Serious concern in the West over the state of health of an imprisoned Chinese journalist

While some evoke a virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, before November 25, the detention of Zhang Zhan, a Chinese journalist whose life is said to be in danger, causes new tensions between Beijing and Washington. Monday, November 8 – declared, in China, “Journalists’ Day” – Ned Price, spokesman for the US State Department, declared that “The United States was very concerned about the deterioration of the state of health” of Zhang Zhan and that the American administration had “Serious concerns about the arbitrary nature of his detention and the ill-treatment inflicted during this “.

Aged 38, Zhang Zhan is a former lawyer who, in February 2020, went to Wuhan to hunt down the truth about the devastation caused by the Covid-19. For more than three months, claiming the “Right to freedom of expression”, she posted more than 120 videos on YouTube, Twitter, but also WeChat, before being arrested in May 2020. Between this date and her trial, in December 2020, Zhang Zhan went on an intermittent hunger strike to protest against what she considers a “Illegal detention and indictment”.

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In December 2020, she presented herself in a wheelchair, “Mentally and physically exhausted”, at his trial. After this, Zhang Zhan was sentenced on December 28 to four years in prison for having “Stirred up quarrels and caused unrest”, a formulation frequently used by Chinese justice. The European Union, as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, had then called for its “Immediate release”. Already in 2019, after denouncing censorship in China, Zhang Zhan was sentenced to eight months of detention for “disturbing public order”.

“Anti-Chinese political manipulations”

Zhang Zhan’s state of health appears to have deteriorated significantly in recent times. Her brother said that in August the doctor at the Shanghai prison where she is detained admitted that this woman, who is 1.77 meters tall, weighs only 40 kilograms, and that she “Could die”. She also had to be hospitalized for eleven days in August.

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Zhang Zhan’s mother, who was able to speak to her daughter by video in October, noted a further and worrying deterioration in her health. His family judges that “His life is in danger” and fears that“She does not spend the winter”. Her brother sent her letters to stop her hunger strike, but, “In his heart it seems that there is only God and his convictions [religieuses] », he explained, referring to his Christian faith. It appears that Zhang Zhan is being force-fed by the prison authorities. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), she is no longer even able to lift her head without assistance.

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Serious concern in the West over the state of health of an imprisoned Chinese journalist

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