Quake parents still seek justice over shoddy school buildings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 April, 2010, 12:00am

The parents of children who died when schools collapsed in the earthquake that struck Sichuan two years ago have visited Beijing in an attempt to seek justice.

Four parents of children who attended the Fuxin No2 Primary School in Mianyang , where 127 children were killed on May 12, 2008, visited the disciplinary commission of the Communist Party Central Committee yesterday to demand an investigation into whether shoddily built school buildings were to blame for the deaths of their children.

Eight parents were earlier intercepted by officials and taken home. The four who made it to Beijing hid before going to Chengdu's railway station at the last minute.

One of the petitioners, Liang Dairong, said they were told the disciplinary body could not intervene in their dispute with the Mianyang government and they should file their complaint at the central government's petition office. He lost his 11-year-old daughter in the quake and said he believed that the local education authorities, which had allowed the construction of substandard school facilities, should be held responsible for her death.

'We need an explanation on why so many old buildings, including a hundred-year-old one across the street, stood intact while the much more recently built school building collapsed,' he said.

'We have a recording of a teacher admitting the buildings were dangerous even before the quake. We think that the Mianyang educational committee and Fuxin township government should be held responsible.'

Previous efforts by the parents to seek justice have been unsuccessful.

For the past two years, frustrated school parents across Sichuan have been trying to have their questions answered by grass-roots and provincial authorities, but all in vain. They have also visited Beijing before, in the hope that they may secure an order from higher-level authorities that might change the situation.

Liang said they planned to visit the petition office today, even though it might still lead to nothing. 'We have to come to Beijing once a year, even just to give pressure,' he said. 'We don't have other options.'

Deadly quake

The number of schoolchildren from the Fuxin No2 Primary School who were killed in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008: 127