09/25/2020, 12.33
CHINA
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Chen Qiushi reappears, but under surveillance: he had described the horror of Wuhan

by Wang Zhicheng

The former human rights lawyer, who became a video reporter, disappeared after two weeks in Wuhan, where he documented what was happening in the city: infections, deaths, collapsing hospitals, crematoria, etc. He is not the only journalist to have disappeared.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Civil lawyer and journalist Chen Qiushi, who disappeared while posting reports on Wuhan during the height of the pandemic, has reappeared after seven months: he is living with his relatives in Qindao, but is under close surveillance.

Chen, 35, had moved to Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, towards the end of January. He wanted to document everything that was happening in the city: the infections, the deaths, the hospitals full of patients in their final throes, the funeral parlors that worked day and night to burn the corpses, etc.

But on 7 February he disappeared: a video posted by his mother to his Twitter account, asked for news of his whereabouts.

Yesterday, Xu Xiaodong, a martial arts expert and friend of Chen, released a video which said that Chen is in good health and is "under close surveillance in a compulsory residence". This residence is the home of Chen's parents in Qingdao (Shandong).

Chen Qiushi is not new to having problems with the authorities. A former human rights lawyer, he re-invented himself as a video reporter and became famous for his coverage of the Hong Kong demonstrations last year. But this created problems for him and, returning to China, he had to promise his silence, to erase his work and his social media accounts, where he was followed by more than 700 thousand people.

Chen is just one of many journalists "missing" in Wuhan while reporting news and videos of the pandemic. During the pandemic, China waged a real war against the "virus of independent information". In early February, the two famous bloggers Fang Bin and Li Zehua passed away.

Li reappeared towards the end of April; nothing is known about Fang yet. Another citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan was held in Wuhan law enforcement custody until May. She is now in Shanghai and is accused of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a crime widely used to silence activists.

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