As China’s Hubei Province remains under lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic, residents are complaining that law enforcement personnel have been using harsh and unreasonable tactics that are reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution to control the public. Some of these incidents have been caught on video and shared on Chinese social media, sparking outrage among viewers.
To curb the spread of the coronavirus, large gatherings are forbidden. However, just playing a card game with your family at home to pass time can have serious repercussions.
A family of four in Anlu City, Hubei Province, was publicly humiliated and paraded through the streets by police on Feb. 14 for playing poker at home. The local police ordered them to publicly read out a “repentance” letter afterwards.
A video posted online shows the family standing in front of a government building, with a man holding a “repentance” letter and leading the other three family members in reading it word by word: “Our family of four played poker in our house this afternoon, which is in violation of the order not to gather or play poker during this emergency period. We were wrong!” After reading the statement, they were made to stand there for a long time as punishment before being allowed to go home.
Another family played mahjong, a Chinese board game, at their home in Xiaogan City when a group of law enforcement personnel barged into the house and threw the mahjong tiles to the floor. This angered the family’s son, and he threw some of the mahjong tiles back at the intruders. As a result, they held him back and slapped him several times. In the end, the mahjong table was smashed. The incident prompted the son to ask whether this meant that a family can’t even have meals together.
— 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 13, 2020
Many other cases have been posted of people being beaten or paraded through the streets in chains because they didn’t wear masks.
In one of these videos, police restrained a man who did not wear a mask while walking on the street, and told the person in charge of disinfection, “come disinfect him!”
The person then sprayed disinfectant on the man’s body and the ground adjacent to him.
In Xi’an City, someone’s pet dog was beaten to death by a coronavirus prevention personnel with the excuse that dogs shouldn’t be walked during the outbreak.
Many people vented their anger online, saying it reminded them of the political campaigns of the past.
“Paraded through the streets?” one internet user asked. “Such mental trauma can be fatal. How are these people going to live? It’s like the cracking down on landlords in the past! I heard from my mother that my grandmother’s family used to be paraded through the streets wearing tall hats. How evil this is!”
After the communists took control of China in 1949, they launched several political campaigns—from the 1950s through the 70s. People who were labeled as “bad elements” or “counter-revolutionaries” were denounced, forced to wear tall hats and paraded through the streets as a means of humiliation. Many committed suicide because they could not endure the mistreatment.
“Committing acts of violence in the name of epidemic prevention, and slapping people in the face—isn’t this going back to the Cultural Revolution when Red Guards acted violently?” another social media user asked.
“History has shown that the absence of rule of law is far more terrible than the contagion we are experiencing today,” another stated.