07/09/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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School collapse in Sichuan, victims’ parents want to submit a petition in Beijing

In Beichuan where a thousand kids died parents are gathering signatures to take to the capital, but waiting for after the Olympic Games. Two months after the quake parents and journalists are still not allowed to see the collapsed schools.
Beichuan (AsiaNews) – Beichuan parents who lost their children in the Sichuan quake want to travel to Beijing to petition top leaders for justice.

According to them the Beichuan middle school, and almost all the schools of the area, collapsed in just a few seconds because of shoddy construction, namely not enough reinforced concrete and disregard for anti-quake regulations.

For the parents the shortcomings are due to the corruption of local party secretaries and village chiefs who pocketed funds earmarked for school construction at the cost of safety.

About a thousand students died under the rubbles of the Beichuan School. At least seven thousands young people and children died under collapsed buildings across the region

Parents decided to gather signatures and bring them to Beijing, but have now decided to postpone submitting their petition until after the Olympic Games.

“Even if we go now, they (the leaders) won’t have time to listen to us since they are caught up with the Games,” a Beichuan resident told the South China Morning Post.

Almost two months after the quake the collapsed schools are still cordoned off by security forces who are keeping parents and journalists away from the site.

At the same time the issue of ‘tofu schools’ has disappeared from the newspapers. For Beichuan parents, going to Beijing is a means of last resort to get justice.

According to official figures, corrupt public officials took 85 per cent of the funds set aside for school construction in Sichuan, thus laying the ground for the earthquake tragedy.

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