In the context of the recent violent disturbances in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province of China, the People’s Daily, published by the Communist Party of China, has come out with an article (July 16, 2009) highlighting the links of the USA’s National Endowment For Democracy (NED), funded by the US Congress, and the Holland-based Unrepresented Nations’ and Peoples’ Organisation (UNPO) with the World Uighur Congress, based in Munich, Germany. In this connection I am reproducing below three articles written by me on April 13, 2000, February 12 ,2001, and April 20, 2000.
(The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies.E-mail: email@example.com )
THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY OF US
The post-Watergate enquiries into the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US exposed details of its covert political activities in other countries in order to promote US foreign policy objectives. Amongst such activities were the secret funding of individuals, political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) favourable to US interests and funneling of money to counter the activities of those considered anti-US.
After taking over as the President in January, 1977, Mr.Jimmy Carter banned such activities and imposed strict limits on the CIA’s covert operations in foreign countries. During the election campaign of 1980, Mr.Ronald Reagan used effectively against Mr.Carter the argument that the post-Vietnam and post-Watergate decline of the US under Mr.Carter was due to the emasculation of its military and intelligence apparatus.
After his election in November, 1980, and before his taking-over as the President in January, 1981, Mr.Reagan appointed a transition group headed by the late William Casey, an attorney and one of his campaign managers, who was to later take over as the CIA Director, to recommend measures for strengthening the USA’s intelligence capability abroad.
One of its recommendations was to revive covert political activities. Since there might have been opposition from the Congress and public opinion to this task being re-entrusted to the CIA, it suggested that this be given to an NGO with no ostensible links with the CIA.
The matter was further examined in 1981-82 by the American Political Foundation’s Democracy Programme Study and Research Group and, finally, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was born under a Congressional enactment of 1983 as a “non-profit, non-governmental, bipartisan, grant-making organisation to help strengthen democratic institutions around the world.”
Though it is projected as an NGO, it is actually a quasi-governmental organisation because till 1994 it was run exclusively from funds voted by the Congress (average of about US $ 16 million per annum in the 1980s and now about US $ 30 million) as part of the budget of the US Information Agency (USIA). Since 1994, it has been accepting contributions from the private sector too to supplement the congressional appropriations.
Thirty per cent of the budgetary allocations constitute the discretionary fund of the NED to be distributed directly by it to overseas organisations and the balance is distributed through what are called four “core organisations”—the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI).
In 1994, the NED set up two other organisations called the International Forum for Democratic Studies (IFDS) and the Democracy Resource Centre (DRC), both largely funded by the private sector.
Since its inception, the NED and its affiliates have been mired in controversy in the US itself as well as abroad. Amongst its strongest supporters in the US is the Heritage Foundation of Washington DC, a conservative think tank, which played an active role in influencing the policies of the Reagan and Bush Administrations.
It brought out two papers on the justification for the NED, when questions were raised in the US on the continued need for it after the collapse of the communist regimes of East Europe. In the first paper of July 8,1993, (Executive Memorandum No. 360) it described the NED as “an important weapon in the war of ideas” and said:” The NED has played a vital role in providing aid to democratic movements in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Vietnam and elsewhere….. Communist dictatorships still control China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam. Moreover, ex-communists masquerading as nationalists continue to dominate several of the Soviet successor states. The NED can play an important role in assisting those countries in making the turbulent transition to democracy….. Local political activists often prefer receiving assistance from a non-governmental source, as aid from a US government agency may undermine their credibility in the eyes of their countrymen.”
In the second paper of September 13, 1996, (Executive Memorandum No.461), it said:”The NED advances American national interests by promoting the development of stable democracies friendly to the US in strategically important parts of the world. The US cannot afford to discard such an effective instrument of foreign policy at a time when American interests and values are under sustained ideological attack from a wide variety of anti-democratic forces around the world…The NED has aided Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement in Poland, Harry Wu’s human rights efforts in China and independent media outlets in former Yugoslavia. Russian political activists affiliated with the NED also played a major role in President Boris Yeltsin’s re-election campaign against the reinvigorated Communist Party earlier this year…. The NED is a cost-effective way to encourage captive nations to liberate themselves without committing the US to a prohibitively risky and costly military crusade to free them from communism.”
Testifying before the Sub-committee on International Operations and Human Rights of the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives on March 13,1997, Mr.Carl Gershman, President of the NED, said: ” I just want to say that the Endowment’s work is based upon a very, very simple proposition. And that is, where there are people who share our values, where there are people who might be called the natural friends of America, then it is our obligation to help those people in some way.”
Amongst the critics of the NED are Ms. Barbara Conry, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute of Washington D.C. and Mr. Ralph McGehee, stated to be a former CIA official.
In a paper of November 8, 1993(Foreign Policy Briefing No.27), Ms.Conry said: “NED is resented (abroad) as American interference; it is often further resented because it attempts to deceive foreigners into viewing its programmes as private assistance…. On a number of occasions, NED has taken advantage of its alleged private status to influence foreign elections, an activity that is beyond the scope of AID (Agency For International Development) or USIA and would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation….. What finally drew public attention to NED’s meddling in foreign elections was an aborted attempt to provide opposition candidate Violeta Chamorro with $ 3 million in funding for her 1989 election campaign against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. The plan was abandoned after it was determined that NED’s charter, which expressly forbids campaign contributions, would be violated. In the end, the money was channeled to programmes that aided Chamorro indirectly rather than through direct campaign contributions.”
In a statement of January 19, 1996, Mr.McGehee described the post-1991 activities of the NED as “political action operations targeting China and Cuba.” Another NGO of the US has said: “NED engages in much of the same kinds of interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries, which were the hallmark of the CIA. The NED has financed, advised and supported in many ways selected political parties, election campaigns, unions, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, other media, even guerillas in Afghanistan and, in general, organisations and individuals which mesh well with the gears of the globalised-economy machine…. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, and also founded the Centre for Democracy, one of NED’s funding middlemen, was quite candid when he said in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The NED, like the CIA before it, calls what it does supporting democracy. The governments and movements whom the NED targets call it destabilisation.”
Initially, the NED’s activities were directed mainly against the communist regimes of East Europe, but, subsequently, it started combating the communist parties in multi-party democracies of West Europe too. In the 1980s, when the late Francois Mitterrand was the French President, an NED report showed an expenditure of US $ 1.5 million “to promote democracy in France.”
There was an uproar in France when the French press discovered that part of this amount had been given by the NED, through the FTUI, to the National Inter-University Union of France, allegedly a right-extremist and xenophobic organisation, in an attempt to use it to defeat communist candidates in the elections to the National Assembly. Embarrassed by the controversy, the Reagan Administration dissociated itself from the NED activities in France.
After the collapse of the communist regimes of East Europe, the NED has been focussing its activities against the communist regimes of Cuba, Vietnam, China and North Korea and the Myanmarese military regime and against the resurgence of the communist parties in East Europe due to the economic difficulties there.
Its activities relating to China are of two kinds: Those, which are legitimate in the Chinese perception such as training of local village officials in the holding of elections, training of local business executives in better management practices, advice on the drafting of economic reform legislation etc and those, which are legitimate in the US perception, but interference in internal affairs in the Chinese view, such as support to political dissidents, human rights activists and Tibetan exiles and projection of Taiwan as a democratic model worthy of emulation.
The first type of activities is carried out by workers of organisations affiliated to the NED, either based in China or visiting the country and the second by off-shore offices of the NED, which were located in Hong Kong before its reversion to China in June, 1997, and which were thereafter reportedly shifted to Australia since the ASEAN countries would not host them. Finding Australia not a convenient place, the NED has reportedly been eyeing India as a possible base for its activities directed against China.
Beijing has reasons to be concerned over what it considers as the illegitimate activities of the NED. Of the 28 NGOs of Asia funded by the NED, 14 focus on China, four of them of Tibetan exiles, five on Myanmar, two on Cambodia, and one each on Vietnam and North Korea and the remaining five on the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
In his testimony of March 13, 1997, before the House Sub-committee on International Operations and Human Rights, Mr. Gershman said:” There has been a doubling of resources spent in Asia (primarily China, Burma and Cambodia) and a tripling of resources for the Middle East. There were also dramatic increases in Central Asia and the former Yugoslavia…While the discretionary programmes and those of our affiliated labour institute support the activities of various pro-democracy networks, among them Human Rights in China, the China Strategic Institute, the Laogai Research Foundation, and the Hong Kong based activities of labour activist Han Dongfang, IRI and CIPE have targeted opportunities created by the official reform policy in the areas of local elections and economic modernisation. Additional grants support the democracy movements in Hong Kong and Tibet and, through the International Forum, we have highlighted the role of Taiwan as an Asian model of successful democratisation.”
The trans-border activities of the NED against the Myanmarese military regime seem to be directed mainly from Thailand and India. This is evident from a testimony given by Ms.Louisa Coan, NED’s Programme Officer for Asia, before the House Sub-committee on Asia and the Pacific on September 17, 1997.
She said: “NED has been able through its direct grants programme to support the dissidents, to support the democracy movement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, particularly through assistance to the groups along the borders in Thailand and in India, including twice daily radio programming through the Democratic Voice of Burma (author’s comment: based in Scandinavia), newsletters, underground newspaper, underground labour organising, particular programmes to foster inter-ethnic co-operation and unity among the opposition forces in support of Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for tripartite dialogue and national reconciliation.”
It is not known whether New Delhi was aware of the India-based activities of the NED against the Yangon regime.
Before the recent visit of the US President, Mr. Bill Clinton, to India, the NED headquarters in Washington issued the following press release: “Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced on Tuesday March 14 that the US and India will launch a joint non-governmental initiative called the Asian Centre for Democratic Governance during President Clinton’s upcoming trip to South Asia.
“Jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the NED, the Centre will be based at CII’s offices in New Delhi, The Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training, an affiliate of the Indian Parliament, will partner with the CII in implementing the activities of the Centre.”
The press release said the expenditure on the initiative would be shared by the CII and the NED.
It is an interesting case of an important member of the Clinton Cabinet, announcing on behalf of a self-proclaimed NGO of the US funded by the Congress, a non-governmental initiative in collaboration with a non-governmental Indian business organisation with which an office of the Indian Parliament would also be associated.
This launching was duly done at New Delhi.
There are three likely implications of this unusual venture:
* Possibility of misunderstanding with China which might interpret it as directed against it and its presence in Tibet.
* Impropriety in co-operating with an American organisation working against the present Government at Yangon, which has normal diplomatic relations with New Delhi and has been co-operating in counter-insurgency measures in the North-East.
* The presence in Indian territory, with official blessing, of an organisation, which aims to wipe out communism as a political and ideological movement all over the world and which might utilise its presence to undermine the Indian communist movement. NED has never criticised the Indian Communist parties, but a reading of the past statements of those in the US supporting the NED would indicate that they hold communism and democracy as incompatible.
The US has also announced the association of India as co-sponsor with a forthcoming conference of “communities of democracies ” in Poland being funded by the Stefan Batory Foundation of Poland, set up by George Soros in 1998, to counter the resurgence of communism in East Europe, and the Freedom House of the US.
The Freedom House was founded in the 1940s “to strengthen free institutions at home and abroad”. It played an active role in carrying on a psychological warfare (psywar) against the troops of the USSR and the late President Najibullah in Afghanistan during the 1980s through the Afghanistan Information Centre set up by it, allegedly with CIA funds. The offices of this centre at Peshawar in Pakistan trained the Afghan Mujahideen groups and Pakistani organisations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (formerly known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar) and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, presently active in Kashmir, in techniques of media management and psywar.
Since 1983, part of the funds voted by the Congress to the NED are funneled to the Freedom House, which also gets contributions from the private sector. The Freedom House focuses its activities on media and communications and, according to a 1990 study by the Interhemispherique Resource Centre of the US, more than 400 journalists in 55 countries were collaborating with the Freedom House in its activities against communist parties and regimes.
Before going ahead with these projects, there is an urgent need for an examination of the implications of our collaboration with such organisations from the point of view of our national security and political stability.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute for TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The USA’S National Endowment For Democracy (NED): An Update
This paper may kindly be read in continuation of our earlier one dated, April 13, 2000, on the same subject ( www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers2/paper115.html )
Attached are the details of the grants distributed by the NED during 1999–either directly or through its associate organisations such as the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Centre For International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI)–ostensibly for the promotion of democracy and trade union and other human rights in Asia.
The following conclusions emerge from a study of the grants and the statements/Congressional testimonies of the office-bearers of the NED and its associate organisations:
* While their activities now have a much wider geographical spread in Asia, covering even Sri Lanka and Nepal, the main focus continues to be against the military regime in Myanmar and the Chinese administration in Tibet and on Cambodia. Another developing target of the NED seems to be Dr.Mahathir Mohammed, the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
* Their activities are so designed and implemented as to be in consonance with the foreign policy and strategic objectives of the US Government in this region. It has been mainly active against those countries/areas and regimes which are perceived as unfavourable or detrimental to US interests and not against those considered essential to US interests. For example, while they have been active against the military regime in Myanmar, they were not equally active against the former Suharto regime in Indonesia or against the damage caused to democracy in Pakistan by the military-intelligence establishment.
* After the reversion of Hong Kong to China in June, 1997, they have been looking for surrogates in India who could help them in their activities against the present regime in Myanmar and against the Chinese Administration in Tibet.
The following grants of 1999 were distributed through India-based organisations:
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) $150,000 Special funds for Burma To support the short-wave radio programs of the DVB, the voice of the Burmese pro-democracy movement, and to further professionalize DVB’s Oslo studio and its field offices in Thailand and India.
National Coalition for Democracy $55,000 To enable the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) to operate two communications centers, in New Delhi and Bangkok, allowing them to communicate more effectively the NCGUB’s message to an international audience.
Nonviolence International (NI) $50,000 To support the work of the India-based Committee for Nonviolent Action in Burma (CNAB) to foster coalition building and promote democracy at the grassroots level in Burma.
Tibet Times Newspaper $20,000 To provide in-depth coverage of news about Tibet, the exiled Tibetan community, and Chinese and international affairs through a Tibetan-language newspaper published three times a month in Dharamsala, India.
Tibet Multimedia Center $30,000 To support a four-part program of democratic civic education and information dissemination that addresses the struggle for human rights and democracy in Tibet. Based in Dharamsala, India, the Center produces print, audio, and video materials for distribution to Tibetans in India, Nepal, and Tibet.
Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy $15,000 To translate into Tibetan, publish, and distribute 10,000 copies each of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The program is based in Dharamsala, India.
Tibetan Review $25,000 To continue publishing Tibetan Review, an English-language monthly news and opinion journal based in New Delhi, India. The Review, known for its editorial independence and its commitment to promoting democratic pluralism in Tibetan society, provides a unique forum for the free and robust exchange of views. ( Writer’s Comment: The descriptions are as given by the NED and not the writer’s).
Thus, a total sum of US $ 2,55,000 for Myanmar-related and US $ 90,000 for Tibet-related activities was distributed through India-based organisations in 1999.
The following was the only grant relating to India:
Center for International Private Enterprise $52,635 To work with the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs to bring together business leaders and successful women entrepreneurs from throughout the South Asian region to share their ideas and expertise on policy advocacy and economic development.
The modus operandi used by the NED, the IRI and other associate organisations for destabilising regimes detrimental to US interests in the name of promotion of democracy was clearly evident in the so-called mass uprising in Yugoslavia in October last which led to the downfall of Mr.Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav President, who had become anathema to the US Government.
A detailed investigative report on how the Milosevic regime was brought down through a carefully-orchestrated campaign under the guidance of US-based “pro-democracy” organisations using Mahatma Gandhi’s techniques of massive non-violent civil disobedience was carried by the “Washington Post” on December 11,2000.
About 70,000 Yugoslav students, intellectuals, miners and other workers were secretly taken to Budapest in Hungary and trained in special camps set up there on mass demonstration techniques.
The “Washington Post” wrote:
* “U.S.-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-Milosevic drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count. U.S. taxpayers paid for 5,000 cans of spray paint used by student activists to scrawl anti-Milosevic graffiti on walls across Serbia, and 2.5 million stickers with the slogan “He’s Finished,” which became the revolution’s catchphrase.
* “The U.S. democracy-building effort in Serbia was a curious mixture of secrecy and openness. In principle, it was an overt operation, funded by congressional appropriations of around $10 million for fiscal 1999 and $31 million for 2000.
* “Some Americans involved in the anti-Milosevic effort said they were aware of CIA activity at the fringes of the campaign, but had trouble finding out what the agency was up to. Whatever it was, they concluded it was not particularly effective. The lead role was taken by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government’s foreign assistance agency, which channeled the funds through commercial contractors and nonprofit groups such as NDI and its Republican counterpart, the International Republican Institute (IRI). While NDI worked closely with Serbian opposition parties, IRI focused its attention on Otpor, which served as the revolution’s ideological and organizational backbone. In March, IRI paid for two dozen Otpor leaders to attend a seminar on nonviolent resistance at the Hilton Hotel in Budapest, a few hundreds yards along the Danube from the NDI-favored Marriott.
* “During the seminar, the Serbian students received training in such matters as how to organize a strike, how to communicate with symbols, how to overcome fear and how to undermine the authority of a dictatorial regime. The principal lecturer was retired U.S. Army Col. Robert Helvey, who has made a study of nonviolent resistance methods around the world, including those used in modern-day Burma and the civil rights struggle in the American South.”
In its issue of December 2000, the “Peace Watch”, the monthly journal of the US Institute of Peace in Washington, has corroborated the “Washington Post’s” report and admitted that the services of Col. Helvey in the anti-Milosevic campaign were paid for by the IRI.
Who is Col. Robert Helvey? He was an officer of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the Pentagon, who had served in Vietnam and, subsequently, as the US Defence Attache in Yangon, Myanmar, (1983 to 85) during which he clandestinely organised the Myanmarese students to work behind Aung San Suu Kyi and in collaboration with Bo Mya’s Karen insurgent group. He was subsequently based in Thailand where he organised the training of the student and Karen supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi. In 1988-89, he also trained in Hong Kong the student leaders from Beijing in mass demonstration techniques which they were to subsequently use in the Tiananmen Square incident of June,1989. He is now believed to be acting as an adviser to the Falun Gong, the religious sect of China, in similar civil disobedience techniques, which the sect is using with increasing effectiveness against the Chinese authorities. He has ostensibly retired from the DIA in 1991.
It may be recalled that the covert political action set-up consisting of the NED, the IRI, the NDI, the CIPE and the FTUI was set up during the Ronald Reagan Administration on the recommendation of Mr.Bob Casey, who subsequently became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The late Casey saw this as a way of the US developing an effective political action capability against unfriendly regimes without circumventing the post-Watergate Congressional curbs on CIA covert actions against foreign political leaders.
The Clinton Administration made full use of this set-up and this is likely to further increase under the present Bush administration.
12. 02. 2001
Annexure: Grants Made by NED in 1999
Center for International Private Enterprise $90,811 To promote a nonpartisan approach to the economic policy-making process. CIPE will work with the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry to strengthen the voice of the private sector by establishing a research and advocacy capability and producing economic policy papers on issues related to privatization and economic liberalization.
All Burma Young Monks’ Union (ABYMU) $15,000 Special funds for Burma -To support the democracy movement inside Burma. The Thailand-based ABYMU will distribute human rights and democracy materials, collect information about conditions in Burma, and educate monks and Buddhist lay people about democracy, human rights, and nonviolent struggle.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity $49,920-Special funds for Burma -To support the activities of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) in Bangkok and along the Thai-Burma border, including the coordination of pro-democracy activities and human rights education programs.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity $400,080 -Special funds for Burma -To strengthen and improve the trade union work of the independent Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB) and to improve coordination and communications among labor and student organizations inside Burma. The Bangkok-based FTUB will work to increase the involvement of the international labor movement in the Burmese struggle through education and coalition building with labor organizations in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development $28,000 -Special funds for Burma-To encourage Thai support for the Burmese pro-democracy movement and build the capacity of Burmese exile groups in Thailand to be effective advocates for change in Burma.
The Burma Fund-$185,000-Special funds for Burma-To conduct research on and advocate for a transition to democracy in Burma. Funding supports the Burma Fund’s four core programs – research, policy and transition planning, national and ethnic reconciliation, and private sector outreach. Support will also enable the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma to present its case at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and the U.N. General Assembly, and sponsor research and presentations at U.N. fora on women’s rights.
Irriwaddy Publishing Group (IPG) -$30,000 -Special funds for Burma -To break the state monopoly on information in Burma. IPG, an independent news service based in Thailand, will continue to operate its documentation and information center and provide coverage of regional issues in its English-language monthly news magazine, The Irrawaddy.
Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC) -$45,000 -Special funds for Burma -To promote the rule of law in Burma. The Bangkok-based BLC will document civil rights violations, publish quarterly Burmese- and English-language journals, and conduct seminars and trainings for pro-democracy organizations, ethnic leaders, and grassroots Burmese groups.
Burma Relief Center-$25,000 -Special funds for Burma -To train youth from the Shan and Karenni states in the skills necessary to play an active and effective role in a future democratic and peaceful Burma.
Burmese Women’s Union -$40,000 -Special funds for Burma -To provide training to women leaders on the Thai-Burma border in grassroots leadership, women’s empowerment, and office management. The Union will also involve women in discussions on future democratic constitution, publish materials on women’s rights, and send members to international meetings.
Chin Human Rights -Organization (CHRO) -$9,700 -To publish CHRO’s English-language monthly newsletter, Rhododendron. CHRO conducts human rights investigations and disseminates its findings to members of the Chin ethnic group, other pro-democracy and ethnic groups in exile, and the international community.
Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) -$29,000-Special funds for Burma -To provide humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons in Karen State. CIDKP, based on the Thai-Burma border, will improve the distribution of aid by supporting training, capacity building, project monitoring, and documentation and research.
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS) -$60,000 -Special funds for Burma -To support the democracy movement inside Burma. The Thailand-based DPNS will distribute Burmese-language human rights and democracy materials, collect information about conditions in Burma, and organize a program that trains grassroots activists on effective techniques of nonviolent political action.
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB)-$150,000 -Special funds for Burma -To support the short-wave radio programs of the DVB, the voice of the Burmese pro-democracy movement, and to further professionalize DVB’s Oslo studio and its field offices in Thailand and India.
Human Rights Documentation Unit (HRDU) -$18,000 -To promote human rights by disseminating a variety of publications. The Bangkok-based HRDU, a program of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, will distribute Burmese-language translations of key international human rights treaties and a Burmese-language Dictionary of Politics.
Human Rights Foundation of Monland-$35,000 -Special funds for Burma -To produce English-language human rights reports on conditions in Mon State and southern Burma, distribute Mon-language books and magazines inside Mon State, and produce the bimonthly Mon-language newsletter, Khit Poey (Our Era), for citizens of Mon State and refugees along the Thai-Burma border.
Images Asia -$15,000-Special funds for Burma-To produce an up-to-date report on the human rights situation in Arakan state in western Burma. The project will also help improve the skills of local activists and build a local monitoring capacity.
Kachin-Americans and Friends, Inc. for Human Rights and Democracy in Burma-$25,000 -To educate the public in Kachin state about Kachin political history, democracy, and federalism through the translation and publication of three books on democracy and federalism.
Karen Information Center -$11,000-To support KIC News, a 28-page monthly newsletter published in Thailand in English, Karen, and Burmese that provides human rights organizations and other groups with accurate information on human rights violations and other developments occurring both in the Karen and Thai-Burma border regions.
Lahu National Development Organization -$20,000 -To provide materials about democracy, human rights, and the social and economic consequences of Burma’s illegal drug trade for grassroots audiences among the Lahu, Pa-O, and Palaung ethnic groups living in Shan State. Activities include publishing educational materials, conducting grassroots training courses on human rights and democracy, and investigating the human rights situation in Shan State.
National Coalition for Democracy-$55,000-To enable the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) to operate two communications centers, in New Delhi and Bangkok, allowing them to communicate more effectively the NCGUB’s message to an international audience.
National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) -$75,000 -Special funds for Burma -To promote coalition building efforts among pro-democracy forces in exile in Thailand and in the ethnic areas along Burma’s borders. Through the NCUB’s “National Reconciliation and Political Solidarity Program,” the NCUB Secretariat will work to solidify cooperation with and encourage commitment to common goals among the groups that are important to Burma’s democratization.
National Council of the Union of Burma – Foreign Affairs Committee (NCUB-FAC) -$50,000-Special funds for Burma To conduct a diplomatic campaign in Asia that will build support for the Burmese democracy movement. NCUB-FAC will establish a research center in Bangkok dedicated to international affairs; organize meetings; maintain a database of foreign policy experts, journalists, and diplomats concerned with Burma; and establish and maintain a network of Asian NGOs, political parties, student groups, and regional associations that are interested in Burma.
National Health and Education Committee (NHEC) -$40,000 -Special funds for Burma -To support the NHEC’s coordination and management of a broad-based multi-ethnic program in support of grassroots projects designed to meet the health and education needs of refugee populations in Thailand and ethnic populations inside Burma.
New Era Journal -$160,000 -Special funds for Burma -To continue publishing and increase the circulation of the Thailand-based monthly Burmese-language newspaper, the New Era Journal. The journal includes in-depth news about Burma’s pro-democracy movement and opinion and commentary from democracy activists living inside Burma and in exile.
Nonviolence International (NI) -$50,000 -To support the work of the India-based Committee for Nonviolent Action in Burma (CNAB) to foster coalition building and promote democracy at the grassroots level in Burma.
Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) -$20,000-Special funds for Burma -To promote democracy and human rights in Shan State by providing materials in the Shan language. S.H.A.N. will continue to produce its trilingual monthly newspaper, The Independence, and distribute it in Shan State, along the Thai-Burma border, and internationally.
United Nationalities Democratic Congress -$7,500 -To educate the people of Burma on ethnic rights, human rights, federalism, and democracy through a program of publications, workshops, and roundtables.
American Assistance for Cambodia -$20,000 -To continue teaching desktop publishing and the fundamentals of journalism to students, NGO staff, and working journalists in Phnom Penh.
Cambodian Human Rights Task Force-$50,000-To improve human rights education training techniques and the advocacy capacity of NGOs and local activists at the community level. Projects include a training manual on human rights education, five booklets on specific human rights and development issues for use by NGOs, advocacy trainings for local NGOs, and a quarterly newsletter.
Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam)-$25,000 -To improve the Center’s institutional capabilities by acquiring new computer equipment and improving its library facilities. The Center will continue to collect, preserve, and archive information and materials on the Khmer Rouge-orchestrated “Killing Fields” (1975-79).
Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia -$44,000 -To support Vigilance’s human rights monitoring and education project. Vigilance will continue to investigate, monitor, and report human rights abuses; educate Cambodian citizens, civic leaders, and police about human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and local and international laws; highlight human rights problems through the media; and provide direct assistance to victims of abuse.
International Republican Institute-$235,257 -To strengthen democratic political parties and civic participation in Cambodia. Training topics include the legislative process, communication and message development, and grassroots political party organization. A separate program will train several Cambodian NGOs, civic activists, and student leaders on how to become more effective advocates for constitutional democratic political processes in Cambodia.
Khmer Students Association (KSA)-$18,000 -To support KSA’s student-led activities and provide a wide range of student services. KSA will publish and distribute 1,000 copies of its monthly newsletter, and continue to host its monthly public affairs lecture series, which serves as a forum for young people to participate in question-and-answer sessions with prominent citizens and government officials.
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs -$21,642 -To support the organizational development of three civic groups whose election-monitoring efforts helped expose flaws during parliamentary polls in 1998. Before the local elections, scheduled in 2000, NDI will assist the civic groups to advocate citizen input into the creation of new laws on local elections and local administrative structures.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity $202,399 To support the work of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin to investigate and document labor conditions and worker activism in China. The program also includes support for labor and human rights education efforts to inform workers about their rights under national and local laws.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity $170,997 To provide support to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions to improve its membership outreach and coalition-building activities. ACILS will also support the research and documentation activities of a labor rights NGO concentrating on conditions in southern China.
Center for International Private Enterprise $84,700 To encourage public participation in the economic reform process. CIPE will support a program to conduct research, organize conferences, and publish articles on policy reform issues.
Center for International Private Enterprise $76,727 To enable the Unirule Institute of Economics to organize biweekly symposia that bring together private entrepreneurs, academics, government officials, and journalists to discuss China’s transition to a market economy. Symposium papers will be distributed to a wide audience throughout China.
Center for International Private Enterprise $64,130 To enable the National Economic Reform Institute – China Reform Foundation to conduct the first systematic study of economic freedom within China. Results will be published in Chinese and English, and a workshop will be held to promote understanding of the concept of economic freedom in China.
Center for Modern China (CMC) $55,000 To print 3,000 copies each of Modern China Studies, CMC’s quarterly Chinese-language journal. The Princeton-based publication features research findings and policy analyses about democratization in contemporary China; it is distributed to libraries, research centers, and individual subscribers in China and abroad.
China Strategic Institute (CSI) $10,000 To assess the current state of grassroots elections in China and the prospects for expanding direct, competitive balloting to township and county levels.
Democratic China Magazine $75,000 To publish a Chinese-language monthly Internet magazine on politics, society, and culture to provide a forum for discussion of the prospects for democracy and pluralism in China.
Foundation for China in the 21st Century $100,000 To increase understanding of democratization, constitutionalism, federalism, and related issues among policy-making and intellectual communities in China. The program includes publications on comparative democratization issues and grassroots elections in China, a new program to lay the foundation for inter-ethnic communication through a series of retreats, and humanitarian and programmatic support for Chinese human rights and democracy activists.
Human Rights in China, Inc. (HRIC) $200,000 To continue HRIC’s extensive support for the human rights movement inside China, its credible reporting of breaking news, and its international advocacy program. HRIC educates ordinary Chinese people about human rights principles, helps those who have been persecuted and imprisoned in China for the nonviolent exercise of their rights, and monitors China’s overall human rights situation.
International Republican Institute -$489,716 -To support further progress and consolidation of electoral reform at the village level, and to conduct programs on legislative reform at the national and provincial levels.
Laogai Research Foundation -$85,000-To conduct a research and publications program on the laogai, China’s prison camp system, investigate and expose other human rights violations in China, and support a three-day conference in September 1999, “Voices from the Laogai,” featuring testimonies from dozens of former laogai prisoners.
Press Freedom Guardian -$48,000 -To continue production of the Press Freedom Guardian, a Chinese-language, bimonthly newspaper that covers democratic ideas, human rights cases, the treatment of political prisoners, and political and social developments in China that relate to the country’s prospects for democratization.
China (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor-$48,000 -To campaign for improvements in legal and institutional human rights safeguards in Hong Kong. The Monitor will continue its program of human rights reporting, case work, campaigning, and public education, and will also participate in the U.N. human rights fora.
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs-$67,164 To support democracy activists as they define their role in the new political system in Hong Kong that limits opportunities for public input into the policy-making process. The program will offer consultations to political parties competing for seats on directly elected local governments, and conduct a training program on grassroots organizing and volunteer recruitment.
Tibet Information Network-$20,000-To provide comprehensive, accurate information about political, social, and economic developments in Tibet to Tibetan audiences, the international community, human rights groups, and the media.
Tibet Times Newspaper -$20,000 -To provide in-depth coverage of news about Tibet, the exiled Tibetan community, and Chinese and international affairs through a Tibetan-language newspaper published three times a month in Dharamsala, India.
Tibet Multimedia Center -$30,000-To support a four-part program of democratic civic education and information dissemination that addresses the struggle for human rights and democracy in Tibet. Based in Dharamsala, India, the Center produces print, audio, and video materials for distribution to Tibetans in India, Nepal, and Tibet.
Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy -$15,000 -To translate into Tibetan, publish, and distribute 10,000 copies each of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The program is based in Dharamsala, India.
Tibetan Review -$25,000 -To continue publishing Tibetan Review, an English-language monthly news and opinion journal based in New Delhi, India. The Review, known for its editorial independence and its commitment to promoting democratic pluralism in Tibetan society, provides a unique forum for the free and robust exchange of views.
Center for International Private Enterprise -$73,120 -To enable the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility to organize consultations and a workshop that will initiate a discussion among Indonesian media, business, and government executives on how to provide for the free flow of economic information to the public and among private-sector and governmental institutions.
Suara Timor Timur (Voice of East Timor)-$60,000 -To support East Timor’s only locally based newspaper by providing funds to replace equipment that was destroyed when its office was ransacked in April 1999, and to provide an emergency supply of newsprint.
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs-$143,388 -To assist a civic group with monitoring November 1999 parliamentary elections in Malaysia, where flawed electoral laws and procedures have prevented genuine, competitive polls. NDI will help the civic group mount a neutral observation effort to monitor the election and pre-election environment and report objectively on the election process.
Southeast Asian Press Alliance-$60,000-To foster the emergence of independent media and promote press freedom in Malaysia. The grant also provides support for online media.
LEOS -$48,545 -To continue support for the programs of Mongolia’s largest pro-democracy women’s organization. LEOS will provide skills training workshops for members of urban and rural branches; organize a nonpartisan program that encourages women to participate in the 2000 parliamentary elections; and expand a program that helps women launch new businesses.
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs -$100,000 -To strengthen government oversight and accountability in a country where corruption at all levels of government hinders the development of democratic practices and the public’s faith in democracy. The program will assist civic groups with strengthening the legislature’s oversight of Nepal’s seven independent constitutional bodies and developing a more transparent process of appointing members to those bodies, which are currently appointed in secret.
Citizens’ Alliance to Help Political Prisoners in North Korea-$62,000 -To investigate and report on human rights abuses and prison camp operations in North Korea. The Seoul-based group will produce English-language materials for international dissemination and publish Korean, Japanese, and English-language editions of its bimonthly journal, Life and Human Rights. The Alliance will also convene the first international conference on human rights abuses in North Korea to assess the current state of knowledge and exchange of information on North Korea’s human rights situation, and explore strategies to improve the human rights situation there.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity -$137,615 -To support a counseling center run by Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid that addresses the sexual harassment of women workers and promotes coalition-building between unions and NGOs that focus on women workers’ rights. ACILS will also continue to support the legal work of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, the All Pakistan Federation of Labor effort to enhance membership recruitment, workshops on child labor conducted by the Pakistan National Textile, Leather, and Garment Workers Federation, and an organizing workshop conducted by the All Pakistan Federation of Free Trade Unions.
People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections-$15,000 -To continue a grassroots civic education and participation project to foster a peaceful and responsive civil society.
International Republican Institute -$100,000 -To continue working with the Thai Women in Politics Institute (WIP) to provide women with the skills necessary to participate fully in Thailand’s political arena. Activities include campaign training for provincial and municipal candidates and a women and government training conference.
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs-$122,749 -To strengthen local efforts to combat corruption in Thailand’s political system. Work with civic groups in four provinces will use village forums and educational presentations to help citizens develop solutions to local problems of corruption, advocate change to their elected officials, and build public pressure for reform.
Boat People S.O.S. (BPSOS) -$10,000 -To encourage greater transparency and accountability in Vietnam. BPSOS will organize a session during an international conference, “Building a Democratic Framework for Development in Southeast Asia,” that will provide a forum for Vietnamese citizens to become informed about and advocate for the principles of transparency in government.
Center for International Private Enterprise-$60,703 -To enable the Georgetown University Center for Intercultural Education and Development to work with the Economics University of Ho Chi Minh City to conduct a program of weekly radio and television broadcasts that promote public discussion of economic reform and Vietnam’s transition to a market economy.
Association for Vietnamese Overseas: Culture & Liaison -$70,000-To continue distributing the bimonthly magazine, Que Me (Homeland), which brings uncensored news and a discussion of democratic ideas into Vietnam. The Association also will distribute in Vietnam 50,000 copies of its monthly mini-bulletins on human and workers’ rights in Vietnam, and a variety of thematic reports in English, French, and Vietnamese.
South Asia Regional Center for International Private Enterprise -$52,635 -To work with the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs to bring together business leaders and successful women entrepreneurs from throughout the South Asian region to share their ideas and expertise on policy advocacy and economic development.
Asia Regional American Center for International Labor Solidarity -$551,232 -To support the protection of workers’ rights and the institutional development of trade unions in Thailand and Malaysia. ACILS programs will broaden workers’ civic awareness and help train workers and unions to undertake effective research, analysis, and advocacy on economic policy issues in the wake of the financial crisis. A regional program will promote transparency in international financial institutions.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity-$289,756 -To strengthen the rule of law in Southeast Asia in the area of workers’ rights. The Bangkok-based program will provide technical support to legal aid societies, legal activists, scholars, unions, community groups, NGOs, and other appropriate partners. ACILS will help local organizations explore the use of local administrative and constitutional law to enforce standards and support technical and professional exchanges.
Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD) -$20,000 -To enable ACFOD to serve as the secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Human Rights NGO Network. ACFOD will publish a bimonthly newsletter for the NGO Network, maintain a database of Asia-related human rights materials, and use new information technology to encourage communication and coordination among members.
Center for International Private Enterprise-$73,636 -To cosponsor with the Institute of Management Education for Thailand Foundation a two-day regional workshop that will identify best practices in corporate governance and recommendations for reform, and promote a more transparent relationship between the public and private sectors.
COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES
In an article titled “Democratisation And Failed States: The Challenge of Ungovernability” published in the summer 1996 issue of “Parameters”, the quarterly journal of the US Army War College, Dr.Robert H.Dorff, Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy at the US Army War College and Associate Professor of Political Science at the North Carolina State University, traces the evolution of the idea of a community of democracies to the Clinton Administration’s first National Security Strategy entitled “A National Security Strategy of Engagement And Enlargement” published in July 1994.
The Strategy projected the US strategic objective as “protecting, consolidating and enlarging the community of free market democracies.”
Dr.Dorff said:”The US post-Cold War strategy of engagement and enlargement began with public pronouncements in the last year of the Bush Administration and then was formally articulated under President Clinton. Fundamentally based on the premise of the “democratic peace” (democracies do not go to war with other democracies), this strategy entails the active promotion and expansion of the community of democratic, free-market countries as a way of applying national resources toward the pursuit of strategic objectives. In theory, the strategy meshes very well with two basic US interests. First, it is consistent with the goal of promoting values, among which democracy and market economies are certainly key. Second, it implies the ability to reduce the risks of confrontation through the use of a variety of instruments, not just military, and with a number of approaches short of the US’ acting as global policeman, which leads to crisis response through multilateral, multinational and collective security arrangements.”
At an Open Forum of the US Secretary of State on November 10,1999,Mr.James Robert Huntley, writer and international affairs consultant, explained the theme of his recent book “Pax Democratica: A Strategy For the 21st Century”.
He traced the evolution of international relations through four phases, namely, the age of the empire, the balance of power, international co-operation and the current phase of community-building among democracies and claimed that democracies rarely went to war with each other and rarely indulged in internal violence against their own people,
He made the following suggestions for the future implementation of Pax Democratica:
* A framework treaty for the community of democracies.
* A caucus of democracies at the UN to speak in a co-ordinated voice.
* An international parliamentary assembly of democracies.
* Unions of democracies on specific issues, such as education, economics and global security.
* An international court of human rights.
* Improved crisis prevention by democracies.
* Membership based on an annual review of each nation’s efforts in democracy.
* Increased education efforts.
* The strengthening of international institutions such as the UN by the Community of Democracies.
Speaking at the same forum, Mr.Penn Kemble, Special Representative of the US Secretary of State for the Community of Democracies Initiative, described the aim of the Initiative as the revitalisation of democracy in the international system. Mr.Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the Brookings Institution said that the idea of Pax Democratica was to see if a viable means existed to build an approach to peace around an idea and institutions rather than around a nation.
Subsequently, on November 22,1999, Mr.Bronislaw Geremek, formerly of the Solidarity funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and now the Polish Foreign Minister, announced in Warsaw that the first international meeting of the Community of Democracies would be held at Warsaw on June 26-27, 2000, under the joint sponsorship of the US, Poland, Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali and South Korea.
In a statement issued in Washington the same day, the State Department endorsed the initiative and said: ” The goal of the Community of Democracies Ministerial is to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of existing international organisations in their support for democracy. Governments attending the meeting will affirm their commitment to a core set of universal democratic principles……They will develop a common agenda to bolster democratic institutions and processes, improve co-ordination of democratic assistance programmes and more effectively respond to threats or interruptions to democracy.”
130 countries have been invited to participate at the Foreign Ministers’ level and it is too early to say how many would be attending and at what level. It has been reported that only the UK, Switzerland and Sweden in Europe have responded positively to the US-inspired initiative, whereas the other West European countries, while willing to attend, look with askance at the initiative as possibly yet another US attempt to further marginalise the UN General Assembly.
Mr.Penn Kemble used to be on the Board of Directors of one of the NED’s core affiliates, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). His sister Eugenia used to be the Director of the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI), another core affiliate of the NED.
He also headed the Executive Committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, a neo-conservative group within the Democratic Party. Mr.Kemble, who was allegedly part of the clandestine cell set up in the White House during the Reagan Administration by Col. Oliver North of the Iran-Contra case, also headed the PRODEMCA, Friends of the Democratic Centre in Central America, until it was wound up. The NED’s financial assistance to the anti-Sandinista elements in Nicaragua used to be allegedly funneled through PRODEMCA by Mr.Kemble, who was reputed to be an expert in the clandestine financing of foreign political groups co-operating with the US in its national objectives.
Under his stewardship, the PRODEMCA used to place full-page advertisements in the 1980s in the “Washington Post”, the “Washington Times” and the “New York Times” calling for congressional funding of US $ 100 million to assist the Contras. Col. North allegedly used the PRODEMCA to funnel money to the Contras and the PRODEMCA acted in tandem with Carl Channel’s National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty.
Amongst the others posts held by Mr.Kemble in the past were as a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, of the Social Democrats, USA, of the radio programme advisory committee of the US Information Agency (USIA), in which capacity he used to advise on the running of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty by the CIA from Munich and the Voice of America and as a writer and producer at WETA-TV.
Mr.Kemble was a close associate of Ms.Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US Permanent Delegate to the UN during the Reagan Administration, who was also a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, both of which were strongly anti-communist. She was also associated with other anti-communist organisations such as the Committee for the Free World, PRODEMCA, the American Enterprise Institute, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Social Democrats, USA, and the highly secretive Council for National Policy. She is also a member the Board of Advisers of the Centre for Religious Freedom, an outfit of the Freedom House.
In his present job, Mr.Kemble works closely with Dr.Mort Halperin, a former anti-CIA and anti-Vietnam war leftist, who is now Director for Policy Planning in the State Department. Interestingly, the Division in the State Department to implement the Community of Democracies Initiative has brought together two individuals with diametrically opposite track records—Mr. Kemble, an active practitioner of covert political activities abroad under Mr.Reagan, and Dr.Halperin, a principled opponent of US covert activities abroad, who suffered in his career because of his opposition. He was the victim of alleged witch-hunting by Dr.Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration. Mr.Clinton’s attempt, during his first term, to make Dr.Halperin Assistant Defence Secretary was frustrated by Conservative elements in the Congress because of his past opposition to the US involvement in Vietnam and his criticism of the CIA’s meddling in the internal affairs of other countries—particularly in the Third World–under whatever pretext.
According to media reports, the forthcoming Warsaw meeting is jointly being funded by the Stefan Batory Foundation of Poland, founded in 1998 by Mr.George Soros to counter the resurgence of communism in East Europe and the Freedom House of the US, which was founded in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie to oppose Nazism and Communism in Europe.
The Freedom House was a strong supporter of the NATO and worked in close co-operation with the CIA and Col. North’s clandestine cell in the Reagan White House in carrying on psywar against the USSR and other communist countries and in funneling assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen and the Arab mercenaries, including Osama bin Laden, through various front organisations such as the Afghanistan Information Centre, the Afghanistan Relief Committee, the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, the American Friends of Afghanistan etc.
The Freedom House receives its funding from the USIA, the Agency For International Development (AID), the NED and a number of ostensibly private foundations, one of which is the Soros Foundation.
The late William Casey, the Director of the CIA under Mr.Reagan, and Col. North, whom Casey used to call “my son”, encouraged the setting-up of a network of so-called non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be used for covert political activities abroad without the direct involvement of the CIA, on the model of the Freedom House set up in the US by Mrs.Roosevelt and others in 1941 and the foundations set up much later by the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (the Federal Information Service), the West German external intelligence agency, to funnel financial assistance to the anti-communist elements in the then East Germany, the anti-Salazar forces in Portugal, the anti-Franco forces in Spain and the Eurocommunist elements in France and Italy.
Many of these NGOs of Casey-North parentage are still active and, interestingly, a common name occurring in the lists of money-givers of almost all these organisations is the Soros Foundation.
Since the Govt. of India has agreed to co-sponsor the Warsaw meeting and play a prominent role in it, it is important to keep in mind the past track record of the Freedom House in relation to India, the present Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Every year, the Freedom House rates the countries of the world on the basis of the quality of their democracy. It gives marks for their political rights and civil liberties and places them in three categories–Free, Partly Free and Not Free. Till 1997-98, only Japan and South Korea in Asia were rated “Free” by the Freedom House, whereas Afghanistan, China, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bhutan, Myanmar and Indonesia were rated as “Not Free”. The other countries, including India, were rated “Partly Free”.
It does not recognise Kashmir as a part of India, rates it as “Not Free” and places it in a special category called “Related And Disputed Territories” along with Nagorno-Karabakh, Hong Kong, Tibet, Abkhazia, East Timor, Irian Jaya, Kurdistan, the Israeli-Administered Territories, the Palestinian-Administered Territories, the Transdniester in Moldova, Western Sahara, Macao, Chechnya, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico and Kosovo.
In 1998-99, it upgraded India as “Free” with the following explanation:” India’s civil liberties rating changed from 4 to 3 and its status changed from Partly Free to Free, due to the continued growth of civic organisations that are actively working to strengthen human rights protections and for methodological reasons.”
In its “Overview” of India, it said inter alia: ” In December 1992, Hindu fundamentalists, incited by the BJP and militant Hindu organisations, destroyed the 16th century Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, setting off weeks of deadly communal violence……. Many observers believe Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani, the hardline BJP leader, is the real power behind the Vajpayee government. More broadly, observers suggest that the government is ultimately controlled by the National Volunteer Service (RSS), a far-right Hindu group modeled after the 1930s European fascist parties. Vajpayee and other BJP leaders are RSS members and the RSS reportedly vetted key cabinet appointments. The Vajpayee government reportedly replaced the Governors of several key States with RSS supporters and placed pro-RSS bureaucrats into top posts.”
In its report on Kashmir for 1998-99, it continued to rate it as “Not Free” and said: “Kashmir’s political rights and civil liberties ratings changed from 7 to 6 due to limited gains in political participation and freedom of expression since a return to home rule in 1996.”
In its “Overview”, it said inter alia: “The new Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi did little to address human rights abuses or other concerns in the disputed territory…. The conflict has been exacerbated by New Delhi’s failure to honour pledges of self-determination for the territory, which India claims it cannot do until Pakistan withdraws its troops from territory under Islamabad’s control.”
The report took notice of alleged human rights violations by the security forces as well as the militants, but refrained from blaming Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism for the violence in the State. This is due to the fact that the staff of the Freedom House worked closely with Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment, with the Arab mercenaries led by Osama bin Laden, with the various Afghan Mujahideen groups and with the prominent activists of organisations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (previously known as the Harket-ul-Ansar) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba against the Soviet troops and then against the army of the former President, the late Najibullah, in Afghanistan. In the Freedom House too, as in the Pakistan area division of the CIA and the Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), there are still fond memories and feelings of gratitude for the past co-operation of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment.
It remains to be seen whether the recent changes in the US perception of Pakistan are reflected in the 1999-2000 reports of the Freedom House on India and Kashmir.
The Freedom House set up in 1986, a special unit called the Centre For religious Freedom (it was formerly known as the Puebla Institute). Even though it is supposed to monitor the violations of the religious rights of all religions of the world, it focuses mainly on the religious rights of the Christians in non-Christian countries and had organised in 1996a conference on “Global Persecution of Christians”. It publishes a bi-monthly newsletter on anti-Christian persecution.
A document of the Centre on Ms. Nina Shea, Director of the Centre, says as follows on her: ” A human rights lawyer, she has been an international religious freedom advocate for 13 years and is nationally known for her book on anti-Christian persecution, “In the Lion’s Den.” In 1999, she was appointed to serve as a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which was created under the International Religious Freedom Act to monitor religious persecution and recommend policy responses to the US government. From 1997 to 1999, she served on the Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad to the US Secretary of State. “Newsweek” magazine accredited Shea with making Christian persecution Washington’s hottest cause”.
And, she has been trying to make the alleged increase in atrocities on Christians in Gujarat since the BJP came to power in that state a hot cause for the Christian organisations of the US. Her Centre brings out annual country reports on the human rights of Christians in different countries of the world. For its 1998-99 report on India, it has just adopted in toto, without modification and without independent verification, a statistical analysis titled ” A Register of Atrocities Against Christians” provided to the Centre by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in India. Her Centre has also been giving wide dissemination to the allegations made by the United Christian Forum for Human Rights, of which Mr.John Dayal is the Convenor.
Ms.Shea was also recently in the forefront of the campaign in the US against PetroChina’s attempts to raise capital in the US. Her Centre campaigned against PetroChina on the ground that China was helping in the oil exploration efforts of the Government of Sudan, which was committing atrocities against the Christians of southern Sudan. Her campaign was motivated by concern for the human rights of not the Buddhists of Tibet, but the Christians of Sudan.
There is no harm in India participating in the forthcoming Warsaw conference on the Community of Democracies, but keeping in mind the above-mentioned worrisome aspects of some of the dramatis personae and the birth of the idea itself from the USA’s post-Cold War national security strategy to promote US strategic objectives, a cautious approach is called for. Over-enthusiasm and wishful-thinking that India is now an equal partner of the US in a new jehad for democracy would be unwise.
The USA is advancing the idea from behind the scene with the help of some NGOs and personalities of Cold War parentage to promote its strategic interests. The mask is that of Warsaw, but the face behind the mask is that of Washington. We should avoid letting ourselves be used by Washington in this venture to advance its interests unless there is a genuine convergence of the interests of the US and India. B.RAMAN 20-4-00