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Chiang Mai, December 1st 2013

To the editorial staff of In response to your well written article ‘Qatar fires director of Doha Centre for Media Freedom’, I would like to add some more context as an ex-employee. Just to clarify to your readers how this could happen and why it is such a shame. I can not speak for my former director mr. Keulen and like him, of course have no idea why he was fired, but the fact somebody that worked so dedicated on such an important issue as press freedom, can be fired without a strong justification nor proper explanation, says it all. What I do know is that mr. Keulen, with decades of experience in the region, has been leading the centre in a very different way than his notorious predecessor Robert Ménard. Keulen showed understanding and respect for the Qatar culture and leadership, being fully aware press freedom in the entire region is a fragile process that can only be developed with small steps. Qatar seemed a little wiser than its neighbors, by allowing and paying for an institute to promote more press freedom, but the reality on the floor turned out to be quite different. For the record !"MF is not a #$%, since its board is part of the ruling elite& there is little 'non(governmental) about it. * tried hard for a year to ma+e a difference, as initiator of !"MF)s literacy program and emergency assistance team for ,ournalists in need. -ut the wor+ was made almost impossible, because of endless delay of payments. #ot because of the colleagues or its director, who understood the urgency completely, but because of its board that too+ ages to sign for every single .big or small/ payment, often even re,ecting them, without e0plaining why. 1hile we continuously received heartbrea+ing requests from brave ,ournalists from all over the world, that had been wounded, tortured or ,ailed, because they simply were doing their ,ob well, the board too+ wee+s or even months to decide if some riyals could be donated. %bviously money is not the problem in Qatar. 2o why did this this centre, where passionate people tried hard to support good ,ournalists and ,ournalism, never got full and fast support from its donor to carry out its mission successfully3 * guess it is a political game, in which Qatar can show the world it is supporting such a progressive initiative, while in reality it +eeps it small enough to prevent it ma+ing any significant change. 4s soon as * reali5ed what game was being played, * resigned. Keulen didn)t give up, but +ept on being patient and polite, requesting a better governance and more trust for the important operations. #ow Keulen is fired li+e this, the self(censorship must be bro+en, especially because that is what !"MF should be about. 6his +ind of fa+e support for freedom initiatives is a bloody shame. #ot only because of !"MF, but because it is representative for any progressive initiative in Qatar. %ne can have all the money in the world, as long as it treats drivers of societal change li+e this, it will remain poor in all other ways. 1ith +ind regards, %le "havannes former 2enior "oordinator 7mergency 4ssistance !"MF