China slams ‘irresponsible’ UN feedback on jailed journalist

UN, rights teams have urged Beijing to launch Zhang Zhan, who was jailed for her protection of China’s COVID-19 response.

China has strongly criticised the United Nations over feedback demanding the discharge of a citizen journalist jailed for her protection of the nation’s COVID-19 response.

The Chinese mission in Geneva voiced outrage on Saturday at what it mentioned have been the “irresponsible” and “erroneous” feedback made by the UN rights workplace OHCHR on Friday within the case of Zhang Zhan.

OHCHR spokeswoman Marta Hurtado on Friday had expressed alarm at stories that the 38-year-old’s well being was deteriorating quickly and that her life was at severe danger from the starvation strike in detention.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to consider Zhang’s immediate and unconditional release, at the very least, on humanitarian grounds, and to make urgent life-saving medical care available, respecting both her will and her dignity,” Hurtado mentioned in a press release.

Zhang, a former lawyer, travelled to Wuhan in February 2020 to report on the chaos on the pandemic’s epicentre, questioning the authorities’ dealing with of the outbreak in her smartphone movies.

She was detained in May 2020 and sentenced in December to 4 years in jail for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a cost routinely used to suppress dissent.

She has performed a number of starvation strikes to protest in opposition to her conviction, sentencing and imprisonment, and her household lately warned that she had change into severely underweight and “may not live for much longer”.

Hurtado mentioned the UN rights workplace had repeatedly raised issues over Zhang’s case with the Chinese authorities since her arrest final 12 months.

It had sought “clarification on the criminal proceedings taken against her as a consequence of what appear to have been her legitimate journalistic activities”, she mentioned.

‘Hearsay’

China has revelled in its success in preserving home COVID-19 infections all the way down to a trickle of sporadic outbreaks.

But there was little endurance with those that threaten the official model by elevating questions in regards to the authorities’s early dealing with of the Wuhan outbreak.

Zhang is amongst a gaggle of 4 citizen journalists – together with Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin and Li Zehua – detained after reporting from Wuhan.

In Saturday’s assertion, Chinese mission spokesman Liu Yuyin insisted that “China is a country under the rule of law, and everyone is equal before the law”.

He decried that the UN rights workplace in Zhang’s case had turned “a blind eye to information provided by China through normal channels,” and as an alternative, “based on hearsay, chose to interfere in China’s judicial sovereignty”.

He additionally highlighted China’s response to COVID-19, insisting that what the nation “has achieved in combating the pandemic is there for everyone to see”.

It “is not something that anyone can distort or write off, still less something that the OHCHR can throw its weight around”.

Zhang was awarded the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2021 Press Freedom award for braveness on Thursday.

“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,” RSF mentioned.

Meanwhile, tons of of human rights attorneys have put their names on an open letter calling for her fast launch resulting from her ailing well being. At least 40 human rights organisations have urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to launch Zhang “before it is too late”.

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