Police in China have detained or taken away over 50 people after two separate protests in the capital of Beijing and southern Guangdong region, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Guangdong police arrested 22 people on Friday after protesters forced their way into a rail station in the village of Mazha after cutting through barbed wire, letting 40 of them briefly take over the station and blocking the track, Reuters reported, citing Xinhua. They were protesting against housing and land issues in Guangdong.
"Large areas of land were sold cheaply, and many villagers were never properly compensated," one villager told Xinhua.
Locals began voicing their concerns to authorities in September, and officials had been working to resolve the disputes, according to a statement from the local government cited by the Associated Press. The protesters disrupted service from the manufacturing city of Shenzhen to the city of Xiamen.
Shortly afterwards on Saturday morning, a group of over 30 Chinese taxi drivers attempted mass suicide in a busy Beijing shopping street by drinking pesticide and staging a “lie-in,” protesting the treatment of drivers by taxi companies, Reuters reported. The drivers reportedly came from the far northern province of Heilongjiang.
Footage posted to the Weibo blogging service shows the group of mostly middle-aged men lying down in the middle of the street. The men were reportedly taken to hospital by authorities and are no longer in danger.
There have been previous incidents of people drinking pesticide or fertilizer in public areas to draw attention to problems, including one instance in 2013 where a dozen people in Wuhan province did so to protest the demolition of their homes.
It is reportedly common in China for people with grievances against local governments to make their dissent heard in Beijing in order to draw visibility to their problems, South China Morning Post reported.
Local governments reportedly often adopt violent means, including illegal imprisonment, to prevent people from traveling to Beijing to appeal for help.