Many families without main breadwinner

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 March, 2006, 12:00am

Many families in Dongzhou village have been financially ruined by the civil unrest and resulting police crackdown because the dead, detained, missing and injured were all young men and the breadwinners of their families.

The 40-year-old wife of Lin Hanru, one of the three village representatives arrested and charged with 'instigating villagers to join a demonstration and disturbing social stability', said she was worried about his safety in custody.

'I don't even know whether he is alive because local officials do not allow visits,' she said, adding that the pressure of surviving financially was making her anxious.

'I have lost economic support since my husband's arrest. I can't work because I have to look after our four children, aged from seven to 14,' she said, holding their 14-year-old mentally and physically disabled daughter.

She said village committee officials had never given her daughter a single fen in disability support. 'That's why we have to beg on the street,' she said.

A relative of Huang Xijun , another detainee, said he and his wife both went missing on the day of the shootings.

'However, only Huang Xijun has been confirmed as being detained. His wife hasn't and we don't know whether she is alive,' she said, adding that the couple had left behind four children, aged between six and 10. 'The children are now relying on their grandmother, who is 70-something. Life is very hard for them.'

Villagers who suffered bullet wounds have been frightened into silence by local officials despite facing financial difficulties. 'My husband doesn't dare say anything after he was forced out of hospital,' said the wife of a man shot in a lung.

She said her husband had become downcast since his injury because of his inability to work. 'Officials warned him that as he had only been released on bail they would put him in jail if he joined more protests or said anything to reporters.'