China: Free journalist Zhang Zhan
UPDATE 28/01/22: Zhang Zhan was able to speak to her mother through a 20-minute video call, during which she mentioned that she had stopped her partial hunger strike so that the authorities wouldn’t force-feed her anymore. While her mother noticed that her health may have slightly improved, it is unclear whether Zhang has access to adequate medical care, including an assessment by a medical professional. Amnesty International is also calling on Chinese authorities to ensure that she has access to adequate medical care, including a thorough medical check-up.
When Wuhan went into lockdown in 2020, Zhang Zhan was one of the few citizen journalists to report on the crisis. She took to social media, reporting how officials had detained reporters and harassed families of Covid-19 patients.
Zhang Zhan went missing in May 2020, authorities later confirmed that she had been held by police in Shanghai. The judge sentenced her to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and she was transferred to Shanghai Women’s Prison.
The authorities continue to refuse her family visits. Citizen journalists like her were the only source of uncensored, first-hand information about the epidemicand they continue facing constant harassment for exposing information. If the Chinese authorities are serious about combating Covid-19 and preventing similar outbreaks from happening again, they must stop censorship and respect freedom of expression.
Take action and urge the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping to free Zhang Zhan immediately and unconditionally.