Chinese homeless shelter ties mentally ill boy to tree to 'stop him running around'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 December, 2014, 2:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 December, 2014, 3:42pm

A homeless shelter in China triggered an internet storm after damning photos showed children being tied to a tree in its backyard and other charges forced to sleep in filth, according to reports.

The government-sponsored facility in Gushi county, Henan province, is tasked to provide a refuge to the homeless. It houses 20 people, including two children, who are entitled to a subsidy of 800 yuan (HK$1,012) a month for their care - funds which are handled by the shelter.

But volunteers who visited the site two weeks ago, and who took the photos and shared them online, were confronted by grim scenes, according to the Southern Metropolis News.

Two children had been tethered to a tree with the rope wound tightly around their waists.

Pictures showed the children crouched or resting listlessly on the ground. Another photo showed a child apparently kneeling and eating, his discarded food wrappers littered around his knees.

One tied-up child was snapped seemingly smiling while walking as far as the rope would allow.

According to the volunteers, staff members at the shelter said one of the children was mentally disabled, and they were concerned he would “run around”.

A staff member also explained to the Southern Metropolis News that although the children were tied to a tree, they could still “move around”.

The staff member said the centre was new and its management inexperienced.

Inside, a shelter resident was pictured sleeping on the dirt floor, covered in a filthy blanket, with the person’s thin legs sticking out.

The shelter’s beds and blankets were worn out, according to the volunteers.

The centre is administrated by the county’s civil affairs bureau.

Mainland social media users reacted with anger and disbelief. “No wonder people won’t go to the shelter,” a user on Weibo said.

“Our country has become a moderately rich one in the world. This kind of news shouldn’t be happening,” another microblogger said. “I guarantee, I don’t believe [it].”