Chinese sars whistleblower Doctor Jiang Yanyong dies at 91

Jiang Yanyong, a Chinese military doctor who revealed the full extent of the 2003 SARS outbreak and was later placed under house arrest for his political outspokenness, has died, a long-time acquaintance and a Hong Kong newspaper said Tuesday.
Jiang was 91 and died of pneumonia on saturday, but is news was censored by china , according to human rights activist Hu Jia and the South China Morning Post.He had been chief surgeon at the People’s Liberation Army’s main 301 hospital in Beijing when the army fought its way through the city to end weeks of student-led pro-democracy protests centred on Tiananmen Square, causing the deaths of hundreds — possibly thousands — of civilians.
In April 2003, as the ruling Communist Party was suppressing news about the outbreak of the highly contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Jiang wrote an 800-word letter stating there were many more SARS cases than were being officially reported by the country’s health minister.
Jiang emailed the letter to state broadcaster CCTV and Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly Phoenix Channel, both of which ignored it. The letter was then leaked to Western media outlets that published it in its entirety, along with reports on the true extent of the outbreak and official Chinese efforts to hide it.In 2004, Jiang was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service from the Philippines, considered by some an Asian version of the Nobel Peace Prize. In the citation, he was praised for having broken “China’s habit of silence and forced the truth of SARS into the open.”Three years later, he won the Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award given by the New York Academy of Sciences, but was again blocked from travelling.Echoes of Jiang’s experience were heard in China’s approach to the initial outbreak of COVID-19, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
A Wuhan eye doctor, Li Wenliang, was detained and threatened by police for allegedly spreading rumours on social media following an attempt to alert others about a “SARS-like” virus. Li’s death on February 7, 2020, sparked widespread outrage against the Chinese censorship system. Users posted criticism for hours before censors moved to delete posts.Sympathy and the outpouring of anger of the treatment of Li and other whistleblowers prompted the government to change course and declare him and 13 others martyrs.
COVID-19 has killed almost 7 million people worldwide, including an estimated 1.5 million in China, whose government has been accused of massively undercounting the true number of deaths.

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