Forum 2000 Award winner Zhang Zhan is due to be released from prison on May 13

April 29, 2024

Zhang Zhan risked everything to report on Covid-19 when it first appeared in Wuhan, China. In February 2020, she decided to travel to Wuhan as a citizen journalist in order to provide on-the-ground information about what was happening there. The former lawyer took to social media, reporting 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.”

As the date for her release is 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. A source revealed to Jane Wang (a Chinese activist and Zhang Zhan campaigner in the UK) that the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Political and Legal Affairs has taken the lead in organizing a number of inter-departmental closed-door meetings, ordering departments at all levels to implement "social stabilization" after Zhang Zhan's release. 

What can the international community do to support Zhang Zhan? We call on the Chinese authorities to release Zhang Zhan on May 13, 2024 as she ends her sentence, and grant her true freedom thereafter given her health situation. If she can't even leave her home and travel for medical treatment, she will have little chance of recovery. We continue to monitor the situation regarding Zhang Zan and will keep you updated.