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Guarantee right to demonstrate: UN to China amid COVID protests
New York: Following the COVID protests throughout China over the weekend, the United Nations on Monday backed the Chinese people's right to demonstrate peacefully, and urged the authorities to guarantee that right.
Hundreds of protestors demonstrated in cities across China against President Xi Jinping's zero-Covid strategy, with some of them even calling for his removal, CNN reported. "Well, I don't have any particular comment on the COVID policies, but obviously, we've seen some of the video of demonstrations. And our reaction is the same one we have for the world over, is that we believe in the importance of people's right to peaceful assembly and association, their right to demonstrate peacefully, and urge the authorities to guarantee that right," said Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General during a press briefing.
The large-scale protests in China were apparently sparked by an apartment block fire in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province, which killed at least 10 people on Thursday and acted as an impetus for public protests.
According to media reports, some protesters in China are even now calling for democracy.
"We don't want a dictatorship. We want democracy. We don't want a leader. We want voting. We stand with the people of Xinjiang. We stand with the women of Iran," CNN Contributor Frida Ghitis quoted the protestors as saying on Twitter.
US media reports said m of the demonstration started as videos emerged that seemed to suggest lockdown measures delayed firefighters from reaching the victims. From the capital Beijing to the financial hub of Shanghai, people reportedly gathered to mourn the dead from the Xinjiang fire, while holding protests against zero-Covid policies.
By Sunday evening, on dozens of university campuses, students demonstrated or put up protest posters. Protests also spread to Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan, where residents called for not only an end to Covid restrictions.
Students gathered on a square to protest against zero-Covid at Tsinghua University, in the capital city of Beijing. Images and videos making round on social media show students holding up sheets of white paper and shouting: "Democracy and rule of law! Freedom of expression!"
According to CNN, residents in locked-down neighborhoods tore down barriers and took to the streets, following mass anti-lockdown protests in Urumqi on Friday.
Such widespread scenes of anger and defiance are rare in China, where the ruling Communist Party clamps down on all forms of dissent. However, the increase in COVID restrictions long detested across the country have brought matters to a head. (ANI)