Chinese netizens are angry after internet censors deleted a picture circulating on social media of people lining up to pick up their family members’ ashes from a funeral home in Wuhan, ground zero of China’s virus epidemic.
On March 25, health officials in Hubei Province lowered the risk level for Wuhan from high to medium, based on a three-tier system that corresponds to different levels of quarantining. The same day, some funeral homes began to allow locals to pick up ashes of their relatives who have died since the city was placed under lockdown in late January.
A Chinese netizen, who goes by the online moniker “Mao Daqing,” posted on Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter, a photo of a long line outside the Hankou Funeral Home in Wuhan, one of the city’s seven government-run funeral parlors.
According to his personal description, Mao is from Beijing and the president of a Chinese firm.
Mao’s original post was soon deleted by authorities, drawing outcry from many Weibo users. Some successfully saved Mao’s original photo and reposted the picture on their accounts, while questioning why the photo was being censored.
Photo posted by Weibo user @ 毛大庆. Some wuhan ppl, after months of shelter-in-place, are waiting in line at Hankou Funeral Home to pick up family members’ ashes. This is heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/pceIslxpa9
— Tony Lin (social distancing aka introverting) (@tony_zy) March 25, 2020
One netizen from Beijing wrote: “They [Chinese state-run media] only report on the dire situation [of the outbreak] in other countries. But talking about [China’s outbreak] is forbidden.”
Another netizen with the moniker “Player Name 721” from Beijing sarcastically wrote that the picture must have been taken somewhere outside of China, such as Italy or the United States, since according to the Chinese regime the country has successfully combated the virus.
A Chinese netizen with the moniker “Sha Qiu 2046,” who describes himself as a reporter from southwestern China’s Sichuan Province on his Weibo, said he also saw a long line of cars parked along the road to the Hankou Funeral Home. According to his Weibo posts, he arrived in Wuhan in early February.
In a March 26 post, he said there was tight security at the facility when he arrived at around 10 a.m. local time.
“The entrance was under tight security, and there were plainclothes officers everywhere. Basically, whenever somebody raised their cellphones, they were immediately told to stop what they were doing,” he wrote.
Earlier in February, The Epoch Times conducted an undercover investigation, calling funeral homes in Wuhan in order to understand the true death toll of the epidemic.
At the time, the Hankou Funeral Home confirmed that its crematorium was using 20 furnaces to cremate bodies 24 hours a day, the sudden rise in intake suggesting that more people were dying of the CCP virus than officially reported.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Overseas, China’s coverup of the CCP virus outbreak has been heavily criticized by officials, most recently by U.S. Secretary of the State Mike Pompeo at a G-7 meeting, in which he said the Chinese regime has and continues to withhold information about the virus, endangering people’s lives.
In a statement, the European Union’s top diplomat also highlighted Beijing’s attempts to divert global attention away from its initial coverup of the CCP virus outbreak by presenting itself as a global leader in fighting the pandemic.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in a statement on March 24, outlined how Chinese authorities censored key information during the initial days of the outbreak.
“RSF demonstrates, based on the events in the early days of the crisis, that without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the seriousness of the epidemic, saving thousands of lives and possibly avoiding the current pandemic,” the rights group stated.