Voices of April: China censored Shanghai lockdown videos so someone made a short film (which was also censored)

The person who put this short film together did so because he noticed that social media clips about the lockdown in Shanghai seemed to be disappearing from view.

“A month into the outbreak in Shanghai, I saw many people speaking out online, but most of them disappeared after a short while,” the maker of the video posted on WeChat Friday. “However, some things should not have happened, and they should not be forgotten.”

Rather than let memories fade as the clips disappeared, the unnamed individual created a very simple short film which used the real voices of people in Shanghai set to video of the city. He called it “Voices of April” and it quickly went viral in China. But when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So of course the Chinese censors have now censored the film as well.

But for the Chinese government, the six-minute clip — and the chaos and suffering it exposes — is too powerful a reminder of the human cost of its zero-Covid policy, which authorities insist are “putting the people and their lives first.”

Censors quickly stepped in, taking down the film as well as any references to it from China’s internet. On microblogging site Weibo, even the word “April” was temporarily restricted from search results.

The censorship sparked an outcry. Many were infuriated at the attempt by authorities to wipe out what they see as an objective documentation of the darker reality of the lockdown — one that can rarely be found in state media…

“They are still trying to gag our mouths and plug our ears,” a user wrote in the comment section of Li’s Weibo page shortly after midnight on Saturday.

The China Digital Times has the actual leaked orders to censors to remove the content.

BJWX notice
Latest instructions:
All platforms, please refer to [attached] examples and perform comprehensive clean-up of video, screenshots, and other content related to “Voices of April.” At the same time, clean up any derivative images. Please submit preliminary clean-up data by 12:30 a.m. on April 23. Maintain continuous cleanup and submit additional data by 7:00 a.m. on the 23rd.

Chinese people have come up with some creative ways to attempt to post the video but the censors are relentless. Many have also started posting the song “Do you hear the people sing?” from Les Misérables as a kind of protest.

People are sick of the lockdowns and the lying. Now that the lockdowns may be coming to Beijing next, expect to see a lot more of this sort of thing before the censors can get to it. Here’s the complete “Voices of April” with English subtitles.