China Tainted Milk Parents Mourn, Seek Support (Updated)

A year after the scandal over contaminated milk broke in China, parents whose children died are being prevented from gathering, AP reports:

Zhao Lianhai, the father of a sickened child who has rallied other families through a Web site he created, said 11 parents had planned to hold a small commemoration in Beijing on Friday with a dinner, lighting of candles and prayers for the children.

[...] The commemoration also comes amid efforts by Chinese authorities to curb dissent in the lead-up to the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party’s rule. Police have arrested or detained leading dissidents and are harassing lawyers who defend them. The Oct. 1 celebration will be marked by a military parade.

Liu Hai, a father whose two children developed kidney stones after taking tainted milk powder, said he was detained by police Wednesday in Kunshan city of Jiangsu province while waiting for a train. The police told him they had to stop him because he was headed to an “illegal gathering,” Liu said by phone while being taken in a county government car to his hometown of Siyang.

An official at the Kunshan police propaganda department who refused to give his name said he has no information about Liu’s case.

Update: Reuters reports that last-minute permission was given to parents to hold gathering, under police watch:

Plainclothes officers on Friday held watch outside the apartment of a father who has spearheaded a campaign by affected parents for more compensation and research, but did not interrupt the gathering of representatives from 11 families.

Missing were two others from eastern Jiangsu province, who were stopped when they left for Beijing, and told they were attending an illegal gathering, host Zhao Lianhai told Reuters.

But the Beijing police unexpectedly gave a last-minute permit for a small seminar in a nearby hotel, followed by the lighting of candles and time for reflection on sick and absent children.

“We have to remember this day, when news about the milk powder came to light; we cannot let it happen again,” Zhao said in the study which has been the nerve centre of his campaign.

September 10, 2009 3:15 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society