• Urgent Action

Urgent Action Update: COVID-19 JOURNALIST AT RISK OF DYING IN PRISON (China: UA 170.20)

November 19, 2021

Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who has been on partial hunger strike in protest of her incarceration, is at grave risk of death and her family do not expect her to live through the winter if she is not released on medical grounds. Her family learned on October 14, 2021, through a video call that was cut short by the authorities, that Zhang Zhan had again been restrained for 11 days to prevent the removal of her feeding tube. An intervention that violates the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment while in detention. The Chinese government must release Zhang Zhan immediately so that she can end her partial hunger strike and receive the appropriate medical treatment she so desperately needs to stay alive.

  1. Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on January 22, 2021.
  2. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  3. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 170.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping Zhongnanhai Xichang’anjie Xichengqu, Beijing Shi 100017 People’s Republic of China Fax: +86 10 6238 1025 Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Qin Gang Embassy of the People’s Republic of China 3505 International Place NW Washington, DC 20008 Phone: 202 495 2266 / Fax: 202 495 2138 Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ChineseEmbinUS ; @AmbQinGang Salutation: Dear Ambassador

SAMPLE LETTER Dear President Xi, I am writing to express grave concern for the life of citizen journalist Zhang Zhan (张展), who has been on partial hunger strike in protest of her incarceration. A prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression when she reported about COVID-19, Zhang Zhan should not have spent a single day in prison. It is alarming to learn that, due to her dire health condition, Zhang Zhan’s family do not expect her to live through the winter if she is not immediately released on medical grounds. Feeling incredibly weak, she reportedly has no energy to walk nor raise her head and, with yellowed skin, looks to be suffering from a life-threatening condition. Following an interrupted video call on October 14, 2021, her family were distressed to find out that Zhang Zhan had again been forced fed and was restrained for 11 days to prevent her removing her feeding tube. Instead of respecting her right to express her opinion and her choice to be on hunger strike, the prison authorities punished her in a manner that violated the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, going against China’s obligations under international human rights law. It is further worrying that Zhang Zhan still does not have regular access to her family members and lawyers and there is no way to verify her health and wellbeing. There is an alarming pattern of deaths of imprisoned Chinese activists, either in detention or after being belatedly released on medical parole. To ensure that no one else dies while in your detention facilities, I urge you to:
  • Release Zhang Zhan immediately and unconditionally, so that she is able to receive the appropriate medical treatment,
  • Pending her release, respect Zhang Zhan’s right to health, autonomy, and expression, and ensure that she has prompt and regular access to medical attention,
  • Pending her release, ensure that Zhang Zhan has regular, unrestricted access to her family and lawyers of her choice and is not subjected further to torture or other ill-treatment.