Shanghai lawyer Zhang Zhan was one of those on hand who filmed the crowded hospitals, empty streets and a top-security lab that was carrying out experiments using bat coronaviruses.
She documented what she witnessed on the city’s streets and hospitals in essays and live streams. And when a Wuhan communist official said that city residents needed “gratitude training” to thank the Chinese Communist Party for its “efforts” to get the pandemic under control, Zhang took to the streets to ask fellow citizens if they truly felt grateful.
She said to the cameras, “Is gratitude something you can teach? If you can, it must be a fake gratitude.”
Zhang posted her reports to social media and YouTube to help others learn about the virus and the situation there. Now, she paying the price for bravely speaking the truth as she is being jailed for four years on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” She has been detained since May and went on a hunger strike in protest; authorities brutally force-fed her and her lawyer has said she is now in poor health.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders consultant Leo Lan told BBC News: "[Her] sentence is so heavy. The Chinese government is very determined to silence her and intimidate other citizens who tried to expose what happened in Wuhan. I'm concerned about the fate of other detained citizens who also reported news about the pandemic."
In another incident, ophthalmologist Li Wenliang tried to warn his students that they need to take hygiene precautions. Once other citizens started sharing these warnings, the police forced him to sign a statement saying he regretted his “misdemeanor” in spreading false rumors. He then caught the disease himself and died from it in February at just 34 years old. Shortly before passing, he told a magazine: “A healthy society should not only have one kind of voice.”
Unfortunately, this type of unfair punishment is par for the course in China, whose leadership is facing public backlash from its own people as well as the rest of the world over its involvement and response to the pandemic As former speech writer to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and journalist Ian Birrell points out in The Daily Mail, we can’t really expect anything less from a regime that runs concentration camps that torture and kill religious minorities, uses a highly invasive surveillance system to monitor and control its 1.4 billion citizens, and restricts families from having kids.
Chinese officials tried to cover up the coronavirus outbreak late last year, and they even had the WHO on their side at first. The CCP silenced doctors who tried to warn people that they needed to take precautions and barred experts from abroad from entering the country. They delayed sharing important data about human transmission of the disease, a move that could have potentially saved a lot of lives had they done it sooner, and they also took steps to cover up the true death toll from the disease.
At least three more citizen journalists have mysteriously disappeared, although one has since been freed but placed under surveillance. These included another lawyer and citizen journalist who posted footage taken from hospitals in Wuhan of patients, bodies and overcrowding.
A study by Southampton University determined that China could have cut its number of cases by 95 percent had it acted after it finally notified global health authorities about the situation instead of moving forward with New Year celebrations that included a feast for 40,000 people in Wuhan.
To add insult to injury, they’re now raking in the profits from the virus through the sale of personal protective equipment, masks, vaccines and other products that people in lockdowns are buying online.
Birrell asked, “Just how low can China go?” Unfortunately, their cruelty seems to know no bounds.
Sources for this article include: