On May 14, the first anniversary of the arrest of Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, Taiwan’s Civil Justice Reform Foundation responded to calls from several international human rights groups for her immediate and unconditional release from the Chinese Communist government, and for continued international attention to be paid to the Communist Party’s suppression of freedom of expression and its overall human rights situation.
Zhang was arrested last May for reporting on Wuhan pneumonia, a Chinese Communist virus, and was sentenced to four years in the first instance on December 28 of the same year at the Shanghai Pudong New District Court. Her current situation is worrisome.
After being detained last year, Zhang Zhan went on a hunger strike for many months in protest, saying, “The hunger strike is a way to let them [justice] know that they did wrong.” She was subsequently force-fed by authorities through a nasal tube.
After being sentenced, Zhang was only allowed to meet with her lawyer on Jan. 13, and her family was only able to see her once through a video. The lawyer said Zhang Zhan had explicitly stated that she would continue to protest in prison, raising concerns that she might be tortured and treated inhumanely again, as she had been weakened by the hunger strike.
It is understood that Zhang Zhan has been transferred to Shanghai Women’s Prison to serve her sentence, but no one can confirm her specific situation.
Taiwan’s Civil Justice Reform Foundation, in conjunction with international human rights groups, hopes to revive public attention to a human rights fighter who is committed to the public’s right to know and to freedom of expression on the first anniversary of Zhang Zhan’s arrest.
One person, one letter to Zhang Zhan: Attn: Shanghai Women’s Prison, 1601 Zhangjing Road, Sijing Town, Songjiang District, Shanghai 201601
Also respond to the online sign-up: Zhang Zhan continues hunger strike in prison
All solidarity actions on social media platforms are welcome to use the following TAGs.
Pray4ZhangZhan #Pray for China’s Prisoners of Conscience #Free China #FreeZhangZhan #BlessZhangZhan #Pray4ZhangZhan
For more information, please contact: Zhang Zhan Concern Group [email protected].
Contact twitter: Wang Jianhong https://twitter.com/Changchengwai
Zhang Zhan, born in 1983, is a native of Xianyang, Shaanxi Province. She graduated from Southwest University of Finance and Economics with a Master’s degree in Finance. She moved to Shanghai in 2010 and worked as a lawyer before her license was revoked due to her involvement in the human rights movement. She has long been concerned about one-party dictatorship and corruption in China, and has also marched as a one-person march in solidarity with Hong Kong’s anti-China movement. In addition, Zhang has repeatedly expressed her insistence on the pursuit of truth and truthfulness, which is why she emphasizes the importance of freedom of expression and the right of citizens to be informed.
In a 2019 foreign media interview, Zhang Zhan noted, “I want to go for a little breakthrough because too many people are afraid to speak out based on fear, afraid to speak out in the face of injustice.” She has also written, “If fear is all that is left in life, then all I can do is to fight fear repeatedly until I cross it …… The source of fear is the abuse of violence, and the abuse of violence compounded will create deeper fear. I can’t cower and stop.”
In late 2019, when the first global wave of mass infection with the New Coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, the Chinese Communist government imposed an emergency lockdown on the site, completely cutting off not only physical access for people and vehicles, but also the transmission of information during a 76-day quarantine. The Chinese government was accused of deliberately concealing the outbreak.
Seeking the truth, Zhang Zhan traveled to Wuhan in early 2020. She distributed videos and interviews through social media platforms such as WeChat, Facebook and Youtube to communicate the situation, hospital visits, patients and families.
During her reporting in Wuhan, she described the local epidemic control as follows: “In the name of treatment, the government isolates individuals from the outside community. In the name of stability, the number of illnesses and deaths is covered up. In the name of positive energy, the news is controlled …… To manage the plague, there are too many soft environments that can be improved, too many details that can be done. But we prefer not to. We just forcefully and violently order and unilaterally deprive the people of their personal, property and so on rights.”
By mid-May, Zhang was detained in Shanghai after being arrested by the Shanghai police on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” and in late August was transferred to the prosecutor’s office for review and prosecution, where she was charged with publishing “a lot of false information, giving interviews to overseas media, and maliciously speculating about the new coronavirus pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan The prosecution accused her of publishing “a lot of false information, accepting interviews with overseas media and maliciously speculating about the new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Wuhan.
For her own encounter, Zhang Zhan does not say remorse. “I know in my heart that this country needs dedication, sacrifice, blood and flesh for peace and freedom. I can’t do it, but I’m going to try my best to go in that direction.”
The Taiwan Civil Justice Reform Foundation said, “We hope that Zhang Zhan will be freed soon and invite you to join us in calling for Zhang’s release and to pay attention to the human rights situation in China.”