How Did Two Journalists Disappear in Wuhan?
Two journalists who have been saying that they want to announce the truth by sharing videos and photos from the city of Wuhan quarantined due to the coronavirus called Covid-19 in China have been missing for a while.
Citizen journalists who shared photos, videos and stories on social media and other platforms on the internet disappeared in Wuhan, where the coronavirus emerged, where entry and exit were banned and quarantined.
The videos that Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi shared on the internet soon were followed by thousands of people. But for some time now, their channels are inactive, no new posts have been made.
What do we know about Fang Bin?
Wuhan businessman Fang Bin first shared a video from Wuhan on January 25, “promising he would do his best to convey the real situation here.”
The video he shared on YouTube was banned in China after a while, but thousands of people continued to watch the video on VPN.
In his first few videos, Fang Bin is seen driving around in different parts of the city with his car and conveying the final situation. Only a thousand people watched these videos.
In the video he shared on February 1, it was seen that 8 bodies were placed in a row in front of a hospital in Wuhan. More than 200 thousand people watched this video.
Fang later announced that the police came to his home the night he shared that video and searched. He said he was taken to the police station, “warned” and then released.
Finally, in a 13-second video he shared on February 9, he said, “Everyone uprising, re-energize the government.”
The YouTube account has not been active since this video.
What do we know about Chen Qiushi?
Chen, a former human rights lawyer, later became a journalist, known among activists, making video news.
He earned his reputation in August last year by reporting protests in Hong Kong.
Returning to the country after watching the protests, Chen Qiushi argued that the police were chasing and showing violence. Social media accounts with more than 700 thousand followers were also deleted.
Chen broke his silence during the coronavirus outbreak.
The number of followers of a YouTube account opened in October reached 400 thousand. He also had over 265 thousand followers on Twitter.
The coronavirus news started at the end of January. “I will use my camera to document what really happened here. I promise I will not cover the facts,” he said in his first video, which he went to Wuhan.
He went to different hospitals in Wuhan, took videos, talked to the patients. He knew this meant putting himself at risk. “Censorship is very harsh, even people sharing my videos are deleted,” he told the BBC in an interview in early February.
Now, in the last video shared on February 7 from a friend’s Twitter account, Chen’s mother says that her son has been missing for a day.
His friend Xu Xiaodong later shared a video on YouTube, saying that Chen was “forced quarantined”.
What did the authorities say?
Chinese officials are tight on the matter. There was no official explanation as to where the two citizen journalists were, and there is no information on when they could go out if they were quarantined.
Amnesty International researcher Patrick Poon said that it is unclear whether the two journalists were “forced quarantined or detained by police”.
However, the officials say that Chen and Fang must at least make a statement that their families have been contacted and that information has been provided:
“Chinese officials should notify their families and give them access to a lawyer. Otherwise, it is legitimate to feel ill-treated or worried about torture.”
Why might they be lost?
The Chinese administration is known for silencing activists who have voiced their criticism out loud.
Recently, the government is trying to show the world that the epidemic has been brought under control.
According to Human Rights Watch, it is not surprising that the Chinese administration “cares about silencing criticism as much as controlling the epidemic”.
A doctor named Li Wenliang is the doctor who first announced the presence of the coronavirus and warned that it is necessary to pay attention to the outbreak. The doctor, who was warned not to spread his “wrong comments”, also caught the virus and died.
The story of two journalists in China is not discussed in mainstream media, except social media. Only on Chinese news site Weibo, there are a few comments about the disappearance of Chen and Fang:
“They rewrote history. After a while, someone named Chen Qiushi will have never lived.”