Third World Peoples’ Alliance (TWPA) terminates Alieu Bah’s membership
“The Political Bureau and the Revolutionary Marginalized Genders Union (RMGU) of the Third World Peoples’ Alliance have unilaterally decided to remove Alieu Bah, former Lead Organizer of our Africa Division, from the TWPA, because of a pattern of harm, of sexual, emotional, and financial abuse that he has engaged in with marginalized-gender members of our movement.”
The Political Bureau and the Revolutionary Marginalized Genders Union (RMGU) of the Third World Peoples’ Alliance have removed Gambian activist Alieu Bah as a member of the organisation following revealations of his abuse and inappropriate relationships he entered into while serving as lead organiser for TWPA Africa Division.
Below we reproduce verbatim a release from the organisation
TERMINATION OF ALIEU BAH’S MEMBERSHIP FROM TWPA
The Political Bureau and the Revolutionary Marginalized Genders Union (RMGU) of the Third World Peoples’ Alliance have unilaterally decided to remove Alieu Bah, former Lead Organizer of our Africa Division, from the TWPA, because of a pattern of harm, of sexual, emotional, and financial abuse that he has engaged in with marginalized-gender members of our movement. His misconduct includes: making repeated, unwanted sexual remarks to more than one comrade in our movement, attempting to persuade one comrade into entering a romantic relationship by framing it as an act of revolutionary solidarity, persuading another comrade to enter into a relationship with him that turned out to be traumatic experience for the comrade, manipulating the emotions of several comrades in order to extract financial gifts from them, and otherwise being unaccountable for finances that he has regularly borrowed or asked for from comrades on an informal basis.
The TWPA leadership has done all that we could to support comrade Alieu. We have not only paid him a regular stipend as Lead Organizer of our Africa Division, but we have also promoted his writings and his personality at every available opportunity. One of our lead organizers has attempted to secure him a book deal and paid their own rent money to cover one of his debts; another has given him money for a personal vacation. Additionally, when we received news of a serious debt that he owed to an ex-partner, dating back to before his involvement with TWPA, we engaged in a lengthy and stressful mediation process to work out a payment plan to settle that debt, with the expectation that Alieu would never repeat behaviors like this again. But in fact, some of his most egregious offenses took place well after the mediation process was concluded and he did not inform the TWPA about his relations with the aggrieved members during the mediation.
When the cadre of TWPA and MBSO were made aware of Alieu’s transgressions, the first response of the collective was to summarily remove him from the organization. However, the RMGU judiciary committee, which is composed entirely of non-cishet males and one of his victims of sexual abuse, reached its decisions without oversight from the wider body and settled on his permanent dismissal from his leadership position, a six-month suspension of his membership, and political re-education in order to hold him accountable. They compiled an intensive, twenty-four week curriculum and multiple assignments as the condition for his re-entry, with regular reports back on his progress from cishet male volunteers from our organization and accountability partners from his geographical community. Our membership had serious reservations about this process, considering the nature of Alieu’s misconduct and his response to the decision but we determined that if Alieu was not equally serious about correcting his ways and making reparations to those he had harmed, we would know within a matter of weeks of this process.
One of the conditions for Alieu’s six-month term was a public statement of apology to those he had wronged. He initially refused to do this, even though the RMGU had made it perfectly clear that this would mean severing ties with TWPA and cancelling his accountability plan. At that point, our Politburo had determined that our organization had done more than enough on our end to give Alieu a chance to correct his errors. Only after it was suggested that the full details about this situation would be revealed, did he decide to draft a public apology. We consider this unacceptable, from an organizational as well as an ethical standpoint.
The Third World Peoples’ Alliance wants to make it abundantly clear that we will not tolerate abuse, misogyny, patterns of harm, and other forms of violence and disrespect against our comrades, particularly MaGes within our organization. Alieu Bah was a tremendous asset to our organization, because of his skilled propaganda and the allure of his activism in the Gambia. However, we did not hesitate to take swift action as soon as the charges against him were brought up. We held a hearing for him on 01 September 2020 during which he confessed to the charges, following which we immediately removed him from all Alliance-related shared spaces, brought his actions to light for our cadres, imposed his suspension (prior to permanent termination), designed his re-education plan, provided emotional support to the victims, and formulated our “Harm Free Zone” policy. Over the course of the last two weeks, the RMGU has regularly communicated with Alieu in order to have the harm acknowledged in its entirety and to hold him accountable. The RMGU kept the victims informed throughout the process, seeked their inputs at every step, and prioritized their self-determination.
This has been a sharp blow to every member of the Alliance, considering Alieu’s great visibility within the organization, and the close relationships that many of us built with him. However, our membership was greatly encouraged by the initiatives of the RMGU. The RMGU is now putting together a mandatory curriculum for the Alliance for community accountability; on gender relations and sexual conduct in revolutionary organizing; info and questionnaires on various kinds of abuse; and organizational practices that will help potential or actual victims of harm or abuse to feel safer within our organization. These measures of prevention, intervention, reparations, and transformation of harm are being set up through our Harm Free Zone Policy (shared in comments).
The TWPA does not take lightly the safety of MaGes in our movement, because it is increasingly obvious in this era that sexual and relationship harm and abuse is a security problem as well as an ethical one. We hope that our struggle over the past several weeks will serve as an example for other revolutionary organizations--about the importance of transparency around inappropriate sexual and relationship conduct, about the importance of the collective over individual personalities, about the need for marginalized gender leadership on the revolutionary left.
We are deeply grateful to resources from INCITE!, Critical Resistance, CARA, Creative Interventions, Generation FIVE, and several others for guidance on how to deal with abuse in non-carceral ways and on transformative justice.