Human Lives Human Rights: A Chinese journalist jailed for her coverage of China’s initial response to Covid in Wuhan is close to death after going on hunger strike, her family said.
Zhang Zhan, who has been on partial hunger strike since June last year, currently weighs less than 40 kilos (88 pounds), is unable to walk unassisted and cannot raise her head without assistance.
She was detained in May 2020 and sentenced in December to four years in jail for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” — a charge routinely used to suppress activists in China.
On 31 July 2021, she was admitted to hospital due to severe malnutrition. However, she was returned to prison and remains on a partial hunger strike despite the grave risk to her health, which continues to deteriorate at a dramatic rate.
Speaking to AFP, her legal team said: Zhang has been on a hunger strike and was force-fed through nasal tubes.
“She may not survive the coming cold winter,” her brother Zhang Ju wrote on Twitter, adding that he had urged his sister in letters to “take care of herself”.
Zhang Zhan is a victim of the Chinese government’s zero-tolerance approach to criticism and opposing views. She has been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression
Zhang Zhan, who should never have been jailed for her dedicated work, now appears to be at grave risk of dying in prison.
Rights Groups call on the Chinese authorities to release her immediately so that she can end her hunger strike and receive the appropriate medical treatment, that she desperately needs.
Zhang’s arrest just because she tried to uncover what was happening in Wuhan amid huge government secrecy about the pandemic, is a shameful attack on human rights.