Several people said they were injured on Sunday by security personnel in China’s Zhengzhou city while protesting a local bank’s recent decision to freeze millions of dollars of deposits, Reuters reported.
Roughly 1,000 people gathered outside the Zhengzhou branch of China’s central bank on July 10 to demand the bank unfreeze the deposits.
Eyewitness photos and videos circulated on social media showing “depositors waving banners and throwing plastic bottles at approaching security guards who then roughly dragged some of the protesters away,” Reuters relayed.
Video obtained by Reuters and published separately on July 10 showed demonstrators at the bank rally holding posters that read, “No deposit, no human rights” and “Against the corruption and violence of the Henan provincial government.” Zhengzhou is the capital of China’s east-central province of Henan.
Detailing the video’s contents, Reuters wrote:
Scuffles broke out, and a loudspeaker was used to warn people to leave the area.
“Your actions have been deemed as illegal. Leave in 10 minutes. If you do not heed instructions from staff on site, if you do not leave and if you continue to disrupt society, the police will take stern action,” the warning blasted from the speaker said.
Security personnel ran towards them as a man’s voice was heard chanting: “Thugs! Thugs! Thugs!”
“I feel so aggrieved I can’t even explain it to you,” a 40-year-old protester surnamed Zhang told the news agency.
Zhang recounted suffering “injuries to his foot and thumb” and being “taken away by four unidentified security personnel” around midday on July 10 after he demonstrated outside of the bank.
“Security personnel outnumbered protesters by around three to one,” he revealed.
“They [security personnel] did not say they would beat us if we refused to leave. They just used the loudspeaker to say that we were breaking the law by petitioning. That’s ridiculous. It’s the banks that are breaking the law,” Zhang stated.
The man said he had participated in Sunday’s rally as part of his ongoing effort to retrieve roughly 170,000 yuan ($25,000 USD) that he deposited with Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank, which was one of the banks affected by the deposit freezes.
Authorities in charge of the banks froze millions of dollars worth of deposits in April. The officials explained the action to customers by saying they were “upgrading their internal systems” but refused to issue further information or updates. The affected deposits remain frozen three months later.
Chinese government authorities are reportedly investigating the relevant banks for “illegal fundraising,” according to a July 8 report by China’s state-run Global Times. The newspaper described the businesses as “small rural banks, registered in Henan Province” and identified them as including Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank and the Shangcai Huimin Country Bank.
“More than 1,000 depositors from across the country had planned to gather in Zhengzhou last month to try to withdraw their money but they were unable to when their COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] health codes, which determine if one can travel, switched to a ‘no travel’ status,” Reuters recalled on July 10.
“Five officials were subsequently punished for misusing the health code system,” according to the news agency.