Parents of Quake Student Victims Could Not Care Less About Regime's Consolation Money

By Shen Hua, Radio Free Asia
June 13, 2008 Updated: June 13, 2008

Some parents of quake student victims have received letters of condolence and consolation money from Chinese authorities. Consolation money of 32,000 yuan (approx US$4,633) will be paid in installments. A relative of a student victim told a reporter that many parents who lost their children did not take this payment, because they could not care less about the money. They hope to hold the Chinese regime accountable through legal channels.

In the massive earthquake on May 12, about 7,000 schools collapsed, and about 9,000 students died. Mr. Zheng, who lives in Dujiangyan City, lost his young female cousin at the local Xinjian Primary School. He said that he had heard about the consolation money:

“It is a matter of how much is compensated, some have more, some less, and some areas no money. Some disclosed that it is 12,000 yuan [approx. US$1737].”

Reporter: “Did he say this is the first installment of payment?”

Mr. Zheng: “Yes, the first one.”

Reporter: “How much will be paid in total?”

Mr. Zheng: “32,000 yuan [approx. US$4,633].”

Reporter: “32,000, is it the same for all families?”

Mr. Zheng: “Yes, all the same.”

When I asked Mr. Zheng how the relatives of student victims react to the regime's actions, Mr. Zheng said that many parents could not care less about this money and would continue the lawsuit.

“About money, I understand people do not need it badly. But because their children are dead, they do not care about money any more. Now they just want to sue the school, the Department of Education and the contractors. Only very few people got the consolation money at present, the large majority…”

Reporter: “Only very few people received it?”

Mr. Zheng: “Yes.”

Reporter: “Why have others not received it?”

Mr. Zheng: “Not sure.”

Reporter: “When you say they could not care less, is it because people are rich or what?”

Mr. Zheng: “Rich.”

Reporter: “But why not get the money given by the government?”

Mr. Zheng: “Getting the money for what? Can a small amount feed you? Can a small amount bribe you?”

Reporter: “They meant that, it is not that they do not care about the money, but the lives of their children are far more precious than money, right?”

Mr. Zheng: “Right, right.”

Mr. Zheng mentioned that on June 2, some parents of student victims and several Japanese reporters went to appeal in court, but the Japanese reporters were expelled, and the parents were “interviewed” by the police. These parents had been released, he added.

The four-storey building of the Dujiangyan Xinjian Primary School collapsed in the earthquake, killing over 240 teachers and students. According to the official figures, over 200 teachers and students also died at the Juyuan Middle School in the city, but parents say the death toll could be as high as 500.

Shi Zhenghong, resident of Shifang City, another heavily hit area in the quake, lost his only child, 9-year-old daughter Shi Yue. Shi Yue was buried under the collapsed premises of the Bayi Elementary School. Shi Zhenghong said that they had received student life insurance from the insurance company and consolation money from the government.

“How much consolation money did you receive?”

Shi Zhenghong: “A total of over 39,000 yuan [US$5649.22], insurance and consolation money combined.”

Reporter: “What insurance?”

Shi Zhenghong: “Student insurance of 20,000 [approx. US$2896] and several thousands for having only one child, plus consolation money of 5,000 [approx. US$724]. The government gave a subsidiary of 1,000 [approx US$145], for a total of just this much.”

Shi said that they do not know how much consolation money the communist authorities will give in the end, and nobody told them whether the regime would give more consolation money in addition to the 5,000 yuan they have received. Shi feels that this amount is too small.

Now the regime seems to have begun tightening its control over the protest activities held by the victims' relatives. Mr. Zheng from Dujiangyan said that the ruins of the Juyuan Middle School and the Xinjian Primary School had all been blocked by the army, and that parents and reporters cannot get in.

It has been reported that the Chengdu City Department of Family Planning stipulated that the parents of only-child victims will each receive a pension of 100 yuan ($14.48) per month.