Peng Shuai has reappeared in public and had a video call with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. But according to the Women’s Tennis Association the video call did not address or alleviate concerns about her well-being.
Peng Shuai appeared at a dinner with friends on Saturday and at a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday as shown in photographs and videos published by Chinese state media, but they have done little to quell concerns:
“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokeswoman said. When asked about the call with the IOC, the spokeswoman said: “This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.”
The IOC said in a statement that Peng held a 30-minute call with Bach on Sunday during which she said she was safe and well at home in Beijing and wanted to have her privacy respected for now. Amnesty International’s China researcher Alkan Akad told Reuters the video call did little to ease fears over Peng’s wellbeing. “The International Olympic Committee is entering dangerous waters,” Akad said. “In the past, we have seen various similar cases where people had no option but to say what they had been told to.”
The flurry of “proof of life” videos came amid a firestorm of global concern for Peng, who disappeared from the public eye for more than two weeks after taking to social media to accuse former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex at his home – an explosive and politically sensitive allegation that triggered blanket censorship in China.
While Peng’s public reappearances may allay some of the worst fears about her immediate safety and well-being, they have failed to quell broader concerns about her freedoms and growing calls for a full investigation into her sexual assault allegations.
The video clips appear to be specifically, yet crudely, crafted to show that Peng is “free” and living a “normal” life.
In footage released on Saturday, Peng was seen out to dinner with several people state media journalists have described as “her coach and friends.” The clips made repeated, deliberate references to the dates, while Peng kept nodding to the man speaking next to her, not saying anything.
None of the videos made even the vaguest mention of Peng’s sexual assault allegations against Zhang. Instead, they focused on her smiles and apparent good-spirits – which state media propagandists were eager to highlight.
Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang, and there is no indication an investigation is underway. It remains unclear if Peng has reported her allegations to the police.
Sources: CNN, MSN
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