Protesters demand freedom in China

Dec 5, 2022

Photographers document numerous zero-COVID policy protests in New York City in the past week.

Disclaimer: WSN chose to redact the faces of individuals photographed and withhold the names of the photographers to protect their privacy.

A group of protesters raising their phones with flashlights on and signs that translate to “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of News, Freedom of Films,” “There is no mob, only tyranny” and “ Release the Captured!”

Protests broke out across New York City in Washington Square Park and the Chinese Consulate General following the Ürümqi fire in late November.

A pair of hands tightly gripping a piece of white paper.

Known as the A4 revolution, a blank piece of white paper has become a symbol for the protest. It signifies all those under the Chinese government’s oppression.

A person wearing black holding a torch in one hand and a plastic bag with the Chinese character for “good” written on it upside down.

To avoid official censorship, protesters resort to creative ways to spread their message, including inverting Chinese characters to dodge text recognition censorship.

A person holding signs that read “Ürümqi Rd(M)” and “yes, ok, nice, thank you” in Chinese.
An arrangement of candles laid on the ground with commemorative texts in Mandarin written on posters and papers around the candles.

Protesters hold public vigils for the lives lost in the Ürümqi fire.

An arrangement of flowers and candles laid on the ground with commemorative texts in Chinese written on posters and papers around the candles.
A couple holds a candle between their hands while participating in the protest in the dark.
A half-exposed image showing the lower torsos of protesters proceeding to Pier 84 at Hudson River Park at night.

Chinese nationals participating in the protest cover their faces and heads to conceal their identities in fear of retaliation by the Chinese government.

A group of protesters hold signs at night that translate to “Our Four Demands, not one can be missed.” A protester is dressed in a white medical suit used by medical professionals during P.C.R. tests.

Protesters call for four demands: allow for public vigils, end zero-COVID policies, release human rights activists and protect people’s constitutional rights.

A protester wearing a hoodie shows both of their middle fingers to the Chinese Consulate General.

Protesters give their middle fingers to the Chinese Consulate General in New York as residents peek out from their windows to watch the protest.

A Reuters reporter interviews a protester wearing facial masks on live television.

Media presence has been strong at the protests. Based on our photographers’ observations, there are just as many cameras as there are people.

A photographer capturing the faces of Uyghur protesters who wave the light blue flags — with a white crescent moon and star — of East Turkestan.

To an extent, the protests have turned into media spectacles, as the press pours in to document and share the demonstrations.

A photographer capturing the backs of Uyghur protesters who wave the light blue flags of East Turkestan.
A photographer captures a protester holding up an infographic poster detailing the people detained in internment camps in Xinjiang.
A protester covers their face with a sheet of white paper.

Some protesters refuse to have their faces photographed in fear of retribution.

A young Uyghur boy waves the East Turkestan flag — blue flags with a white crescent moon and star.

Some Uyghur children join their parents in the protest.

A group of protesters standing in the fountain at Washington Square Park. A person stands on the edge of the fountain.

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