A follow up report reveals that imprisoned citizen journalist Zhang Zhan's family was informed of her transfer to Shanghai Women's Prison but their request for a visit was declined.
Following through Zhang Zhan's case - who was a former practicing lawyer, journalist, and human rights activist, ChinaAid reported that officials denied Zhang's mother her request for a scheduled visit and that they directed her to call a "non-working" phone number.
The report added that on February 3, a Zhang Zhan Concern Group released intelligence of a video chat between Zhang and her mother. The information states that the approximately twenty-minute conversation was repeatedly interrupted.
The founder of ChinaAid, Pastor Bob Fu, urges netizens and the public to send letters to Zhang Zhan as a means to somehow alleviate her despair.
"Please write to prisoners of conscience to provide encouragement and send a signal to prison officials that there are people all over the world who are invested in the safety and well-being of these unjustly imprisoned Chinese citizens," states the appeal for letters.
A list of suggested Chinese phrases with their English equivalents was also provided along with some guidelines on letter writing.
"A greeting and a word of encouragement will not only be like sending rays of warm sunshine ..., but it may also help prevent harsh treatment of Ms. Zhang by prison authorities," said Dr. Fu who also confirmed that the transfer was directed by the CCP.
Zhang was sentenced to four years of prison on December 28 for the charges "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." She would spend her sentence at the Shanghai Women Prison. Her last meeting with lawyer Zhang Keke was on January 13.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to release Zhang in January.
"The United States strongly condemns the People's Republic of China's (PRC) sham prosecution and conviction of citizen journalist Zhang Zhan on December 28," Pompeo said at the time.
Pompeo added that Zhang's unjust imprisonment shows the Chinese Communist Party's determination - that it will do "whatever it takes to silence" those who question or go against the CCP's "official line" even if it pertains to crucial information that could affect public health.
A petition to free citizen journalist Zhang Zhan posted on Change.org highlights the concern of possible mistreatment in prison now that she was cut off from her family and with no access to a lawyer.
Zhang is already in her weakened state due to her hunger strike since June 2020. She did it to protest her "unlawful imprisonment," said the petition. Christianity Daily reported earlier that she was fasting to pray against injustice and unrighteousness.
Before her current tragic ordeal, Zhang, working as a citizen journalist, covered the Wuhan virus outbreak in February last year. Her report revealed the neglect and abuses of the Chinese government in their handling of the virus, as well as the disappearance of her fellow citizen journalists. She uploaded a video report on her social media account which soon led to her "disappearance."
On May 15, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau announced Zhang's detainment for violating Article 293 of China's Criminal Code, a state regulation that prohibits the illegal sharing of state secrets or intelligence. Zhang was also charged of fabricating information.
"I never fabricated any false information. I personally visited knowledgeable people in communities, drug stores, as well as in supermarkets near Wuhan's railway station," Zhang told her lawyer.
During her detainment, correctional officers had forcibly tube-fed Zhang when they learnt of her hunger strike. Despite her pains, Zhang was not bitter toward her tormentors.
"I believe in Christ, and I often pray to God to forgive the wicked. I pray that He will save those in pain and suffering," she once said through Ren Quanniu, one of her lawyers.