05/19/2020, 10.54
CHINA
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Zhang Zhan, a 'journalist citizen' who disappeared in Wuhan, arrested

She accused the government of lying about the pandemic and depriving the Chinese people of their fundamental rights. She had been imprisoned as early as September for supporting pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. The list of critics affected by the regime grows longer.

Shanghai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A "citizen journalist" who has reported on the coronavirus emergency in Wuhan (Hubei), the epicenter of the pandemic, has been detained in a prison in Shanghai, the city where she resides, since February.

Zhang Zhan had disappeared on May 13, after live YouTube streaming from Hankou train station square. According to some of her friends, she was arrested on May 15 for "disturbing social stability and creating problems of public order".

In her stories, posted on YouTube, Twitter and other social media, the 37-year-old often attacked the Chinese government, whom she reputed at fault in having inadequately managed the crisis and depriving the Chinese people of their fundamental rights. In a February 16 Twitter post, Zhang accuses the authorities of lying about the actual number of Covid-19 victims to maintain stability.

During her stay in Wuhan, she also provided legal assistance to Yang Min, a woman who had asked for justice for her daughter who died of coronavirus, and therefore was placed under house arrest. Zhang had been arrested as early as September in Shanghai: she spent 60 days in prison for demonstrating in favor of Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators.

Three other "citizen journalists" disappeared in Wuhan in February. Li Zehua, who had talked about the crematoriums of the city open 19 hours a day, reappeared on April 22 after a period under arrest. However, there is no news of Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi.

According to many observers, the authorities are using the fight against coronavirus to suppress internal dissent. Xu Zhiyong, founder of the New Citizens Movement, was arrested on February 15 in Guangzhou (Guangdong) during a "health check" to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Since mid-March there has been no news of Ai Fen, the Wuhan doctor who raised the alarm on the disease. In the same days, Ren Zhiqiang, a billionaire who was already a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was also targeted for referring to President Xi Jinping as a "power hungry clown".

Since February there has been no news even of Xu Zhangrun and He Weifang. The two intellectuals had criticized the regime, arguing that the lack of press freedom has favored the spread of the coronavirus. A Shandong university student, Zhang Wenbin, disappeared on March 30 after posting a video asking for Xi to resign.

Chen Zhaozhi, a retired professor at Beijing University of Science and Technology, was imprisoned in Beijing on April 14. He said that Covid-19 is not a "Chinese virus", but a "Chinese Communist Party virus", linking the origin and spread of the lung disease to the regime.

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