Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei have formally arrested a woman on public order charges after she organized local people to protest against price-gouging on essential goods during the coronavirus lockdown.
Police in Hubei’s Yingcheng city formally arrested Zeng Chunzhi on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” on April 17, an overseas rights group reported.
Zeng had organized a protest in which hundreds of residents in a housing compound in Haishan district took part, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network said in a statement on its website.
Local residents shouted slogans calling for the local neighborhood committee to be fired in the March 12 protest, after it charged them higher prices on essential goods they couldn’t easily get elsewhere.
Zeng was placed under administrative detention on March 27, then held under criminal detention on April 9.
She is currently being held at Yingcheng Detention Center, CHRD said.
“The residents’ protest came as small business owners in Wuhan reportedly protested outside a shopping mall on April 10 for rent relief on their shops which have been shut down due to coronavirus restrictions,” it said.
Social and political tensions rose throughout the lockdowns imposed in Hubei and its provincial capital Wuhan, which were first to be hit by the coronavirus epidemic after its emergence in Wuhan.
Food prices skyrocketed as hundreds of millions were prevented from traveling or accessing supplies without official passes and permits, while aid and food donations were being commandeered or left to rot owing to corruption or a lack of delivery infrastructure, residents told RFA at the time.
In early March, residents of a housing project in Wuhan heckled vice premier Sun Chunlan with shouts of “Fake!” after being told to stay home during the official visit.
Residents complained that the neighborhood committee had failed to ensure a supply of fresh food to residents, contrary to the claims they made to Sun.
Reported by RFA’s Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
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