NGO crimes go far beyond Oxfam

We were so incensed by the way the scandal of Oxfam was being presented, and how the issue of the money collected and whether it reached people was not mentioned, that some of us wrote this letter to The Guardian. It gave us a chance to focus public attention on the way that Haitians in particular have been robbed after the devastating earthquake in 2010. So called NGOs did not deliver what the international public, with small donations, on small budgets, wanted them to have.

This letter was published in The Guardian yesterday, the online version is still to be corrected.

The Guardian   Letters   13 Feb 2018

NGO crimes go far beyond Oxfam

Figures for earthquake relief range from $10bn to $13.4bn. Some of us who visited Haiti have seen little or no sign of that money, write activists

Poster seen in window of an Oxfam bookshop, Glasgow.
Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

In 2008 some of us had written to Barbara Stocking, then Oxfam chief executive, objecting to a report that it sponsored, Rule of Rapists in Haiti, which labelled Haitians as rapists while hiding rapes by occupying UN forces. The year before, 114 soldiers had been sent home for raping women and girls, some as young as 11. No one was prosecuted. We wrote: “NGOs like Oxfam have known about rapes by UN forces, as well as by aid and charity workers, for decades. It’s the pressure of victims, women and [children] in the most impoverished communities, who had the courage to speak out that finally won … public acknowledgement.” There was no reply.

The latest revelations of sexual abuse by major charities (Report, 13 February), are but one facet of NGO corruption. The people of Haiti were the first to free themselves from slavery, but the colonial “masters” they defeated – France, Britain and the US – have continued to plunder and exploit, including through imported NGOs. Haiti has more NGOs per square mile than any other country and it remains the poorest in the western hemisphere.  [Ian Birrill was right:] Corruption begins and ends with neo-colonial powers.

While celebrated for “doing good”, NGO professionals do well for themselves. They move between NGOs, academia and political appointments, enjoying a culture of impunity while they exercise power over the poorest.  [When she left Oxfam, Stocking went to academia, advising on “gender equality”.]  The Lancet described NGOs in Haiti as “polluted by unsavoury characteristics seen in many big corporations” and “obsessed with raising money”.

Figures for earthquake relief range from $10bn to $13.4bn. Some of us who visited Haiti have seen little or no sign of that money. The public was outraged when they discovered the Red Cross intended to build a luxury hotel and conference centre in Haiti with some unspent donations. Big NGOs are far from non-governmental. For example, Oxfam receives millions from the UK government. USAID is another major funder. Unsurprisingly, NGO politics follow the cash.

In 2004 the US (backed by Canada and France) overthrew Haiti’s democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He headed a popular movement to chart an independent course that would move Haitians “from destitution to poverty”. His government supported small farmers, raised the minimum wage (the lowest in the western hemisphere), built schools and hospitals. (UNIFA, his medical university will be celebrating the graduation of its first class of doctors in March). The coup against him had NGO support. Charities thrive on the poor, not on ending poverty.

[Words in square brackets were omitted from the published letter]

Cristel Amiss
Black Women’s Rape Action Project
Red Thread, Guyana
Margaret Busby
(Publisher & author)
Sara Callaway
Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike
Luke Daniels
Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Jocelyn Dow
Red Thread, Guyana
Selma James
Global Women’s Strike
Pierre Labossiere
Haiti Action Committee
Emma Lewis
Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Dr. Altheia Le Cointe
Trinidad & Tobago

Eddie Le Cointe
Nina Lopez
Legal Action for Women
Ian Macdonald QC

Nichola Marcus

Red Thread, Guyana
Rose Okello
All African Women’s Group
Margaret Prescod
Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike
Lawrence Renee
Payday Men’s Network
Sidney Ross-Risden
Haiti Support Working Group
Becky Titah
All African Women’s Group
Sam Karl Weinstein
Refusing to Kill network


We got a few Caribbean people including our Haitian point of reference and a few others of us dedicated to Haiti to express a slice of our experience of Haitian suffering which has given us great pain.

Clearly the NGOs have now become an unaccountable substitute for aid budgets of the UK and other countries. Once the governments fund, the NGOs must promote whatever political and economic interests the funders want pursued.

If funding is the aim and the object of so called charitable organisations, what they do is determined by what it will earn not what it will accomplish for the people they are supposed to be helping. The amount of money collected ($10-13.4 billon) is consistently camouflaged. We don’t know how many people died or were permanently maimed, etc., because this money given for them did not go to them. Hardly anyone has mentioned this in all that we have read.

Some aid workers blew the whistle and told us what was really going on. We owe great thanks to them because they went against the grain and this is not easy for people to do, though it is a habit that must be cultivated by all of us.

In addition one journalist who writes for the Sunday Mail and cannot be considered left wing described how “aid workers” were eating in posh restaurants where outside people were starving.  With friends like that who needs enemies.

Some of us who visited Haiti had seen small charities doing work connected with cholera that UN troops had imposed who were dedicated and quietly effective.

We have no idea how those who work for the large NGOs are recruited and how their dedication, or lack of it, is gauged. But it is clear that they have recruited people who are interested in sex with children. Also we know that when they leave one charity they can get a job with another, whatever have been their crimes. How does this happen? They each now have to explain.  Were they given references, for example?

We do know that charities were anxious for their name/logo to be photographed in situ so they could claim that they were helping; even Israel was quickly on the spot with doctors and cameras – for two weeks. Then they left.

Now we know that the charities are another way we the public are being fleeced. The Charity Commission has never complained above a whisper about this fleecing. It has been considered above suspicion. Now we must ask what corruption they are involved in.

Some years ago a malicious complaint was made about our small charity to count and value women’s unwaged work. The Charity Commission went through every piece of paper, every receipt and invoice. It took us weeks to prepare and explain. At the end of it we were given a clean bill of health but we were exhausted. Why were we challenged in this way? Because we had challenged women’s poverty and had no big-shot patrons. But the big charities are like the banks, too big to fail. Or rather too big for their failure to result in their demise.

Replies to our letter are coming in and we will be posting them soon.

Statement: Thailand – We Walk: freedom of assembly wins, and the courts affirm their rights!

Freedom of Assembly Wins, and the Courts affirmed their rights –’We Walk…Friendship/Solidarity’

The people of Thailand inspire us into action to struggle and further promote our rightsand freedoms…People themselves need to act – time for dependency on politicians and political parties must end…   The ‘We Walk…Friendship/Solidarity’ of the ordinary people of Thailand has concluded today(17/2/2018). Congrats to the people of Thailand in your quest for justice, human rights and democracy.

See their PUBLIC STATEMENT ISSUED 17/2/2018 below.  

Of interest also, is the fact that the Courts stood strong and justly recognised the people’s right to freedom of assembly. The Courts have spoken – and hopefully, the government will listen to the Courts, and drop all charges against the 8, and the many others involved in solidarity peaceful assembly in other parts of Thailand…  

The Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the lower court’s ruling protecting “We Walk” marchers. The ruling, read by the Central Administrative Court on Thursday afternoon, instructs the police order the commanders of Police Regions 3 and 4 not to block or obstruct their gatherings and to provide them with conveniences and security until Saturday, the last day of the march. Bangkok Post, 15/2/2018(Follow link to read full report)   See earlier relevant posts We walk… a action to highlight injustices and concerns…still going?? 52 Groups- Thailand Must…End Harassment and Suppression of Rights of “We Walk…Solidarity/Friendship” participants – Revoke Summons Against 8

Public Statement   We walk Friendship Walk  “A roadmap to democracy by the people” 17 February 2018   To all comrades of ‘We walk Friendship Walk’, all of those who have walked on foot with us, the folk who have shown their solidarity with us, those who have expressed opinions, those who have asked about our wellbeing, those who have greeted us along the way, those who have brought us supplies and food, those who have offered us accommodation and money, we have eventually arrived at our destination.     We have walked over 450 kilometres starting from 20 January until 16 February 2018, 28 days and more than 800,000 steps.     Our start was plagued with obstacles. Surveillance has been imposed on us as if we were criminals. Charges have been pressed against us in an attempt to prevent us from exercising our constitutional rights. We were deprived even with places to sleep as the hosts had been subject to pressure from the authorities. But instead of deterring us, such obstacles have simply galvanized us making us even more determined and unwavering to nurture more friendship and to befriend more people on the road of friendship.   Our friendship walk has shown how democracy can still be relished on the road by the people. Amidst the callous crackdown, the looting of our voting rights, we were made aware that many friends along the way share with us the same ideas. And they shall rise up to uphold popular democracy; their voice shall never fade away from the road.     Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingImage may contain: 23 people, crowd, tree and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, sitting    Legal actions have been maliciously taken against those gathering on the Skywalk in front of the MBK Shopping Mall in Bangkok of the MBK39 to demand elections. It has led to 39 persons being taken to court for violating the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558. Such a SLAPP case has also been brought against friends of the We walk Friendship Walk, the villagers at DoiThevada Village, Tambon Sob Bong, Phusang District, Phayao. 14 of them have been charged for violating the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558 as a result of their showing solidarity with us. We, members of the We walk Friendship Walk, want to extend our solidarity and well wishes to all comrades who have taken to the street to uphold their rights and freedom of expression and public assembly. We want to demonstrate how such rights can be exercised under whichever ruling system we find ourselves in.     This friendship walk is also a litmus test to Thailand’s judicial system under the military rule as we have been granted an injunction from the  Administrative Court. As a result, competent officers of the public assembly law are bound to provide us protection and to facilitate out walk for its entire route. The Court’s decision has surprisingly yield friendlier gesture from the police. We would like to thank our police brothers and sisters who have made their best to ensure our peaceful and uninterrupted walk.    We, however, condemn interventions by other administrative officers, security officers and military officers who have been persecuting and harassing us all the way during the walk. Plainclothes officers have been dispatched to follow and monitor us. Such officers have concealed their identities and affiliations, unlike the police. Pressure has been put on sisters and brothers who have come out to show their solidarity with us. The officers have gone to their homes and threatened their families. Last but not least, we regret the role of KhonKaen University which instead of offering a space to make voices of the community heard to serve the spirit of the university, has turned its back on the people and their community.    Throughout the entire route and through every firm stem taken we left behind enduring hopes and inspirations   
Image may contain: 5 people, people standing and outdoorImage may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd, sky and outdoorImage may contain: 3 people, people smiling, crowd and outdoor    We aspire and dream of a society in which people from all walk of life, from cradle to grave, shall be accorded with basic welfares and rights, equally among themselves. All people should be entitled to health security and attain quality of living, equally. The universal healthcare scheme must be left intact and people must not be required to help pay for the medical bill.   Such noble scheme must not be desecrated and people must not be made downtrodden population who simply have to wait for a scrap of social relief and merit making. Everyone should be treated equal human beings and everyone must have access to some kind of security. It must be guaranteed that every one of us earns enough to provide for ourselves and our families and to live a dignified life in our old age.     We aspire and dream of a government with policies that refrain from dismantling our food security and to provide for assurance that every people is able to live and rely on themselves. We shall not be enslaved by the food industry that has taken away our land, our plant varieties and our livestock, while promoting the use of chemicals in agriculture, illegal technologies and fishing tools that are destructive to natural resources. The food industry has also endeavored to develop marketing mechanisms and prowess that makes livelihood of small people vulnerable. Small scale farmers and ordinary people must be entitled to the right to preserve their plant varieties to grow their own food and to freely exchange and sell them to other people without being controlled and subjected to the monopolization of the investors and multinational corporations since all the plant varieties and natural resources belong to none, but us all.     We aspire and dream of a peaceful life in which the environment and community right are not in peril. No laws shall be promulgated to make an exemption to the enforcement of city and town planning ordinances to pave the way for the construction of waste-to-energy power plants and the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) teemed with polluting factories that wreak havoc local people’s and community’s health and quality of life. Environmental protection laws must not be subjected to modification to pave the way to an onslaught of industrial development projects based on the change made on rules and regulations to allow Environmental and Health Impact Assessment to be approved so fast and without public participation. Eventually, people’s voices must be heard and they must be a part of the effort to manage their own community and resources.     We aspire and dream of a society in which a democratic constitution is well established based on public participation. This should have led to an enabling environment in which people can exercise their rights and freedoms, can communicate, express themselves and participate in free and fair elections. It is our hope and aspiration to stand on our own feet and to live a dignified life. We shall press ahead with the effort to have all the repressive Orders and Announcements revoked including the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558, the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 64/2557, the latter of which has been used to forcibly evict the poor from the forest and their farmland.     Image may contain: 4 people, people standing, tree and outdoorImage may contain: 5 people, people standing and outdoorImage may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor    It is our hope and aspiration to promote the four pillars that have prompted us to organize the ‘We walk Friendship Walk’. They are the four basic political and social necessities essential for building movements against projects, policies and laws that are unfair. The four basic political and social necessities permeate in all our actions.     We look for connecting with each other since we all look forward to making possible a peaceful and sustainable society.     We look for connecting with each other to unfold nascent political and social work which ‘deepens the connections of people and community in their political struggles’.     Amidst the crises stemming from a government led by coup-makers, not an elected government, when absolute power has been relentlessly wielded without checks and balances, corruptions have been rampant, while scrutiny and accountability leave much to be desired. We live in a country where the rulers are being questioned, where doubts about their integrity are bountiful. Yet, none of the rulers have shown their responsibilities to address such doubts. Instead, they have made no intention to hide their desire to cement their power hoping to stay on in power for a long time. Still, we have the hope and the aspiration that with our two arms and two legs, we shall continue to walk on the road of friendship; this is just a first step of such long lasting friendship.   On behalf of the People Go Network Forum composed of five people’s networks including;   1. The people’s network for state welfare and people for universal healthcare   2. The alternative agriculture and food security network   3. The natural resource, the environment and community rights network  4. The network of academics and lawyers that monitors the Constitution, democracy, elections and violation of freedoms and rights  5. The Four Region Slum Network and network of the homeless     Being concerned with and caring for the crises that wreaked the country, we have decided to start walking to show our power.  The “Friendship Walk” is an attempt to reclaim our right to participate in decision making and self-determination. It provides a chance for groups, organizations, and networks to make known to public their lack of security in life, how they have been deprived of rights and welfares, how they have been deprived of their rights to natural resources, how their food security is being compromised, how their political rights are restricted and most importantly, how their rights, freedoms and humanity are being denigrated.     All of us are members of the We walk Friendship Walk. Through walking, we nourish friendship that connects us all among those whose opinions can be diverse. We invite us all to come and share your problems, to express yourselves, to enhance our mutual understanding and to have a free exchange without belittling each other. It is a walk to enhance our quality of life. It is a walk to assert people’s right and people’s participation in all fronts of national development.     And we declare this is just a first step. Our hope and aspiration for a beautiful world are crystal clear. We shall collectively chart our future. We shall turn our backs to the center of power and move toward the rural sector. And to make their first step firm, we declare;    “Power must belong to the people”. And we hope that a “second step” shall be taken everywhere since “democracy cannot exist without people”.   Last but not least, with our firm belief in the power and rights and freedoms of the people, Down with Dictatorship! Long live Democracy!     With our trust in the power and rights and freedoms of the people    The People GO Network Forum  We walk Friendship Walk 17 February 2018