Friends fear for Covid whistleblower who exposed chilling conditions in Wuhan

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Friends are desperate to track down a Chinese whistleblower who offered a glimpse inside the country's overwhelmed hospitals – and hasn't been seen for over a year.

Chen Qiushi said he was about to record footage at a makeshift coronavirus hospital in Wuhan on February 6, 2020.

He is thought to be trapped at his parents’ home, but friends now fear for his safety.

Mr Chen had earlier received threatening phone calls – demanding that he stop making “citizen journalist” videos.

Later that day, his mum appealed for information on his Twitter account, as fears were raised that he had been “forcibly quarantined”.

A friend told the Mirror Online: “Many were saying they could not reach him. When it passed 24 hours, I knew something was terribly wrong."

In earlier footage, Mr Chen uncovered some of the chilling conditions in the Chinese hospitals.

In one video, hospital corridors and a waiting room are filled with sick patients, and a distraught woman is seen holding a man in a wheelchair who has just died.

He told the camera: "I am scared. In front of me is the virus. Behind me is China’s legal and administrative power.”

Mr Chen added: “I’m not even scared of death. You think I’m scared of you, Communist Party?”

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In September last year, it was claimed Mr Chen was found at his parents' home 600 miles away in Qingdao, where he was under "strict supervision" by the authorities.

In late March, his friend Xu Xiaodong posted a new YouTube video saying Mr Chen was moved to Tianjin after being detained in Wuhan and then to Qingdao, where he is "still there with his parents".

Those who were close to him fear for Mr Chen’s mental health – and no one knows when he may be released.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the groups urging China to reveal Mr Chen's whereabouts and confirm that he is ok.

Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch's China director, called on the country to “immediately clarify his whereabouts”.

Alkan Akad, Amnesty International’s China researcher, added: “There is conflicting information on the whereabouts of Chen Qiushi, including some reports that he is staying with his parents, but Amnesty International has not been able to confirm this.

“We continue to call on the Chinese authorities to disclose the fate and whereabouts of Chen Qiushi, as well as other citizen journalists who reported being harassed by the authorities after posting footage from hospitals in Wuhan.”

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Mr Chen went missing around the same time as Wuhan businessman Fang Bin and citizen journalist Li Zehua, who had also reported on the Covid outbreak.

Li resurfaced in a video two months later, saying he had spent two weeks in "quarantine" in Wuhan followed by another spell in "quarantine" in his home town.

But Fang, who criticised the ruling Communist Party and recorded videos of bodies being removed from a hospital, has not been heard from since February last year.

  • China
  • Coronavirus

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