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in Shanghai, hundreds of young people demonstrate against the “zero Covid” policy after the tragedy in Urumqi

An exceptional protest in China: Saturday, November 26, hundreds of young people gathered in the center of Shanghai to cries of “Xi Jinping, resign! » or “Down with the Communist Party!” » to commemorate the victims of a fire that killed ten people in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, in the West. For many, the fire is one more drama of the “zero Covid” strategy: help was blocked on arriving on site due to health restrictions.

In Shanghai, the word spread on social networks: the few dozen people who had found themselves at a crossroads on Urumqi Street to place candles and a few flowers were joined by hundreds of others, affected by the tragedy. and angry at a policy that keeps hampering their daily lives.

At midnight on the spot, the crowd is compact, and a cordon of hundreds of police officers is already guarding the surrounding streets. In addition to the few offerings placed on the ground, demonstrators hold a white sheet. “This white page, nothing has been written on it, but implicitly, it makes a lot of sense. Our country won’t let us write anything here. But even if we don’t write anything, people know what we would like to say, explains a young woman of barely 30 years old. What I feel is that for a few hours, I’m free: even if it’s very short, for once, I can say what I want to say. » Hearing this, her friend bursts into tears. “It’s the first time I’ve seen this in China”she justifies, swallowing back her tears.

“We don’t forget 6-4”

The people gathered are mostly young: it is the generation in need of travel and freedom, connected to the rest of the world, which suffers the most from the restrictions on movement imposed by the health strategy for almost three years. The slogans shouted by the boldest are taken up by the crowd in chorus. The first directly target the zero Covid policy: “Health code, fuck you…” At regular intervals, the crowd sings the Chinese national anthem, a revolutionary song that begins with ” Upright ! People who no longer want to be slaves! » In April, during the confinement of Shanghai, these words had been censored on Weibo, a network similar to Twitter.

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But little by little, some are daring to pursue more political subjects and are asking for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Others proclaim: “We don’t forget 6-4”in reference to the Tiananmen massacre, June 4, 1989. When someone dares to throw “Xi Jinping, resignation”, the crowd seems galvanized: the slogan is repeated enthusiastically, as if the crier had broken a taboo. Another launches: “Down with the Communist Party”a taboo here too.

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