Activists stage Westminster Bridge protest in solidarity with China ‘Bridge Man’

China ‘Bridge Man’ solidarity hits Westminster Bridge. Image: Free Tibet. 

DHARAMSALA, 21 Oct: Expressing solidarity with the Chinese protester who was whisked away by the Chinese authorities in a rare protest against Chinese President Xi Jinping and his policies in Beijing last week, activists have hung a banner at Westminster Bridge identical to the one hung from a bridge in Beijing by the protester known as ‘Bridge Man’.

Activists led by Free Tibet, hung the banner, calling for an end to the Chinese government’s repressive covid restrictions, on Thursday morning in solidarity with the Chinese protester who was detained at the scene of his protest last week and whose whereabouts are no longer known, the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet said in a statement it issued.

While public protest against the top leadership is extremely rare in China, especially in the run-up to important political meetings as the Chinese authorities turn Beijing into a fortress to maintain security and stability, media reports said that photos circulating on Twitter that took place last week on the Sitong Bridge, an overpass on Beijing’s Third Ring Road in the Haidian district show two banners hung on an overpass of a major thoroughfare in the northwest of the Chinese capital, protesting against Xi’s unrelenting zero-Covid policy and authoritarian rule.

The activists have maintained that the “banner display in London is the largest sign of solidarity among many that have been seen around the world since Bridge Man’s original protest.”

The development came on the heels of a violent assault of a Hong Kong independence protester in Manchester this week which led the Foreign Secretary to summon Chinese officials to explain the incident.

“As a Tibetan, I can feel the frustration of that lone protester because Xi Jinping’s zero-covid is taking a huge toll on the lives of my Tibetan brothers and sisters inside occupied Tibet, as well as making life miserable for the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in East Turkestan while dismantling all freedoms in Hong Kong,” Tenzin Kunga, a Free Tibet activist has said while speaking at the Westminster Bridge protest.

“We are gathered here to also amplify the message that the Chinese Communist Party is a great threat to the freedom, liberty and democracy that we take for granted in this free country here.”

The banners hung on the Westminster Bridge carry identical messages to that of the protester known as ‘Bridge Man’ in Beijing last week criticising Chinese President Xi Jinping and his policies.

 “We want food, not PCR tests. We want reform, not a Cultural Revolution. We want a vote, not a leader. We want freedom, not lockdowns. We want respect, not lies.  We want to be citizens, not slaves.”’

The advocacy group has further said that “it wants to send the banner to activists around the world to hold their own solidarity protests meaning the message Xi Jinping’s government tried to hide will spread around the globe.”

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