HomeAsiaOn Sichuan Earthquake Anniversary, Grieving Parents Criticized Optimistic Propaganda

On Sichuan Earthquake Anniversary, Grieving Parents Criticized Optimistic Propaganda

China’s ruling Communist Party newspaper marked the 15th anniversary of a devastating earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan with a commemorative video on Friday, drawing criticism from grieving parents who say the causes of the school’s collapse never have been investigated as promised.

The propaganda video focused on improvements in the lives of survivors over the past decade and a half, while the Global Times reported improvements in “disaster prevention” on Friday in a bid to put a positive spin on 15 2nd anniversary of the devastating Sichuan earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people, more than 5,000 of them children.

“It’s because so many people refused to give up, that we had so much motivation and energy (to rebuild our lives),” says the voiceover, accompanied by inspiring accounts of amputees who have succeeded in their lives despite losing limbs. . in the rubble

“Many people still see a new beginning in life, like sunbeams shining through the cracks or seeds sprouting again,” he says.

But parents whose children died due to poor construction in school buildings said they are still silenced, detained and harassed if they continue to call for a promised investigation into the deaths of 5,000 children, which their families largely attribute to rampant official corruption.

I forgot the dead

sang junwhose son died at Fuxin No. 2 Primary School in Sichuan’s Mianzhu City, said the government has treated the living well, but seems to have forgotten the dead.

“They have forgotten about the victims and have not yet investigated (why it happened),” he said. “There is nowhere we are allowed to mourn them now, we are not allowed to go to the scene (of the collapsed buildings).”

Primary school students take part in an earthquake drill ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, inside a classroom in Handan, Hebei province, on May 11, 2018. Credit: Reuters

Many are still asking for a response from the government through official complaints channels, but are still harassed and detained when they do, according to Zhou Xingrong, a grieving father from Sichan’s dujiangyan city ​​that has filed more than 100 complaints with the central government of Beijing for the loss of his son.

“When we arrived in Beijing… a group of four or five burly men with Beijing and Hebei accents grabbed us and forced us into a vehicle, took our backpacks… our mobile phones and ID cards,” he said. Zhou about a recent incident. petition trip in february. “They wouldn’t let me speak and they threatened to cover my mouth.”

“Then some people from Juyuan Township of Dujiangyan came and took us on the bus directly to Shijiazhuang and then bought tickets for the high-speed train back to Dujiangyan,” he said. “When I returned, there was no explanation, my personal freedom was restricted and I was not allowed to leave the house.”

“Tofu Buildings”

The authorities’ treatment of the victims had been unfair, he said.

“They promised to prosecute those responsible back then, but nothing has been done in 15 years,” Zhou said. “No one is being held accountable for the tofu buildings”, a reference to buildings that are believed to have been constructed of shoddy quality and leftover materials, similar to leftovers from the tofu-making process.

“They acted illegally and they will not answer for the damage they did to me and my family,” he said. “The last 15 years have been very difficult.”

Zhou Xingrong poses for a photo during his visit to Beijing to present a petition in February 2023. “When we arrived in Beijing… a group of four or five burly men with Beijing and Hebei accents grabbed us and forced us onto a a vehicle. , took our backpacks… our mobile phones and ID cards, “They wouldn’t let me speak and threatened to cover my mouth,” Zhou said Credit: Provided by Zhou Xingrong

Sang Jun agreed.

“Back then, (then-premier) Wen Jiabao said he would investigate the illegal construction methods and told us to go home and wait for news,” Sang said.

“Fifteen years and three prime ministers later… none of them have even mentioned the Sichuan earthquake, none of them all this time.”

“I have also been to Beijing (to complain), but they tell us to deal with it in our local area, so now we have to give up, because trying to defend your rights is too difficult,” Sang said.

fear of reaction

He said he has given up in part to avoid any backlash against his second child, born after the disaster.

“My other son is very good at reading, and it will affect his ability to find a job in the future if I oppose (the government),” he said. “They always settle scores, up to three generations later.”

“I would like to defend my rights, but I am afraid of violent reactions.”

Grave of Sang Jun’s son, Sang Xingpeng, who died in the 2008 earthquake in Mianzhu, Sichuan province. Sang Jun said that the government has treated the living well, but he seems to have forgotten about the dead. Credit: undated photo provided by Sang Jun

Lu Biyu said it is particularly difficult for bereaved families to achieve closure because the government places restrictions on public mourning for their lost children.

“The police and the government post guards at the (disaster) scene every year, and they don’t want to let us go there (to make offerings to the dead),” Lu said.

“I would feel better if I could sit with my baby for an hour or two in that place, especially after so many years of unsuccessful petitions,” she said.

“The day of the earthquake was the most painful of my life. It’s all still there, in my mind,” Lu said. “It’s like it happened yesterday, that feeling of stiffness when I hugged his body.”

“I kept thinking, why couldn’t it have been me? He died before he experienced anything, so I can’t let him go,” he said, adding that only the classroom block collapsed in his home Juyuan district, leaving all the private houses around foot.

“If it hadn’t been a tofu building, then all those children wouldn’t have died unfairly,” Lu said.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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