The Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) organization today denounced the arrest of more than 20 people who participated, on November 27, in protests against the ‘zero covid’ policy in Beijing.
The arrests took place during the months of December and January, on the charge of “disturbing public order”, according to an announcement made by the organization for the defense of human rights through the social network Twitter.
Among those arrested are journalists, artists, writers or teachers, denounced the same source.
“We stayed 24 hours at the police station until they released us. But just when we thought the matter was settled, on December 18th, the police started arresting people. At least four friends of mine have disappeared. Their mothers are looking for them because they want to know where they were taken,” said Zhi Xin, a young woman who participated in the protests, cited by the organization.
Widespread popular discontent across China over the ‘zero covid’ policy resulted in peaceful protests and vigils in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai in late November. Protesters expressed their repudiation of the restrictions then in force and showed blank sheets of paper, in a critique of the censorship in force in the press and social networks in the country.
The protests erupted after the death of 10 people in a fire in a blockaded building in the northwest Chinese city of Urumqi. In addition to showing their discontent with the ‘zero covid’ policy, the protesters demanded the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Some Internet users also spread texts on the WeChat social network that consisted only of words like “well”, “yes” or “all right”, in protest against the systematic removal of content critical of the actions of the authorities.
Authorities reacted by increasing police deployments and isolating areas where protests were held. Since then, some testimonies on social networks have denounced the detention of demonstrators.
Shortly after the protests, the authorities began to dismantle the ‘zero covid’ policy, giving rise to an unprecedented wave of infections and a public health crisis in the country.
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