Leaked emails confirm UN passed info to China in name-sharing scandal

Jan 26, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership


The UN Human Rights Office is under fire for sharing the names of Chinese government opponents, including Uighur activists, Tibetans and Hongkongers, who took part in UN activities, for a long period.

Emma Reilly, a staffer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and a human rights lawyer, has repeatedly alleged that the office shared the names of dissidents with the Chinese government.

She recently shared the emails she received through the UN body’s internal emailing system while she was on active duty at the OHCHR with Anadolu Agency.

Although the OHCHR denies the allegations, some emails among its employees, press releases and interviews have revealed that the UN shared the names of many Chinese activists and some opponents who attended panel discussions, conferences, and open sessions on human rights with the Chinese government.

The allegations have come to light after Reilly reported it to authorities.

Last week Reilly said on Twitter that she could be dismissed after accusing her employer of sharing the names of Chinese government opponents who took part in UN activities.

The OHCHR has denied the allegations, though, saying the controversial practice has ceased since 2015.

But a OHCHR press release issued in 2017 confirms that the Chinese authorities “regularly” asked the UN office to confirm whether particular names were attending their meetings.

“Chinese authorities, and others, regularly ask the UN Human Rights Office, several days or weeks prior to Human Rights Council meetings, whether particular NGO delegates are attending the forthcoming session. The Office never confirms this information until the accreditation process is formally under way, and until it is sure that there is no obvious security risk,” read the press release.

Human rights organizations, including UN Watch and Human Rights Watch, argue that the UN’s practice endangered not only the lives of Chinese activists and dissidents, but also their families and relatives.

'Usual practice' of requesting name sharing

In an email on Sept. 7, 2012, a diplomat from the Chinese Mission to the UN office in Geneva asked -- as a “usual practice” -- an NGO liaison officer at the OHCHR whether anybody from the list the diplomat had sent to the 21st session of the HRC requested accreditation.

The officer passed on two names, Dolkun Isa and He Geng, to the Chinese diplomat in a responding email.

In another email in 2013, the Chinese diplomat again wanted to confirm which of the names on the list would attend the session, thanking the office for cooperation.

In separate emails, it is evident that the Chinese mission even sent invitation to the OHCHR personnel for lunches.

Reilly says UN still continues name sharing

Reilly insists that the UN office still continues this controversial practice.

“I don’t actually have a job. The UN continues to pay me a salary that I have no terms of reference. They cannot fire me because they know I’m telling the truth. But they don’t want me doing any work,” she told Anadolu Agency about what she experienced after reporting the UN’s practice.

After she first found out in February 2013 that the OHCHR was leaking the names of Chinese dissidents and activists, Reilly said she immediately started reporting it.

“I reported it to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time. I reported it to the EU.”

She claimed that an OHCHR employee made false statements to the EU, and the EU did not follow up on the matter.

Reilly said she also reported the situation to Ireland, the UK, the US, and Germany.

“A lot of those member states reported to me that the UN had lied to them. Again, I give them the emails in which names were handed over.”

She said that the names of 50-70 people who are opponents of the Chinese government were handed over and among them are 8-9 people with US citizenship and 5-6 with German citizenship. Reilly also said that she informed both countries about the situation.

“So, it’s also a very big diplomatic consular issue that the UN is handing over the names of citizens of other countries to the Chinese government,” she added.

Denying the statement by the UN body that it has ceased “the limited practice” since 2015, Reilly asked: “And later in 2017, the OHCHR made up this story that it had stopped in 2015. Why did they put out a press release admitting it in 2017? Why did they admit it in court in 2019?”

Speaking of the legal process, Reilly said that she won the first case. “And in that case, the judge ruled that the Secretary General had decided not to apply the UN policy in my case and that was not legal.

“The UN did not like that judgment very much. So they got rid of the judge,” she further claimed.

“Because of the structure of the UN, I can only take the UN to an internal employment tribunal. I cannot sue the UN for endangering people,” she added.

People’s lives are in danger

Reilly argued that the OHCHR does not have the right to share information about the participants in their meetings.

“There is actually a rule at the Human Rights Council. The rule is that if a country wants to know who is coming, they have to ask the plenary. They have to ask in front of the member states,” she stressed.

“And that rule is written, it’s very clear. And it was broken for China.”

Adding that the people whose names were handed over are in danger, she underlined that it was her responsibility as a UN Human Rights Officer to speak up.

Isa, a prominent Uighur politician and activist who attended the UN Human Rights Council meetings in Geneva in 2016 and 2019, was also among the people whose names were handed over to the Chinese diplomats, she said, adding that the activist testified in her favor.

“Chinese agents visited his family home to tell him to stop his advocacy. He’s been arrested several times. He was refused entry into the UN itself as a direct result of his name being given to the Chinese government. His brother was arrested,” she said.

Mostly Uighur activists’ names leaked

Asked more about the people whose information were handed to China, Reilly said most of them were Uighurs, but Tibetans, Hongkongers, and human rights lawyers are among them.

“It’s anyone that China wishes to have information about,” she said.

Reilly said that the UN practice was “complicit in international crimes”.

She said: “The UN Human Rights Office should not be actively endangering human rights defenders. And that shouldn’t be controversial. And it has been shocking that the only concern of the Human Rights Office has been to stop me reporting it, but not to stop the practice."

UN denies Reilly’s allegations

Meanwhile, the UN has denied the allegations, as OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville told Anadolu Agency on Jan. 14 that "since 2015, even this limited practice ceased.”

"For the past five years, OHCHR has not confirmed the names of individual activists accredited to attend UN Human Rights Council sessions to any State. Ms. Reilly’s repeated claims the practice continues to this day are false," he stressed.

Isa confirms allegations, testifies in Reilly’s favor

Isa, the president of the World Uyghur Congress, told Anadolu Agency that they wanted to attend the UN Human Rights Council meeting in 2013 with Uighur activist Rabia Kadir and other Uighurs but the police attempted to get them out of the council room, which he says was the result of pressure from Chinese authorities.

Even in 2018, Isa said, a Chinese diplomat called him a “terrorist”, trying to stop him from entering the UN, but the issue was later solved by Germany’s initiative.

The Uighur activist also noted that in 2017 he was detained before a meeting in Italy due to a pressure from China.

Isa said he had lost contact with his entire family since 2017, adding that that his mother died in a “concentration camp” in China in 2018, and his older brother was arrested while his younger brother has been missing since 2016.

He later learned from Chinese daily Global Times that his father had also died although he has no idea when or where he died.

*Writing by Rabia Iclal Turan

Unrepentant teen with a long list of offences is why some parents shouldn't breed

Nov 25, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Ralph Wee Yi Kai, a 19-year-old Singaporean man, has pleaded guilty to eight charges on Nov. 25 during his plead guilty mention before District Judge May Mesenas.

The charges include consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure at the Singapore Zoo, and committing mischief by damaging property, reported CNA.

Another six charges will be considered during his sentencing.

Probation is "not realistic"

Wee pleaded guilty via video link from his place in remand, where he has been since Nov. 6.

The prosecution strongly objected to a probation suitability report, noting that Wee is "beyond the control of his parents, which renders probation unsuitable", according to CNA.

The prosecution asserted that probation "is not realistic" for Wee, based on his repeated offences and conduct in court.

They cited his "blatant disregard for rules", and urged for a reformative training suitability report instead.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Lee said Wee "has a tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol", which caused him to behave aggressively towards his parents.

He also "posed a risk" to them, which led him to be admitted to the Institute of Mental Health.

"Never expected it to come to this"

Wee's defence lawyer Shashi Nathan requested for the addition of a probation suitability report, according to CNA.

Shashi maintains that his family is able to supervise Wee, and added that his client "comes from a good family" who are "able to look after him".

He said that Wee was undergoing "a severe emotional crisis" when he committed his offences, and shared that the case has also affected Wee's family, especially after their home address was released to the press.

"While Ralph understands that what he did was wrong, he never expected it to come to this," said Shashi.

Difference between probation and reformative training

Wee was ordered to go though both assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report, reported Yahoo News.

Offenders who undergo probation will not have a criminal record, while reformative training, which provides a more structured environment, results in a criminal record.

What Wee's lawyer said

Wee's lawyer said his client acted out after breaking up with his girlfriend, 18, who was the one who filmed the video of Wee backflipping in the zoo.

The defence lawyer, Shashi, said Wee spiralled into an emotional crisis as a result of his break-up.

Wee is homeschooled.

The court was told Wee saw a video of a man riding a giraffe and decided to make a video in the rhino enclosure, Yahoo News reported.

The ex-girlfriend had filmed the act and posted it on her private Snapchat account.

Wee posted it on his public TikTok account and a police report was made by a zoo personnel within the same day.

Wee removed the video when he was told to do so by the police, but reposted it on Dec. 18, before being told to remove it again, claiming he thought the video had been made private when he reposted it.

Wee had also included a link in his Instagram account biography to directed to a page selling t-shirts with the words "rhino ralph".

But he denied creating the merchandise profile.

He later removed the link.

Wee will return to court on Dec. 20 for his sentencing.

Timeline of events with updated details

Oct. 9, 2020, 2:40am: Allegedly committed an act of vandalism by hitting an information panel at a bus stop in Sixth Avenue, off Bukit Timah Road, causing S$900 in damage.

Allegedly caused damage to two cars -- S$2,800 to a Mercedes-Benz and more than S$1,600 to a BMW -- in nearby Sixth Crescent.

A taxi driver passing by reported him to the police, as Wee was standing in the middle of the road with a beer bottle in hand.

Dec. 16, 2020: Wee was placed on compulsory supervision for 60 months from Dec. 16. He was required to present himself for urine tests on each Tuesday and Thursday, but failed to turn up on four occasions.

He was placed on e-tagging during this period of time, after having been charged for his earlier offences.

He had to stay at home from 10pm to 6am as part of his bail conditions.

Dec. 17, 2020, 2.40pm: Accused of trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure and taking a video.

Dec. 18, 2020: Reposted zoo video, despite taking it down earlier after being told to do so by the police. Told to remove video again.

Dec. 24, 2020: Accused of abusing a frog, which subsequently died, by hitting a ball against it on a foosball table, causing "unnecessary pain and suffering".

The incident allegedly took place at a Sentosa Cove property.

July 2021: First hauled to court and charged with two counts of mischief, as well as one count each of vandalism and criminal trespass.

Bail was then set at S$15,000.

Aug. 6, 2021: Allegedly consumed cannabis while out on bail. Arrested at his residence and two urine samples obtained tested positive for weed. S$15,000 bail revoked.

Sep. 14, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-vaporiser and six e-cigarette pods at a ward in the Institute of Mental Health.

Three police officers showed up at IMH, where Wee was warded, to arrest him for failing to attend court.

He was admitted to IMH due to his drug and alcohol abuse, as had acted aggressively towards his parents when they demanded the drugs from him.

He was warded in IMH due to the risk he posed to his parents.

Oct. 13, 2021: Charged with one count of drug consumption while still in remand.

Bail raised to S$20,000 and Wee was released.

While out on second bail, Wee committed a string of offences, including cutting his electronic tag, according to ST, as well as not reporting for his urine tests on a few occasions, CNA reported.

The prosecution has called for an urgent bail review hearing to have Wee's second bail revoked for the alleged fresh offences.

Oct. 26, 2021: Allegedly cut a S$100 GPS ankle tag at an address on Leedon Road at about 12:10am.

Prior to this act, Wee was upset at his father, who had asked Wee to sleep early since he had to report for his urine test in the morning.

After arguing with his father, Wee decided to leave the house, and used pliers to cut off his e-tag before cycling to his friend’s house.

Upon discovering that Wee was missing, his father called the police.

The e-tag, worth S$100, was damaged and could no longer be used.

It was found in Wee’s house.

Oct. 28, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-cigarette pod at the Leedon Road address.

Nov. 5, 2021: Warrant of arrest issued, as Wee could not wake up to attend court.

Nov. 6, 2021: Wee arrested.

Nov. 12, 2021: Slapped with four additional charges.

Nov. 25, 2021: Pleaded guilty to consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into a rhino enclosure, and committing mischief by damaging property belonging to others.

Ordered to go though assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report.