Posts Tagged ‘Zhang Zhan’

2021 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Awards

November 21, 2021

On 20 November 2021 Pacific Media Watch reported that the 2021 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Awards have been given to Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan in the courage category, Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassona in the independence category, and the Pegasus Project in the impact category.

RSF president Pierre Haski announces the 29th RSF Press Freedom Awards in Paris. Video: RSF

RSF’s press freedom prizes are awarded every year to journalists or media that have made a notable contribution to the defence or promotion of freedom of the press in the world. This is the 29th year they have been awarded. The 2021 awards have been given in three categories — journalistic courage, impact and independence.

Courage Prize
The 2021 Prize for Courage, which aims to support and salute journalists, media outlets or NGOs that have displayed courage in the practice, defence or promotion of journalism, has been awarded to Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan.

Zhang Zhan

Despite constant threats, this lawyer-turned-journalist covered the covid-19 outbreak in the city of Wuhan in February 2020, live-streaming video reports on social media that showed the city’s streets and hospitals, and the families of the sick. Her reporting from the heart of the pandemic’s initial epicentre was one of the main sources of independent information about the health situation in Wuhan at the time.

After being arrested in May 2020 and held incommunicado for several months without any official reason being provided, Zhang Zhan was sentenced on 28 December 2020 to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. In protest against this injustice and the mistreatment to which she was subjected, she went on a hunger strike that resulted in her being shackled and force-fed. Her friends and family now fear for her life, and her health has worsened dramatically in recent weeks. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/11/06/chinese-journalist-zhang-zhan-at-imminent-risk-of-death/

Independence Prize
The 2021 Prize for Independence, which rewards journalists, media outlets or NGOs that have resisted financial, political, economic or religious pressure in a noteworthy manner, has been awarded to Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassona.

Majdoleen Hassona
Majdoleen Hassona

Before joining the Turkish TV channel TRT and relocating to Istanbul, this Palestinian journalist was often harassed and prosecuted by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities for her critical reporting. While on a return visit to the West Bank in August 2019 with her fiancé (also a TRT journalist based in Turkey), she was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint and was told that she was subject to a ban on leaving the territory that had been issued by Israeli intelligence “for security reasons”. She has been stranded in the West Bank ever since but decided to resume reporting there and covered the anti-government protests in June 2021 following the death of the activist Nizar Banat.

Impact Prize
The 2021 Prize for Impact, which rewards journalists, media outlets or NGOS that have contributed to clear improvements in journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism, or increased awareness of these issues, has been awarded to the Pegasus Project.

The Pegasus Project
The Pegasus Project

The Pegasus Project is an investigation by an international consortium of more than 80 journalists from 17 media outlets* in 11 different countries that was coordinated by the NGO Forbidden Stories with technical support from experts at Amnesty International’s Security Lab. Based on a leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers targeted by Pegasus, spyware made by the Israeli company NSO Group, the Pegasus Project revealed that nearly 200 journalists were targeted for spying by 11 governments — both autocratic and democratic — which had acquired licences to use Pegasus. This investigation has made people aware of the extent of the surveillance to which journalists are exposed and has led many media outlets and RSF to file complaints and demand a moratorium on surveillance technology sales. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/11/10/palestinian-ngos-dubbed-terrorist-were-hacked-with-pegasus-spyware/

“For defying censorship and alerting the world to the reality of the nascent pandemic, the laureate in the ‘courage’ category is now in prison and her state of health is extremely worrying,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire.

“For displaying a critical attitude and perseverance, the laureate in the ‘independence category has been unable to leave Israeli-controlled territory for the past two years. “For having revealed the scale of the surveillance to which journalists can be subjected, some of the journalists who are laureates in the ‘impact’ category are now being prosecuted by governments.

https://rsf.org/en/news/chinese-journalist-palestinian-journalist-and-pegasus-project-receive-2021-rsf-press-freedom-awards

Write for Rights 2021 launched

November 8, 2021

AI has launched the world’s biggest letter writing campaign to help 10 human rights defenders around the world facing.

Millions of letters, emails and texts will be sent to support people who have been jailed, attacked or disappeared 

Amnesty International has launched its flagship annual letter-writing campaign, Write for Rights to support 10 activists from around the world who have been attacked, jailed, harassed or disappeared for standing up for their rights.

This year, Write for Rights – which is funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery – will be supporting ten individuals, including:

  • Imoleayo Adeyeun Michael from Nigeria, who faces years behind bars for joining the #EndSARS protests against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad last year;
  • Janna Jihad, a 15-year-old journalist from Palestine, who faces harassment and death threats for reporting on the racist brutality her community experiences;
  • Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist from China who faces four years in prison for attempting to expose the extent of the Covid-19 crisis; [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/11/06/chinese-journalist-zhang-zhan-at-imminent-risk-of-death/]
  • Sphere, a Ukrainian LGBTI and women’s rights NGO, which is struggling to operate against frequent homophobic attacks, threats and intimidation;
  • Mohamed Baker, an Egyptian human rights lawyer denied a trial and put behind bars for his work supporting people who have been imprisoned unjustly; and
  • Ciham Ali Ahmed, a US-Eritrean national, who was arrested nine years ago at the Sudanese border when she was trying to flee Eritrea aged 15 and has not been seen since. 

Sacha Deshmukh, CEO of Amnesty UK, said:

“These individuals have been thrown behind bars, attacked, harassed or disappeared just for standing up for their rights. By coming together, people around the world have the power to raise their profile and increase their chances of protection or release.

“Sending a letter or email might seem like a small act, but when sent in their thousands they can have a huge impact. People in power are forced to listen. 

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign: Write for Rights goes back to the very roots of Amnesty International, which was founded in 1961, with Amnesty’s early campaigners writing letters of support to those affected by human rights abuses, as well as letters of concern to governments around the world.

During last year’s Write for Rights campaign [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/11/09/amnesty-internationals-write-for-rights-campaign-2020-launched/] :

  • More than 360,000 actions were taken for Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni, who was imprisoned for his reporting on the Hirak protest movement. He was provisionally released in February 2021.
  • Over 300,000 messages were sent to and on behalf of Paing Phyo Min, a satirical poet and student leader jailed for criticising the military in Myanmar. He was freed early in April 2021.
  • More than 777,000 actions were taken for Saudi women’s rights campaigner Nassima al-Sada. As a result, a G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia was overshadowed by international calls to free Nassima and other women human rights defenders. Nassima has since been conditionally released.

View latest press releases 01 Nov 2021

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/worlds-biggest-letter-writing-campaign-launches-help-10-people-around-world-facing

Chinese Journalist Zhang Zhan at imminent risk of death

November 6, 2021

On 4 November 2021 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) about the imminent risk of death of freelance journalist Zhang Zhan, who has been detained since May 2020 as a reprisal for her coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic from February 2020 until her arrest. Ms. Zhang is a former lawyer whose licence was suspended in retaliation for her activism and a well-known and outspoken journalist on the situation of human rights in China. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/06/china-eu-deal-what-about-human-rights/

According to the relatives of Zhang Zhan, the journalists’ life is at imminent risk of death as a result of the partial hunger strike she started in June 2020 to protest her arbitrary detention and later her sentencing. The mother of Zhang Zhan was allowed to have a videocall with her daughter on October 28, 2021, after which she reported that the journalist weights less than 40 kg, is unable to walk unassisted and cannot raise her head without assistance. Her health is extremely poor, as she suffers from severe malnutrition, a gastric ulcer and swollen legs and feet. During her detention, she has been restrained and force-fed via a nasal tube.

The relatives of Zhang Zhan have been consistently denied their right to visit the journalist and only been allowed to communicate with her by video calls on two occasions, on October 28 and February 2021, and by a phone call on August 2021. Moreover, Zhang Zhan’s mother requested the Chinese security police the permission to visit the journalist in prison to persuade her to abandon the hunger strike. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, she had not received a reply.

The Observatory recalls that Zhang Zhan was hospitalised in a prison hospital between July 21 and August 11, 2021 due to her deteriorating health conditions. During her hospitalisation, she was tied to a hospital bed and force-fed by prison authorities. On August 11, she was transferred back to the Shanghai Women’s Prison, where she remained detained at the time of this Urgent Appeal.

The Observatory further recalls that on May 14, 2020, Zhang Zhan went missing in Wuhan, Hubei Province, one day after releasing a video that criticised the government’s measures to contain the virus, claiming the authorities were being negligent. Zhang Zhan had travelled to Wuhan from her home in Shanghai in early February 2020 to report from the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. She reported numerous stories, including the detention of other independent reporters and harassment of families of victims seeking accountability, via her WeChat, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

After seven months of pre-trial detention, on December 28, 2020, the Shanghai Pudong People’s Court found Zhang Zhan guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law) and sentenced her to four years in prison. The court rejected the application filed by Zhang Zhan’s lawyers to request bail, live streaming of the trial, and a time extension of the proceedings. Their requests to have the defense witnesses appear in court to present exculpatory evidence was also rejected by the court. Zhang Zhan attended her trial in a wheelchair because of her poor health.

The Observatory is deeply concerned about the health conditions and risk of death of Zhang Zhan and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her and grant her immediate access to adequate and comprehensive medical treatment.

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/china-journalist-zhang-zhan-at-imminent-risk-of-death

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/china/human-rights-watch-calls-for-immediate-release-of-chinese-journalist-who-reported-on-covid.html

China-EU deal – what about human rights?

January 6, 2021

A long-awaited deal, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment includes provisions for settling disputes and outlines clear rules against the forced transfer of technologies — a practice in which a government requires foreign investors to share their technology in exchange for market access.

The EU previously said the agreement should increase the transparency of Chinese state subsidies and make sustainable development a key element of the relationship between the two trading blocs.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said “both sides had made tremendous efforts” at a press conference following Wednesday’s meeting and that they had “overcome difficulties” to conclude talks. It said the deal focuses on institutional opening up with market access as the key principle of the deal, which will mean more investment opportunities for businesses on both sides and “a better business environment”.

But the EU expressed concerns about “the restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists, as well as detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals in China.” The EU’s diplomatic agency, the European External Action Service, has called for the immediate release of Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer who reported on the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak in China and has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The issue of human rights could prove to be a sticking point for the deal clearing the EU Parliament, with critics drawing attention to reports of forced labour in some regions of China.

The stories coming out of Xinjiang are pure horror. The story in Brussels is we’re ready to sign an investment treaty with China,” Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian MEP for Renew Europe, said on Twitter. “Under these circumstances, any Chinese signature on human rights is not worth the paper it is written on”.

There could also be friction with the new US President-elect Joe Biden and his administration, as just weeks ago the EU proposed a trans-Atlantic dialogue to address “the strategic challenge presented by China’s growing international assertiveness.”

Amid concerns about the human rights situation in China, the EU said the seven-year-long negotiations were concluded in “principle” during a video conference involving Mr Xi, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council president Charles Michel. German chancellor Angela Merkel – whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU – and French president Emmanuel Macron also took part in the discussions with the Chinese president, the EU said. Macron highlighted the “concerns” of EU countries regarding human rights and called for the “closure of internment camps”, according to the speech given by his office. He also pleaded in favor of “measures to ban forced labor” and called for “a visit of independent United Nations experts”.

According to the EU, the deal was negotiated after China pledged to continue ratifying the International Labor Organization’s rules on forced labor. “We are open for business but we are attached to reciprocity, level playing field and values,” Ms von der Leyen said.

French president Emmanuel Macron attends an EU-China video conference along with Chinese president Xi Jinping, German chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and president of the European Council Charles Michel, at the Fort de Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France
French president Emmanuel Macron attends an EU-China video conference at the Fort de Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France (Sebastien Nogier, Pool via AP)

The video conference launches a ratification process that will take several months. To enter into force, the agreement will need to be ratified by the European Parliament, and the issue of human rights could be a sticking point.

https://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/national-news/18976931.leaders-eu-china-seal-long-awaited-investment-deal/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/30/eu-and-china-set-to-sign-historic-investment-deal-but-could-human-rights-concerns-scupper-