News: Tribute to Tiergou Pierre Dabiré
October 15, 2015. Source: PWYP
It is with deep regret and sadness that we, the International Secretariat of Publish What You Pay (PWYP), announce the passing of Pierre Tiergou Dabiré, which happened on 13 October 2021 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Dabiré was the President of the African Network of Journalists for Integrity and Transparency (Rajit), Coordinator of PWYP’s Coalition in Burkina Faso “Mines Alerte Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez – Burkina” and Director of the journalist school in Burkina Faso. An activist driven by the importance of transparency, he was part of every fight to improve the governance of the mining sector in Burkina. Dabiré was a devoted husband and a caring father of two children.
“The sudden passing of Dabiré is such terrible news. Having known him very well, both as a media professional and as a social activist, I am devastated”, said Mamadou Taran Diallo, Chair of PWYP Global Council and President of the Guinean Association for Transparency
A journalist by profession, Mr. Dabiré was an activist committed to transparency and was completely invested in the advocacy campaign for the adoption of a new mining code in Burkina as well as the “1% campaign” on the revenue generated by the exploitation of gold.
“An important transparency activist, Dabiré’s passing will be a terrible loss not only for his country but for the entire PWYP movement. He inspired important change for his co-citizens, notably this year with the success of the 1% campaign, and his wisdom, sense of humour and drive will be greatly missed”, said Marinke Van Riet, International Director of PWYP.
In these painful circumstances, the International Secretariat wishes to share our deepest condolences with Dabiré’s family, his colleagues and the whole PWYP campaign.
We were with Dabiré in August 2015 in Dakar, Senegal, at a workshop to capitalise on the revisions of mining code in West Africa, where we had the opportunity to talk with him about his life as an activist. The following interview reflects this discussion.
« Transparency is communication » - Tiergou Pierre Dabiré
I have been an activist since I was a student in France and involved in several student unions. When I returned home, I stayed involved in unions and later in human rights movements. Subsequently, we created a national network against corruption (RENLAC) as corruption became endemic after Thomas Sankara’s revolution. In 1997, I was approached by a university professor who had created ORCADE, an organisation working on increasing capacities in development. He suggested that I work with him and together our goal was to increase transparency in the extractive industries, in particular from 2006-2007.
We become especially engaged in transparency at the beginning of Burkina Faso’s mining boom, with the first industrial mine opened in 2007. The impacted populations began to alert activists that their rights were violated, particularly at compensation level. As these people were our contacts at ORCADE, they shared these stories with us and we would then report them to the newspapers. We decided to set up a network of journalists to better disseminate information on violations of rights. The introduction of the EITI in Burkina in 2008 also provided an opportunity for us to strengthen our capacities on transparency issues.
Journalists have an important role in promoting transparency in the extractive industries. I quote the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who said that the EITI is communication. I would add that transparency is communication. If you do not communicate, you can’t be transparent. And the situation of Burkina since November 2014 (the period of the popular uprising that swept the regime of Blaise Compaoré) confirms this. In the past, because of their money, mining companies were in a powerful position of influence, which meant that they could act in opacity. Following the popular uprising, people managed to regain power and began to invade the mining sites, ransacking and burning facilities. The mining companies realised then that if they didn’t communicate, they would start suffering losses. The role of the journalist is not only to provide information to the public but also to expose instances of bad governance.