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UN Whistleblower Fired For Sounding Alarm on Controversy Surrounding Chinese Dissidents

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: November 23, 2021
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: The logo of the United Nations is seen in the General Assembly hall before heads of state begin to address the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly at UN Headquarters on September 21, 2021 in New York City. More than 100 heads of state or government are attending the session in person, although the size of delegations are smaller due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Image: Eduardo Munoz-Pool via Getty Images)

United Nations employee Emma Reilly was dismissed shortly after giving an interview to French newspaper Le Monde notifying them of China’s influence within the U.N. and that no action had been taken to counteract this issue.

Reilly notified her superiors when she learned that the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had handed over names of dissidents who were scheduled to attend the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland upon request from the Chinese government.

Reilly said this action resulted in Beijing applying pressure on the dissidents to not make the trip. She also said Chinese authorities have since threatened both her and her family after she revealed this information to the U.N.’s higher office.

Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, who is behind a bill aimed at curbing Beijing’s influence within the U.N., told Fox News in a statement that more needs to be done in regulating the Chinese Communist Party’s growing influence on a global level, and particularly within the U.N.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s campaign of malign influence within the United Nations is an open secret that continually puts the lives of China’s dissidents at risk,” Blackburn said. 

World ‘can no longer turn a blind eye’

“The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to Beijing’s egregious abuse. No whistleblower should be fired for exposing how the U.N. is aiding Communist China’s exploitation and abuse of Muslim Uyghurs. Earlier this year, I introduced the United Nations Transparency and Accountability Act to strengthen America’s leadership in the United Nations system and expose the CCP for their crimes.”

Reilly shared the content of her letter from the U.N.’s Human Resources office, which listed reasons for her firing. The letter of dismissal states her offenses included communicating with media outlets, U.N. member states, and U.N. missions in New York and Geneva. 

A human rights lawyer and UK-Irish national, Reilly said that despite knowing about her situation, the British and Irish governments did not intervene or issue any support in her favor. 

Reilly has been vocal about the abuse of power that occurs within the U.N. for years. (Image: Twitter/Screenshot)

“The U.N. accuses me only of disobeying an order to be silent. I am not accused of lying. I had a duty as a human being, let alone as a Human Rights Officer, to tell the press when telling my superiors and governments had no impact. To be silent in the face of genocide is to stand with the oppressor. I will leave that to the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Reilly said. 

Anna Myers, the executive director of the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN), an international organization that works to defend and support whistleblowers, told reporters that the situation was “outrageous.”

“There are just too many cases of good people at the United Nations being crushed when they speak up about serious problems, including sexual abuse,” she said. “This is outrageous. Whistleblowers will continue to carry the can alone unless member states demand the U.N. implement 21st century protections and act on issues raised. They can start by making sure that U.N. whistleblowers are protected for reporting directly to them.”

WIN also published a statement in support of Reilly and condemned the U.N. for caving into pressure from the Chinese government over this clear abuse of power. It also called on Secretary-General António Guterres and the U.N. general assembly to publicly commit to adopting critical reforms that would protect whistleblowers from being fired over exposing sensitive information.

Over 41 signatories from organizations around the globe were included in the statement.