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On International Human Rights Day, 200 people protest China’s crackdown on civil rights outside the Chinese Embassy in London

Demonstrators protest China's crackdown on human rights near the Chinese Embassy in London
Demonstrators protest China’s crackdown on human rights near the Chinese Embassy in London

LONDON — In London, England, Chinese demonstrators held their fourth demonstration in a short period because of the follow-up to the Urumqi fire, continuing to protest China’s anti-epidemic policies and political repression.

About 200 people participated in a demonstration in London on December 10, International Human Rights Day, from outside the Prime Minister’s Office to the Chinese Embassy to protest China’s “zero” epidemic prevention policy and the crackdown on Chinese demonstrators and workers, Hong Kongers, and ethnic minorities.

This demonstration is the fourth demonstration of its kind in about a month. Although the demonstrations had been planned a few weeks earlier, China’s anti-epidemic policies began to relax and the weather in London turned sharply cold, with temperatures only about 35 degrees Fahrenheit at the time, factors that some demonstrators said may have influenced the desire to participate.

A Chinese demonstrator who called herself a “red apple” and wore a “V-Burn” mask told the media that she wanted to stand with Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Uighurs, Southern Mongolians, feminists, and workers, pointing to a series of lists of victims of repression that demonstrators hung outside the Chinese embassy.

“The victims are too many to hang up,” she said. This speaks for one, that is, that there are already too many people who are oppressed and that there may be very few voices for them. Our friends at home are trying very hard to speak up, but they were caught, and then we can’t do anything here. So we came here because our conscience tells us that something must be done.

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Civet, from Hamburg, Germany, told the media that she attended a memorial service for the victims of the Urumqi fire and brought local slogans to London to show solidarity. She spoke a little choked when she spoke of demonstrators arrested for participating in the “white paper movement” in China.

She said: “Our brothers and sisters, these people I don’t know, they are still missing, not every single one of them has been released, I don’t believe in so much injustice today… Maybe they will be in other ways and will do other things in the future, but I don’t believe that we will stop resisting, and I don’t believe that we will stop speaking out there because none of our friends have been released yet, and we will fight until everyone is free.

On November 24, a serious fire broke out in the Jixiangyuan community in Tianshan District, Urumqi City, and some people believed that the epidemic lockdown hindered the rescue and prevented residents from escaping, resulting in at least 10 deaths and nine injuries. The incident sparked what came to be known as the “White Paper Movement,” in which the Chinese government used police arrests and censorship to crack down.

Many demonstrators in London said they covered their faces with face coverings because they feared for their family members still in China. Even if they are willing to be interviewed, some ask not to show up and only to leave their voices.

Bruce, a Chinese graduate student in the UK, told the media that he had been concerned about the protest movement in Hong Kong since 2019 but did not come out to demonstrate, describing himself as “a minority of the few.” The Urumqi fire became an opportunity for many Chinese students to organize.

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“I’m very pessimistic about Chinese’s patience because if it weren’t for the three-year lockdown if you weren’t financially unbearable, you wouldn’t have come out to protest,” he said. That is, many people will think that he is for democracy, but I actually think that many foreign media may be too optimistic, I am not optimistic, because everyone just wants to survive, just want to live.

Bruce said that even if China’s anti-epidemic policy begins to relax, the essence of the CCP will not change, but the recent demonstrations may encourage people who do not know much about the Communist Party to learn more about the truth.

Mr. Zhu, a Chinese student studying abroad, cut off the big star of the five-star red flag and raised it at the scene of the demonstration. Inspired by the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Romanian Revolution of 1989, he said, he believed that the Chinese could live democratic, free, and equal lives independently without the Communist Party.

Like Bruce, a student studying abroad, he believes that the “white paper movement” is no real political threat to the CCP, but that Chinese students can do what they can, such as boycotting Chinese students and scholars associations that act as agents of the CCP and organize Chinese students studying abroad in various places, and not participating in various Chinese celebrations and participating in demonstrations.

He said: “What I care about is that this white paper movement is an educational significance for our Chinese youth, which I think is more useful than political influence because we can put our hope in the future.”

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