Media call for event to mark earthquake

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 April, 2009, 12:00am

More than a dozen media outlets are urging mainlanders to join them in observing one minute of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake.

The Chengdu Evening News in Sichuan initiated the appeal, and more than a dozen other mainland newspapers are now asking people to take part in the public mourning service on the afternoon of May 12.

The appeal came as the authorities remained tight-lipped over the official commemoration. Although the central government has designated a three-day mourning period to allow for the enormous outpouring of grief on the mainland, the specifics have not been announced. In March this year, the central government also designated May 12 as National Disaster Prevention Day.

Many parents who lost children in the disaster remain angry over what they said was the shoddy construction of school buildings. A disproportionate number of the 88,000 victims were schoolchildren.

Xiong Dezhuan, of the Chengdu Evening News, said the appeal was a natural part of its coverage. 'We believe it is something media outlets like us can easily touch upon.'

Wang Jianping, a law professor at Sichuan University, said a public display of mourning, either in the form of sirens or a minute's silence, would help survivors heal.

'This also demonstrates that the government really cares about the well-being of its people,' Professor Wang said.

Professor Wang wrote to the National People's Congress, the mainland's legislature, in December proposing a national disaster commemoration day. He said a public commemoration day allowed people to mourn the dead and that it gave an opportunity for fund-raising for affected communities.

Xiong said the newspaper had planned a ceremony in Sichuan but locals wanted to do more. One caller to the paper suggested observing a silence of five minutes and 12 seconds instead of one minute to symbolise the day the quake struck. Another caller told the paper that all forms of entertainment should be cancelled on May 12, as was done during the three-day mourning period last year.

Earlier in the month, over the Ching Ming holiday, the government organised a 10,000-strong memorial ceremony at the quake's epicentre, Yingxiu county, but authorities kept a tight grip on parents of dead children.