A Call to Grant Zhang Zhan True Freedom

May 10, 2024

The Forum 2000 Foundation calls on the Chinese authorities to release Zhang Zhan, laureate of the Forum 2000 International Award for Courage and Responsibility, from prison on May 13, 2024, the day when her sentence is due.

Zhang Zhan is a brave reporter who risked everything to report on Covid-19 when it first appeared in Wuhan, China, and provided on-the-ground information about what was happening there. She was also reporting on how government officials had detained independent reporters and harassed families of Covid-19 patients. Zhang Zhan went missing in Wuhan in May 2020. She had been taken by the Chinese authorities and detained in Shanghai. The judge sentenced her to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

During her imprisonment, Zhang’s health has deteriorated significantly with malnutrition, gastrointestinal disease, low white blood cells and a high level of tumor markers. Her parents and brother have all been warned not to speak to anyone about her conditions in prison.

With the date for her release approaching, a number of Shanghai-based dissidents, lawyers and rights activists have been warned by the authorities that they must not contact Zhang Zhan and her family, or post news about her release from prison. The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Political and Legal Affairs has reportedly taken the lead in organizing several inter-departmental, closed-door meetings, ordering departments at all levels to implement "social stabilization" after Zhang Zhan's release.

The Forum 2000 Foundation calls on the Chinese authorities to refrain from further restrictions of Zhang Zhan after her release, such as house arrest, forced disappearance or any other form of surveillance. Zhang Zhan must be released on time and be allowed to reunite with her family on May 13, 2024, and she must be able to regain her personal freedom as a Chinese citizen.


Already in November 2021, The Forum 2000 Foundation together with other signatories pledged for Zhang Zhan’s release and shared an article “We Await News of Her Death" written by exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu including a letter from Zhang Zhan's elder brother, Zhang Ju, sharing details about her imprisonment and deteriorating health.

You can read the releases here.

Furthermore, in October 2022, The Forum 2000 Foundation awarded Zhang Zhan, in recognition of her extraordinary civic courage and actions that prioritize responsibility to the wider community, promotion of human rights and civil liberties over self-interest,  with the International Award for Courage and Responsibility. The Award is given to citizens, or institutions selected in a three-stage process, involving the opinions of a rich variety of significant personalities of the Forum 2000 community. Due to Zhang Zhan´s lasting imprisonment, Xiao Qiang, Editor-in-Chief of China Digital Times and Research Fellow at the School of Information received the award on her behalf.

You can find more here.