Two citizen reporters, Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi, have gone missing in Wuhan, China. They posted videos and pictures online regarding the real conditions inside the city of Wuhan during the quarantine due to novel Coronavirus.
The two reporters shared everything they knew regarding Wuhan and Hubei province and have reached thousands of views online, however, their accounts are now inactive.
Fang Bin uploaded several videos. The first few were him showing the city and the situation. His first video was posted on 25th January and was banned in China but can still be accessed through using a VPN. He also uploaded a video of 8 dead bodies piled up in minibus outside a hospital. Later police barged into his home and Fang were eventually released after been taken away. The last video Fang posted online before the account went silent had the title “all people revolt – hand the power of the government back to the people” on 9th February.
Chen Qiushi was once a human rights lawyer and turned into a video journalist covering news on the Hong Kong protests which led to him allegedly being harassed and restrained by Chinese authorities.
In late January he posted coverage of Wuhan and went to the hospital where he was asking about the condition of patients. Chen Qiushi is said to be completely aware that his life is at risk by saying “the censorship is very strict and people’s accounts are being closed down if they share this content.”
On 7th February, his Twitter account – now managed by his friend – uploaded a video and said that Chen had gone missing. Afterwards, his friend explained that Chen had been forcibly quarantined.
Chinese authorities, however, are unforthcoming regarding the issue. No official statement has been released. Patrick Poon, a researcher at Amnesty International said Chen and Fang’s condition is unclear; whether they have been forced into quarantine or taken away by police.
Beijing is known for forbidding the expression of people’s opinions. “The authoritarian Chinese government has a history of harassing and detaining citizens for speaking the truth or for criticising the authorities during public emergencies, for example, during Sars in 2003, Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Wenzhou train crash in 2011, and Tianjin chemical explosion in 2015,” Human Right Watch Yaqiu Wang said to the BBC.