HONG KONG—A parent whose son is suffering from a disease linked to chemical-tainted milk powder, a product of corrupt business practices in the mainland, recently renounced his former membership in the Chinese Young Pioneers (CYP), a Chinese Communist Party organization that requires members vow to love and fight for communism.
Although his membership had officially expired when he turned 15, he made the gesture as a symbolic protest against what he sees as the Chinese authorities’ disregard for human life. He felt this callousness was shown clearly in the melamine-tainted milk powder scandal of 2008, when Party cadres, once they got wind that milk powder across the country was tainted with a dangerous chemical, acted to cover it up for a smooth running of the Olympics, rather than face the embarrassment of public opinion. The scandal came to light only after Fonterra, the New Zealand company whose brand was implicated, went public.
Zhou Xiong, the man who quit the Youth League, has a three-year-old son who now has a necrotic kidney because of the tainted milk; his other kidney was also in danger, but was saved after surgery. To date, Zhou has not received compensation. “It is not fair that my child is born in such a country, where he has no rights and dignity. I renounce [the Youth League],” Zhou said in an interview.
Though Zhou is now saddled with debt for the medical bills for his child, he fared better than outspoken victim of the tainted milk scandal, Zhao Lianhai, who now languishes in jail.
When Zhao found his baby was suffering from kidney stones from ingesting melamine-tainted milk, he began organizing a group called the “Kidney Stone Babies.” It is was an informal rights group that sought to fight for compensation for babies whose health had been damaged by the tainted milk, and for their right to receive medical examination free of charge.
Fearful that public opinion would turn too much against the Party and its dictatorial rule, authorities arrested and jailed Zhao. He has been detained for over a year now, and is awaiting sentencing.
Zhao’s lawyer Li Fangping attempted to follow up on the case on Nov. 11, with the Daxing Court in Beijing. The presiding judge refused to give a definite answer, only saying “soon,” according to Li. “A person who is not found guilty and is detained for no legal reason for a prolonged period time is a violation of his freedom and rights,” Li said.
Zhou believes that the authorities detain Zhao because they “fear that once he is released, he may lead us to continue protesting for our rights.”
Victims Not Compensated
Peng Jian, a lawyer who represents parents whose children’s health have been damaged from tainted milk, said that since the Sanlu group went bankrupt, there has not been one case of a victimized family successfully receiving compensation. Sanlu was the company responsible for producing the powder.
Peng is handling over 200 cases now, and recently received a letter from China Consumers’ Association declining his application for compensation for them. The reason given was that he did not apply within six months of the incident. “According to the Consumer Protection Law, there is no statute of limitation,” he said.
The tainted milk scandal was exposed to the Chinese public on Sept. 11, 2008. According to Chinese state-run media, at least six children died and 300-thousand children suffered from kidney stones. Sanlu declared bankruptcy in Nov. 2009, leaving the victims hanging. That same month, the police arrested Zhao for disturbing public safety. Li Changjiang, former director of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, stepped down over the incident. A year later, he became the deputy director of the Committee of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan Overseas Chinese and Foreign Affairs.
Read the original Chinese Article.