Chinese Authorities Start Tracking Down Protestors After Mass COVID Demonstrations

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Chinese police have started targeting participants of last weekend’s mass protests against the communist regime’s harsh COVID-19 policies, according to reports, suggesting the surveillance state is kicking into full gear in response to the country’s biggest display of civil disobedience in decades.

Two protesters told Reuters that callers identifying themselves as Beijing police officers asked them to report to a police station on Tuesday with written accounts of their activities on Sunday night. A student also said they were asked by their college if they had been in an area where a protest happened and to provide a written account.

“We are all desperately deleting our chat history,” said another person who witnessed the Beijing protest and declined to be identified. The person said police asked how they heard about the protest and what was their motive for going.

On Monday, a female demonstrator also told AFP that she and five of her friends were contacted by the city’s police, asking whether they attended the protests near Liangma River in Beijing. In one case, the police officers visited the home of her friend, who refused to answer their call, the woman, who declined to be identified, said.

While it is unclear how the police managed to identify these demonstrators, a Chinese lawyer told Wall Street Journal that she suspected police used data on protesters’ mobile phones, including those collected by the regime’s mandatory COVID tracing app, to ascertain their identities. The lawyer, Wang Shengsheng, provided legal support for over 20 demonstrators after they received calls from the police.

Heavy Police Presence

Meanwhile, police officers patrolled streets in Beijing and other Chinese cities on Monday night to prevent a repeat of the weekend’s demonstrations.

From the eastern city of Shanghai to the remote town of Korla in the far-western Xinjiang region, protests spread across the country in opposition to the regime’s stringent COVID curbs. Participants yelled, “we want freedom!”

By Dorothy Li

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