Volunteers were punished for Debian Day suicide disclosures

In 2016, when people attacked Dr Appelbaum with a gossip campaign, the Debian leader had few reservations making a public statement against Dr Appelbaum's human rights.

The allegations against Dr Appelbaum were nothing more than a social media mob. The suicide of Frans Pop was very real, with a body and a note to prove it. The Debian Social Contract tells us we will not hide problems. Therefore, why was this body hidden for twelve years?

Suicides are a matter of public record. A coroner conducts an inquest in open court. The suicide was closely intertwined with Debian culture. Hiding the suicide was closely intertwined with hiding Debian's real face. Yet doing that is a slap in the face of the social contract.

If Frans Pop had only become engaged with Debian a few weeks before his death and if he had some previous health issues then it would be correct to avoid public comment on that. But as he was working on a core part of the operating system, the Debian installer, he had been actively engaged with Debian for many years, he aligned the suicide with Debian Day and he communicated with us immediately before his death, it is unambiguous that Debian was a factor. It raises concern for the wellbeing of all volunteers. In a voluntary organization committed to transparency, this is exactly the type of risk that belongs in public.

Here is the email where German developer Joerg Jaspert takes his stick to the volunteers who expressed concern about the suicide in public. Joerg's assertion that discussion is "missing every kind of common sense and decency" is nonsense. Common sense means different things for different people. For most volunteers, common sense would suggest doing all that is possible to avoid another suicide. For people in positions of authority over other volunteers, common sense means covering it up.

The volunteers who were punished are Pascal Giard, an editor at IEEE Communications Letters and LI Daobing at JDCloud in China. LI's blog is currently unavailable.

Subject: Privacy of -private list ; missing even one bit of common sense and decency
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2010 00:28:34 +0200
From: Joerg Jaspert <joerg@debian.org>
Reply-To: Debian Account Managers <da-manager@debian.org>
Organization: Goliath-BBS
To: pascal@debian.org, lidaobing@debian.org
CC: debian-private@lists.debian.org, listmaster@lists.debian.org


today we all had to learn a very sad thing. However we may personally
view the fact that this is a suicide and however our personal
interactions with him have been in the past, it is very depressing to
see people discuss if its worth to dedicate a release or not.

He has done a lot of work for the project, invested a lot of his time
and appearently (read the statement of his parents) the Debian project
was a very important part of his life. As such I do not think there is
any question but to do the thing we have done in the past already for
deceased Developers, and FTPMaster (and DAM) will actively support this
again, unless his parents ask us to be silent about it. We will not
value the way he chosed to leave this planet, please respect his
decision over his own life. Instead this is a value and a remembrance of
all the time and work he put into the project we all collaborate on.

Unfortunately we also had the misfortune to read information on twitter
that, to our current knowledge, must have been gathered from this
-private list. We think this a very unfortunate event that is missing
every kind of common sense and decency, and therefore saw forced to
suspend the accounts of the people leaked from membership on this list.

Pascal/Lia Daobing: You both are no longer subscribed to debian-private,
for the next 4 weeks. The one and only reason this list exists is to
have a place where we can share information that is not immediately
leaked into the public. Twitter is not -private.
Please, in the future, respect the rules of the environment you are in,
especially in such a special case like this.

bye, Joerg

More blogs about Frans Pop, the Debian Day volunteer suicide.