Citizen Journalist Zhang Zhan Receives 21st “Young China Human Rights Award”

Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist in prison, won the 21st Youth China Human Rights Award, Wang Dan, convenor of the selection committee, announced on Wednesday. Unlike previous winners, who were chosen by the selection committee, Zhang was selected by netizens through a vote.

On June 2, 2009, Wang Dan, the leader of the 1989 Academic Movement and convener of the “Young China Human Rights Award” selection committee, issued a press release on Wang Dan’s website announcing that Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist, had won the 21st “Young China Human Rights Award. “The press release announced that citizen journalist Zhang Zhan had received the 21st Young China Human Rights Award.

Previously, in a live webcast on May 30, Wang Dan introduced the Youth China Human Rights Award, saying, “Our Youth China Human Rights Award is a group of about 20 students who went into exile in the U.S. in 1989, and each year we donate and pool our money, and then internally select a winner. A Youth China Human Rights Award winner, of course, is someone who has contributed to the cause of human rights and democracy in China.”

Prior to this year, the recipients of the Young China Human Rights Award were voted on by the selection committee. Wang Dan described the previous selection process: “In the past, we formed a selection committee for the Young China Human Rights Prize every year, and the committee selected the winner of the prize, mainly nominated by some friends in China.”

“Jin Yan, a member of the Youth China Human Rights Award Selection Committee, told reporters that the purpose of the award was to support young democracy seekers like Zhang Zhan in China who are fighting for social progress: “to make more people dare to stand up and say no to this authoritarian society, to wake up the sleeping majority, and to make the Chinese people live in a safe and secure environment. majority, so that the Chinese people can live in a modern society of democracy and freedom soon.”

In this year, the selection was done differently. This year, we want to do a new approach, a new experiment, that is, we hope more friends can participate,” said Wang Dan. So, for the selection committee of this year’s Young China Human Rights Award, we selected three candidates. I later posted these three candidates on my Twitter feed for the audition.”

Nearly four hundred people voted in the audition. Jin Yan revealed the identity of the three candidates to reporters, “They are Geng Xiaonan, Zhang Zhan and Li Zehua, who were selected by public public online voting and decided to award the 2021 Young China Human Rights Award to Ms. Zhang Zhan.”

Jin Yan added, “We have notified Ms. Zhang Zhan’s family through her close friends, and since the authorities do not allow family members to meet yet, we will inform her personally as soon as it is allowed, hoping that we can give her some encouragement and hope while she is in prison.”

Wang Dan spoke about the reasons for Zhang Zhan’s award: “We believe that Zhang Zhan’s extraordinary courage and determined resistance has not only inspired Chinese people at home and abroad, but has also drawn strong attention from the international community. The Chinese Communist authorities’ brutal persecution of Zhang Zhan has exposed the evil of its cover-up and censorship of speech, and has drawn strong condemnation from various countries.”

It is reported that Zhang Zhan, a Chinese citizen journalist, was arrested by the authorities for traveling to Wuhan alone during the outbreak of the New Crown epidemic last year and for continuing to report to the outside world on the actual situation there. On December 28 last year, Zhang was sentenced to four years in prison by the Shanghai Pudong New District Court for “provoking and provoking trouble. Zhang Zhan is one of several citizen journalists who have been suppressed by Chinese authorities for reporting on the Wuhan epidemic, while former CCTV host Li Zehua and Beijing lawyer Chen Qiushi are still under surveillance or in isolation, and the whereabouts of Wuhan resident Fang Bin remain unknown.