Islamic Relief’s PR machine has now gone into full swing. They have launched a ruthless campaign of character assassination against me, spun with lies and inaccuracies that even Tony Blair would be proud of.
Rather than do the right thing and admit their faults months ago, which could have prevented this entire ‘Relief-Gate’ scandal, they have instead tried to dodge, manipulate and lie their way out of something that is clear as day for anyone to see.
Jehangir clearly asked for the aid to be delayed. If you want to know the truth of the matter, simply ask Islamic Relief if Jehangir asked for the food distribution to be delayed or not? So far they have dodged the matter. However, it might not be necessary to ask them. I have an audio recording of a conversation that took place between Jehangir and myself when he informed me that my contract would not be renewed.
In it, he clearly does not deny that he attempt to delay aid. Instead, he dismisses his attempt to delay aid as ‘operational matters’. He talks about ‘chopping and changing’ things, but IR UK’s statement says that Jehangir had no control over the operations on the ground. Jehangir’s hesitation and fumbling during this recording is that of a man confronted with the truth and looking for a way out – there was a third person in the room with us forcing him to watch his words carefully. You can listen to this recording below.
I have nothing to gain financially from of this. I do not need or want their money. I have always had three main demands from Islamic Relief. 1) they should accept these things took place, 2) they should put processes in place to ensure that these unethical practices never take place again and 3) they should apologise for their actions. However, some individuals at Islamic Relief seem to think that just because they have the word ‘Islamic’ in their organisation’s name, that this allows them carte blanche to act as they please. This is what has led to ‘Relief-Gate’.
Let’s make something clear. I do not wish to gain financially in any way whatsoever from this debacle. I have emails to prove that I clearly stated that I would not be silenced with a financial settlement, and that I wanted the ethical issues addressed. For Islamic Relief to say that I was looking for a financial settlement in return for my silence is ludicrous. I was out of work for six months and as part of the tribunal process it is required that you put down your financial costs. This was never the primary objective, nor the end. I would rather die than accept money from a charity that continues to cover up corruption and carry out the kinds of unethical practices I have described in my article. My union representative can easily verify what my demands were during the tribunal process.
This email – which I sent to the CEO of Islamic Relief on the 28th of June 2012 – should be enough to prove why I pulled out from the tribunal process:
“Dear Dr Ashmawey,
I regret to inform you that I now feel that I have no other option but to go public with what I know. I am deeply disappointed with your findings and do not think you have taken seriously the ethical issues I raised. Because of your disregard of the serious ethical and moral concerns I will now not be doing this via an employment tribunal because it has become very clear to me that the current management has no desire for a legitimate settlement in this case.”
I raised all these ethical issues as soon as I returned from East Africa. I wrote a report that was emailed out in early August. I was still an employee of Islamic Relief at the time, so the question has to be asked: what did I have to gain from raising these concerns when I did? What I wanted was to make sure the kinds of scenes I witnessed in Somalia were never repeated.
What did Darrell have to gain from co-authoring the report with me and accepting to be a witness during IR’s internal investigation into my complaint about my loss of employment? He was still an employee at Islamic Relief at the time. The answer is nothing; he was simply telling the truth, and as a result, he risked his own job.
I did not have to raise these issues whilst I was at Islamic Relief. I could have remained silent. I chose to speak out whilst I was there and put my position at risk. My contract was ended in October; I raised the ethical concerns I had with some of IR’s actions long before October. What does Islamic Relief think my motivations were? If I raised these issues well before the end of my contract, then how can there be any financial gain for me? IR should stop lying.
The second report back from Libya was written again on my return, and emailed out in September. Islamic Relief have conveniently left out the issues from Libya that I raised in my article. Their star fundraiser, who shall remain anonymous, deliberately tweeted incorrect information prompting a response from the Head of Mission in Libya. Here is the email that was sent to IR’s fundraiser, dated the 1st September:
“As we mentioned before, people are not stupid to know what is going on in the ground and they have connections everywhere. Also as I mentioned before I will not accept you publish anything without my personal approval, as I am the only one in the ground carrying out the work and not IR-UK. The medical supplies you have in that picture is not belong to IR-UK nor IRW. There was plenty of local people donation and if they find out we will be in real trouble.
I am really surprised as it was clearly stated that you have to check with me before anything is published!!”
It’s clear from this example that Islamic Relief UK were putting PR before anything else. Thankfully, on this occasion, the Head of Mission in Libya had the backbone to stand up to them as he clearly saw it as a risk to the work IR aid workers were doing on the ground.
It is very convenient for Islamic Relief to simply dismiss Darrell’s testimony on the basis that he is my friend. However, their own internal investigation was not meant to establish the truth; it was carefully managed throughout to prove me wrong. Under their criteria for dismissing Darrell’s testimony, the investigation itself and its findings can be rubbished because of the tight knit friendships between the Human Resources Director and Jehangir.
Abdullahi, the child Jehangir claimed was immediately saved by Islamic Relief, could have indeed been taken to the hospital immediately . However, Jehangir was deciding IR’s priorities on that day, and he decided that he wanted to go somewhere else rather than save Abdullahi’s life. The video I have published for all to see was filmed once the IR team returned to the camp. IR’s recent statement claims that the ITN cameraman was simply collecting cutaways while we waited for the vehicles to arrive to take Abdullahi to the hospital. This is a lie. Our cars were already there because we had just got out of them when we returned to the camp! You can hear the engines running in the background of the video. And how do they explain Darrell’s comment “Let’s get her in the car, what’s she standing there for?!” Abdullahi’s mother is clearly made to sit down in the middle of the camp with her son in her arms whilst the sun was beating down on them and our vehicles were waiting idly by to take her and Abdullahi to the hospital. Islamic Relief again lies when they attempt to quote me as saying Jehangir “went in search for famine victims”. Nowhere did I say this in my article. I said he was looking for a “malnourished child”. I have further video evidence to prove that he did not just go to – as they call it – the ‘reception’ area to meet new arrivals. Does Islamic Relief really want me to upload more videos to expose their lies?
In an email addressed to me, the head of the Africa region clearly states “
Number of visitors – I think definitely over 100….”. I still have the email.
Relief gate could have been avoided and it can be easily resolved. I offer Islamic Relief a way out of this embarrassing mess that they have put themselves in:
make a public apology, accept your mistakes, and ensure that you will put measures in place so that these mistakes are not repeated. If you do this, I will remove my articles and any other material about Islamic Relief that I have published on the web.
Some humility is required to do this on the part of Islamic Relief, but it will save a great deal of time and effort for their communications team if this is done, and save me putting up further evidence to disprove Islamic Relief’s lies against me.
Islamic Relief should do their duty and stop slandering me.