12/29/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Activist for children affected by melamine toxic milk released, but "self-confessed"

In his blog, he thanks the authorities for the criminal penalty and asks not to be disturbed. He had promised to appeal at the sentencing last November, but later fired his lawyer and refused the appeal. Human rights groups suspected a confession extracted in exchange for his release.

Beijing (AsiaNews / CHRD) - Zhao Lianhai, a father who fought for the victims of the scandal of melamine-tainted milk, seems to have been released and does not want to see anyone or speak anymore of the past scandals. He stated as much in his blog, but his friends claim it is a forced confession. The declaration of Zhao Lianhai appeared on the site he set up, "Children with kidney stones."

Zhao shot to notoriety in China after his son became one of the 300 thousand infants to suffer kidney stones because they were fed with melamine-tainted milk. The substance was added to powdered milk to make it appear richer in protein. The poisoning resulted in the deaths of at least six children. From 2008 onwards Zhao set up an opinion group and a blog to claim compensation for damages. Last November he was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for "disturbing public order".

At the time he strongly criticized the ruling and said it would be appealed. Instead, in the declaration posted last night he acknowledged “the criminal penalty given to me by judicial authorities and hope other people won't talk much more about this issue." And again: " I support, acknowledge and thank the government, and express deep regret for my previous extreme opinions towards the government."

"I hope - he adds - my incident can quieten down as soon as possible. This will benefit the country and society, as well as my family. "

Zhao’s lawyer, Li Fangping, said he had no news about him: the mobile phone of Zhao and his wife are off, the courts and police will not respond to questions. Activists believe that the confession was coerced from Zhao in exchange for his likely release. Some time ago, Li Fangping also received a message from Zhao that removed him from the post of his defense or proceed with the appeal.

In his Christmas message, Mgr. John Tong, the bishop of Hong Kong, had demanded the release of Zhao Lianhai, for "revealing the truth about the poisoned milk" and described him as a "shining star", similar to the comet that guides the Magi to the stable of Bethlehem.

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