The fundamental rights of people across China to peacefully protest the government’s strict “zero covid” restrictions should be respected by the Chinese Government, said the Human Rights Watch.
The New York-based rights organisation demanded that the government release all demonstrators who had been unlawfully detained and stop censoring information about protests online.
Thousands of individuals began openly protesting the government’s stringent Covid-19 regulations and the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian control over the weekend in Shanghai, China’s largest metropolis and financial hub. Students from colleges all over the nation gathered to protest on their campuses that evening, and in Wuhan, the birthplace of Covid-19, Chengdu, Beijing, and other major cities, large crowds of people took to the streets.
“People across China are taking extraordinary risks to demand their human rights,” said Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Chinese authorities should not suppress the protests but instead allow everyone to peacefully express their views.”
The demonstration in Shanghai was in response to an apartment building fire that occurred on November 24 in Urumqi, the regional capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang province, and resulted in at least 10 fatalities. Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm widespread suspicions that Covid-related restrictions hindered emergency responders and that pandemic control barriers prevented residents from fleeing the fire.
“While small-scale protests over specific government abuses happen occasionally in China, it is extremely rare for people to publicly call for President Xi Jinping to step down or for the end of Communist Party rule. The authorities punish any perceived challenge to the Party’s hold on power with long prison sentences under highly abusive conditions,” the HRW said.