June 25, 2022
Jornalista presa na China por informar sobre Covid está “perto da morte”, diz família

Journalist arrested in China for informing him that Covid is “on the verge of death”, according to his family

Zhang Zhan was sentenced to four years in prison in December after reporting in Wuhan that he was in poor health due to a hunger strike| Photo: clone / Twitter

This week, human rights and press freedom groups published the story of the family of a Chinese journalist, who was arrested at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic after he wrote about the Chinese dictatorship’s handling of the matter. Zhang Zhan, 38, is said to be “on the verge of death” after months on a hunger strike and in dire need of medical treatment.

Zhang was sentenced to four years in prison in December after she photographed on social media in early 2020 the location in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first infections with the new coronavirus were recorded: a former lawyer, who showed how Chinese government officials were arresting freelance reporters. and harassing families of Covid-19 patients.

“Zhang Zhan, who was never supposed to be arrested in the first place, now appears to be in danger of dying in prison. Guin Li, an activist with Amnesty International in China, said, “Chinese authorities should release her immediately so that she can End her hunger strike and get the proper medical treatment she badly needs.”

“The lawsuit that the Chinese government has brought against Chang Chan, just because it tried to find out what was going on in Wuhan amidst the massive government secrecy about the epidemic, is a shameful attack on human rights.”

According to Amnesty International, Zhang disappeared in Wuhan in May 2020; Later, it was learned that she was convicted in a show trial in Shanghai for “fighting and causing trouble”.

In June 2020, the journalist started a hunger strike to protest her arrest. At trial in December, she was so weak that she appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Also according to Amnesty International, Zhang was force-fed before trial by the Chinese authorities, who prevented her from removing the feeding tube. They also reportedly forced her to wear handcuffs and accessories to immobilize her hands 24 hours a day for more than three months, as punishment for her hunger strike.

Zhang was hospitalized in late July of this year for severe malnutrition, but was later returned to prison and is still on a partial hunger strike. The family reported that they have been prevented from speaking with their lawyer and from meeting relatives since the trial. Only moderated phone calls and video calls are allowed.

Two other organizations, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, have also issued letters calling for Zhang Zhan’s release. We call on the international community to pressure the Chinese regime to release Zhang Zhan before it is too late. “She only did her duty as a journalist, and she shouldn’t have been arrested, let alone sentenced to four years in prison,” said Cedric Alviani, East Asia bureau chief for Reporters Without Borders.

“The Chinese government must be held accountable for allowing another peaceful critic to become seriously ill while unjustly imprisoned,” said Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Governments should demand the immediate release of Zhang Zhan to prevent an already dire situation from turning tragic.”