations such as the VHP and RSS, groups which promote an ideology of hate and violent acts against minorities,” the solidarity letter urged.

 

TRAVELING FILM SOUTH ASIA 2004:
Ekta and The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate are co-presenting a festival of 19 compelling films from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The festival, that runs from March 12-28, is particularly noteworthy because it is screening several films, including Godhra Tak: The Terror Trail by Shubradeep Chakravorty, and Naata (the bond) by K P Jayasankar and A. Monteiro. The Terror Trail investigates the Godhra incident, retracing the route of the batch of kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, and documenting the terror they unleashed en route. Naata is about two friends who work on conflict resolution between communities at Dharavi. For a full description, see http://ektaonline.org/tfsa. The rejection of these films by the Mumbai International Film festival spawned a massive protest, with over 170 film-makers threatening to boycott. A highly successful alternative film festival was organized. Details are available at the festival website Vikalp, Films for Freedom, http://filmsforfreedom.cjb.net Undoubtedly, the courageous efforts of the conscientious artists and activists who made it possible to challenge the increasingly tyrannical atmosphere of censorship, deserves our admiration and support. Please spread the word and watch for possible screenings in your area.

 

 

 

 
©2002 THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE.