‘Disabled people beaten’ as China crushes peaceful protest with violence

Chinese officials violently crushed a peaceful protest of people seeking in vain to get their life savings back from banks.

Protesters were said to have been "hit, wounded and were bleeding from the head." Disabled people were also violently beaten,” one participant told AFP, estimating the number of demonstrators to have been “several thousand”.

The rare demonstration was against alleged government corruption after four rural banks in China's central Henan province froze millions of dollars worth of deposits, in April.

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The cash crisis has prompted sporadic demonstrations as thousands of small savers have had their livelihoods threatened in an economy already battered by draconian Covid lockdowns.

Sunday's protest against alleged corruption by local officials in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, was one of the largest to date in the tightly-controlled country.

Several hundred people rallied in front of a branch of the People’s Bank of China in the Henan capital Zhengzhou, according to multiple witnesses who declined to be named.

Images circulating on social media showed banners denouncing “the corruption and violence of the Henan authorities”.

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Local sources said the face-off lasted for several hours until rows of security officers suddenly charged up the stairs and confronted the protesters head-on.

Security officers reportedly dragged protesters down the stairs and beat those who resisted.

One woman told CNN she was pushed to the ground by two security guards, who twisted and injured her arm.

Another 27-year-old man said he was kicked by seven or eight guards on the ground before being carried away.

Local authorities in Henan did not immediately comment on the protests.

Some demonstrators accuse officials of colluding with local banks to suppress protests, with authorities last month accused of exploiting the Covid health pass to quell new protests, turning protesters passes red to effectively bar them from public spaces.

The health pass has become a part of life in China under Beijing’s strict Covid-zero strategy, and is required to access the vast majority of buildings, shopping centres, public places and also certain public transport.

While most accept use of the technology for public health purposes, some have voiced concern that it could also be used for surveillance of the population.

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