UN Rights Envoy Received $200,000 From China While Acting for Beijing

GENEVA, May 18, 2022 — A watchdog organization today called on a UN human rights envoy to return $200,000 that she received from the Chinese state while she helped the regime whitewash its ethnic cleansing of the Uyghurs.

Alena Douhan, the UN Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures,” today concluded a controversial 11-day visit to Iran in which she spurned appeals by Iranian rights activists to meet dissidents.

Instead, in her concluding report, Douhan turned a blind eye to the regime’s brutal suppression of protests across the country over the past week, choosing instead to blame Iran’s poor conditions on sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other Western states.

A professor at the Lukashenko-controlled Belarus State University, Douhan was appointed in March 2020 to a position—initiated by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement—that defines Western sanctions against rogue regimes as violations of human rights.

According to disclosures buried in an 83-page UN filing, Douhan last year received $200,000 from China — at the same time as she lent the imprimatur of her UNHRC mandate for the most extreme forms of Chinese disinformation, including a regime-sponsored propaganda virtual event with the banner, “Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land.”

Douhan headlined China’s September 8, 2021 online program, lending UN legitimacy to propaganda videos and speeches from Chinese government officials aimed at covering up the regime’s herding of 1 million Uyghurs into camps by falsely portraying Xinjiang as a utopia.

On the show with Douhan was the Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Chen Xu, who claimed that “people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, based on their own hands and diligence, live a life of happiness”; Chinese official Erkin Tuniyaz who accused the U.S and other Western countries of turning “blind eyes to the tremendous efforts Xinjiang has made in employment promotion for its people of all ethnic groups,” and of concocting a “smear that the Xinjiang government deprives local ethnic workers’ fundamental rights.”

The program also screened videos claiming that “Xinjiang’s policies conform to international labor and human rights standards, and support the will of all ethnic groups to live a better life.”

By legitimizing the program, Douhan helped China get away with persecuting millions of Uyghurs. Likewise, in September 2021, Douhan was the lead speaker at a Chinese-sponsored event against Western sanctions, co-sponsored by  Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Watchdog Urges UN Rights Envoy to Return China’s $200,000

“It is clear that China is now willing to pay unprecedented sums of money to influence Alena Douhan’s UN human rights office, in wake of last year’s decision by the U.S., EU, UK and Canada to announce sanctions on China for its persecution of the Uyghurs,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

“They want her UN title to legitimize the dictators’ false and absurd narrative that sanctions on brutal regimes constitute a violation of human rights.”

“A UN human rights investigator accepting money from China’s abuser regime would be like the Chicago Police Department receiving subsidies from Al Capone,” said Neuer.

“It beggars belief that a supposed independent human rights expert can accept money from regimes at the same time as she endorses their events designed to cover up atrocities.”

“Like all UN human rights envoys, Douhan has a duty to to uphold the principles of independence, integrity, probity, impartiality, honesty and good faith. Her taking $200,000 from the Chinese regime—as she works to promote their most dangerous propaganda—simply does not pass the smell test. She’s in breach of the UN’s most fundamental ethical principles.”

“We call on Alena Douhan to return the money immediately, and to remove the well-founded suspicions that a UN human rights expert is actively helping the Chinese regime whitewash their crimes against the Uyghurs.”

“We urge UN chief Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, and US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to ensure that Douhan is held to account.”

Alena Douhan Has Lobbied for Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Zimbabwe

Douhan’s first report to the UNHRC complained about Western sanctions that target the regimes of Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba. Instead of calling out their gross abuses, Douhan blamed problems in those countries on Western sanctions.

In February 2021, she undertook a major propaganda visit to Venezuela, portraying the Maduro regime as a victim of U.S. sanctions. Maduro then cited Douhan in his latest speech to the UN General Assembly.

In October 2021, Zimbabwe strongman rolled out the red carpet for a similar propaganda visit by Douhan.

UN Watch