A citizen journalist has been charged in China with criticizing the measures taken by the Chinese authorities in Wuhan. Other civil rights activists who reported about Wuhan have disappeared as well
On May 13, Zhang Zhan posted the last live stream video from Wuhan on the YouTube platform. She names the date in the first sentence and friends of the 37-year-old trained lawyer said they had lost all contact with her the next day.
Zhang had previously reported since February as a citizen journalist from Wuhan – where the coronavirus had broken out. She posted dozens of live streams of what she saw in Wuhan on Twitter, YouTube and other platforms on the Internet. She talked about overcrowded hospitals and rejected patients, about the sealed-off city of twelve million which, contrary to the official state propaganda, was completely overwhelmed with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Parents were silent for fear
In one article, she accused the authorities of covering up and censorship, as well as disproportionate measures that violated human rights. As has only recently become known, Zhang has been charged. Her parents had been informed, but were silent for fear. “Start an argument and provoke public anger” – this is the official charge, which is used time and again in China for activists and dissidents.
Zhang is now in a Shanghai prison. She had already sat there in September 2019 because she publicly sympathized with the pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong.
Reported and disappeared
Critics are becoming more and more in danger in the country, China’s most famous mixed martial arts fighter Xu Xiaodong says:
“We cannot express ourselves freely in China, the restriction of free speech is getting worse. Wuhan was at times the city with the strictest control in China and going there was dangerous.”
Xu is a good friend of Chen Qiushi – alongside Zhang, he is one of three other citizen journalists who reported after the outbreak of the Wuhan corona virus and then disappeared. Only one of them, Li Zehua, has appeared again so far.
No critical questions and reports allowed
Thousands of Internet users were also punished for spreading alleged rumors of the corona virus on the Internet and asking critical questions is dangerous.
The People’s Republic hardly tolerates independent critical reporting on the country’s corona pandemic and the Chinese Communist Party claims sole sovereignty of interpretation.
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