CHINA—Earthquake parents from Beichuan delivered a petition letter to the Sichuan provincial appeals department on July 2, to request an answer as to who should be held for responsible for the "Tofu construction" that buried their children alive, however the answer from the regime chilled their hearts.
The letter, cosigned by around 800 parents, whose children were students of the Beichuan First Primary School, was addressed to the Provincial Appeals Office and Department of Education. The school, situated in a small valley north of Beichuan County township, originally had a population of over 2,900. But its two five-story school buildings collapsed in the earthquake on May 12, claiming the lives of over 1,300 students and 40 teachers.
Ms. Jiang, one of the parents, said, "Yesterday representatives of parents went to the Appeals Office and Department of Education to deliver a petition and a DVD. Yet the officials replied by evading any responsibility, claiming that the State Council has issued an order to not investigate the construction quality issue, and that the damage was caused by too strong an earthquake."
The regime's mouthpiece also published a report on June 25, saying that Chengdu City Social Science Academy invited over twenty experts to a seminar to discuss causes for the collapsed buildings and the identification of the corresponding responsibilities, and so on. Experts thought that the strong destructive power of the earthquake was responsible for the collapsed buildings, and that people should not just simply blame it on the construction quality.
'Tofu' Construction Quality
Mr. Han, another parent who has several years of experience in the construction business, said, "This is totally due to the problematic construction quality. Those buildings are definitely "Tofu construction." We have all gone to check and collect evidences. After the buildings collapsed, the steel reinforcing bars were exposed. We could tell from the color of the concrete and the different sizes of the reinforcing bars that they were all substandard materials. It is totally because of the quality problems."
Ms. Jiang said, "We parents all agreed that it was because of construction negligence. We have collected samples and made a DVD. We have the evidence."
New Schools Collapsed—Dangerous Schools Remained Standing
The petition pointed out that the quality of the Beichuan Primary School buildings was responsible for the death of so many students. The collapsed buildings, that were considered to be "good quality" construction, were finished for only a short period of time, whereas the so-called old, dangerous buildings remained standing. The surrounding homes did not suffer great damage. Therefore this is indeed questionable and raises reasonable doubt.
The petition letter stated that when we held a memorial, the Beichuan authorities said that we were Falun Gong practitioners, that we were against the government, and that we attempted to overthrow the government and communist party officials. People were arrested and a memorial plaque for our dead children was smashed. The authorities just refused to give us an official reply and refused to solve our problems. It's like they purposefully hurt our feelings by sprinkling salt on our wounded hearts.
Ms. Jiang said, "The local government wants to suppress us and prevents us from going to Beijing to appeal. They put labels on us and accused us of being reactionaries, spreading rumors, causing trouble, and joining some kind of organizations."
The parents said that the authorities waited three days after the earthquake before they dispatched the army to initiate the rescue effort. At first people used primitive tools to rescue students on their own. Consequently, many students who were alive died eventually because of the delayed rescue effort.
They said, "We hope the government can give us a reasonable explanation and a clear statement in response to our questions. We have pleaded to the government many times, yet the Beichuan authorities have been evading our pleas and delaying it without offering any solution."
Mr. Han commented on the Mianyang City government that is in charge of Beichuan County, "Mianyang Municipal Party Committee Secretary chills citizens' hearts. Ask anyone on the street, everyone is disappointed. Rescue efforts in Beichuan were slow and delayed, and that was a mentality to kill the children. He was a corrupt official before anyway."
The parents indicated that if the government keeps delaying a reasonable answer, they will be forced to take other measures to let their requests be heard. They have lost everything to the earthquake. They asked for the sake of fairness and justice to please reply to their appeal as soon as possible so that other children will not have to suffer like this in the future.