Whistleblowing can be lifesaving

     Some of them are famous, some of them not. We know the names of some, others are left anonymous, and we will never find the heroes. Some facts were proven, guilty participants were prosecuted. Some statements are more than controversial and yet they are still worth our attention and a moment of thinking/analysis.

    Different countries, people, spheres and cases — our goal is to understand the role of whistleblowing in shaping the world policy. All of the stories we've chosen are directly connected with our daily life: people decided to help the people, and that's how the whistle was blown. 

Katharine Gun - Great Britain

     She spoke out when thousands of lives were at stake. Katharine Gun is a famous figure in the world of whistleblowers - in 2003 she leaked a classified document which pointed at the continuous negotiations between the US and Great Britain. Katharine was working as a translator of Mandarin for Government Communications Headquarters when she discovered a memo from the US.

     The note was asking employees of GCHQ to collect the information on foreign officials who were participating in the United Nations Security Council. The goal of the email was to secure the decision of UN to send the troops in Iraq. Katharine tried to prevent an unjustified invasion and start of the war. Trial and dismissal was a result of this desperate attempt to stand for human rights.

Satyendra Dubey - India

     Another part of the world and a different, brave story. Satyendra Dubey was an Indian Project Manager in the Indian Engineering Service. As a prominent specialist, he noticed and reported on the financial irregularities which caused poor quality of a highway (a part of "Golden Quadrilateral Project"). The road was rebuilt, but Satyendra Dubey impeded the interests of mafia - later Indian officer was assassinated on the way to home.

Alfredo Jiménez Mota - Mexico

        Jiménez Mota also incriminated mafia in the especially dangerous sphere - drug business. Young journalist and reporter, Alfredo was highlighting issues of drug trafficking and investigated the connections of local drug cartels with governmental structures. As soon as the investigation took a severe turn, Alfredo was being followed and eventually went missing. Guilty in Alfredo's disappearance hasn't been found since 2005.

Informant - Malaysia

        We don't know the name of the hero, but this time the attempt was to save the wildlife. Elephants are regularly killed for their tusks - it poses a massive threat to the environment and natural variety. Often it's local people who cruelly kill animals for profit, and it's hard to find a perpetrator.       

     Sabah Wildlife Department promised a reward for whistleblower and six people were finally brought to justice in Tawau. A brilliant example of how a reward can serve to good purposes and accelerate the investigation, right?

Shuping Wang - China

Unacceptable and unforgivable negligence which Chinese doctor was trying to combat. Thanks to Shuping Wang, thousands of people were saved from HIV and AIDS, even though the government acknowledged the problem too late. During the boom in commercial harvesting in the 90s, Shuping Wang discovered a disturbing number of infected people among blood donors. Commercial facilities were collecting and reselling blood samples without checking the donors. Dirty equipment, mixing of blood and ignorance led to the rapid growth of HIV and AIDS in rural areas. Shuping Wang faced dismissal, divorce and displacement because of her reports and activism. The epidemic risks became so obvious that eventually, the government interfered and shut down the facilities.

Dr Scott Allen and Dr Pamela McPherson - the US

     The problem of migration has been one of the most pressing in American society for years and doesn't seem to be solved in the nearest time. A call for compassion to migrants poorly represents the difficulties they face every day - that's the message which Dr Scott Allen and Dr Pamela McPherson were trying to deliver.

      Starting from 2014, physicians reported on unacceptable conditions of migrants detention in specialised centres. Finger injuries, weight loss, lack of hygienic supplies took place at family detention facilities (and still do). Even though the physicians didn't change the situation with facilities significantly, their letters to Congress did influence public attitude to the problem. Now both doctors fight not for the change of conditions in family detention centres but their closure.

     In all of these stories, whistleblowers were on the right side, and their efforts sooner or later made a real difference. However, informants may disclose incorrect information in some instances - that's a complex issue which also should be discussed. The only thing we know for sure is that even in the most complicated cases with no right or wrong positions whistleblowers do an important job - draw public attention to the problem. 

PS We have three more stories to share about work ethics, personal choice and lack of evidence. More complicated than ever - a lot to think about!

Abuse and exploitation by aid workers in Haiti - here

False evidence and war manipulation in Syria - here

Genetic material from African people and work ethics - here

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