SMUG: No Fundraising in Kato's Name;
UK Group Scrubs Web Site
The confusion surrounding a bunch of anonymous Cambridge University students setting up an organization, Paragraph6.org, to raise money using murdered gay Ugandan activist David Kato's name, contrary to a stated request from the Sexual Minorities Uganda, is getting cleared up due to my expression of concern to the students and SMUG.
The notes below provide details giving us all a clearer picture of what mistakes the Paragraph6.org people made, and SMUG defining better what sort of financial assistance they deem appropriate. I appreciate the replies from both parties. All well and basically good.
However, I find it disturbing that the Cambridge students have scrubbed their site off the web, have made no public statement about why they've scrubbed their site, the very changed relationship between them and SMUG, and the one student who has written to me using only her first name, Katrin, is now requesting that I basically go silent about my previous post and the accountability I've brought about.
For whatever reason, the Paragraph6.org students have left up their Facebook pages for their pub night and black tie dinner events, as this writing.
One of my replies to Katrin in no uncertain terms told her I will do no scrubbing of my blog, nor will I keep silent about the mistakes she and her colleagues made. The students made a public web site, which generated a healthy dose of publicity and they don't seem keen at all about doing the decent thing and publicly addressing their mistakes. That is no way to engage in global gay organizing.
An email on behalf of the Cambridge folks:
I just come from a half hour phone conversation with Frank Mugisha, during which we discussed the problem.
He asked me to reply to your email and CC him in (which I see you have already done now), so he can add his personal statement to the conversation.
The confusion has arisen because we used the word "endorsement" with respect to Sexual Minorities Uganda on our campaign website. We will now remove this from our website and refrain from using it in further correspondence.
However, Frank told me that he sees no problem in us continuing raising funds for the purposes specified on our website. I will let him add his own words on that point.
Michael, I'm sure I'm speaking for all of us on "the team" when I'm saying that we appreciate your concern about the legitimacy of any fundraising efforts that are currently being undertaken. I hope that after Frank's reply there will be clarification, and I hope that in return you will remove the private email we sent to you earlier from your blog.
Then this note arrived, giving much-needed further clarification:
Dear Katrin and Micheal,
Thank you for the call Katrin , first I would like to point out that SMUG is not endorsing any organization to do any kind of fund raising around the murder of our advocacy of officer David Kato and we would appreciate it if no organization raised money in the name of David Kato.
Like I mentioned to you on phone we have no problem with foundations and organizations supporting SMUG work, which is totally different from raising money in David's name.
Lastly you said you are a new organization or foundation we are only happy to receive donations and support from legitimate organizations that we are aware of for many reasons and so am going to put you in touch with some one who is familiar with SMUG work in the UK and we shall take the conversation further.
His message generated this note:
We are very much looking forward to being in touch with your contacts in the UK.
In the meantime, due to the miscommunications that have taken place, we are putting all our activities on hold, including events. We have decided to fully reimburse all the donations received so far, and we are taking our website offline for the time being.
We would like to ask the parties involved to respect that this is a private email exchange that is not meant for public distribution.
Wishing you all the best with current and future endeavors,
I initiated the dialog above and made absolutely no reference to my emails or any replies being private. Katrin can request all she wants to keep these notes out of the public view, thus evading taking public responsibility for her and the Paragraph6.org's missteps. Let's hope she and her colleagues soon issue a more official explanation to everyone about this matter.