Yasmine Motarjemi, “I always fight a triple battle, legal, media and scientific”

Photo Yasmine

Kyrgyz writer established in Geneva, Zhenishbek Edigeev spoke on June 28, 2024 with Yasmine Motarjemi ( photo DR ), a specialist in food poisoning. After a hard struggle, this whistleblower won a lawsuit against Nestlé but this victory leaves her with a bitter taste.

Yes, I won, but it is a very bitter victory. Very bitter because initially, my fight focused on food safety management. In fact, my termination letter states that I was fired for my opinions. So, it was indeed a matter of food safety. During the process, I was harassed for my opinions before being fired. I could have been fired immediately if my opinions did not suit the group, but the group chose to harass me for four years to destroy me psychologically and socially, and ruin my career.

In Switzerland, you know, you can fire someone with three months’ salary. It’s very easy to lay off people, a bit like in the United States. They could have fired me, but no, they chose to harass me. Finally, I was fired when I was really destroyed and sick. So I had to file a harassment complaint because the authorities had to deal with food safety issues. Since I didn’t have much money and the procedures were expensive, I had to choose my strategy. So I filed a harassment complaint, explaining that it was due to food safety issues, and reported these issues to the appropriate authorities.

No one was punished

I wrote to the European, American and French authorities, but none of them responded. They closed their eyes. After 13 years of legal battle, I won, but no one was punished. What the court awarded me in costs barely covers the attorney’s fees. After wasting so many years of my life, I gained nothing. It wasn’t for the money that I did this.

No one was punished, even those who lied in court. Laws were violated without any consequences. As for the initial questions of food safety, the authorities did nothing. The same practices continue, the alert system still does not work. A responsible and honest company investigates and corrects problems reported by its employees. Instead we turn a blind eye and kill the messenger. Whistleblowers are like critical journalists: they are harassed, even professionally destroyed.

The harassment I experienced as a senior manager was insidious. I was discredited, humiliated, my team was dismantled, I was isolated, and my responsibilities were taken away. My actions were spied on, and internal conflicts were created. My annual evaluations were manipulated to denigrate me. I was offered secret, humiliating positions to push me to resign.

When you destroy a person’s career, they can find themselves on the verge of suicide. This is what I experienced. The idea of suicide had become a solution for me. Before committing suicide, I decided to lead this trial. Every day was difficult. The idea of suicide helped me hold on. Money no longer mattered. Even when I was offered money to stay silent, I refused. Money no longer mattered.

The media did not seek to find out the truth

Even after my victory in court, Nestlé never admitted its wrongdoing. They paid to end the civil case, but they never admitted to wrongdoing. My fight for food security has not borne fruit, and the same practices continue.

I would have been satisfied if the authorities had looked into my complaints and recognized that Nestlé had failed in food safety. But that was not the case.

The Swiss media have never sought to find out the truth. For example, with the Nestlé Water case or the pizzas, they could have asked my opinion. With a few exceptions, Swiss media are not independent. For example, a Lake Geneva newspaper called me a rebel. They never wanted to know the truth. Even in the pizza affair, when the CEO of Nestlé gave a false explanation, I wrote to the newspaper to say that the explanations were false, but they never wanted to publish my opinion.

A journalist from a French-speaking daily interviewed me, wrote a whole article about me, but her article was censored. The day before my trial, when she wanted to come to court, the whistleblower file was taken away from her and she was told she couldn’t go because the newspaper supports employers, not employees. Similarly, a German-speaking weekly did an article, but the journalist told me he couldn’t pursue the matter because the new editor-in-chief was a friend of the former CEO. They are all friends.

We can also ask questions about the integrity of magistrates. A lawyer, who is also a professor of labor law, did not recognize the harassment I suffered. How can a professor of labor law not recognize what I experienced as harassment? Either he lacks competence or he is lying. He shouldn’t lie as a teacher. Yet he presented a bogus investigation to the court. If I had lost, this treatment would have become acceptable.

I’m always worried

Today, I am still fighting several battles. The legal battle continues because I have a lawsuit pending against the Nestlé pension fund. I also have a media fight to raise public awareness and a scientific fight to improve food safety management. I publish articles and give advice to those who consult me.

Now I’m still worried. For example, by talking to you, I’m taking the risk of being sued. My former employer is not going to kill me physically, but they can wear me out with trials and public humiliation. For years I was afraid, but today I continue to fight for justice and food security.

Source: Yasmine Motarjemi, “je mène toujours un triple combat, juridique, médiatique et scientifique” | Infoméduse (infomeduse.ch)

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