Documents relating to the mass detention of Muslims in China were recently released by a whistleblower who revealed herself as Asiye Abdulaheb. The 46-year-old woman wants the world to know not only what is happening in those facilities, but also what she went through to get the word out: she reportedly received numerous death threats in the days before those documents were revealed by the journalists she had contacted.
She said, “I thought that this thing has to be made public. The Chinese police would definitely find us. The people in Dubai had told my ex-husband, ‘We know all about your matters. We have a lot of people in the Netherlands.’”
The documents describe in detail how Chinese authorities successfully constructed those camps. More than that, they show how the Chinese justified them.
In the U.S., whistleblowers actually stand to make quite a lot of money in certain cases. A qui tam whistleblower lawsuit occurs whenever a whistleblower is rewarded for monies lost by the United States government due to fraudulent activity. “Qui tam” is part of a popular latin saying: “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur.” The entire phrase means: “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.” Whoever named this particular measure was a clever girl.
This kind of whistleblowing is thanks to the False Claims Act (FCA), which allows a whistleblower (always protected under federal law) to report fraudulent misdeeds made against the government through simple civil action in court. If the qui tam whistleblower wins the lawsuit, they can be awarded up to 30 percent of the monies recovered. Those who commit fraud against the United States government usually go big or go home, so this is a potentially lucrative opportunity for a whistleblower.
But what about when the illegal activity is conducted by the government? In Abdulaheb’s case, there’s not much she can do to protect herself. Even in the U.S., where we have strict whistleblower laws (which are now coming into scrutiny alongside the investigation into President Trump), those laws are sometimes put aside in favor of “national security.” In China, she has no protection at all.
Abdulaheb did not reveal how she leaked 24 pages of sensitive Chinese documents, or who else was involved. She knows the Chinese are after that information. But she used to work for the Chinese government in Xinjiang, a province notorious for its role in the crackdown of certain Muslim populations.
She said that Chinese officials attempted to recruit her husband in an effort to uncover information on the links in the whistleblowing chain.