Parents of China Milk Scandal Victims Detained

As Sanlu dairy company executives face trial over the contaminated milk scandal which killed six and sickened thousands of children, parents called for further research into the effects of the chemical melamine, which was found to have been added to the milk. Authorities tried to block a press conference by the parents, and put some in detention. From Reuters:

One of the fathers, whose 13-month-old son suffers from severe kidney stones, said some parents, including himself, were taken to a labour camp on the outskirts of Beijing.

“We are under house arrest now, and they did not give us any reasons why they kept us here,” the father told Reuters by phone.

Five parents had been detained, but the rest of the group held a news conference on Friday, calling attention to the plight of the children. A website created by anti-Sanlu protesters was blocked on Friday. It was not immediately clear why.

AFP reports on the press conference:

“We are not asking for money, as all the money in the world cannot buy my child’s health,” a tearful Jiang said, adding she was just scared of what consequences the chemical was going to have on her daughter 10 years on.

Zhang Li, 26, a mother from the poor southeastern province of Fujian also at the briefing, said her daughter, who was just over one year old, had been hospitalised for a long time.

“My daughter fell ill in June and she was in hospital until August, and she still has kidney stones,” said Zhang.

The parents’ plea came as the official Xinhua news agency reported compensation work for the victims was now underway after the 22 companies had paid money into a fund.

Over the New Year, Sanlu sent out a text message to customers apologizing for the contamination. From BBC:

“We sincerely apologise…and we beg your forgiveness,” read the note from 22 dairy firms, led by the now-bankrupt Sanlu, China’s state news agency said.

[…] “We are deeply sorry for the harm caused to the children and the society,” the text message said. “We sincerely apologise for that and we beg your forgiveness.”

It said a compensation fund had been established for the victims, including the families of thousands of babies still suffering from urinary problems such as kidney stones.

January 2, 2009 10:40 AM
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Categories: Law, Society