Several people protesting in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou against deposit freezes by some rural banks said they were injured on Sunday when muscular security guards dispersed the crowd.
Banks froze millions of dollars in deposits in April, telling customers they were upgrading their internal systems. The banks have not released any communications on the matter since, the filers said.
None of the banks responded to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
Chinese media reported that the frozen deposits could be worth up to $1.5 billion and authorities are investigating the three banks.
About 1,000 people gathered outside the Zhengzhou branch of China’s central bank on Sunday to demand action.
Videos and photographs on social media showed detainees waving banners and throwing plastic bottles at approaching security guards, who then brutally dragged away some of the protesters.
“I feel so aggrieved that I can’t even explain it to you,” one protester, surnamed Zhang, 40, told Reuters.
Zhang said he hoped to recover around 170,000 yuan ($25,000) deposited with one of the banks, Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank.
“They didn’t say they would beat us if we refused to leave. They just used the loudspeaker to say we were breaking the law by petitioning. This is ridiculous. It’s the banks that are breaking the law. law.”
Reuters was unable to immediately reach police for comment.
The banks, which include Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank and Shangcai Huimin Country Bank, are under investigation by authorities for illegal fundraising, the state-owned company world times reported.
More than 1,000 depositors from across the country had planned to gather in Zhengzhou last month to try to withdraw their money, but were unable to do so when their COVID-19 health codes, which determine whether one can travel, have moved to a “no travel” status.
Five civil servants were then sanctioned for abusing the health code system.