A German Foundation, Tibetan protests and the Liberal Party Drilon wing
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa () - May 3, 2008 - 12:00am

I was surprised when the Chinese accused the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for being behind the Tibetan protests that have embarrassed China’s Olympic relay around the world. After all, the foundation operates actively here in the Philippines supporting the Liberal Party Drilon wing.

A Canadian journalist Doug Sanders wrote a story in Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper on how “Three Canadians Upstaged Beijing.” It was compiled from “conference reports and research”. He revealed that the foreign policy organization played a big role in preparing for the anti-Chinese Tibet campaign, for more than a year.

The report said the anti-Chinese Tibet campaign was orchestrated from its Washington-based headquarters but that it had been planned as far back as May 2007 in Brussels. A conference organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNSt) “gave the impetus to the current anti-Chinese Tibet campaign that forced the interruption of the Olympian Torch Relay in Paris recently.”

The conference was supposed to do nothing other than to “coordinate the work of the international Tibet groups and consolidate the links between them with the central Tibetan Government in Exile,” the report said.

“The German foundation, which is largely state financed, began the conference preparations in March 2005, and coordinated its plans with the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in the self-proclaimed Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala, India. Rolf Berndt, a member of the FNSt’s executive council in Brussels, declared that the Olympic Games ‘are an excellent opportunity’ to publicly promote the cause of the Tibet Movement. The conference participants agreed to make the Olympics the single focus of attack for their activities for the next 15 months. They hired a full-time organizer for their campaign, who has since been directing the worldwide Tibet actions from their Washington headquarters,” the report added. Paula Dobriansky, the Undersecretary of State in the US State Department and special coordinator for Tibet questions, also attended the conference according to the report.

But what should interest us about the supposed involvement of the German Foundation in the Tibet protests is that it is also active here in the Philippines. The activities of Friedrich Naumann Foundation here are well known and publicized. It has an office in Makati. In general, it promotes liberalism and democracy in Asia and has chosen the Liberal Party of the Philippines Drilon Wing as its chosen vehicle for its advocacy.

On one occasion former Senate President Sen. Drilon was cited and feted by the foundation for having led the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats. Drilon was chairman while Dr. Neric Acosta was secretary-general of the group. In tribute to their contributions to CALD and the cause of liberalism worldwide, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and CALD praised Drilon and Acosta on for their work. The event was on 18 December 2007 in Quezon City. Also present was Senator Roxas, another Liberal stalwart who toasted Sen. Drilon.

Former representative Dina Abad spoke on the same occasion of Dr. Acosta’s “ability to bridge cultural gaps and bring political leaders from different backgrounds together.” Siegfried Herzog, FNF resident representative, pointed out the significant role that former Sen. Drilon and Dr. Acosta had played in bringing Philippine and Asian liberal concerns to a wider audience.

The event highlighted the Liberal Party’s debut in international networking with like minded people around the world. This according to Herzog was the work of Drilon and Dr. Acosta.

“The time and effort they have devoted to international work has raised the standing of Filipino liberals and of the Philippines as a democratic nation,” said Herzog. “They have enriched the political debate, and they have enabled other Filipino liberals to share in this exchange of ideas and experiences,” he added. “The LP can be proud to have such leaders.”

In general the overt activities of foundations are welcome. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for example hosted a dialogue between civil society and the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Group of the German Parliament last February 6, 2008 at the FNF office in Makati City. Invited on this occasion were academicians, environmentalists, representatives from human rights groups, economic and social development initiatives, cooperatives and trade unions to provide the German delegation with a clearer picture of the role of civil society in Philippine democracy. It is about covert activities that we should be wary about and be cautious. But then if we do not know what they are about then we can hardly be expected to be cautious. The link between the Tibetan protests and what it sought to do to the Olympic relay is a good example of a less than laudable activity that should give us a warning of what it can do here in the Philippines.

* * *

Another organization that is under fire since the disruption of the Olympic relay is Reporters Without Borders. We know little about the group but the Chinese have become more assiduous in tracing the origins of these groups. It was in Greece that events first unfolded when the Olympic flame was lighted and disrupted the ceremonies. It was reported that the protest was about Tibet. Three protesters were arrested, but immediately released. Little was made of the fact that none of the three were Tibetan. Indeed, all three were French.

They all are employees of the outfit called Reporters Without Borders. Based in France, the group allegedly gets funding from the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as well as the Soros Foundation and the Center for a Free Cuba.

For background, US State Department Special Envoy Otto Reich is a trustee of the Center. He was also the lawyer for the Bacardi liquor dynasty that was kicked out of Cuba, along with the hated dictator Fulgencio Batista. The president of the Center is Frank Calzón, a former leader of the terrorist organization Cuban American National Foundation.

It is reported that about 38 percent of the US government’s nonmilitary China-related programs are allocated through the NED.

According to the NED’s Website, other recipients of its China funds include the Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Longsho Youth Movement of Tibet.

All this raises more questions than answers about what is now happening in China. How did it happen that there is now focus on Tibet at the time when the 2008 Olympics in Beijing is just around the corner. It is increasingly being asked why in the disruption of the Olympic torch lighting in Greece that the commentators quoted most frequently in the US media were not Tibetans but Americans speaking for Tibetans.

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