Friday, January 27, 2023

Four detained in Guangzhou after COVID protest

TAIPEI, Taiwan ( Associated Press) – At least four people were held in a prison in the southern city of Guangzhou after participating in protests over COVID-19 restrictions in late November, according to activists, family members and friends of those detained. He was kept in custody for more than a week.

Although many of the participants in protests in various Chinese cities last month were released after 24 hours – the legal limit for detention before police charge – four Guangzhou residents were held for a week and a half until Wednesday was.

The arrests come a week after protests broke out across the country in the last weekend of November, when people called for an end to China’s strict anti-epidemic rules, in a rare show of direct defiance of the central government. , Given the extensive network of security cameras and the fact that police would follow their social media posts, protesters took to the streets despite taking serious personal risks.

Now, what the protesters feared – that police would arrest them after the first wave of crackdowns ended – is happening in Guangzhou.

Among those detained is Yang Jijing, 25, who was at home with a roommate when police raided the compound on December 4, said Yang’s mother, Gao Xiusheng.

Yang, like three other detained protesters, had been involved in demonstrations against the government’s strict COVID-19 protocols in Guangxi, according to an activist who declined to be named for fear of retribution. Relatives of the other three protesters declined to comment on their cases.

According to a copy of an official document seen by the Associated Press, Yang is being held on suspicion of “stirring fights and causing trouble,” a vague criminal charge often used in political cases.

Guangzhou police did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Although Yang’s mother found a lawyer, police cited anti-epidemic measures and did not allow the lawyer to meet Yang, Gao said.

“I said I wanted to bring my son a jacket. The temperature has dropped in Guangzhou. They won’t let me take him,” said Yang’s mother, concerned that he would be sent to a police station rather than a pre-trial detention center. Will be kept in custody at the station, where he is believed to have a bed and blanket.

On the night of 27 November, hundreds of people gathered in the city’s Haizhou Square following protests in Urumqi and Shanghai the previous day. Crowds were outraged by the death of at least 10 people at an apartment building fire in Urumqi, northwest China, where many believe COVID-19 measures have complicated rescue efforts.

A demonstrator said people took to the streets after a social media post called for protests on a bridge in Guangzhou. But since the police had already cut the bridge, many people ended up in the square directly opposite.

A man brought blank sheets of paper and handed them out, a form of silent protest against state censorship and now a symbol of the national movement against COVID-19 restrictions that registered that weekend.

“I didn’t even know what it meant to hold a blank piece of paper,” Yang’s mother said.

Although there were several police officers at the scene and they quickly dispersed the crowd, protesters said that as far as they knew, no one was arrested that night.

A week later, the police started arresting people. According to protesters, many were detained on 4 December, and were released after spending just 24 hours in custody, a similar experience to protesters in Shanghai and Beijing.

However, four people remained in police custody. Three of them were arrested on 4 December for participating in the 27 November protests. Another was arrested on 3 December for participating in another march.

Nation World News Desk
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