Lockdown at Wuhan University Campus in November 2022

Lockdown at Wuhan University Campus
28 November 2022

From February 2020 until October of 2022, I was a professor of international law at Wuhan University, China. Because of the disproportionate anti-COVID measures imposed on the poor people of Wuhan, including the students residing on the beautiful campus of Wuhan University, I felt compelled to resign and return to the Netherlands. Of course, I remain very much concerned about what is happening with the people on the campus that I love so much.

Unfortunately, today the situation on the campus of Wuhan University is not good. And I believe it is important for people all over the world to know what is happening to them, so that we can show our solidarity with them and help them fight for change. That is what has motivated me to write the following letter.

A few days ago, some students living on the campus of Wuhan University tested positive for COVID. This is what the person in charge of Wuhan University’s epidemic prevention and control said about it in a recent interview: “On the evening of November 22, 2022, the school was notified by the disease control department that 1 mixed tube (20 people) in the nucleic acid testing site of the old gymnasium of the Division of Engineering and Science had a suspicious result. After review, one of the graduate students (living in the 17th dormitory of the Department of Informatics) tested positive. The school attaches great importance to it. Under the guidance of the higher-level government and relevant departments, it immediately launched an emergency plan for epidemic prevention and control, sealed off the entry and exit of relevant areas and campuses, and cooperated with a series of emergency control measures such as flow adjustment and transfer of isolated and close contacts.”

Later tests showed more positive cases. Because the university is reluctant to publish the results of COVID-testing, it is difficult to find out exactly the results of the constant testing. In any case, in most parts of the world, students testing positive for COVID would be urged to stay home and avoid contact with others. But this is not what happened at Wuhan University. Basically, all students residing on campus are in lockdown. They are allowed to leave their room, but not their dormitory building. Every day, the students must wait for their three meals to be delivered at the dormitory building. They must go downstairs to the hall to collect their food. The food is distributed by some volunteers. These are just ordinary meals that they would otherwise eat in the university canteens, albeit that the meals delivered are below the standard, and they are not very generous portions. The students can still order goods and groceries online, but the delivery is becoming more and more difficult. And the prices of the supermarkets on campus – which allow for delivery – has risen sharply. Few fruit shops on campus are currently in business.

A particularly rigid system is put in place for the dorm where the student testing positive resides. Students living there are not allowed to leave their room. They have their food delivered to their room. Those inside the most restricted building cannot order fruits from the food shop owner on campus, which is something other students are still allowed to do.

The students are tested for COVID daily, around 9.00 in the morning. Some are required to go down to the first floor of their dormitory to take the test. Others receive visits from doctors in their room. All university teaching is done online and all social activities on campus have been postponed. Students are strongly advised to wear a mask even within the dormitory.

Fire exits in at least two of the dormitory buildings are blocked, either by plastic blocks (see photos below) or even iron obstacles. Fortunately these iron blocks were removed after a few days. The students are all very aware of the deadly fire that occurred in the city of Urumqi, and they are afraid the same may happen to them if the fire doors remain blocked in this way.

One of the biggest problems is that the students are not provided with any official announcement or other information on how long this quarantine will last. Essentially, they are not informed of what is going on, and what is being done to them at all. This is particularly problematic because the students are dependent on various apps managed by the authorities. For example, some of the students’ health codes suddenly turned yellow or red for no reason, and they have nowhere to complain about this. Some students are moved to other places because of an abnormal health QR code. Those that remain in the dorms have no idea where their friends are moved to, or what is done to them. This also adds to the feeling of anxiety.

Even those teachers and other volunteers who implement the quarantine say that they themselves receive no information at all, and that sometimes they are even being updated about changing policies later than students. It seems that the reason why the students get little information from the teachers and other volunteers is that the governmental authorities are taking over control of the quarantine.

Already the lockdown is leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems amongst the students. They are helping each other, but they still feel that that there is little they can do. Over the last couple of years, this young generation of students is getting used to the continuous expansion of public power. But it seems a breaking point has been reached the last couple of days. More and more people express themselves on WeChat, openly and in unambiguous language. Students told me they do not know what will happen to them when they become the first student in the building to seek communication with those teachers or staff members who are in charge, but, so they say, someone must be the first to make their voices heard.

On 25 November, a letter to all teachers and students of Wuhan University was sent by the administration of Wuhan University.

In the letter, the university announced the immediate launching of an emergency plan to “resolutely block the spread of the virus and make every effort to ensure the safety and health of the teachers and students.” The letter also noted that, “in the face of the menacing ‘pandemic’, we are not only a community of destiny, but also a community of responsibility” and that “it is our courage and confidence to overcome the virus if we unite as one and overcome difficulties together”. The administration is urging its students and staff to follow the rules and regulations, and to “not believe rumours, not spread rumours, not panic”.

On the same day, a group of first-year students wrote a reply letter to Wuhan University.

They wrote that, “with the current official information, ‘not believing rumours, not spreading rumours, and not panicking’ seems to be an impossible task – without authoritative information channels, it is impossible to judge what a rumour is”. At the end of their letter, the students make some very practical suggestions to the administration. First, they ask to be provided with timely and correct information. Additionally, “the school prevention and control headquarters are requested to put people first and carefully consider whether it is possible to send students home once the epidemic continues to worsen”. Also, the students urge the administration to ensure enough food is distributed to the students in lockdown, and that the internet – their only gateway to the outside world – works properly. This letter only remained visible on WeChat for less than 24 hours. Like all other articles making protests or revealing the facts, it vanished quickly. This further complicates attempts to get an accurate view of the always changing situation.

People are expressing themselves more and more on WeChat and other online platforms. One person wrote that “I think the biggest sadness for myself is that the last three years have really changed me. I will no longer be able to see the world with the same eyes as I did in 2019, nor will I simply treat people the way I did then, and it doesn’t make me a better person, it just makes me angrier.” And elsewhere, a call for action was posted: “Remain angry. Benefits are lost in constant silence and cowardice. Do not be patient; patience is not a virtue. Questioning and verification are the weapons of resistance. Resistance is realized by gathering again and again, and by shouting again and again. The answer is in the air. Courage and unity can bring us the brightest fire in the winter night. Don’t ever be an ostrich with its head in the ground.”

Otto Spijkers

Panel discussion on 20 Years of ICTY Investigations and Prosecutions

You are warmly invited to attend a panel discussion of the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), entitled:

The Story of the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor (OTP): Starting from Scratch – What We’ve Learned from 20 Years of OTP Investigations and Prosecutions

The conclusion is inescapable that peace in the future requires justice, and that justice starts with establishing the truth.
(United Nations Commission of Experts, May 1994)

The panel discussion will take place on 2 November 2017 from 17:00 – 19:00 at Leiden University’s Hague Campus (Wijnhaven, Room 2.02, Turfmarkt 99, The Hague) and will be followed by a reception.

The OTP raised its first indictment against a former detention camp commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 1994, when the war was still raging in the former Yugoslavia. Since then, 161 persons have been indicted and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes. With the ICTY closing its door at the end of this year, this lecture marks a unique and final opportunity to learn about the work of the OTP directly from its key staff members.

The topics will include:

  • Early days: first investigations and indictments
    · Prosecution of high-level perpetrators
    · Investigation and prosecution of the Srebrenica genocide
    · The importance and role of the OTP analyst in investigations and prosecutions
    · Prosecution of sexual violence
    · Appeals Proceedings – tracing developments in the law through the Tribunal’s jurisprudence
    · Cooperation with the countries of the region and capacity building

The panel will be followed by a Q&A session.

Opening remarks:
Michelle Jarvis, Deputy Prosecutor

Douglas Stringer, Senior Appeals Counsel

Laurel Baig, Senior Appeals Counsel
Dorothea Hanson, Analyst
Peter McCloskey, Senior Trial Attorney
Robert Reid, Chief of Operations

To register please send a confirmation email to ContactOTP@ICTY.org  or grotiuscentre@law.leidenuniv.nl  by Tuesday 1 November 2017.

ICTY/ MICT Open Day in The Hague on 24 September

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals ( MICT ) will be hosting a joint Open Day on Sunday, 24 September from 11:00-17:00. This year’s Open Day marks the final opportunity to visit the ICTY, as the Tribunal is set to close its doors at the end of this year.

The ICTY/MICT Open Day is part of The Hague International Day, which offers the public a chance to take a look behind the scenes of the International City of Peace and Justice by visiting the Tribunal and other international organisations in the city. At Open Day, there will be opportunities to interact with Judges and other key staff members, view new documentaries produced by the ICTY Outreach Programme, and explore art exhibitions and Archives materials.

Click here for the Open Day Programme and Poster.

Speakers (with Q&A sessions) for the day include:

• ICTY President Judge Carmel Agius
• MICT President Judge Theodor Meron
• Judge Christoph Flügge , ICTY and MICT
• Judge Alphons Orie, ICTY and MICT
• Registrar Olufemi Elias, MICT
• Michelle Jarvis, Deputy to the ICTY/ MICT Prosecutor
• Ana Cristina Rodriguez Pineda,Chef de Cabinet, ICTY
• Bob Reid, Chief of Operations, ICTY/ MICT Office of the Prosecutor

Events will be held throughout the day at the ICTY and MICT premises, located in the same building at Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW The Hague.

To register for the ICTY/ MICT Open Day, please send a confirmation email to Colleen Luibrand at luibrand@un.org by Friday 22 September 2017.

Venice Academy of Human Rights

The European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation’s Venice Academy of Human Rights is accepting applications for its summer program, to take place July 3-12, 2017. The theme of this year’s Academy is “Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights as an Answer to Rising Inequalities”. Please have a look at the call for applications and the detailed program on their website.

Summer Law Program on International Criminal Law and International Legal & Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism

The Summer Law Program is the product of a unique collaboration with the War Crimes Research Office of American University’s Washington College of Law, providing American students the opportunity to study in The Hague. Additional places are available to individuals who would like to join the students from the US in this educational experience. The programme will take place from 29 May – 22 June 2017.

International Criminal Law: in Search for Accountability

The first part of the summer program will focus on International Criminal Law. What are international crimes, and how have the definitions of these crimes evolved in the last decades? The role of the International Criminal Court, ad-hoc tribunals and hybrid courts will be analysed, as well as their political and judicial shortcomings. This part of the summer program will also examine the interplay and interdependence between the different international criminal tribunals and national courts that cater to international criminal justice. It will look at the role of states, not only in preventing serious violations, but also in bringing those responsible to justice. Finally, the concepts of amnesties and immunities will be explained and how these could possibly affect prosecution of international crimes.

International Legal & Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism

The second part of the summer program will focus on International Legal & Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism. Terrorism and the measures that are being adopted to counter terrorism are prominent on the agendas of international organisations, governments and think tanks around the world. The program will look into the definitions of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and the evolution of these concepts since 9/11. The program will also look at how human rights are raised in the context of terrorism, especially in light of the attacks throughout 2016, and the counter-measures that are being adopted. Moreover, the summer program will critically look at how the armed conflict approach deals with terrorism. It will elaborate on how the criminal justice sector tackles terrorism from an international, regional and domestic perspective. The need for cooperation with respect to prevention and suppression of terrorism will also be examined. The summer program will conclude with the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, a growing concern in many countries.

Eligible participants

(Advanced) students and early-career professionals who are interested in studying international criminal law and/or counter-terrorism are invited to apply: www.asser.nl/SummerLawProgram2017.
More information about the programme and registration details can be found in the attached flyer, or on our website: www.asser.nl/summerprogrammes.

Utrecht University Summer School on International Law, Law of the Sea, Human Rights and Water Law

At Utrecht University, we just published the full day-to-day programmes of our Summer School courses on our website. I think the courses will certainly be of interest to a great diversity of students. These are some of the courses on international law:

Summer School on Public International Law,
Summer School on Law of the Sea,
Summer School on Water Law.

We also offer certain Special Tracks, that I think can be of interest to students or pracitioners of international law. These are combinations of two or more courses on an overlapping theme, and students get a discount if they register for these Tracks. These are:

Law and economics of the sustainable management of water, oceans and lagoons,
Public International Law and Human Rights
Public International Law and the Law of the Sea
• and The Oceans: Crucial to Life, Law and Economics


Utrecht Journal of International and European Law is issuing Call for Papers

Dear readers,

The Utrecht Journal of International and European Law is issuing a Call for Papers for articles to be published in its 85th edition in the summer of 2017 on ‘General Issues’ within international and European law. The Board of Editors invites submissions addressing any aspect of international and European law. DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 18 April 2017. For more info, see this document: CFP General Issue 2017.



ICTY/MICT Open Day in The Hague on 25 September

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) are hosting a joint Open Day on Sunday, 25 September, as part of The Hague International Day. At the Open Day, there will be opportunities to interact with Judges and other key staff members, view new documentaries produced by the ICTY Outreach Programme, and explore art exhibitions and Archives material.
ICTY President Judge Carmel Agius and MICT Judge Burton Hall will deliver the opening remarks.

Speakers (with Q&A sessions) for the day include:
• Judge Alphons Orie, ICTY and MICT
• Judge Bakone Justice Moloto, ICTY and MICT
• Ana Cristina Rodríguez Pineda, ICTY Chef de Cabinet
• Bob Reid, Chief of Operations, ICTY Office of the Prosecutor
• Roman Boed, Senior Legal Officer, MICT

Events will be held throughout the day from 11:00 – 17:00 at the ICTY and MICT joint premises (Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW The Hague).

To register or request more information, please contact Timothy Jesudason at jesudason@un.org.

Socio-Legal Review

The Socio-Legal Review is currently inviting submissions for its thirteenth volume to be published in 2017 and since it is now a biannual publication, it will be published in two issues this year. The theme for the themed issue of the thirteenth volume is “Crime and Society”. The deadline for sending in submissions is November 1st, 2016. Please have a look at this Call for Contributions.