Humanitarians: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In International Aidworkers Today, I clipped a news article about Jiri Zivny, a Canadian "aid worker", who apparently was beaten and robbed in Cambodia, and eventually died of his injuries.

Jiri Zivny was 'on mission' for International Humanitarian Hope Society, a so-called 'humanitarian organisation' offering tours in developing countries to "provide an opportunity for people to experience working in orphanages for themselves".

Their website ends on ".com"...

However, via Patronus Analytical, I read this news bulletin, which puts a totally different light on the whole incident. Apparently, Mr.Zivny was not stabbed and robbed, but died of a motorcycle incident... The news article makes allegations the "humanitarian organisation" miss-used the situation to fundraise:

A Canadian humanitarian group that launched a media and fundraising campaign claiming one of its members had been bludgeoned, robbed, stripped of his clothes and left to die in a Cambodian ditch is now asking that his family be left to "grieve in private" following complaints that nothing of the sort happened.

The death of the man described in the Canadian media as "Smiling Jiri" has become a potent fundraising tool for the charity in a story that has rolled across both Cambodia and Canada, generating huge publicity and controversy, and apparently money for the charity. But the dead man, Jiri Zivny, may have died as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident after a night on the town in the coastal resort of Sihanoukville, a magnet for sex tourists. (sic)

Zivny, who died at the age of 43 in the neurological ward of Cambodia's best hospital, had no bruises or lacerations that would have indicated blunt force trauma inflicted by an assailant, doctors say. (Full)
While during the hospitalization of Mr. Zivny, they were fundraising to evacuate him back to Canada, they still have a notice on their website: "In memory of Jiri you can make a donation at Valley First Bank. Please make cheques payable to International Humanitarian Hope Society (a tax deductible receipt will be issued)."

Up to what extend does the cause justify the means? Even if the cause might be a good one?

And even so.. I have never seen any humanitarian organisation soliciting donations to 'commemorate' the death of one of their associates.

As I said: Smelly!

There is discussion about humanitarian agencies going a bit too far on The Road's discussion forum.

3 comments:

Peter (Worldman): 24 January, 2009 11:05  

That was very interesting. And it comforts me a bit. I might be ugly (looking) but I think (but this is for others to tell) that I am rather good than bad.

Anonymous,  25 February, 2009 01:13  

Wouldn't it be easier for us to believe that he had a motorcycle accident rather then being beaten and robbed- tell me - how do you have a motorcycle accident with no bruises or scrapes or any sign of having fallen off a bike - and the bike is in perfect shape - please people - since when can you believe reporters - especially those that come out of Cambodia - lets wake up - with such a "perfect" coverup - we as North Americans should believe THE TRUTH - I have the police report- and also the doctors reports- and both differ in many ways - the doctors say - "two severe blows to the head" - who should we believe- and besides that - where is the $500 he just took out of the ATM -IS THIS A ROBBERY? IS THIS A BEATING? OPEN YOUR MIND TO FACTS - PEOPLE!

Peter 25 February, 2009 07:01  

As I said: "Fishy"....

The issue for me is not so much what exactly happened to the unfortunately person (it is always sad if someone is taken away from our lives), but how the organisation was involved, and raised funds "using" this incident.

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