Feature Article

Netherlands-funded CEPA project wages political ‘counter-insurgency’ on Diaspora, elected NPC

[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 June 2017, 23:06 GMT]
The occupying Colombo and its global backers have charted a comprehensive deceptive programme, which facilitates continued structural genocide in the North-East through a common ‘development’ programme approaching Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern provinces together with the adjacent Sinhala-speaking North-Central province. A Colombo-based NGO outfit, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), is tasked to recruit gullible and opportunistic sections of the diaspora expanding Rajapaksa-time ‘KP-Diaspora’ programme. The CEPA, led by Sinhala academic cum consultant Udan Fernando, has been almost ‘spying’ on Tamil diaspora with the support of the Foreign Ministry of Netherlands so far. The CEPA was also trying to deceive the NPC. But, the NPC's governing body has identified the agenda behind the project. Citing its ‘interaction’ with the NPC, the CEPA is now trying to deceive the Tamil diaspora.

A highly placed source at the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) governing body told TamilNet on Thursday that the CEPA and its Director Udan Fernando were giving a wrong impression to the Tamil Diaspora, if they were using the name of the Northern Provincial Council as being involved in the deliberations and decisions in the CEPA meetings held in Colombo in April.

An invitation sent to selected individuals in Europe during the last week was stating that the meetings, led by Udan Fernando, were being scheduled to explain 30 proposals that have been formulated with the participation of the provincial councils from the North, East, Central and North-Central provinces in the island. This has given an impression to Tamil diaspora activists that the NPC was also a partner of the CEPA project.

In fact, invitations were sent to representatives from North, East, Central and North-Central provinces to take part in a panel discussion on “Needs and priorities of the provinces” on 20th April.

Another invitation was sent to NPC Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran urging him to take part in a CEPA-organised meeting on ‘Sustainable Tourism development’ along with the chief ministers or their representatives from Eastern, Central, Southern and Western Provinces on the following day at the SL Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs.

NPC Chief Minister Justice Wigneswaran didn't participate in the meetings, but he sent a senior representative to the meetings. The NPC's governing body was quick to grasp the pattern and silently withdrew from the deceptive discource, the source further said.

Anyone, who wants to know the real stand of the NPC should contact the Chief Minister’s office to clarify the actual position, the NPC source added.

Colombo Establishment and its global backers are trying to isolate the Northern and Eastern provincial councils by intervening through Colombo-based authorities, ministries and departments coming under the Central Government. Certain NGOs operating in Colombo also operate in the same manner.

There is also a hidden agenda of diverting ‘post-war development assistance’, ‘reconciliation’ and housing assistance intended for North-East to North-Central Province. Such assistance is deployed to Sinhalicise and colonize the Tamil homeland in the North-East.

The same trend was also observed in the recent meeting by SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe in Jaffna in May.

* * *

The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the main sponsor of the diaspora programme which is being referred as a “policy research project”. The project has a lifespan from 01 November 2015 to 30 November 2018.

The project is backed by several foreign ministry Establishments of the ‘strategic partners’ of the West through the diplomatic missions in Colombo and through the foreign ministries of the USA, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and Australia.

The NGOs such as the CEPA function as the facilitators of these external agenda-setters.

Initial planning for the latest ‘Diaspora programme’ was sketched out and fine-tuned in The Netherlands (July 2015) and in the UK (August 2015, London School of Economics).

Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy, who is now Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, carried out the meeting in London. He remained as a director of the CEPA until he became the Governor of the Central Bank.

The CEPA outfit lists certain SL government institutions, local, international NGOs and bilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as its clients.

“Build capacities of Sri Lankan government and private sector agencies to innovate, formulate/design, and introduce policies and systems to promote post-war development through private sector and diaspora engagement,” is one of the nicely formulated objectives of CEPA's Diaspora ‘Quisling’ project.

A Round Table was held at Bern, Switzerland in May 2015 involving the Foreign Ministries of countries with ‘significant’ diaspora populations, claims a write-up originating from the CEPA.

Apart from The Netherlands, the Canadian Government-run IDRC has also sponsored the CEPA at least twice since inception in 2001.

Director of CEPA Dr Udan Fernando
Director of CEPA Dr Udan Fernando
The academics from the Netherlands, from whom the CEPA claims to have derived guidance, include amongst others, personalities such as Prof Dr Georg Frerks of University of Utrecht, Prof Dr Gerd Junne, who was formally with the University of Amsterdam, Dr Shyamika Jayasundara (ISS, The Hague), Dr Lothar Smith (Radbound University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and Dr Awill Mahmoud, who is the director of African Diaspora Development Center situated in The Hague.

The Director of the CEPA is Netherlands-based Sinhala consultant cum academic Dr Udan Fernando. He is also running a private consultancy firm based in Colombo.

The CEPA was attempting to carry out an almost surveillance-level ‘research’ on Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals in recent months in Australia, in some European countries and in the North America. A description of the ‘scoping study’ of the CEPA stated that “a deeper understanding of intra- and inter diaspora dynamics and their relationships with the host and home countries,” was needed to inform future [SL] State engagement with the diaspora.

The CEPA further claims that it has undertaken following studies in the past 2 years:

  1. Literature review on Sri Lankan Diasporas and their engagement in post-war development, peace and reconciliation.
  2. “Reconnections”: Complexities of diaspora engagement in post-war Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.
  3. Motivational Dimensions of Diaspora Investment in the Tourism Sector in the Jaffna peninsula.
  4. Space and the City: Post-war Tamil Diaspora Real Estate Investments in Wellewatte.
  5. Perceptions of diaspora in the Sinhala media.
  6. Unearthing and unleashing the potential of the Sri Lankan Diaspora.
  7. Sri Lanka's Large Private Sector with Old and new ‘Elephants in the Room’.
  8. Competing at the Periphery– Small and Medium Enterprises in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka.
  9. Beyond life and debt: An enquiry on the effects of the expansion of the finance industry in the North and East.

* * *

CEPA programme
Some of the participants in the 3-day meetings organised by the CEPA in Colombo, 19-21, April 2017
Some of the participants and the organisations they represented in the 3-day meetings organised by the CEPA in Colombo, 19-21, April 2017
The involvement of the CEPA has now moved to the next level of openly involving Tamil diaspora ‘recruits’ in meetings in Colombo with the SL State. Follow-up meetings are also being organised in Europe. A such ‘invitees-only’ meeting is to take place in June 2017 in Oslo with the indirect facilitation of Norwegian Foreign Ministry and through formal invitation extended by an institution belonging to the University of Oslo.

A roundtable meeting was held for three days, from 19th April to 21st April, in Colombo at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International relations and Strategic Studies.

32 participants, most of them Tamil diaspora personalities, took part in the Colombo meeting. Some of them were members of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), Global Tamil Forum(GTF), Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils (NCET) and Australian Tamil Congress (ATC). The TGTE and NCET participants were using names of other (including defunct or non-existent) organisations from their host countries (See the list of participants and the organisations they were representing).

The meeting was organised by the CEPA in collaboration with SL Foreign Ministry.

V. Kuhanendran of the GTF, who is based in London, was co-chairing the sittings on 21 April with Udan Fernando.

Balan Ratnarajah from Canada, an elected member of the TGTE, was proposing 50:50 ownership share in diaspora investments up to five million rupees and 51(local) and 49% (diaspora) share in investments ranging between 5 million and two crores.

Two TGTE members from Norway (Yogarajah Balasingam and Sivakanesan Thiliampalam, who were earlier belonging to different factions) and Panchakulasingam Kandiah of the Norwegian Council of Eezham Tamils (NCET), were also attending the meeting.

They were all being referred as ‘Overseas Sri Lankans from Europe, North America and Australia’.

* * *

The CEPA discourse and the associated political ‘counter-insurgency’ of the Colombo regime seem to have close connections with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meddling in the affairs of Eezham Tamils.

This came to light at a meeting SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe was attending in Jaffna with public representatives and government officials along with NPC Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran on 19 May 2017.

Mr Wikramasinghe revealed some of the IMF and New Delhi outlooks for ‘development’ in the North. “Large construction projects need to come into Northern province,” he said.

The Indian outlook of ‘development’ was orientating from the Indian Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari and his suggestion was to upgrade Jaffna - Mannaar coastal road, then extend it from Mannaar to Vavuniyaa and from there to Trincomalee as express way. Development to the region could come through the express ways accompanied by an Indian project at Trincomalee was the Indian outlook, as revealed by Mr Wickramasinghe at the meeting.

‘Development’ was needed to pay back the loans taken by Colombo during the war and after, according to Mr Wickramasinghe. Further, the ‘development‘ cannot wait until political settlement is achieved, Wickramasinghe was saying.

At the same meeting, Mr Wickramasinghe was also talking about a ‘new system’ of IMF negotiated scheme of incentives to invite investors into Jaffna, Northern and Easter provinces. He was connecting GSP+, other trade related agreements and tourism as giving new growth and job-creation opportunities to the island, including the Northern Province.

But, in order to divert investors into North, a special IMF-negotiated ‘arrangement’ has been made, he said.

“You don't pay taxes until you make a profit. And, from the profit, you are entitled to 100% depreciation tax-free. Hundred per cent! But, if you locate in the North before 31st of December 2019, you are entitled to 200%! It is to get people into the Northern Province,” he went on talking about Task Forces being created in Colombo to bring investors into Jaffna and North.

In reality, SL Prime Minister and the Central Government in Colombo were only paving creative ways for bringing Sinhala or Colombo-centric southern investors into North, Tamil civil officials who attended the meeting told TamilNet.

SL PM and NPC CM at Jaffna District Secretariat
SL PM and NPC Chief Minister addressing public officials at the district secretariat of Jaffna on 19 May 2017

Justice C.V. Wigneswaran was crisp in his response to SL Prime Minister’s ”large projects” and making inroads through IMF/GSP+ facilitations for private sector investments from South.

The responses from NPC Chief Minister Justice C.V.Wigneswaran are more than enough to the non-articulating sections among Eezham Tamils to direct their criticisms at the deceptive Quisling programmes coming through the agent-State and agent-NGO outfits such as the CEPA through the diplomatic missions of The Netherlands, USA, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Australia.

The following are extracts from NPC Chief Minister's address at the meeting, articulating the concerns of Eezham Tamils in North:

“You must realize that we apportion more importance to the attitude of the Centre rather than their lavish largesse. When we found a discriminative design on the part of the Centre in the post 1956 period we resorted to non - violent struggle openly rather than deign deceptive co-operation in order to obtain our lost rights. It was only when non – violence failed that violence took charge. But it must be remembered that generally we are, as a unit of people with special characteristics of our own, trustworthy, provided you recognized our talents and temperaments. We are as a Nation conscious of our antiquity and our ancient classical language. The older generation among us still approve of the adage “high thinking and simple living”.

“All this introduction brings me to the matters at hand. Our Economic Development must ensure that we the people of this Province are at the helm of our own affairs. We cannot be used as a vassal Province for the benefit of wayward investors. We are proud of our heritage; we like to live a life of our own rather that be dictated to by outsiders. But we are most certainly willing to join in earnest co –operation in the economic field, like in co – operative federalism in the field of politics. ”


“In Private – Public partnership, preference must be given to our local investors first, our own diaspora investors next and if unavailable to others from outside the Northern Province. We would like to give priority to our regional work force, then to our Provincial work force and thereafter to others. Whenever environmental concerns arise it is essential that our local environmentalists official or otherwise are consulted and their opinion obtained. After all we are a war-affected community and we need special considerations. We have a different terrain and topography, different climate and also different life perceptions and therefore our consonance in important matters must be obtained.

“We do not approve of “one stop” offices in Colombo dictating the course of internal investments and economic regeneration in our areas. Our Northern Provincial Council especially its elected representatives must be taken into confidence and their views obtained when directing the course of such investments.

“Thus all investments must get the approval of our Planning Council and the Evaluation Committee of the Northern Province which I intend constituting officially at the local level shortly constituting academics, subject matter experts, professionals and senior Officials with experience and expertise. Having served as CM for 3 ½ years I am acutely aware of the effect and impact of the dual administration system and their negative impact on the governance of the Province under the Thirteenth Amendment.”

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