Estelea's Blog

French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.

The Men of the day: 1 judge, 1 artist and 4 whistleblowers


Great news to wake up to this morning: Judge orders UN to lift suspension of Anders Kompass, who leaked internal UN report on alleged abuse of children by French troops in Central African Republic.

Can you believe that the director of field operations for the UNHCR had been suspended because he took upon himself to inform the French army of the abuses committed by its men on children who were begging for food? Those soldiers forced very young and traumatized kids to have sex for food! how appalling is that? It is not the first time that UN Peacekeepers are accused of such crimes, one would expect the organization to stand by its director. Of course not, instead of penalizing the abusers, the UN preferred orchestrating a crackdown on the whistleblower to cover its own trail.

Even if Kompass still remains subject to an internal UN enquiry, I hope that his integrity will be acknowledged and praised. He was not a coward bystander like so many of his peers. Life means choices, and he took a stand by refusing to compromise.

In the meanwhile, in Germany, tribute statues of the whistleblower dream team, Snowden, Assange and Manning were unveiled. Monuments to “courage, tribute to freedom of speech and information” according to their creator Dormino.

The life-sized statues of the three whistleblowers stand upon three chairs, as if speaking in an impromptu public meeting. Next to them is a fourth, empty chair.

For Dormino, who titled his piece Anything to Say? this is the centerpiece of the composition. “It is not a simple homage to individuals, but to courage and to the importance of freedom of speech and information.
To be free, we need to be courageous. And courage is contagious“.

Real Public Art!  Not that I am unconditionally supporting all whistleblowers, but I hope it will create a real debate on the meanings of transparency and accountability.

What do you think?


9 comments on “The Men of the day: 1 judge, 1 artist and 4 whistleblowers

  1. Hubert
    May 7, 2015

    wohee, no replies yet… I guess this topic is rather sensitive (or not holiday-like enough).
    Whistleblowing is a dangerous and difficult “sport” – and I am not fully sure re what to think of those chaps and ladies doing it. There is always the difficulty in needing to find out whether it comes down to real, honest “doing good” opposed to whistleblowing for those infamous fifteen minutes of fame. And because of the latter, unfortunately, in our world of thinking, the whistleblowers need to explain themselves and need to fight off any accusations addressed towards them, even if they belong to the group of “doing good”.
    Still, I do hope enough and more people stand up to speak out loud when they see something strange, incorrent or evil. We are, after all, all humans, and why should we harm each other? There is no point in that…

    • estelea
      May 8, 2015

      Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂 I totally agree with you Hubert.
      I have been working for the last decade for an International organization that praises the rule of confidentiality. It is clearly explained to you when you sign your contract, and you have to abide by the rule. You don’t tell anyone about what you see and the testimonies you collect. And we all do it because we understand that it is a way to protect the people we are assisting, their safety and the one of their fam of any retaliation. It is also a way to protect our people deployed in the field. And by not disclosing any sensitive info, we gain the trust of all the protagonists to a conflict. I am so used to it that I can not support the whole ” whistleblower campaign”.

      As you rightly said, there are the ones looking for their 15′ fame, and the principe of transparency can not always be the rule.
      Kompass, the UN Director, is a man I am totally supporting. He has been protecting the live of children from sexual predators, that’s what we are talking about.
      The later behavior of the UN, deciding to kill the messenger, proved that he was right: the machine is unethical.

      I have far more mixed feelings when it comes to guys working for the CIA or some military agencies. Some would really need to think of the impact of “truth” (oh really?? the CIA is spying on everyone?) on the operations in the field.

      But some of them are real Resistants, and we need them. The people who leaked the pic of the tortures inflicted in Guantanamo for instance. They are protecting all of us.

      (will post more holiday-like pict later today to balance ;)) Have a lovely Week end!)

  2. Donna
    May 7, 2015

    I may need to think about this a bit more but my initial thought is is it wasn’t for whistleblowers we the people…would not know about a lot of things going on NOw on the other hand if the whistleblower is not being truthful that just sucks but yep let us know what is happening

    • estelea
      May 8, 2015

      You are so right Donna. We need them to denounce what is illegal, the wrong doings of our society. They are like war resistants to me, they are taking great risks to tell the truth.

      The case of the UN chief was really shocking to me, I could not believe he had been dismissed for alerting the French Army of the misbehavior of his soldiers! not only he did great for the protection of all those vulnerable children, but at the end for the French army as well. People at all levels need to know that some behavior can not be tolerated and must be condemned. Actually, the French Government thanked him for the leak!

      But I am more reluctant to support some other whistleblowers who are jeopardizing the National security of their country, especially if this country is at war.

      That’s the great thing about this world traveling exhibition: engaging a reflexion on the freedom of expression, facing opinions, discussing.
      And we are fortunate to live in countries where freedom of expression really means something (ok, maybe up to a certain level only 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your opinion. Have a sweet week end!

  3. LDG luciledegodoy
    May 8, 2015

    You have my full support to your ideas.
    I am rather disappointed with the UN reaction. They side with procedure instead of their mission to protect citizens from abuse.
    I think the confidentiality should be better defined. If it’s to protect the victims it’s a must. But to protect the perpetrators is connivence, making them as guilty as those who commit the abuses and violence.

    If some people don’t have courage to speak up and confront cowardice, nothing would be revealed and changed for the better.

    • estelea
      May 8, 2015

      Although if the UN could have dismissed one of their chief with 30 years of experience in the organization and a very respected track record for this breach of confidentiality…
      Let’s hope he’ll inspire others though!

      • LDG luciledegodoy
        May 8, 2015

        Let’s hope it does! There might be many atrocious stories that never came out.
        But one needs courage, dignity and selflessness to do that, and when it comes to the latter, many people are short of it.

      • estelea
        May 11, 2015

        You re right. My Uncle used to say that” All men are men, but not all men are Men” (the translation is weird but not sure many people would get it in yiddish;).
        At least this story is now widely public, and things should get moving for the best. Imagine the courage of those who resisted during the war, when they were risking their own life!

      • LDG luciledegodoy
        May 12, 2015

        Your uncle is wise. Kudos for him.
        Good remark. Fortunately there are always good souls like that, in times of distress, who take action on behalf of others.

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