This article was sent to us for publication by the Muvman Liberasyon Fam:
It is hard to follow the logic of the La Sentinelle bosses. (La Sentinelle is the private company that owns the L’Express newspaper and many other publications.)
On 3 April, La Sentinelle published a communiqué announcing that “la gravité des faits imputés à notre directeur des publications, M. Nad Sivaramen, dans un affidavit le concernant, lui a suggéré de se mettre en congé avec effet immédiat.”
So, he stepped down “temporarily”.
The contents of the affidavit were, meanwhile, published on the site of a private radio, so many people are aware of the facts laid out in it and of the seriousness of the allegations made in it, and of reference in it to a psychologist’s report. Another La Sentinelle editor Ms Touria Prayag refers to the allegations as being of “pedophilia”, and the directeur général M. Denis Ithier says it “s’agit d’une bataille légale entre deux parents,” meaning the allegations are also of incest. Grave indeed. The child was three at the time.
In an article of 3 April, L’Express also says, “Le directeur des publications de La Sentinelle Ltée, Nad Sivaramen, se trouve éclaboussé dans une affaire de mœurs portée contre lui par son ex-compagne. Dans un affidavit juré le 2 avril, Audrey Harelle réclame également la garde immédiate de leur enfant. Une injonction en ce sens a été émise par un juge en chambre le jour même.” Audrey Harelle is Chef d’Edition at L’Express, thus was working under M. Sivaramen, as well as being his ex-partner, and mother of his child.
Audrey Harelle is still working at L’Express in her job.
To everyone’s shock, without any new information becoming public, La Sentinelle published a new communiqué on 30 April, less than a month later, announcing without any further details: “Sur la base de développements divers [sic] depuis le 2 avril, la direction a demandé à Nad Sivaramen, qui s’était mis volontairement en congé suite aux allégations formulées contre sa personne, de suspendre sa mise en congé et de reprendre le travail à partir de ce lundi 30 avril. Toutefois, Nad Sivaramen a exprimé le souhait que la direction des publications reste entre les mains du Chairman, Philippe Forget, en attendant que le procès (main case) prenne fin et, d’un commun accord, il a été convenu que Nad Sivaramen agisse, entre-temps, comme consultant auprès du Chairman et comme conseiller auprès des autres rédacteurs en chef du groupe La Sentinelle.” [Bold in original]
There is no reason given for the reversal of Nad Sivaramen’s suspension from work. The wording itself is bizarre: the directors of La Sentinelle calling for him to “suspendre sa mise en congé”. So, Audrey Harelle’s ex-partner is back at work. To all intents and purposes, he is her boss again. And meanwhile, la gravité des faits imputés, remains, as far as anyone knows, unchanged and this was the reason for him stepping down. And all we have to go by for a change in this stepping down are unspecified “développements divers depuis le 2 avril”. Ms Harelle is still at work, even when M. Sivaramen has been re-instated.
This volte-face on the part of the L’Express bosses seems inexplicable. Or was the “stepping down” just play-acting from the beginning? A charade? What are we to understand? Are the La Sentinelle bosses now implying that they now know (before investigation, let alone a case in Court and a verdict) that Ms Harelle lied? That the psychologist was unprofessional? Or what? If these bosses were not in the business of free expression, and the right to information, it would be perhaps less perplexing. But how can they act with such disdain for the public? Let alone for their senior employee, Ms Harelle? Even undermining the other two senior staff who stuck their necks out defending the company and its directeur des publications so valiantly for being honourable, like Ms. Touria Prayag and M. Chenney?
Poor Ms Prayag was left high and dry. She said on 6 April in L’Express, “Nad has had the decency to immediately step aside to allow for transparency,” unlike, she added in a petty vein – given the gravity of the allegations – politicians X, Y and Z. Well the “transparency” did not last a month. Opacity returned with indecent haste. “Nad” has stepped back up again. And we do not know why.
M. Chenney was also left high and dry after his article the next day, in which he said he could not judge M. Sivaramen, facing “l’allégation d’avoir commis le crime que l’humanité considère comme le plus ignominieux” because “je n’ai pas le mandat pour enquêter, je ne sais pas, je reste neutre.”
Clearly someone higher than Ms. Prayag and also higher than M. Chenney at La Sentinelle is not neutral and has got a mandate, or thinks he has, to conduct an enquiry and to call for M. Sivaramen, who had stepped down, to step back up again.
So, the Courts will decide on whether the father can have access to the young child, the DPP will decide if there is evidence enough to lay charges, and if he does there will be a case. And the judiciary will then decide on the basis of evidence. Meanwhile, La Sentinelle calls M. Sivaramen back to work. The man must have some power. Readers of Lalit’s site may recall that he used to work for the Pentagon, the USA’s military. And given that Mauritius is under US-UK military occupation, this is of particular significance. In fact, it is unacceptable for the Press to have a senior staff member who is indebted to an occupying power. See the excellent article that was submitted to Lalit’s website when every single newspaper in the country refused to publish it. Lalit announced that it had checked the facts, found them sound, and published.
And the Lalit team that analsed the Wikileaks Cables pertaining to Mauritius showed the US Embassy here quoting Nad Sivaramen from before he worked at the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, after 7 years back at L’Express he has had to step down in the midst of serious allegations. And then he has miraculously stepped up again. La Sentinelle bosses have all remained unaware that mainstream ethics are advancing on this issue worldwide – in particular since the Weinstein case highlighted the patterns of cover-up of sex abuse of all kinds by powerful predatory males. The La Sentinelle bosses think one amongst them can step down for a few weeks, then go back to work without a word of explanation as to the change in circumstances. “Developpement divers” indeed.
Muvman Liberasyon Fam
17 May, 2018