Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook

Chinese journalist released from prison four years after denouncing China's handling of Covid

Chinese citizen and journalist Zhang Zhan was released from prison this Monday, May 13 after four years of incarceration for having documented the Chinese government's management of Covid-19.

- 2 reads.

Chinese journalist released from prison four years after denouncing China's handling of Covid

Chinese citizen and journalist Zhang Zhan was released from prison this Monday, May 13 after four years of incarceration for having documented the Chinese government's management of Covid-19.

Upon her arrival in Wuhan in February 2020, the former Shanghai lawyer and journalist was one of the city's few independent reporters and took a close interest in the ongoing health crisis, reports the Guardian. As China began a severe lockdown, Zhan shared his information on X (still Twitter at the time) and on YouTube and WeChat. From one video to another, it reports on the reality of current events, broadcasts images of the situation in hospitals, denounces deprivation of liberty and censorship.

“I can't find anything to say, except that the city is paralyzed because everything is covered,” she said in one of them in February 2020. “They imprison us in the name of pandemic prevention and restrict our freedom. We must not talk to strangers, it’s dangerous.” A censorship which, according to her, isolates China from the rest of the world. “If we don’t have access to the truth, if we can’t break the monopoly on the truth, the world means nothing to us,” she says.

In another video, she shows a hospital whose patients pile up into the hall on rolling beds. These are the most compromising images for the Chinese government, which soon arrested him in May. During her trial on December 28, she was sentenced to 4 years in prison for disseminating false information and "provoking quarrels and unrest", an accusation regularly used against dissidents, activists and journalists, according to the British daily. The next day, the European Union asked China for its immediate release.

When he visited his client in prison during the winter of 2020, it was a very emaciated woman that Zhang Keke, Zhang Zhan's lawyer, found. Despite a probe in her nose to force her to eat and her hands tied so she could not remove the tube, the Chinese citizen lost 34 kilos. In question, her multiple hunger strikes initiated to protest against her incarceration and the treatment she undergoes. On the day of her trial, she uses a wheelchair and faces treatment that the lawyer describes as “particularly brutal”. “The judge criticized her for going to Wuhan to carry out interviews and investigations, but in reality,” explains the lawyer, “what he did not appreciate was that she had collected this data, that "she put them on Twitter...and took part in interviews with so-called enemy media." Among the media outlets in question is Radio Free Asia funded by the United States government.

Also read: Chinese growth rebounds after Covid

Now that he is being released, support for Zhang Zhan is growing, mainly from members of NGOs. Maya Wang, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, welcomes the journalist's release but emphasizes that she "should not have been imprisoned in the first place" and that the Chinese government has yet to "return "accountable for covering up the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic and for the abuses associated with its draconian restrictions during the pandemic." Sarah Brooks, director of Amnesty International's China program, urges the Chinese authorities to "ensure that Zhang Zhan is completely free from May 13" and to ensure that "she and her family must not not be subject to surveillance or harassment, (...) nor restrictions on her access to medical treatment after the traumatic ordeal she underwent in prison.

The risk remains that Zhan will not fully regain his freedom. According to one of her former lawyers, two outcomes are possible, one being that she can return home, the other being that she be sent for a period of one to three months to a more "secure" prison. flexible". Accustomed to defending so-called sensitive individuals, he anticipates a “period during which she will not be authorized to have contact with the outside world nor authorized to travel elsewhere”.

Avatar
Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
Warning! Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.