Before you read:
A video of a Chinese woman, who says she is being detained by police in a secret location after attending a protest vigil in Beijing last year, has been circulating on social media.
The video, which purportedly shows Cao Zhixin, a 26-year-old editor at Peking University Press, began circulating online on Monday.
In the video, Zhixin explains that she and her five friends were summoned by the police three days after the widespread protests in Beijing on Nov. 27.
Zhixin and her friends reportedly attended a riverside vigil to mourn the victims of a building fire in Urumqi, which killed 10 people on Nov. 24. Residents blamed the government’s strict zero-COVID policy and its lockdown measures for the slow response of firefighters.
“We pay attention to the society we live in. When our fellows die we have the right to express our legitimate emotions. Our sympathy is for those who lost their lives and that’s why we went to the scene,” Zhixin explains in the video, which is captioned with English subtitles.
Although Zhixin says she and her friends were released a day after they were summoned, they were all detained again between Dec. 18-24, with Zhixin being the last to be taken.
“When you see this video, I have been taken away by the police for a while, like my other friends,” Zhixin says.
The 26-year-old claims her friends were forced to sign blank arrest warrants without criminal accusations listed and that police refused to reveal the location of their detention.
Zhixin recorded the video after four of her friends — Yuanjing, Yuan Liu, Dengdeng (Zhai Dengrui) and (Li) Siqi — were detained. She had asked other friends to publish the video online if or when she was arrested.
“Here and now, when I recorded this video, four of my friends have been taken away without any notices,” she says, adding that their families have been desperately trying to find out their locations.
According to Zhixin, she and her friends “followed the rules” at the vigil and did not cause any conflict with the police.
Why do you want to take us away quietly? What is this revenge for? Why use the lives of ordinary young people like us as the cost? We want to know why it is us who are convicted. What is the evidence to convict us? Without any criminal record, why can we be taken away so arbitrarily? If they want to convict us, show the evidence to the public! Don’t let us disappear from this world unjustly.
The video claims the arrests continue, with 13 people currently missing. It goes on to list the names of people who had attended vigils or protests and have since allegedly disappeared.
After the video began circulating online, U.S.-based scholar Jing Wang tweeted that she recognized the 26-year-old as her editor for a translated book.
“She’s one of the best editors I’ve met,” Wang wrote. “We just chatted a few days before she disappeared. Now, she is still out of reach. It breaks my heart to watch this video.”d