Statement on Richard Stallman rejoining the FSF board
We learnt through a public announcement that Richard Stallman is again part of the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation, one of our independent sister organisations. We disapprove of this step that came without any message of remorse or willingness to change.
In 2019, Richard Stallman resigned as president and board member of the Free Software Foundation. On 21 March 2021 Stallman announced he is member of the board again. The FSFE only learnt about that fact through his public announcement.
We believe this step and how it was communicated harms the future of the Free Software movement. The goal of the software freedom movement is to empower all people to control technology and thereby create a better society for everyone. Free Software is meant to serve everyone regardless of their age, ability or disability, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. This requires an inclusive and diverse environment that welcomes all contributors equally. The FSFE realises that we ourselves and the Free Software movement still have to work hard to be that place where everyone feels safe and respected to participate in it in order to fulfill the movement's mission.
One crucial factor in making our community more inclusive is to recognise and reflect when other people are offended or harmed by our own actions and consider this feedback in future actions. The way Richard Stallman announced his return to the board unfortunately lacks any acknowledgement of this kind of thought process, and we are deeply disappointed that the FSF board did not address these concerns before electing him a board member again. Overall, we feel the current step sends the wrong signal to existing and future community members.
That is why, as a legally and financially independent organisation, in which Richard Stallman has not had any decision-making powers, we call for his resignation from all FSF bodies. The FSF needs to seriously reflect on this decision as well as their decision-making process to prevent similar issues from happening again. Therefore, in the current situation we see ourselves unable to collaborate both with the FSF and any other organisation in which Richard Stallman has a leading position. Instead, we will continue to work with groups and individuals who foster diversity and equality in the Free Software movement in order to achieve our joint goal of empowering all users to control technology.