Zhang Zhan is a Christian freelance journalist and former lawyer who covered the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, Hubei Province. In May of 2020, she disappeared shortly after releasing a video criticizing China’s response to the pandemic. She suffered seven months of detention until her trial in December where she was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and sentenced to four years in prison. Judges refused her request for bail and prohibited the trial from being live-streamed.
To protest her arbitrary detention, Zhang Zhan has been on a voluntary hunger strike. She has lost over half her previous weight, her lawyer reported, and her health has deteriorated considerably. Officials repeatedly tie her to a prison hospital bed and to force-feed her. In July of 2021, she was hospitalized. On August 11th, authorities sent her back to Shanghai Woman’s Prison where her life hangs in the balance.