Earthquake Parents Beaten and Arrested for Pleading for Investigation

By Din Xiao, Radio Free Asia (RFA)
June 26, 2008 Updated: June 26, 2008

Parents of deceased students from XinJian Elementary in Dujiangyan gathered again last Saturday to demand an answer about the collapsed school buildings that caused severe casualties during the Sichuan earthquake, but they were beaten by the police and at least three of them were arrested.

The collapsed buildings claimed the lives of over 300 students and teachers. Around 200 victims' parents protested in front of the local court on Saturday. The local authorities mobilized large numbers of special police. The police pushed and attacked the parents, and several parents were injured. According to a witness, Mrs. Xiao, one parent was sent to hospital and at least three parents were arrested.

“Yesterday, there were around 200 parents at the Court. For some reason, the special police arrived, many of them. They attacked one parent, and then made her fall on the ground by pulling her hair. Her husband went to help her up. Other parents also went over to help. The special police forced the parents into the police car. A man was injured and sent to the hospital. There were three or four parents arrested right away.”

The parents are discontented that the local regime leader has refused to meet with them. Mrs Xiao indicated, “The Government has refused to see us,” instead passing the bucket to the Municipal Party Committee of the Petition Department.

Meanwhile, another parent, Mr. He, also indicated some parents seemed to be arrested during the petition for the investigation of the collapsed buildings.

Sunday the RFA reporter called Dujiangyan Public Security Headquarter to identify whether or not the arrested parents have been released. No one answered the phone.

According to an official at the Dujiangyan Earthquake Relief Press Room, there is no report about the arrest. She denied any information blockade towards the issues of school building quality, but saying they were waiting for central official's decision on the solution.

Another local school, the JunYuan Middle School, where nearly 300 students are buried, has been listed as one of the restricted areas under the surveillance of the police. The provincial government has stationed police officers at the school. The police forcibly stopped the memorial activity held by the parents at the school on the day one month after the earthquake, and arrested three parents during three days. After that, the parents' petition activity was suspended.

According to a parent, Mrs. Dong, “No one is allowed to go near the school. There are many police. No one would go there now. Didn't they arrest three parents last time? They were released three days later. No one would dare to go there now.”

Earlier, the court also rejected the civil action initiated by the victims' parents at JunYuan Middle School regarding the collapsed school buildings. No lawyer would dare to provide legal support. Some parents believe the suppression is related to the pro-stable policy during the Olympic Games. Mrs. Dong mentioned that if the problem could not get resolved, the parents would not rule out a petition to Beijing after the Olympics.

She said, “Now we know any activity during the Olympics is not going to work, but only leads to arrest. It doesn't mean we won't fight for it. We will, after the Olympics. Some parents claim that if the lawsuit is not granted, we will walk to Beijing to complain.”