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China: Protests erupt against stringent COVID lockdown after deadly fire rocks Xinjiang’s Urumqi

On Thursday, 24th November 2022, a building in Urumqi caught fire. People trapped inside faced difficulties in escaping from the building due to stringent lockdown measures put in place. Subsequently, protests erupted against restrictions imposed by authorities.

In China’s far western Xinjiang province, protests have broken out, with people yelling at hazmat-suited security guards after a fatal fire sparked ire at their lengthy Covid-19 lockdown as countrywide infections hit a new record.

Videos shared on Chinese social media on Friday night (November 25) showed crowds chanting “End the lockdown” and raising their hands while walking along a road. The video was released from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

On Thursday, 24th November 2022, a building in Urumqi caught fire. People could not easily escape because the lockdown was imposed. Since early August, there have been restrictions in place in the city, which serves as the provincial capital of western Xinjiang. The city reported about 100 new cases in each of the past two days.

According to a report by BBC, following the incident, a witness said that residents of the compound that had been affected by the fire had been primarily barred from leaving their homes. Chinese state media has refuted that account. Authorities in Urumqi, however, offered an extraordinary apology late on Friday, but promised to punish anybody who disobeyed their orders.

In spite of a strict zero-Covid policy, infections have reached unprecedented highs in China. Authorities in Urumqi have now pledged to gradually remove the restrictions, though they dispute that they prevented anybody from fleeing the fire on Thursday.

Due to China’s strict internet censorship, by Saturday morning, most citations to the Urumqi protests had been removed. The Urumqi apartment building fire that killed one person and wounded nine others on Thursday, according to local media, appears to have been started by an electrical extension problem. Online articles have claimed that Covid limitations made it more difficult to extinguish fires. City officials have denied this, attempting to rest the responsibility for the firefighters’ inability to reach the blazing structure on parked cars.

Although there has been growing popular opposition to Beijing’s zero-Covid policy, large-scale, confrontational demonstrations are uncommon in China. The zero-Covid policy is the world’s last program of its sort, due in part to the country’s poor vaccination coverage and an effort to safeguard the elders. It is notable that a large number of Uyghurs reside in the Xinjiang area, and the Chinese government has been blamed for a number of violations of their human rights.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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