» 02/24/2009, 00.00
Superficial calm follows rioting over lack of aid for Sichuan earthquake victims
More than 1.4 billion yuan have disappeared from the donations for reconstruction. The local authorities are withholding the aid and using it to build a highway. One person died in the riots, and at least 10 more were wounded. Many have been arrested.
Baolin (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 1,000 police officers and paramilitary groups have been keeping order in Baolin for days, at the center of the area hit by the earthquake in Sichuan, where days ago a two-day protest caused the death of one person and the injury of 12 more. The clashes between locals and the police took place because the people, who have been homeless for months, accused the authorities of misusing the aid for earthquake victims.
Baolin is practically at the epicenter of the earthquake last May that razed to the ground an area almost as large as South Korea, killing more than 80,000 people and leaving more than 5 million homeless.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy says the revolt began last February 18, when the 2,000 residents of the village of Yongquan blocked the main road, demanding that the government of the city give them the 2,000 yuan (200 euros) that the central government had promised them. The local authorities were planning to use the money instead to build a highway in the area, and sent the police to disperse the crowd. Three of the demonstrators were arrested, and one of them died in custody, leading to the suspicion that the police had intentionally killed him or had beaten him until he died. The following day, thousands of local residents went to the police station, destroying furniture and windows. The authorities then called in a thousand police officers from the surrounding area, and after a series of riots they quelled the revolt, arresting a number of people. Ten demonstrators were injured, and two of them have been hospitalized.
The rage of the earthquake victims has been increased by the news that the central government has set aside more than 128 billion yuan (12.8 billion euros) for aid to the population. But according to official information, at least 1.4 billion (140 million euros) has disappeared in the hands of the authorities and bureaucrats. 162 of these are under investigation.
Children killed by Party corruption, more than by the earthquake
Local officials embezzled more than 85% of the funds destined for school construction. Construction companies, forced to work for much less money than expected, "saved" on materials. The results of an initial investigation.
Sichuan earthquake: government prohibits investigations into collapsed schools
On May 12, 2008, about 10,000 students died in the schools, which collapsed like "tofu puddings," while the surrounding buildings remained standing. The government is telling parents asking for justice that there will be no investigations. The bitter resignation of those who have lost their only child.
Beijing says earthquake will make Chinese economy grow
Government experts maintain that the work of reconstruction will have positive effects on the economy. Meanwhile, Beijing is arresting anti-corruption activists, is not responding to the parents of students who died beneath the schools, and is lodging accusations against donor companies. The "strange" management of the post-earthquake situation.
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A member of the Politburo says that social problems and injustices must be resolved, to prevent protests. But police presence will be increased in rural areas. Meanwhile, in Gansu, the governor reassures demonstrators that he will hear their requests, but the police are arresting them.
Sichuan earthquake, an official source admits possibility schools were badly built
A high ranking official speaks of the possibility of defects in school buildings. Meanwhile Chinese authorities report 5.335 students killed in collapse of schools, but experts say the toll is far higher. Ahead of the anniversary, police threaten foreign press for seeking to speak to parents of dead students.
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