Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer and citizen journalist who reported on the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak, has been detained for more than six months. Now her lawyers claimed that she had a feeding tube forcibly inserted and her arms restrained as she was on a hunger strike at a detention center near Shanghai.
The citizen journalist was arrested in May this year and accused of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble", a very common accusation which is used against the critics and activists in China. In November, Zhang was indicted on charges of spreading misinformation. Recently, Zhang Keke, the lawyer representing Zhang, said in a blog post that he visited her on Tuesday, December 8. He found his client unwell and exhausted.
According to Zhang's lawyer, she was wearing thick pajamas with a girdle round the waist, while her left hand pinned in front and right hand pinned behind. He also wrote in the blog post that the 37-year-old former lawyer then told him that "she had a stomach tube inserted recently and because she wanted to pull it out, she was restrained".
The lawyer said the citizen journalist was in "constant torment" from the 24 hour restraints and needed help to use the bathroom. Zhang has developed headaches, dizziness and stomach pain, as well as pain in her mouth and throat, which is probably due to the insertion of a gastric tube, wrote her lawyer.
She earlier thought that a court hearing will take place in December, but now there are no such plans and Zhang has no idea whether she would survive or not.
Missing and Detained
Zhang was previously detained in 2018, and again in 2019 for voicing support for Hong Kong activists. She is now among several other Chinese journalists to have been arrested during this pandemic year after traveling to Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the virus outbreak, to report on the COVID-19 situation in China.
Chen Qiushi, a former lawyer-turned journalist, vanished from the public eye after he reported on the Coronavirus outbreak in China but later it was found that he was detained by the Chinese authorities.
Li Zehua, who traveled to Wuhan after Chen disappeared, went missing in early February. In April, it was revealed that he was also in the detention center after he was released by the Chinese authorities.
Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who posted images of overwhelmed hospitals, went missing at the same time and no one knows where he is now.