Police warn Christian journalist after release from prison

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Citizen journalist Ms. Zhang Zhan was released from Shanghai Women’s Prison on May 13

Zhang Zhan

after serving four years in prison on charges related to her documentation and report on the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Recently, Zhang Zhan was warned by Shanghai police not to touch the “red line.”

Ms. Wang Jianhong, a British activist and founder of the Zhang Zhan Concern Group, said, “Zhang Zhan, a prominent Chinese citizen journalist, sent a message on June 9 on her WeChat Moments that she was being questioned and threatened by the Xuanqiao police station of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau’s Pudong branch. The police warned her that if she touched the “red line” again, she would go in again (referring to jail). In her post, Zhang Zhan said: “Whose red line are you all protecting? Is the life of the people the red line? Or is it “the opinion of superiors”? I don’t want to go in (to jail), and I’m not the one who should go in.

On May 29, Zhang Zhan shared her weaknesses, fears, and hopes as a Christian on the Christian house church’s online networking platform, Five O’Clock in the Afternoon in China. She immediately broke down in tears when she appeared in the video, tearfully saying that she is not strong and loves to cry. While in prison, she prayed for healing for her cellmate’s illness, and it was amazing that God heard and answered her prayer. Even though she is still under surveillance and has no freedom after her release, she wants to attend Sunday worship and meet with her brothers and sisters. She wept several times during the sharing. She is thankful for everyone’s continued prayers for her.

In the video, she recounted how the experience of being with God in prison produces gratitude, not a single complaint, but rather pure and ultimate joy. This experience showed her that the Kingdom of Heaven exists and that the suffering in the world is temporary.

It is not known whether the subpoena has anything to do with her remarks in this video. Did she cross over a “red line” simply by the act of appearing in the video?

After Zhang Zhan’s release, friends at home and abroad were very concerned about her health. Shanghai lawyer Peng Yonghe broke through the resistance as soon as possible and successfully visited Zhang Zhan; however, on May 31, Peng was summoned by the local police to Xuanqiao police station, which has jurisdiction over where he was, and a number of his electronic products were seized. The police did not produce any paperwork.

In the earliest stages of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the population of China was simply unfamiliar with the new virus and the disaster it was going to cause. In 2020, Zhang Zhan’s reporting from the ground in Wuhan symbolized the public’s mistrust of the government’s handling of the initial outbreak and their desire for unfiltered, truthful information. She was on the front lines of the pandemic, deep in the corridors of hospitals, where a city of 11 million people was as silent as a dead city, its streets empty. Soon the crackdown began, the country went into a tight lockdown, and she was silenced, arrested and imprisoned.

Unfortunately, China sees those who document the truth as forces of social destabilization, not realizing that stifling the voice of society is the root of true unrest. Many of those who have tried to speak out on behalf of Zhang Zhan within China seem to have been targeted as well. Zhang Zhan’s personal freedom is an indicator of the rule of law in China. There may be division amongst the officials and private citizens, but both sides want Chinese society to make more remarkable strides.

The People’s Republic of China must unconditionally respect the fundamental human rights of its own great citizen, Ms. Zhang Zhan, and ChinaAids call on the government of China to immediately cease its restrictive measures against her, including surveillance, censorship, harassment and intimidation. — ChinaAid