Whistleblower Protection: A Case Study for The Signals Network


Whistleblowers worldwide are essential players in uncovering wrongdoing, protecting public safety, and strengthening our democracies. For the majority of the planet that does not get to experience their-day-to day as a citizen of democracy, life can be markedly harder. Those living under authoritarian regimes often have to navigate a rule of law that curtails personal freedoms, which are more limited still for marginalized groups like the ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs of China.

One such story is that of Anar.

The Need: Finding a safe space

Anar was held in captivity by Chinese authorities for 20 months. Her crime: traveling abroad as an ethnic Kazakh (minority group) from Xinjiang, China.

Following her imprisonment, she found her life heavily surveilled under the watch of Chinese authorities. Once she was able to reclaim her passport under the guise of working for a business in Uzbekistan, she escaped. Months after her ordeal in China, Anar then made the courageous decision to speak out about her experiences. Her harrowing story, highlighted in The New Yorker, details the numerous human rights abuses she witnessed firsthand and her experiences of Chinese authorities’ massive surveillance of its citizens.

Anar’s decision to speak out against abuse and power was risky. Living in quasi-exile, she knew she may never see her family or friends again. She was left without any support or resources to move on with her life after leaving China, a decision she made in order to escape the constant surveillance of authorities that she also feared put her family at risk if she did not leave.

The Connection: Strong relationships with journalists

A critical part of our work is ensuring journalists are well-informed about the protection we can provide to their sources.

Anar had been in close contact with The New Yorker journalist to whom she had told her story, and he was worried about her safety and next steps. He knew who could help: The Signals Network. He got in contact with The Signals Network on Anar’s behalf. Within hours, our executive director, Delphine Halgand-Mishra, was able to get her into a safe space in the host country where she had taken refuge after leaving China.

The Support: Protecting those who speak out

The Signals Network worked with Anar over the course of several months. After ensuring immediate safe housing, Delphine helped her with the logistics of relocating to another safe country and supporting her efforts to establish her new life.

“I feel The Signals Network really cares about those they help; it’s not superficial. It’s not just financial support but also…that Delphine really spent a lot of time and energy. I can see that she really cares about me and my situation.”

The Impact: Whistleblower safety

Through our support, Anar was able to find her new place in the world where she could rebuild her life.

“Right now I’m in a safe country and I have my little space. I feel safer and I feel like I can restart to build my life…I’m regaining my confidence.”

Why The Signals Network?

Freedom of information, transparency, and accountability and whistleblower protections have never been more important. Help us protect the whistleblowers who protect all of us. With your support, we can ensure that more whistleblowers, whose acts of bravery highlight misconduct and human rights abuses, receive the protection and support they need to move on from their life-changing experiences.

To help empower others thinking of coming forward Anar notes, “They shouldn’t feel alone if they do the right thing. There’s always nice people out there helping them if they’re in a situation like mine and I really appreciate how The Signals Network has helped me.”

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