On September 17, 45 non-governmental organizations, including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International, sent a joint letter to Xi Jinping, demanding the release of Zhang Zhan. Zhang was jailed for reporting on the COVID outbreak and has been on a hunger strike since May 2020.
Zhang reported the outbreak when it was in its early stage in Wuhan. After Wuhan was locked down on January 23, 2020, Zhang went to Wuhan and reported on how the hospital was packed with infected people and piles of bodies were in the crematorium. On December 28, 2020, after a three-hour trial, Zhang was sentenced to four-years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Zhang’s family said she has lost a significant amount of weigh. She was hospitalized in early August. Despite her rapid decline in health, Zhang was sent back to prison. Reporters Without Borders said Zhang has been mistreated while in custody and her family had been barred from visiting.
China ranks 177th out of 180 countries and regions in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. The group says China has imprisoned the largest number of journalists in the world. At least 122 journalists are currently in prison.
The organizations that co-signed the open letter also include the Taiwan Journalists Association, the China Aid Association, Change China, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, as well as many others.
Source: Voice of America, September 17, 2021