Several Chinese taxi drivers tried to kill themselves by drinking pesticide during a protest Friday near a bustling shopping mall in Beijing.
The dramatic protest occurred near the Wangfujing shopping center, according to a local police social media account and the New York Times. The Times reported that "at least 10 men" drank pesticide, while the South China Morning Post (SCMP) put the number at "more than 30." Multiple people were hospitalized, but the Times reported that everybody survived.
Pictures and video from the scene posted on social media showed multiple people in the street, with some of the protesters foaming at the mouth as a crowd surrounded them.
The disgruntled cabbies were protesting for the right to renew their taxi licenses, according to the SCMP.
Under reforms enacted in 2011 in Suifenhe, China, taxi drivers are not allowed to be self-employed, the SCMP reported. Instead, they are now required to join government-appointed operating services or leave the industry in exchange for compensation. It's reportedly common for people with grievances against local governments to appeal to the highest authorities in Beijing, a tradition that dates back to imperial times.
"We arrived by train on Monday but got no response after taking our complaint to both the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, and the Ministry of Transport," one protester reportedly told Chinese news outlet Caixin.
According to the New York Times, Chinese authorities often imprison survivors of protests like the one Friday, or place them in mental hospitals. The SCMP reported that police "took away" several protesters shortly after the demonstration.
Drinking pesticide is apparently a common way to commit suicide in rural areas of China, and it has been used as protest tactic before. Last summer, seven people drank pesticide outside the offices of the China Youth Daily newspaper in Beijing after the local government seized their land.