China Detains Man Compiling List of Quake Victims

tanzuorenEarthquake activist Tang Zuoren has been detained on allegations of subversion of state power. From Reuters:

Police in southwestern China have detained a writer who was trying to compile a list of children killed in schools that collapsed during a devastating earthquake last year, an activist group said.

In town after town in Sichuan province, schools collapsed during the May 12, 2008 earthquake, in some cases as residential buildings around them stayed standing. Over 80,000 people were killed in the earthquake, but the government has never released the number of children who died.

Tan Zuoren wrote a proposal this year, called “5.12 Student Archive”, to ask web users and people who lost their children in the quake to help set up a detailed database of the victims.

He asked volunteers in the project to also compile any evidence of shoddy construction at the schools.

David Bandurski of China Media Project has translated an e-mail written by a prominent filmmaker who is familiar with Tan Zuoren’s case.

Tan Zuoren is a good friend of mine. He is a very reasonable and good person. Signed, ****


On March 28, Chengdu-based environmentalist, writer and former editor of Literati magazine (文化人) magazine Tan Zuoren (谭作人) was taken into custody under charges of “inciting subversion of state power” (涉嫌颠覆国家政权). [NOTE: This is the same charge that was leveled against Hu Jia (胡佳) in January 2008]. Prior to this Mr. Tan was working on an investigation into the death of children in shoddy school buildings during the Sichuan Earthquake, and was verifying a list of students who died. On the morning of the 28th, police barged into his home and took away all computer disks, handwritten notes and other materials. Only his children were home at the time, as the police proceeded to photograph the scene.

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