Tony Blair with Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the leader of the July 2013 military coup that toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected president. (APA images)
A leaked internal email to staff from the international charity’s chief executive Jasmine Whitbread does not indicate, however, that the charity intends to withdraw the “Global Legacy Award” Blair received at a glittering New York gala on 19 November.
On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that Save the Children staff were in revolt over the award.
“We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values,” more than 200 of the charity’s staff wrote in an internal protest letter sent to management.
In an internal email to the charity’s staff leaked to The Electronic Intifada, Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children International acknowledges that the uproar over the award “touched a nerve close to our sense of identity.”
She says, “We are all frustrated and disappointed about the situation we are in,” but blames the crisis on Save the Children US, which failed to consult with the rest of the charity’s units.
The American wing of the charity “simply did not anticipate anything sensitive,” Whitbread writes, “in the USA Tony Blair is widely seen very positively for his contribution to international aid.”
But rather than right the wrong and withdraw the prize to a man regarded by many as a war criminal, Whitbread seems more concerned with suppressing criticism and press coverage.
“Urgently, right now, a team is trying hard to contain the situation and stop things escalating further, detracting from our wider work for children,” she states. “The point has been made and more coverage of the issue will not help children.”
She complains that, “Sadly there have also been leaks of internal emails to the media.”
Whitbread’s full email is below.
The award has been strongly criticized by Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch who tweeted that Blair was a “well-paid dictator’s PR agent.”