The decision of the United Nations to fire a whistleblower at the Human Rights Commission is a shocking development that raises an increasingly serious question for President Biden and other Free World leaders — has Communist China taken over the World Body that, at least ostensibly, was founded on America’s ideals of liberty?
According to the whistleblower, Emma Reilly, who was let go by the UN today, even Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, tacitly admitted to her that those in charge of things in Beijing are the real bosses of the world body, not him. Nor was the Biden administration any help as this crisis came to a head.
“Fundamentally, the entire story is about breaking the UN rules for China,” Ms. Reilly told me after being informed that her job with the UN Human Rights Council was terminated. Today’s sacking caps a sordid tale that started when Ms. Reilly, an Irish human rights lawyer, alerted her bosses that UN officials had handed over to the Communist regime in Beijing names of Chinese dissidents planning to attend a session at Geneva.
The dissidents were summarily imprisoned and tortured. Members of their families were harassed. In one case, a person reportedly died. That horror tale should be ringing all alarms at a body aiming to be the world’s highest arbiter of human rights. Instead, the UNHCR bureaucrats went after Ms. Reilly for exposing the scandal, accusing her of having unauthorized contact with the press.
While world newspapers recounting all this, Ms. Reilly was fighting her bosses at Geneva and beyond. Last year she sent an email to Mr. Guterres, pleading with him to intervene. The exchange, Ms. Reilly told me, was pleasant and cordial.
Then, she added, Mr. Guterres said he'd “check and see what I can do" and have the "people in charge" look into it. So who’s in charge? “Exactly who is the Secretary-General checking with on a simple matter of transferring a single, junior whistleblower?” Ms. Reilly asks in her conversation with me.
The UN bureaucracy has a system meant to protect whistleblowers, but in this case it was bent to protect Beijing. Mr. Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, insisted to me Ms. Reilly wasn’t designated a whistleblower. Yet, in an internal July 2020 report, the Director of the UNHCR ethics office, Helmut Buss, wrote that as a whistleblower Ms. Reilly should be “protected from any adverse personnel action.”
Even as the system kept after her — and while colleagues turned their backs and spread malicious stories about her — Ms. Reilly stuck to her guns. It turned out that the firing was only a question of time.
“I am not brave,” Ms. Reilly tweeted today. “It was literally my job to report deliberate endangerment of human rights activists.
@Dolkun_Isa, who speaks out for Uyghurs despite immense personal loss, is brave.
@Genghe1, who demands answers about her husband, is brave. @UN handed their names to #Beijing.”
Ms. Reilly learned of the UN’s betrayal of Chinese dissidents shortly after joining the Geneva-based Human Right Council in 2012. “When I first reported it in 2013, people were shocked,” she says, referring to her Geneva colleagues. “Now it’s all about ‘keep your salary and be quiet.’”
The UN Charter begins with “We the peoples,” a line echoing the preamble to America’s Constitution and indicating shared aspirations. New York hosts the organization’s headquarters and American taxpayers fund far more of its operations than any other country.
Yet, Beijing now funds pet projects, and its officials man key posts in specialized agencies. Communist China’s growing power within the World Body’s bureaucracy is increasingly evident. With it, the ethics of the oppressive regime increasingly dominate Turtle Bay.
In other words, Beijing apparatchiks are the real “people in charge.”
Over the summer, a Republican senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, raised the issues surrounding Ms. Reilly’s case and China’s growing influence. Ms. Reilly, though, tells me that she got “no help at all” from the State Department or the American team at Turtle Bay. A spokesman for the US Mission to the UN didn’t return an email at press time.
Mr. Dujarric told me that “all staff members are obliged to comply with staff regulations and rules and we have exhaustively followed all appropriate procedures to handle the complaints filed by Ms. Reilly.” The UN, added its spokesman, has a “robust framework to protect from retaliation.” He also said the UN’s practice of transferring names to governments ended in 2016 and denied dissidents were harmed after their names were disclosed to the Beijing authorities.
Ms. Reilly, though, has heard enough. If The UN can return to the fundamentals of its Charter, she says, perhaps she can once again believe in it. As is, “I don’t see how we can get there from here. We have to start from scratch.”
Twitter @bennyavni. Photo: A sitting of the Human Rights Council. United Nations photo by Elma Okic.