Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Nov. 8 announced the nominees for this year’s RSF Press Freedom Awards. Journalists and media firms from 11 countries were nominated for honors in three categories: the Prize for Courage, the Prize for Impact and the Independence Prize.
China’s Zhang Zhan (張展) and three other female journalists were nominated for the courage award.
Zhang, a former lawyer, reported from Wuhan in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and disclosed what was happening there.
She was accused of publishing false information and was sentenced to four years in prison by the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” — which is a crime under the law of the People’s Republic of China.
In prison, Zhang went on a hunger strike, and was force-fed and subjected to 24-hour physical restraint for several months.
The torture endangered her life and she was hospitalized.
RSF and 44 media and human rights organizations jointly signed a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) saying that Zhang’s reporting complied with the principles of press freedom stipulated in China’s constitution and calling on Xi to release her.
People should not be punished for telling the truth, human rights advocates said, adding that they were willing to be punished as Zhang is.
The Chinese Communist Party authorities concealed the truth about the virus, leading to the spread of the pandemic, causing huge losses of life and property around the world.
The Chinese government cracked down on civilians who revealed the truth.
At least 122 journalists are in custody, RSF data show, making China the country with the largest number of journalists imprisoned in the world.
RSF called on Xi to exercise the rights stipulated in Article 80 of the Chinese constitution to allow Zhang to be reunited with her parents.
China has repeatedly said that it values human rights, but the facts are different from what people hear in most reporting or from the government.
Facing the demands of dissidents, Beijing’s response is to suppress people’s rights in the name of national security, stability and order, justifying its actions with the notion that “without the nation, there will be no home.”
Whether it is because of its constitutional system or its idea that sovereignty is superior to human rights, China’s ideology is incompatible with Taiwan’s multiculturalism and diversity.
Chen An-hsiung is a film critic at a movie production company.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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