China: Fundraiser for monument to remember COVID-19 victims allegedly censored
Since the coronavirus outbreak started in China late last year, the nation has been accused of silencing reports on the crisis. Now, the son of a COVID-19 victim has alleged that an online fundraiser to build a monument for all victims has been censored twice. The proposed monument would reportedly bear the photos and names of all those who died due to COVID-19.
Wuhan resident Zhang Hai told Voice of America that he had posted an announcement this week seeking donations for the aforementioned monument. However, the announcement, shared on Chinese social media, was quickly deleted, VOA reported. When Hai reposted the announcement, it was allegedly deleted again. Hai had lost his 76-year-old father, Zhang Lifa, to COVID-19 on February 1.
Notably, Hai has repeatedly blamed the laxity of the Wuhan administration for his father's demise. Hai had taken his father from Shenzhen to Wuhan on January 17 for surgery after the latter fractured his leg. On January 20, the government confirmed human-to-human transmission and three days later, Wuhan was sealed. The father tested positive for COVID-19 on January 30 and died on February 1.
Since his father's death, Hai has refused to collect his ashes due to a regulation mandating that officials would have to accompany him throughout the procedure. This, he argued, would forbid him from saying a private goodbye. He told The New York Times, "They spend so much time trying to control us. Why can't they use this energy to address our concerns instead?"
Hai has told multiple publications how a WeChat group of family members of COVID-19 victims was disbanded by officials. He told VOA that the police suspected the presence of "anti-China elements" on the group. He has been demanding action against Wuhan officials for downplaying the outbreak. Had the public been alerted sooner, he would never have taken his father to Wuhan for surgery.
Hai is convinced that his father—a veteran of the People's Liberation Army—contracted the coronavirus at the hospital where he received the surgery. He has thus demanded accountability from the Wuhan administration, noting that he continues to support the central Chinese government.
Hai told NYT that news articles where he was quoted were also pulled from publication. Earlier in April, on Tomb Sweeping Day, when China had called for a three-minute nationwide silence for COVID-19 victims, pictures of family members lining up to collect ashes of their deceased relatives emerged online. Reportedly, the pictures were quickly deleted from social media.