4 COVID protesters released on bail 2023

An activist said Beijing officials freed four women on bail for participating in rare nationwide protests against China’s strict anti-coronavirus regulations in late November.

Before her detention, former book editor Cao Zhixin made a video saying, “If you’re watching this, it means that I have been taken away by the police.”

According to Human Rights Watch, she and her companions Li Yuanjing, Zhai Dengrui, and Li Siqi were held in Beijing in December for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a vague charge routinely used against dissidents.

An anonymous Chinese activist said all four were released on bail Thursday.

After a fire in Urumqi killed 10 people, Cao and a group of friends organized a statewide protest against China’s “zero COVID” policy. Rescue operations were questioned due to coronavirus constraints.

The protests were the Communist Party’s biggest challenge in decades. Young Shanghaiers demanded President Xi Jinping’s resignation.

China’s stringent lockdowns kept people at home for months during the pandemic’s early years. Before immunizations were widespread, it reduced deaths. As the virus spread, regulations tightened.

Beijing protesters commemorated Urumqi fire victims. Some attendees clutched blank papers to represent free speech constraints.

Cao said police detained people on Dec. 18 in her video.

“Four of our friends have already been taken away,” she said. Police detained Li Yuanjing, Zhai Dengrui, and Li Siqi. Yang Liu, a fourth buddy, was abducted but released in January by Human Rights Watch.

We care about this society and wish to express our genuine feelings when our people die. In the video, Cao remarked, “We sympathize with the deceased.”

Police presence quelled protesters nationwide. The administration withdrew its “zero COVID” policy, and police detained an unknown number of protesters in numerous places.

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