08/13/2009, 00.00
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Tan Zuoren tried: he sought the truth about the death of thousands of schoolchildren

Tan, human rights activist, for months had investigated the collapse of schools in the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008. Arrested in March, yesterday was tried behind closed doors for "incitement to subversion". Entry forbidden to hundreds of activists.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The closed-door trial took less than two hours the before the court in Chengdu (Sichuan) against activist Tan Zuoren for "incitement to subversion against state power." The Chinese Human Rights Defenders and rights activists complain that he only sought the truth about the deaths children in the earthquake in Sichuan in May 2008.

Around 500 human rights activists and parents of dead children asked to attend the trial, but a hundred police officers were deployed at the court and prevented them from entering, even Tan’s  brother. His wife, daughter and friend were only allowed entry. Other activists, including the renowned architect Ai Weiwei, were forcibly detained and mistreated at their residences and were not able to even go to court.

The process began at 10 am and was concluded shortly after noon, but the court has not yet announced the decision.

In the Sichuan earthquake thousands of schoolchildren died in the collapse of schools. The parents complain that schools came down like "tofu puddings”, while the surrounding buildings withstood. The government replied that the only cause of the collapse was the violence of the earthquake and have refused any other explanation or investigation.

Tan has written articles critical of the government and investigated the quality of school buildings. On March 28 the police arrested him. Among other things, he is accused of having spoken with foreign journalists, about the earthquake, and of having made comments detrimental to the image of the Communist Party and the government. He is also accused of having collaborated with "foreign hostile forces" that organized events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989.

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