[Wikimedia-l] Affcom's lack of response in Brazil's next steps

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[Wikimedia-l] Affcom's lack of response in Brazil's next steps

Chico Venancio
With another misleading public statement from Maor regarding the Brazilian
situation I would like to publicly ask Affcom to clarify what was
inaccurate in my report.

It would also be a good idea to have responses on the page Affcom created
over 2 months ago asking for questions and has abandoned without responses.

Chico Venancio

Em dom, 14 de out de 2018 11:44, Maor Malul <[hidden email]> escreveu:

> *Hello,*
> * As AffCom, we appreciate the interest in the situation with Wikimedia
> Portugal that you have expressed on this thread. Our current focus is on
> working to understand and resolve the conflicts and issues related to
> Wikimedia Portugal, as well as attend to our other duties. However, we did
> want to send a message to this list to clarify some points. First, we would
> like to caution readers of this list against making conclusions regarding
> this particular situation based solely on the information that has been
> shared here. This thread does not present a complete and accurate picture
> of the situation in Portugal (or the situation in Brazil, for that matter).
> Though not comprehensive, we would like to provide a brief summary of the
> situation, based on the information AffCom has received. As has mostly been
> outlined previously in this thread, after WMPT’s years of inactivity,
> recently, multiple individuals have become involved trying to create
> activity and revitalize the chapter. However, those individuals have
> conflicted with each other. Things escalated quickly, with various
> accusations and threats being made. Earlier this year, AffCom was informed
> of the conflict by the parties and began communicating with the individuals
> involved. Despite AffCom's efforts to de-escalate the situation, certain
> individual actions have kept intensifying it. As the conflict was
> preventing the chapter from being able to engage in productive activity,
> AffCom took the step of suspension, with clear requirements for the chapter
> to meet to lift the suspension and avoid de-recognition. One of the larger
> issues that WMPT has had to address is the lack of clear leadership of the
> chapter following its two previous general assemblies. As detailed in the
> suspension notice, there were issues reported to AffCom related to both IX
> General Assembly (held on December 14, 2017) as well as X General Assembly
> (held on April 15, 2018). In both cases, the best information available to
> AffCom suggests that the meetings did not comply with the relevant portions
> of the Chapter's bylaws and may not have complied with applicable local
> laws. Wikimedia organizations are expected to fulfill all of their legal
> and organizational governance requirements. These issues prompted the
> requirement that WMPT convene a new assembly and elections process (held on
> September 1, 2018), with the goal of holding an assembly which clearly
> follows the relevant procedural requirements. Along with convening the
> assembly, WMPT has currently met the requirements based on the timeline set
> in the suspension notice from AffCom in July. They submitted their required
> materials on time, and now AffCom is reviewing them. However, AffCom has
> also received other information relating to the chapter's compliance with
> particular governance requirements. AffCom is currently evaluating this
> information along with the materials submitted by the chapter. AffCom will
> be in touch with the chapter regarding any additional information we need.
> We want to emphasize that Wikimedia Portugal is not being held to a
> different or higher standard compared to other chapters, but is being held
> to the standard expectations for chapter status. While we understand that
> monitoring of compliance with those expectations may have been less
> consistent in the past, we have been working in recent years to ensure that
> all chapters are meeting the same basic standards. When a chapter is not in
> compliance, there are several reminders and opportunities for correction in
> advance of suspension. We suspend a chapter only if it does not
> self-correct in response to the repeated reminders and/or warnings.  Once a
> chapter is suspended, we strive to provide a reasonable window for
> remediation. Wikimedia Portugal has been on the committee’s radar due to
> its years of minimal activity. As further conflict issues have surfaced,
> concerns over the group’s capacity have grown. The committee however has no
> wish to “kill” the community, but to ensure they are able to operate in a
> way that upholds Wikimedia movement values and expectations for affiliate
> organizations. A community cannot work effectively if its members are
> spending all their energy on an internal conflict. Significant internal
> conflict can also reflect poorly on the movement as a whole. We have
> responded to this thread because we felt we should weigh in. However, we
> cannot commit to continuing to participate in this conversation on
> wikimedia-l. The committee needs to focus our time and energy on trying to
> find and work toward the outcome in Portugal that is best for the Wikimedia
> movement. That said, we will do our best to monitor responses on this
> thread and take note of the questions, concerns, and criticisms expressed
> here. We encourage you also to share your thoughts and ideas relating to
> questions of movement governance and organization in the relevant movement
> strategy conversations:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20>
> Regards, Maor On Behalf of the Affiliations Committee *
> On 10/10/2018 8:31 p.m., Samuel Klein wrote:
> Gonçalo, Goethe, and all: Thank you for your work, which I appreciate
> dearly, and for the public discussion.  I can also imagine this was a very
> hard letter to write.
> Paulo, to your concerns:
> > for a Foundation-run committee[3] that apparently wants to kill us at
> all costs.
> Euh... surely not  .v_v.
> These troubles can come up in good faith, when two groups work intently
> and separately on the same issue, ando d not talk openly to one another for
> reasons of imagined duty + propriety.  Tossing insults back and forth just
> makes it easier for people to shut down communication.
> Somehow I suspect that invocations of The Law and the intervention of
> legal anxieties (with their preoccupations with secrecy) has led to much of
> the trouble here.  So Pine, to your point: /more/ legal counsel reporting
> to only one of the parties involved might not help.  On the other hand, we
> as a movement deciding to share more openly our internal discussions around
> legal concerns — even if this means taking on slightly more legal risk —
> would reduce some of these evident social risks.
> Warmly,
> SJ
> On Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 8:47 AM Paulo Santos Perneta <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>> Some time ago, a Wikimedian friend told me AffCom is like the physician
>> that comes to help with the cure when an Affiliate is ill. But that's
>> really what they were in this WMPT case? This is a very bizarre situation,
>> of which I'm personally having a lot of difficulties finding rational
>> answers to it, let alone any conclusion. All I can offer is a personal
>> account of the situation, to those who would be kind enough to have an
>> interest on this case.
>> Last May we at WMPT were really not expecting seeing AffCom bursting
>> through the room in an emergency intervention, fixing what didn't need to
>> be fixed, and willing to moderate what didn't need any moderation. As in
>> the proverbial Monty Phyton scene[1], they quickly became the problem
>> themselves.
>> Many of us at WMPT are long-term Wikimedian volunteers, some of us for
>> more
>> than a decade already, in perfect good standing in our communities, where
>> we hold and held responsibility roles. It includes current and former
>> bureaucrats, sysops, ArbCom members, very active contributors to a number
>> of Wikimedia projects. Most of us are founding members or directly
>> connected to WMPT since its inception in 2009.
>> Last March, when we took on ourselves this mission of fix and rebuild
>> Wikimedia Portugal, who had been dormant for about 5 years, we were not
>> expecting to face such a mighty and impenetrable adversary as AffCom has
>> proven to be.
>> For six months already we have been embroiled by AffCom in this Kafkian
>> suspension process, where we are generally not told what the accusations
>> are, and much less who is accusing us. It has been extremely painful,
>> exhausting, and frustrating for everyone involved.
>> We reached our limit. A number of us are now seriously considering
>> abandoning not only the chapter, but the Wikimedia projects entirely, if
>> we
>> continue not being treated with the fairness and transparency we deserve.
>> It truly begs the existential question of what are we all doing here,
>> dedicating countless and very valuable hours of our lives for a Movement
>> that lets this happen, for a Foundation-run committee[3] that apparently
>> wants to kill us at all costs.
>> Personally, I'm still confident that we'll successfully pass through this
>> probation, and everything will become again the very optimistic scenario
>> we
>> all had last April, when we successfully elected a working board, and
>> started working with great dedication in the many projects we have now
>> running here in Portugal. I can only imagine how painful it was and is
>> being for Gonçalo, to came here making this situation public and sharing
>> it
>> with everybody. We all have our dignity, nobody at WMPT likes this at all.
>> For many months we tried to cope with this discreet and silently. But
>> everything has a limit.
>> Regards,
>> Paulo
>> [1] -
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spanish_Inquisition_(Monty_Python)
>> [2] - As AffCom seems to be, despite what is written in their Meta page(
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Affiliations_Committee)
>> GoEthe.wiki <[hidden email]> escreveu no dia terça, 9/10/2018 à(s)
>> 11:13:
>> > The original message was rejected due to a filter rule match, but you
>> can
>> > access it here:
>> >
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediapt/2018-October/002698.html
>> > I am sending it below without the links. Please access the link above
>> for
>> > the full version.
>> > __________
>> >
>> > Sorry in advance for the lengthy email – the tl;dr version is: Wikimedia
>> > Portugal has done all it was asked to do, so the suspension that was
>> held
>> > conditional to performing those steps must be lifted accordingly. For
>> the
>> > sake of transparency, we are sending this out to not only the AffCom
>> > mailing list, but also Wikimedia-l and WikimediaPT-l.
>> > _________
>> >
>> > Dear members of AffCom,
>> >
>> > (cc to the Wikimedia Portugal mailing list, Wikimedia mailing list)
>> >
>> > Last 5th October we were again surprised by the content of your email
>> > (quoted below) in response to us completing the roadmap we had agreed
>> upon
>> > in order to remove the suspension of Wikimedia Portugal. On that
>> message,
>> > you say you have once more received information whose substantiation is
>> not
>> > mentioned, from sources that are not disclosed. And still you seem to
>> > accept it as the truth without even providing us with the opportunity to
>> > get properly acquainted with it, let alone rebate or contradict it.
>> While
>> > you speak of transparency, that message is unsettlingly opaque, as have
>> > been multiple such messages relayed to us in the course of this whole
>> > process.
>> >
>> > As you are well aware, Wikimedia Portugal was faced in March with a
>> > situation where the president of the Board, João Vasconcelos, became
>> > demissionary without any previous warning [1]. It should be noted that
>> when
>> > Vasconcelos was elected as president of the Board back in 2015, he
>> wasn’t
>> > elected based on any background as a Wikimedia editor, as he has no
>> history
>> > of contribution to any of the Wikimedia projects, but rather on his self
>> > proclaimed merits on organisational and conflict management (!). Despite
>> > the best efforts of several people from Wikimedia Portugal over the
>> years,
>> > Vasconcelos sadly never really integrated well neither on Wikimedia
>> > Portugal, nor in the Portuguese Wikimedia community.
>> >
>> > So, in light of what looked like an existential threat for WMPT, I and a
>> > number of other WMPT members have publicly and transparently mobilized
>> > ourselves to organize an extraordinary General Election to elect the new
>> > Board. Vasconcelos was probably expecting/hoping that we would ask him
>> to
>> > stay. But we have seen this sort of behavior elsewhere [a].We didn't.
>> > Instead, we handled the situation cooperatively, as a group, openly.
>> > Vasconcelos never voiced any desire to take part on this collective
>> > solution-building, as evidenced by his silence from the discussion on
>> the
>> > Wikimedia Portugal mailing list in March [2] and April [3]. He was
>> welcome
>> > to do so. His only message to the mailing list was two days (13 April)
>> > before the 15 April General Assembly, announcing that he considered the
>> > planned General Assembly null [4]. Given the lack of legal standing for
>> > that claim, we carried on with the General Assembly (the transparent,
>> > inclusive, democratic governing body of associations), summoned
>> according
>> > to our by-laws. This General Assembly successfully elected new governing
>> > bodies, including the Board of Directors.
>> >
>> > In May we were surprised by a message from AffCom demanding that we stop
>> > taking part in a conflict, and "refrain from representing ourselves as
>> > representatives of Wikimedia Portugal" (see quoted message in [5]
>> > <https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediapt/2018-May/002621.html
>> > >).This
>> > was the very first time the Committee contacted Wikimedia Portugal about
>> > this case. The message provided no legal precedent or framework for this
>> > demand, no indication of what this conflict was, or why AffCom thought
>> the
>> > Board was a part of it.
>> >
>> > From what we understood, Vasconcelos went to the Wikimedia Conference in
>> > Berlin, where he seems to have convinced AffCom that our General
>> Assembly
>> > of 15 April was legally void.
>> >
>> > We have repeatedly provided concrete evidence that t it was not the
>> case,
>> > including quoting relevant court decisions backing this [6]
>> > <
>> >
>> https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/(https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/private/wikimedia-pt-internal/2018-July/002414.html
>> > >.
>> > In response, AffCom reported having no time to read through legal texts,
>> > and therefore not being able to assess the validity of our declarations,
>> > but that is beyond our control. And yet AffCom accepted Vasconcelos’
>> > version without question. It is a legal imperative to be held innocent
>> > until proven guilty, and until it is legally proven there was some
>> > wrongdoing, General Assemblies are valid and binding.
>> >
>> > After the April General Assembly we were working, in addition to our
>> > activities and programs, to put the association in order in terms of
>> > obligations to the Portuguese state and the tax authorities, providing
>> > access to WMPT’s bank account to the persons designated on the 15 April
>> GA,
>> > and so on. Things were getting on track...
>> >
>> > We were surprised again in July by a message from AffCom temporarily
>> > suspending Wikimedia Portugal’s recognition as a Wikimedia chapter [7].
>> In
>> > that message for the first time you laid out a concrete roadmap that, if
>> > followed (as we understood), would lead to lifting the suspension. The
>> > roadmap set out a list of demands from AffCom which we diligently
>> > fulfilled, even well ahead of the required deadlines. We organized and
>> held
>> > a new General Assembly in September, summoned according to the
>> > interpretation of the Portuguese Civil Code that AffCom relayed to us
>> (with
>> > the exception of anything we believed would make the proceeding illegal,
>> > which was communicated in due time to AffCom). This General Assembly had
>> > the same result as before [8]. The Assembly was normally held, despite
>> > severe attempts of sabotage from Vasconcelos, reported in due time to
>> > AffCom, Legal and the Safety team. In addition to the minutes [9], an
>> audio
>> > recording of the assembly is available in Commons [10] ; video
>> recording is
>> > also available on request.
>> >
>> > We then submitted our overdue Financial Report [11], demonstrated
>> support
>> > from the community to the continuation of the chapter [12], and wrote a
>> > plan for improved chapter capacity [13]. All should be good now...
>> >
>> > Having done all this, despite our disagreement that a new Assembly was
>> > needed in the first place, we are now again surprised by the reception
>> of
>> > the opaque message I mention in the beginning, sent by AffCom to my
>> email
>> > (quoted below) affirming that the Committee had received reports from
>> > unstated persons with unspecified concerns about the General Assembly
>> and
>> > the capacity of Wikimedia Portugal to run as a chapter. The message
>> claims
>> > that "there were a number of issues with lack of transparency [as well
>> as
>> > with] providing an opportunity to participate in an open, organizational
>> > process" while not specifying these issues at all. Your message
>> questions
>> > whether we are "prepared as an Affiliate to prevent disruption in [our]
>> > organization's collective pursuit of the movement’s mission", even
>> though
>> > we have so far been able to handle every attempt at disruption from
>> > Vasconcelos.
>> >
>> > If we rolled up our sleeves to activate the scattered energies of a
>> stale
>> > organization in order to prepare and execute April’s General Assembly,
>> it
>> > was because we were convinced that Wikimedia Portugal had a viable
>> future
>> > ahead, and was of value to the Wikimedia movement. At the time, the
>> actions
>> > of Vasconcelos were so absurd that the reaction to them even spurred
>> some
>> > founders and (by then) inactive members of WMPT to offer their help in
>> > reestablishing a functional organization. Along with the help of a
>> number
>> > of historic as well as new members who have been steadily returning and
>> > joining our ranks, that’s precisely what we are achieving.
>> >
>> > That’s why we’ve been working on fulfilling the AffCom roadmap requests,
>> > even if we didn’t like or agree with some aspects of it. All things
>> > considered, it was a clear path to resolving our situation, and we found
>> > that parts of it could be useful to the chapter. But AffCom’s
>> validation of
>> > Vasconcelos’ actions and claims, even if unintentional, have real
>> > consequences for the mental state and safety of our members.
>> >
>> > Back in March, when Vasconcelos claimed he had requested our bank to
>> lock
>> > the chapter’s bank account, started a process at the Public Prosecution
>> > Service, and he had talked with an attorney on that subject, can you
>> > imagine what André, our treasurer, felt waiting in line in the bank
>> until
>> > he found what really happened? In the end, the bank account had not been
>> > locked because of any court order or legal reason as Vasconcelos
>> implied,
>> > but rather because someone had tried to access the bank account without
>> the
>> > proper credentials, and the system automatically locked the account.
>> >
>> > Before the General Assembly in September, Vasconcelos sent out legal
>> > threats and even menaces of police intervention to anyone
>> participating. We
>> > still went through with it, but can you imagine how we felt, the
>> pressure
>> > that was under some of us? It was all a bluff in the end, but this is
>> what
>> > you put us through.
>> >
>> > Notwithstanding, WMPT activities were happening in parallel. They are
>> > listed on our activities plan for anyone to see [14], and more are
>> planned.
>> > After several years of inactivity, we are happy to be on a sustainable
>> > growth path, gradually building capacity and doing the best we can with
>> the
>> > resources available to us. We’ve also been using our personal contacts
>> with
>> > other movements in order to increase our organization’s capacity. Ana,
>> > newly appointed to the Board, has just returned from Wiki Takes Zamora,
>> > where she was learning from Wikimedia Spain, relaunching the
>> collaboration
>> > between both chapters. Two of the events we have planned for November
>> are
>> > using this paradigm. We’ll celebrate Wikidata’s sixth anniversary with a
>> > local group of data enthusiasts in Porto, and near Lisbon we’re helping
>> > with the organization and will participate in a FOSS event, so in both
>> > cases we’ll also acquire event organization skills. This growth path is
>> in
>> > peril if you continue to undermine our efforts.
>> >
>> > Over the last half year we’ve been attacked, offended, insulted,
>> received
>> > multiple threats of judicial action by Vasconcelos, and even an actual
>> > intimidatory letter from a lawyer working for him (but purportedly on
>> > behalf of WMPT); and during this entire time we’ve tried not to escalate
>> > the situation, not to engage with such attempts at direct confrontation,
>> > nor make them public. You force us now to disclose this in order to
>> clear
>> > our name and set the record straight. With the help and support of the
>> > legal and security departments of the Wikimedia Foundation, we have
>> dealt
>> > with the actions of Vasconcelos so far. And we will follow the
>> disciplinary
>> > procedures foreseen for these situations in our bylaws which may result
>> in
>> > his removal from the chapter.
>> >
>> > We’ve repeatedly complied in unusually strict terms with legal
>> > requirements, and with AffCom’s roadmap, while dealing with Vasconcelos’
>> > actions as privately as we could in order not to affect the public
>> image of
>> > the Wikimedia movement, nor its community – but honestly, we’re reaching
>> > the point of exhaustion in light of AffCom’s puzzling behavior along
>> this
>> > process. We understand that AffCom may have reserves regarding our
>> future,
>> > but the way it is dealing with the situation is clearly
>> counterproductive.
>> > How can AffCom keep making new accusations without at least asking us
>> for
>> > information or confirmations?
>> >
>> > Currently, our major source of disruption, distress and anxiety is each
>> new
>> > message we receive from AffCom, as they repeatedly defy our
>> expectations of
>> > a partner claiming to be attempting to help us getting back on our
>> feet. We
>> > are actually wary that the next address could be an announcement that
>> > Wikimedia Portugal has been de-recognized, even after we have passed our
>> > “road of trials”, due to the ever moving goalposts. Several of our key
>> > people have reported insomnia, including myself, after receiving your
>> > communications. We’re reaching our physical, psychological, and
>> > motivational limit, in great part due to AffCom’s actions and
>> inexplicable
>> > lack of support and transparency.
>> >
>> > It is time to stop this! Despite what we still believe were your best
>> > intentions, AffCom has inadvertently caused significant destabilization
>> for
>> > Wikimedia Portugal.
>> >
>> > Please honor your part of the compromise, lift this suspension and let
>> us
>> > proceed in the productive pursuit of our collective mission.
>> >
>> > Regards,
>> >
>> > Gonçalo
>> > Gonçalo Themudo
>> >
>> > *Presidente*
>> > *Wikimedia Portugal*
>> > *Email: *[hidden email]
>> > *Website: *http://pt.wikimedia.org <
>> https://sites.google.com/view/themudo>
>> > *Imagine um mundo onde cada ser humano pode partilhar livremente a soma
>> de
>> > todo o conhecimento, na sua própria língua.*
>> > _______________________________________________
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>> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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> --
> Samuel Klein          @metasj           w:user:sj          +1 617 529 4266
> _______________________________________________
> Affiliations Committee mailing [hidden email]://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/affcom
> --
> *"Jülüjain wane mmakat ein kapülain tü alijunakalirua jee wayuukanairua
> junain ekerolaa alümüin supüshuwayale etijaanaka. Ayatashi waya junain."*
> Maor Malul
> Socio, A.C. Wikimedia Venezuela | RIF J-40129321-2 | www.wikimedia.org.ve
> Member, Wikimedia Israel | www.wikimedia.org.il
> Member, Wikimedia Foundation Affiliations Committee
> Phone: +972-52-4869915
> Twitter: @maor_x
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