Hundreds protest Covid lockdowns at Beijing university

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Mourners hold vigils for the victims of a deadly fire in Xinjiang as protests against China’s Covid-19 measures roiled elsewhere. (AP pic)

BEIJING: Hundreds of students from Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University took part in a protest against Covid lockdowns today, a witness told AFP and footage on social media showed.

The protest at Tsinghua follows an overnight demonstration at neighbouring Peking University, and videos have spread on social media of similar gatherings in other Chinese cities.

A Tsinghua student told AFP: “At 11.30am, students started holding up signs at the entrance of the canteen, then more and more people joined. Now there are 200 to 300 people.”

The witness said a female student held up a blank piece of paper — an action that has become a symbolic protest against censorship — and was joined by other women doing the same.

“We sang the national anthem and the Internationale, and chanted ‘Freedom will prevail’, ‘No nucleic acid tests, we want food’, ‘No to lockdowns, we want freedom’,” they said.

They shared pictures with AFP that showed a mass of people gathered in a courtyard outside Tsinghua’s Zijingyuan canteen, some holding sheets of paper.

Corresponding videos shared online showed a crowd in the same location, gathered around a speaker shouting: “This is not normal life, we’ve had enough. Our lives were not like this before!”

Another video seemingly taken in the same location showed students shouting, “Democracy and the rule of law, freedom of expression”, but was quickly taken down.

The witness told AFP the school’s Communist Party vice-secretary was talking to students and that many had begun to leave.

They said no police had arrived on the scene yet.

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