Residents of the semi-autonomous region of Xinjiang in China have flooded social media with disturbing accounts of extreme lockdown restrictions imposed by authorities in the wake of a recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases. To tackle the new cases, officials allegedly resorted to handcuffing people to buildings to ensure that they do not venture outside.
After new cases were recorded in Xinjiang last month — despite the rest of the country largely containing the pandemic — state authorities declared a “wartime” state of lockdown, the New York Times reported.
Authorities began sealing off homes across the region and warning residents to remain indoors. But a month later, the outbreak largely appears to be under control, and residents are now slamming the government for its harsh lockdown measures.
Several videos shared on social media showed frustrated residents of Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi, screaming from their apartment windows, demanding to be released, the Guardian reported.
— lidang 立党 (@lidangzzz) August 22, 2020
While the videos are yet to be verified, a residential compound in the capital city released a statement warning residents that anyone who participated in the “roaring”, had committed an illegal act.
“Residents should strengthen their sense of social responsibility to prevent them from being used by those with evil intentions and lead to wrong guidance of public opinion,” the statement read, as per a report by the Guardian.
Some people have also claimed that state authorities are forcing Xinjiang residents to drink a traditional Chinese herbal remedy, called Lianhua Qingwen, which has been promoted in China as a treatment for Covid-19. Many have, however, raised questions about the effectiveness of the Chinese medicine.
After the sudden flurry of posts condemning the government’s actions began spreading across various social media platforms, hashtags related to Xinjiang and Urumqui were mysteriously blocked over the weekend, users claimed. Several residential complexes also ordered residents to stop using their accounts on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China, due to the spread of “bad information”.
Officials in Xinjiang, have faced heavy criticism for their clampdown of Muslim minorities, like the Uighurs, who reside in the region. At least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been held in detainment camps in Xinjiang in recent years, New York Times reported.
Activists from around the world have raised concerns about the pandemic and restrictive lockdown measures leaving Muslim minorities in the state more vulnerable than they were before.
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