“We should seek the truth and seek it at all costs.” — Zhang Zhan
Zhang Zhan risked everything to report on Covid-19 when it first appeared in Wuhan, China. Now she faces four years in jail without access to her family. Tell the government to release her immediately and unconditionally.
In February 2020, Zhang Zhan decided to travel to Wuhan as a citizen journalist in order to provide on-the-ground information about what was happening there. The former lawyer took to social media, reporting how government officials had detained independent reporters and harassed families of Covid-19 patients.
Zhang Zhan went missing in Wuhan in May 2020. She had been taken by the Chinese authorities and then detained in Shanghai. The judge sentenced her to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The authorities refuse to let her see her family.
In June 2020, she began a hunger strike to protest her detention. In December, Zhang Zhan’s body was so weak she had to attend her trial in a wheelchair. She continued her protest as a partial hunger strike in the same month to avoid punishment and force-feeding.
Now, Zhang Zhan remains on a partial hunger strike despite the grave risk to her health. which continues to deteriorate at a dramatic rate. She was admitted to hospital due to severe malnutrition on 31 July this year and now weighs less than 40kg.
Citizen journalists were the only source of uncensored, first-hand information about the Covid-19 outbreak in China. Because they work independently of state-controlled media, citizen journalists face constant harassment for exposing information the government would rather keep quiet. Zhang Zhan must be released immediately.
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