Parents of missing children held after staging protest in Shenzhen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2010, 12:00am

A group of parents who have staged protests in seven provinces as they search for their kidnapped children were detained by Dongguan police on Monday night.

Shaanxi father Wu Xinghu, 31, said he and eight other parents were taken away by police from their hostel a few hours after they staged a protest in Shenzhen.

He said police questioned them overnight and told them to stop further rallies because they could spark social unrest.

The desperate parents have posted photographs and descriptions of more than 2,700 missing children on their van and have driven around the country seeking to rescue abducted children and urging the authorities to solve cases more quickly.

After demonstrations in Shaanxi, Henan, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan and Fujian since last month, they staged a sit-in protest in Shenzhen's Longgang district with 30 other parents on Monday.

Wu, whose 13-month-old son was taken from his home in December 2008, said the protest lasted only 30 minutes before all the parents were arrested for blocking traffic.

Protesters said police also tried to seize their banners and ordered them to delete all photographs and videos taken during the demonstration.

One protester said her four-year-old son was abducted in Shenzhen in 2008, but police did not announce most kidnapping cases at the time.

A government official, who works closely with the police, said 23 children were kidnapped in Shenzhen last year and three were killed.

Protest organiser Cheng Zhu, 36, said he had travelled across the country since his daughter, then aged six, was abducted in 2005. He bought the van and organised the campaign with donations from parents whose children had been kidnapped.

Hebei mother Wang Meizhi has been searching since her two sons, aged five and six, were abducted in 1995. 'My sons were abducted when I was working on the farmland. I've gone to most parts of the country, including Inner Mongolia, in the past 15 years ... but have no clue about their whereabouts,' she said.

Thousands of children go missing each year on the mainland.

Many families desperate for sons under the country's one-child policy try to buy abducted boys. Girls are sold to rural families as brides because of the shortage of women because of parents' preference for boys.

Official statistics say about 10,000 children are kidnapped every year. However, state media estimate that up to 70,000 children went missing each year.