In China, last November protesters formally charged

Audio 01:23

Chinese police officers near protesters in Beijing, November 27, 2022. Street protests that erupted in several Chinese cities over the weekend may have come as a surprise, but the ruling Communist Party has prepared for this moment for years, even decades.

Since the last major protests culminated in the bloody military crackdown of 1989, China has established an internal security force aimed at crushing, intimidating, imprisoning and silencing all challenges.

AP - Ng Han Guan

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

In November, unprecedented demonstrations took place in several major cities in China, from Beijing to Shanghai via Wuhan.

The participants wanted to pay tribute to the inhabitants who had perished in the fire of their building, whose access had been blocked because of the health measures then in force.

In the crowd, many slogans opposed the strict "zero Covid" policy, but the demands were also very politicized with messages hostile to the Chinese president and the single Party.

Since then, Beijing has lifted all health measures and several protesters have been formally charged, according to human rights NGO HRW.


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Like many members of his generation, Li Yuanjing, a 28-year-old accountant, braved the November cold in Beijing to take to the streets.

In the heart of the Chinese capital, she had held a blank sheet in her hands.

A neutral way to show his dissatisfaction, but which led to the arrest of the young woman, yet not particularly politicized according to a friend wishing to remain anonymous.

Everyone knew that by participating in these demonstrations, there would be repercussions.

But we were surprised when she was arrested, because she was discreet on social networks, she was not politically vindictive.

We thought she would be safe because she knows how to protect herself.

According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, four demonstrators, including Li Yuanjing, have been formally charged with " 

stirring up quarrels and causing unrest 

", a catchall motive used by the regime to silence any voice deemed dissonant.

Among the four protesters charged: Cao Zhixin, 26 years old.

In a video recorded before her disappearance and posted by friends, she anticipates her upcoming arrest.

We went to demonstrate in solidarity, is there still room in this society for our emotions?

Help us.

If you want to arrest us, bring evidence to the public.

Don't let us disappear unjustly, don't let us be arbitrarily arrested and charged.

The two women risk up to five years in prison for having participated in these unprecedented demonstrations in Xi Jinping's China.

►Also read Covid-19: three years after the first death in Wuhan, China remains in the statistical limbo


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