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Xi Jinping at the UN climate conference (credit: UNclimatechange, Attribution 2.0 Generic) and the Emblem of the United Nations(Credit: Spiff~enwiki, public domain)

UN Human Rights Council accused of handing over names of dissidents to China

UNITED NATIONS emails allegedly reveal how China’s infiltration of the institution’s Human Rights Council has allowed Beijing to track dissidents, a UN employee has claimed.

Speaking to, a human rights lawyer who formerly worked for the UN’s Human Rights Office reportedly claims that UN officials have been handing over the names of individuals from Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang to Chinese diplomats who in turn have passed the details to the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

The whistle-blower alleged how witnesses to severe human rights violations approached the UN in confidence to give testimony on numerous abuses within China, the may have affected the imprisonment, torture and death of their family members.

One of the witnesses who attended a Human Rights Council session was Uighur activist Dolkun Isa.

Interview with Emma Reilly.(credit:

After China issued its demand his name was promptly handed over, UN official and human rights lawyer Emma Reilly described the fate of his family.

Dolkun Isa of the Uighur Congress

Ms Reilly said: “Dolkun Isa’s brother was arbitrarily arrested after the names were handed over to the Chinese and has subsequently disappeared.

“Dolkun’s parents were then placed in camps and both have died there.”

Geng He, wife of missing lawyer Gao Zhisheng

In another case Ms Reilly claims that an official from the UN Human Rights Council sent an email to inform China in advance that the wife of detained civil rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, would be attending a UN meeting.

Geng He, wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng (Credit: Nina Lincoff/Medill News Service Attribution 2.0 Generic, creative commons,

Ms Reilly added: “The UN is seen as the last great hope that principles matter and human rights actually exist.

“The people that go to the UN Human Rights Council know the risks they are taking, to a degree, but what they don’t expect is that the UN is going to betray them.”

It is alleged that Beijing demanded names before every session of the Human Rights Council.

Ms Reilly explained how Beijing demanded the details under the guise that the activists testifying were a “security concern”.

She added that the details that were released to the Chinese Communist Party were not just Chinese citizens but nationals from the USA, Canada, US, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

She alleges that names are still being handed over by the UN to the Chinese authorities, as Ms Reilly suggests this is “ongoing”.

Ms Reilly said: “This was the exact opposite of what the UN Human Rights Council was set up to do.”

Allegations of compromise at the UN

Certain officials within the UN have been compromised by Beijing, and they have even been promoted within the UN Human Rights Council that is charged with defending the vulnerable around the globe.

Ms Reilly added: “And everyone who was involved in covering-up and providing lists of names to China has been promoted.

“They are all still there, some of them are even in charge of NGOs.

“The post that I used to occupy when I reported it is now occupied by someone who saw what was happening and chose to do nothing.

“The actual official who handed over the names to the Chinese is still in his post and has actually just published a book, at the UN’s expense, about the virtuous deeds of the UN human rights council.”

The human rights lawyer highlighted an internal EU ethics decision that has allowed the basic principle of human rights to be compromised in order for the institution to achieve a better political relationship with China.

She said: “It is UN policy to place human rights witnesses in danger at China’s request.”

According to Ms Reilly China’s request for the names was not official procedure for the UN.

Previous to China’s request, Turkey had made a similar bid for information on Kurdish individuals, but their request was reportedly denied.

The demand was returned promptly

China’s request was issued promptly, within four hours according to Ms Reilly.

Explaining the official procedure she said: “The member states of the UN set written rules saying you cannot give confidential information on human rights witnesses to state governments.

“There is a precise rule that says, if a member state wants to know who is coming to give testimony at the human rights commission, they have to ask this request in front of all of the other member states and a collective decision should then be made via the secretariat to decide whether it is safe to hand over that information.

“This was not done here, this was the secretariat deciding to break the rules set by the member states to aid China.

“And it is ongoing”

On top of this Ms Reilly claims the UN has since diverted millions of taxpayers money to cover up the fact it sent the list of names that ended up in the hands of China’s ministry of state security, the country’s secret police.

MS Reilly said: “Millions have been spent by the UN to cover-up this”

The Palais des Nations, the main building of the United Nations Office at Geneva (Credit: Vassil, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

The Human Rights lawyer claims the UN have buried the severity of the claims and passed them off as an internal conflict between employees.

Ms Reilly said: “There has been no investigation by the UN into the handing over of names to China. I have been demanding for seven years that either the UN internal investigations team do it or the member states call for an external investigation. But there has been no action.”

She added: “It was reported to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, nothing came of it.”

An employee tribunal was carried out by the UN concerning the case.

Ms Reilly described how “the UN secretary general who was responsible for appointing the judge in my case got rid of the first judge and appointed a judge that he liked better.”

The UN’s secretary general is now directly involved in the case.

But, Ms Reilly points out the lack of judicial independence in internal UN tribunals.

She questioned: “Who investigates the actions of the UN secretary general, he is the one that everyone reports to.”

The current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has so far ignored all requests to meet with Ms Reilly since she took office.

However the human rights lawyer did state that she, “thinks the UN deeply needs to exist, but that it needs to not put the people it is meant to be protecting in life threatening danger”.

The details of the claims were sent to the Chinese mission in Geneva and also to the office of the high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations.

A spokesperson from the UN commented on the allegations: ” The UN rights office categorically rejects claims it endangered NGOs.

Refering to the names that China requested, a spokesperson for the UN replied: “All four of them were residents of Europe or the United States and made public their plans to attend the Human Rights Council session, at several points beginning with a press release on 27 December 2012, when the NGO in question announced it would be co-hosting a public side event at the UN headquarters in Geneva during the Human Rights Council meeting.

“As is apparent on its website, the NGO is extremely open about its presence at many such events, including ones at venues much less secure than the UN premises in Geneva.

“Dating back at least to 2010, the same delegates have been regularly attending meetings of the Human Rights Council, which occur three times a year.

“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 underway, and until it is sure that there is no obvious security risk.”

US Ambassador to the UN Bremberg with Uighur Congress’s Dolkun_Isa. The US calls on China to end its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang and to release all those arbitrarily detained. (Credit: US Mission to Geneva, public domain)

But this statement is contradicted by one of the human rights activists who attended the UNHRC, the Uighur human rights defender Dolkun Isa, who said: “I can confirm that our NGO did not release the names of individuals who would be attending the 2013 Human Rights Council ahead of the event.

“The OHCHR press release refers to a press release from our NGO from 27 December 2012.

“I can provide a link to that press release, it did not mention the names of the participants who would take part in the announced event and did not mention participation in the Human Rights Council.

“We did not release the names of the individuals from our NGO who would be attending ahead of the start of the Council session. At no point before or during the Human Rights Council were we informed by OHCHR that the Chinese Government had been informed that we would be attending the Council session.

“Nor were we informed of any allegations of terrorism made by the Chinese Government about us.”

However, Rolando Gomez, a spokesman for the UN Human Rights Council said: “Under no circumstances, the Office of the High Commissioner divulged names of human rights defenders coming to the council.”

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