Several Chinese students are protesting the arrest of their group’s leader, who was reportedly detained Friday in an apparent crackdown on a Marxist society.

Qiu Zhanxuan, the leader of the Peking University Marxist Society, was arrested Wednesday for celebrating the 125th birthday of China's former Communist leader Mao Zedong.

Qiu refused to answer questions from officers in plain clothes and was subsequently put into a car and questioned for 24 hours before he was released, fellow students told Reuters.


One witness told AFP the group leader was “screaming and resisting arrest.”

“I heard him say ‘I am Qiu Zhanxuan…I did not break the law. Why are you taking me away? What are you doing?’” the witness said.

Police penalized Qiu and he “did not have the qualifications” to continue as the leader of the group, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the university’s extracurricular activities guidance office.

Qiu reportedly said the university’s decision to oust him as the head was an attempt to “scatter” the group after weeks of harassment by police.

Authorities reportedly accused Qiu of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”

A small group of students staged a protest Friday against the decision to remove Qiu from the leadership post. The students were detained by police, according to Reuters.