The Doha Centre for Media Freedom is losing another member of its senior management team, less than a week after the firing of the institution’s director.
Outgoing program manager Ayman Bardawil confirmed to Doha News on Wednesday that he had quit, but said he wasn’t comfortable discussing the details or circumstances surrounding his decision for now.
The resignation is likely to spark more questions about the future of the organization, where employees were shocked and upset to learn about the recent firing of former director Jan Keulen.
The Dutchman apparently arrived at work last week to find a letter on his desk informing him that he’d been terminated. No reason was given, but a disagreement had been simmering for months between Keulen and an advisor over who had the authority to pay for projects and contracts.
When reached by phone on Wednesday, Keulen – who said he hired Bardawil roughly two-and-a-half years ago, not long after he arrived at DCMF – called the resignation “a great loss” to the center.
“He is a media development expert … I was extremely happy to have him. It’s not that easy to find people with years of experience working in this field.”
The former director declined to comment on Bardawil’s motivations for quitting.
Keulen said Bardawil was effectively the center’s second-in-command. His pending departure – it is not clear when exactly Bardawil will leave – means the formerly three-person management team has been reduced to one. DCMF’s financial and administration manager, Saleh al-Shawi, will oversee its day-to-day operations for the time being.
Founded in 2008, DCMF conducts media literacy training in Qatar schools and works with professional journalists on using social media and other tools. It also focuses on helping distressed journalists abroad, but has been criticized for not pushing harder for press freedoms at home.
Meanwhile, in responses to questions about the organization and Keulen’s termination, former employee Ole Chavannes sent an open letter to Doha News this week. Chavannes, who served as DCMF’s senior coordinator for emergency assistance before leaving this year, described the work environment: