This morning, a friend sent me an extremely harrowing video via WhatsApp, which appeared to show Chinese police systematically shooting dead victims of Coronavirus COVID19. A copy of this very upsetting video can also be found on YouTube here and here (discretion advised).
Of course, me being me — having spent my early years as a Muslim absorbed in the so-called science of hadith — I had to investigate. Not least because China built a brand-new hospital to treat patients in just two weeks. And so that is how I spent my lunch break.
It turns out that the video forwarded onto me via WhatsApp is at least three separate incidents spliced together. It took quite a while to track down the source videos, but eventually I found them after a lot of searching, including using reverse image search on screenshots I’d captured from the viral video.
I found the clip in the first half — where three policemen in protective clothing are seen walking from their car — on Twitter. The original caption for the video said an unknown person entered the community with a pistol and a semi-automatic weapon, and this was the police response. Further comments claim that the video was filmed in Sichuan on 27th January, when police in protective suits captured a killer who had been on the run for 19 years.
There is a version of the third clip — with the lady in the pink jacket and medics attending to patients — on Twitter. This is captioned in Chinese; from dismissive comments underneath, it seems to promote the shooting claims. The original video is wide angle, not filmed portrait as shown in the viral video, so is definitely not part of the same sequence. The bangs in the background are real, but I can’t tell whether they’re fire crackers or gunfire.
I found the video clip with the woman in the yellow jacket lying dead on the ground on Turkish news website, Yeni Akit. The website says Chinese police killed one person who tried to break through quarantine. Note that in the original (still distressing) video, there is no sporadic gunfire in the background. Somebody has added this afterwards.
What is really happening in China, God knows. Allahu’Alam. One thing I am certain of is that splicing unrelated videos together and then adding gunfire to the soundtrack amounts to bearing false witness, at best. “O you who have believed, if there comes to you information, investigate…”