Anger over a fatal fire in the western Xinjiang province appeared to fuel demonstrations against China’s draconian COVID-19 regulations in several cities on Saturday night.
In Shanghai, police used pepper spray to disperse about 300 protesters who had gathered at Middle Urumqi Road at midnight with flowers, candles, and signs reading “Urumqi, November 24, those who died rest in peace” in remembrance of the ten people who died in an apartment building fire in the Xinjiang region’s capital city of Urumqi.
Many of the protests could not be immediately confirmed.
A protester identified only by his last name, Zhao, claimed that two of his friends had been pepper sprayed, and one of his friends had been physically assaulted by police.
He claimed that when he attempted to stop police from removing his friend, they stepped on his feet.
He was left barefoot after misplacing his shoes during the protest.
“Xi Jinping, step down, Communist Party, step down,” “Unlock Xinjiang, unlock China,” “do not want PCR (tests), want freedom,” and “press freedom” were among the chants, according to Zhao.
According to Zhao, some 100 police officers stood in a straight line to stop some demonstrators from assembling or leaving, and subsequently, buses carrying additional officers came.
Another protester, who only revealed his family name as Xu, claimed that there were thousands more protesters present but that police stood in the street and allowed demonstrators to cross the street.
On Chinese social media, posts regarding the protest were promptly removed, as the Communist Party of China frequently does to stifle criticism.