While China was busy trying to suppress the news of an impending pandemic, three whistleblowers, Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, and Li Zehua were amongst the first to share pictures from Wuhan and let the world in on the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus.
The three individuals tried their level best to expose the reality of the situation in Wuhan in the nascent stages of the pandemic. With the entire Chinese media outlets under the strict control of the country’s government, the only authentic source of information was what’s shared by such whistleblowers.
For a while now, all of them seem to have gone silent.
It is worth noting that Chinese authorities have taken these whistleblowers into custody after they “leaked” information about Wuhan’s reality, but released them shortly after.
Nonetheless, Chinese authorities haven’t commented about the whereabouts or any sort of information about Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, or Li Zehua.
Fang Bin is a Wuhan-based businessman who released a video on February 1st that captured the woes of coronavirus-infected people.
In his video, one could spot a minibus full of bodies outside a hospital. He then showed healthcare professionals wearing hazmat suits treating patients, some of whom were moaning in pain.
Bin approaches a medic and asks, “So many people just died? When did this happen? Yesterday? There are so many bodies.”
The video became a viral sensation after Chinese journalist Jennifer Zeng shared it on Twitter.
No sooner did the video become famous than the Chinese authorities took him away for questioning. A video he uploaded on his YouTube channel on February 9 showed that he was released.
Much like Fang Bin, activist Chen Qiushi, a human rights lawyer turned video journalist, stepped into Wuhan a few days before the lockdown.
While Qiushi previously covered the Hong Kong protests and got harassed by the Chinese authorities, he went on to cover the coronavirus nonetheless.
Qiushi, who promised to “not cover up the truth and document what is really happening”, has now been off the radar for over two months.
Ever since February 6, no one has heard from him and his friend, who happens to manage his Twitter account, said: “Who can tell us where and how Chen Qiushi is right now? When will anyone get to speak with him again? Chen Qiushi has been out of contact for 68 days after covering Coronavirus in Wuhan. Please save him!!!”.
The third whistleblower, Li Zehua, worked for the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV and was known to be reporting independently from Wuhan.
Li visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a location from which the virus was first rumored to have originated from, as opposed to the wet markets.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) speculates that Li may have been targeted for visiting the virology institute.
It is worth noting that no one has heard from Li since February 28.