Shortly after the Tsunami I posted an entry giving readers a “heads up” that they should research the organizations that they donate money to. Not all organizations are what they seem at the surface, and money sometimes flows in misguided ways. Just as an example I linked to Campaign to Stop Funding Hate website. I unintentionally but wrongfully implied that the accusations made on that website against certain aid groups were legitimate. Judging by the numerous and lengthy comments left by readers (including the spokesman for CSFH) this is a subject more controversial than I had imagined. Earlier this week the U.K. Charity commission absolved one of the relief organizations that the Campaign to Stop Funding hate had singled out. As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
The leader of a Duluth-based relief organization says he feels vindicated by a British government report clearing the group’s sister charity of wrongdoing in India.
The U.K. Charity Commission concluded that 2.3 million British pounds raised by Sewa International Ã¢Â€Â” Sewa International USA’s affiliate in the United Kingdom Ã¢Â€Â” indeed went to help rebuild six Indian villages devastated by a 2001 earthquake in Gujarat state.
Hate group watchdogs had accused Sewa International of using the donations to support Hindu nationalists they say foment violence against Christians, Muslims and other minorities in India. There are no such accusations against the recently created Sewa International USA, but the watchdogs had issued warnings against any group affiliated with Sewa International following India’s latest natural disaster, the Indian Ocean tsunamis.
The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (who according to Seva “are largely made up of Communist intellectuals bent on disrupting the activities of Hindu groups”) isn’t convinced however:
The two hate-group watchdogs Ã¢Â€Â” a U.S.-based network of activists called the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and the British group Awaaz-South Asia Watch Ã¢Â€Â” said the report was flawed. They noted that India denied visas to British investigators, making it impossible for them to check for themselves how the funds were actually used. The charity commission’s conclusions were based partly on a report by 30 donors who witnessed the reconstruction work and new schools as part of a visit arranged by Sewa International.
“One has to question where the Charity Commission is getting its information from,” said Ra Ravishankar, a spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate.