Sunday, February 5, 2023

China: Human rights activist immobilized by COVID-19 app

TAIPEI, Taiwan ( Associated Press) – Wang Yu has faced arrest, imprisonment and persecution by the Chinese Communist Party for his work as a defense attorney for activists, Uyghurs and Falun Gong practitioners. This year, her movement within her country has been restricted by the Color app on her phone, which is believed to protect people from COVID-19.

Health codes have become ubiquitous in China to try to contain the coronavirus, so much so that protests erupted last month. The government announced last week that it would stop using the national health code, but cities and provinces have their own. Last week in Beijing, the code was still required to enter restaurants, offices, hotels and gyms.

Even after the lockdown ends, some dissidents and activists anticipate the health codes will remain in effect in some form.

The code is relatively simple. Each one is given a QR code that changes between green, yellow and red depending on whether you have been with someone who has tested positive for COVID (yellow) or yourself Has tested positive (red). Only the green code allows you to lead a normal daily life.

But Wang’s experience shows that codes can be just another means of social control in China.

In March, he traveled to Datong, a coal mining center in northern China. Although she is generally prohibited from practicing law, she may act as a “citizen advisor” in human rights matters.

They needed to download local health codes to travel to the site, 346 kilometers (215 miles) west of Beijing.

Wang said that the day after she arrived, her code turned yellow, meaning she would be locked up in a hotel for quarantine.

“Why did it suddenly turn yellow?” He asked. “I don’t have a cough or other symptoms.”

To avoid the quarantine, which could last for several weeks, he underwent three PCR and temperature tests. Eventually, the authorities relent and change his code to green so he can leave Datong.

In August, two months before the Communist Party Congress, Wang Yu said his Beijing health code had stopped working despite testing negative. Sometimes it would turn red or get stuck on the window. She decided to leave Beijing and visit her parents in Inner Mongolia until the Congress had passed, thinking the app was designed to keep her away. In late November, the authorities got the go-ahead after several calls.

Police and the Beijing Municipal Health Commission did not respond to requests for comment on the case.

“The strongest feeling is that I don’t have freedom,” Wang said.

Nation World News Desk
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