A letter on the take over of Outreachmedia office

Feb 14, 2022 | Organisation & governance, Processes by-passed

      A letter, signed by more than 325 Aurovilians, is sent to the FAMC and the Working Committee regarding the take over of Outreachmedia office:

      Dear FAMC and Working Committee,
      (cc to the Auroville Council, Auroville Foundation Office, Outreach Media)

      We, the undersigned residents, are deeply shocked with the recent events that happened in regards to Outreach Media. Not only do we condemn the fact that the Foundation office conducted and communicated about the dismissal of an Aurovilian from his/her workplace without due process being followed, but we also strongly denounce the way the Outreach Media office has been taken over without the approval of the FAMC.

      Those of us who have witnessed the work of Fabienne, as well as those who have been part of the Outreach Media team over the years, have seen her dedication in taking care of the relations with the media. Fabienne has never pretended to be a spokesperson for Auroville, instead she has always tried to put the media in contact with a great diversity of Aurovilians who hold different views about Auroville and have various competencies and ways to contribute to our collective reality, while ensuring some coherence in our communications about Auroville. In this way Fabienne ensured a diversity of perspectives could be represented in the media – although it is an impossible task to represent the whole of Auroville in a press release or a video documentary.

      On the other hand, Sindhuja Jagadeesh and Joel van Lierde have shown to hold a one-sided and imposing perspective of Auroville. As Fabienne has never in her long service at Outreach Media claimed to be a spokesperson for Auroville, the fact that Sindhuja and Joel were appointed by the Foundation office as ‘official spokespersons’ for Auroville is strange, and out of line with Auroville’s core value of unity in diversity. They have also made numerous false claims to reporters regarding the protests, such as protesters spitting on police among other inflammatory and dangerous untrue statements.

      None of the residents of Auroville can pretend to be ‘spokespersons’ of the Auroville Foundation by an office order issued by the Foundation Office, as the Auroville Foundation includes the Residents’ Assembly and hence the views of the residents of Auroville. Only with a joint agreement from the Governing Board, the Residents’ Assembly and the International Advisory Council can an individual be said to represent the views of the Auroville Foundation.

      We do not feel represented by Sindhuja Jagadeesh nor by Joel van Lierde and do not trust them in taking care of Auroville’s relation with the media. In fact we had signed in December 2021 a collective statement on media and press releases (see also attached), which is the following:

      “On Tuesday December 7th, the residents of Auroville were informed by the Under-Secretary of the Auroville Foundation that the Secretariat of the Auroville Foundation has appointed two spokespersons for Auroville. The residents have also been informed that the Secretariat of the Auroville Foundation has instructed that “the Outreach Media of Auroville and others shall refrain on issuing any statements until further notice”.

      The Auroville Foundation is an autonomous body under the Auroville Foundation Act, which is composed of three legal authorities, including the Residents’ Assembly. Unless the Residents’ Assembly agrees to it, the Secretariat of the Auroville Foundation cannot appoint spokespersons to represent Auroville as a whole. The Secretariat can only appoint people to represent itself, namely “the Secretariat of the Auroville Foundation”.

      We, the undersigned residents, support our Outreach Media team, which was put together in 1996 as a service to the Auroville community and is experienced in dealing with media relationships, and can take care of communication with the media. The two spokespersons of the Secretariat do not represent Auroville.”

      This collective statement was signed by nearly 700 people, including more than 550 Aurovilians.

      We hope that action can be taken to offer protection and support to Fabienne and the Outreach Media staff, and to ensure that Sindhuja Jagadeesh and Joel van Lierde do not get access to the material and data of Auroville’s Outreach Media.

      We also would like to express gratitude to the FAMC of the Residents’ Assembly for taking a stand in denouncing the clear take over from the Foundation Office in regards to Auroville’s Outreach Media, among other very concerning matters.

      Sincerely,

      Concerned residents of Auroville.