A US-based rights group has cast suspicion over Chinese media reports which claim that Chinese star Peng Shuai is ‘safe’.
Peng has been incommunicado since she accused a former ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader of pressuring her into a sexual relationship, Radio Free Asia reported.
She expressed these claims in a social media post on November 2, drawing concerns from Chinese feminist campaigners and international sports associations.
Following her claims, an email allegedly from Peng was broadcasted by Beijing’s mouthpiece CGTN on November 17, saying Peng’s allegations were “not true,” and that she isn’t “missing”, Radio Free Asia reported.
“I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe, I’ve been resting at home and everything is fine,” CGTN quoted the email as saying.
The US-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network, which compiles and translates reports from rights organizations in China, said the claims from CGTN are dubious.
“Peng Shuai’s latest statement – released through state media – should not be taken at face value,” CHRD research and advocacy coordinator William Nee said was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia.
“The Chinese government has a long history of arbitrarily detaining people involved in controversial cases, controlling their ability to speak freely, and making them give forced statements,” added Nee.
“Until Peng Shuai is free, the burden of proof should be on the Chinese government to prove she is not detained,” said Nee.
Meanwhile, Nee also urged the WTA, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and other Tennis stars including Naomi Osaka and Chris Evert to keep talking about Peng.
Earlier on November 16, Osaka, in a Twitter post, said that “Censorship is never OK at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and OK. I’m in shock of the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way. #whereispengshuai.”
Besides, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Chairman and CEO, Steve Simon on Wednesday had also cast ‘concerns’ on an email posted in China’s media purportedly from tennis star Peng Shuai.
Peng, 35, a doubles champion at Wimbledon and the French Open, accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault according to screenshots of a since-deleted Weibo post dated November 2. Notably, Peng has not been heard from since alleging against the Chinese politician. (ANI)