Savers harmed by troubled banks protested Sunday in central China against local authorities accused of collusion and “corruption“, An unusual gesture of defiance of power.

Weakened by the economic slowdown, four banks in Henan province have frozen all cash withdrawals since mid-April, trapping thousands of small savers. A situation that has since given rise to sporadic demonstrations.

To prevent new gatherings, local authorities were suspected last month of turning health passes for a number of protesters red, making it virtually impossible to travel.

On Sunday, several hundred people demonstrated in front of a branch of the Chinese Central Bank in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, according to several participants who asked AFP anonymity.

The photos posted on social media show banners denouncing “corruption and violence by the Henan authorities“.

In videos whose content cannot be independently verified by the AFP, protesters are violently arrested by plainclothes officers. Some protesters have swollen faces.

The protesters werebeaten, injured and bleeding from the head. People with disabilities were even violently beaten“, A participant told AFP, assessing the number of demonstrators to”several thousand“Local authorities did not react immediately.

Demonstrations in China are relatively rare, in a country where maintaining social stability is an obsession and where power generally crushes any protest in the bud. In desperation, however, some Chinese do not hesitate to take to the streets, despite the risk of arrest and trial.

Last month, Henan authorities were targeted after allegedly manipulating health clearances to prevent further protests.

The health pass is mandatory in China to access the vast majority of buildings, shopping centers, public places but also some means of transport.

The vast majority of Chinese are happy to play the game of tracking for health purposes. But rumors are being fueled by a potential drift of this tool for surveillance purposes.

Like the four Henan banks, other establishments elsewhere in China are also in a delicate financial situation exacerbated by corruption, analysts say.

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