Many lost loved ones. They accuse the government of having concealed the disease. And now they are harassed and threatened.
In China, the authorities boast of having managed to stop the coronavirus epidemic in the country, but when the families of victims of the virus decide to hold them accountable to justice, They try to silence them.
Zhong Hanneng experienced a mother’s worst nightmare when the disease took her son in February in the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected.
This 67-year-old retiree wants to attack the local authorities in justice, which she accuses of having took too long to act at the first signs of contagion.
But the way to do it is full of obstacles. The complaints of Zhong and other relatives of the victims were rejected, and dozens of others are intimidated into not filing any recourse.
Attorneys who intend to defend these families receive threats of retaliation.
What do these families reproach the authorities for? The fact of having concealed at first the irruption of the disease.
Covid-19 caused about 3,900 dead in Wuhan and has already left more than 900,000 deaths around the world.
“They say that the epidemic was a natural catastrophe. But its serious consequences are due to man, and responsibilities must be determined,” says Zhong Hanneng.
“Today, my family is broken. I can never be happy again.”
At least five lawsuits were filed in the Wuhan Intermediate Court, according to Zhang Hai, whose father died of COVID-19 and who coordinates the families of the victims.
The plaintiffs are each claiming two million yuan ($ 295,000) and are demanding public apologies.
But the court rejected the demands for murky procedural reasons, denounces Yang Zhanqing, a Chinese activist for victims’ rights. From the United States, he coordinates a score of lawyers who secretly advise families.
The Wuhan court declined to answer AFP’s questions.
The coronavirus was detected in December. The authorities did not release the information quickly and the doctors who began to alert of the situation were repressed by the police.
The Communist Party of China (CCP) minimizes its responsibility and insists that the Chinese origin of the virus not tested yet scientifically. And he does not stop boasting of his victory against the epidemic in the country.
But Zhong Hanneng doesn’t think the same.