Rights group’s staff demand resignation of chair

Wed, Jan 13, 2010


Rights group’s staff demand resignation of chair

Employees rebel, saying directors mistreated president before his sudden death

Joe Friesen

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

Published on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 12:00AM EST

The employees of Rights & Democracy have unanimously demanded the resignation of the board’s chair, Aurel Braun, and two vice-chairs, saying they mistreated the organization’s president Rémy Beauregard in the months before his death.

At the same time, Mr. Beauregard’s widow, Suzanne Trépanier, has insisted that Prof. Braun’s name be removed from the message of remembrance displayed on the group’s website, describing it as “hypocrisy.”

Ms. Trépanier said in a letter to Mr. Braun that the way her late husband was treated for the last year of his life made it impossible for her to accept his expressions of regret.

“You don’t treat a person like you did with Rémy and then praise his qualities after he is dead. This is, to me, hypocrisy,” she wrote.

Prof. Braun, who teaches at the University of Toronto, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The organization, which is funded by the federal government and acts as an advocate for democracy and human rights abroad, has been thrown into disarray following Mr. Beauregard’s death of an apparent heart attack last week. He died at home after a stormy meeting that saw two board members, including former Afghan deputy-president Sima Samar, walk out in protest.

The organization has been divided by the arrival of new directors who dramatically altered the group’s direction, according to sources close to the board. Mr. Beauregard’s allies say the acrimony placed him under increasing stress.

Nearly every vote taken at Thursday’s meeting was 7-6, with Mr. Beauregard and Dr. Samar on the losing side. The new majority was particularly upset by a decision, made a year earlier, to fund an aid group that some members argued was connected to pro-Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“I have never seen an entire organization calling for the removal of board members before,” said Payam Akhavan, a board member and McGill University law professor who walked out in solidarity with Dr. Samar.

“It can leave little doubt that there is a very serious problem, a very serious mistake in either the selection of these board members or the manner in which they have conducted themselves.”

The 47 staff members at the group’s Montreal offices, who all signed the letter of protest calling for the chair and vice-chairs to resign, described Mr. Beauregard as a tireless defender of human rights. They said they will continue to carry out their parliamentary mandate to deliver support programs in Afghanistan and other countries.

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One Response to “Rights group’s staff demand resignation of chair”

  1. Sudeep Says:

    After reading today article in ‘The Star’, I wish to express that I support Suzanne Trepanier’s cause. It is my feeling that there are stronger forces behind the undermining of the good of this organization.

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