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Zhang Zhan

WHRD, Journalist & Lawyer

Zhang Zhan (张展) is an independent journalist, former lawyer and woman human rights defender who has been vocal against human rights violations and suppression of dissent in China. She has used her legal training and knowledge to help other human rights defenders to claim their rights through legal channels. In February 2020, Zhang Zhan visited Wuhan city in Hubei province of China to report on the COVID-19 outbreak from the ground. In 2019, the woman human rights defender expressed support for the Hong Kong protests by posting comments, writing articles and holding up placards to support the protesters, as a result of which she was arbitrarily detained and was forced to undergo psychiatric examinations while in custody.


Chinese human rights defenders work across a wide spectrum of issues, engaging with rights violators on numerous levels. Many of China’s most prominent and most stringently prosecuted defenders have worked to protect the health and well-being of victims of physically harmful government and corporate practice, including forced abortion, food health scandals, environmental pollution, and corrupt or negligent government action leading to preventable loss of life. Other Chinese HRDs work to protect the economic rights of Chinese citizens, advocating for victims of property appropriation, forced demolition, and violation of labour contracts. Still others take on cases of freedom of expression for China’s ethnic and religious minorities.