Canada supports people ‘speaking out’ amid COVID-19 protests in China: Trudeau – National

Canada stands with people who are « speaking out » in a rare wave of protests in several cities across China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

He made the comment on his way to a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, as China grapples with its biggest public display of dissent since the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square – which ended in a massacre when the army violently crushed the student-led pro-democracy movement.

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The latest protests are a response to Beijing’s continued use of a « zero-COVID » strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic – a strict policy that aims to isolate each infected person to limit the spread of the virus. As a result, millions of Chinese citizens have continued to face sweeping quarantine orders, mandatory testing and severe restrictions, all of which are the target of growing protests across the country.

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As protests continue across China, Trudeau said Canadians are « watching very closely. »

“Obviously everyone in China should be allowed to speak up, share their views and even protest,” he said on Tuesday.

« We will continue to make sure China knows that we will stand up for human rights, we will stand with people who speak out. »

Protests have erupted in at least eight major cities across China as well as several school campuses. The match that lit the fuse was a fire at a high-rise residential building in the city of Urumqi last Thursday.

The blaze killed 10 people – and as videos of the incident tore on social media, accusations grew that lockdowns played a part in the fatal blaze.

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Many of Urumqi’s four million residents have been subjected to some of China’s longest lockdowns, banned from leaving their homes for 100 days. Chinese authorities have denied that COVID-19 measures have hampered escape and rescue efforts.

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During Xinjiang’s lockdown, some residents elsewhere in the city had their doors physically chained, including one who spoke to The Associated Press who declined to be named for fear of reprisals.

As protests rage across the country, some protesters have begun calling for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Pressure from the protests led authorities in China’s western Xinjiang region to open up some neighborhoods in the capital Urumqi on Saturday, after residents staged extraordinary late-night protests against the city’s ‘zero-COVID’ lockdown. which lasted more than three years. month.

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BBC alleges Chinese police beat one of its reporters covering Shanghai protest

International media covering the protests on the ground have also faced severe reprisals – and even attacks – from local authorities.

According to the BBC, one of its journalists was arrested and beaten while covering the protests.

« The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering protests in Shanghai, » the British public service broadcaster said in a statement on Sunday.

“He was detained for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.

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Beijing denies the allegation, with a Foreign Ministry spokesperson saying it is « not true ».

A Reuters journalist was also detained for around 90 minutes on Sunday evening before being released.

Trudeau condemned China’s treatment of journalists covering these protests.

« We also need to make sure that China and the whole world respect journalists and their ability to do their job, » Trudeau said.

« We will continue to make that very clear. »

– with files from Aaron D’Andrea of ​​Global News, The Associated Press and Reuters

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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