Outcry after children filmed throwing stones that symbolise victims at Nanking massacre memorial

Parents of children widely criticised online after video showed the youngsters hurling small stones meant to symbolise those killed in the wartime atrocity 

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 5:24pm

A video of children throwing stones at the memorial to the Nanking massacre while their parents stand by has sparked a fierce debate in China.

The footage shows several children throwing the pebbles outside the memorial hall, built to commemorate more 300,000 civilians the Chinese authorities say were killed after Japanese troops captured the city, now known as Nanjing, during the Second Sino-Japanese war in 1937. 

The small stones surrounding the hall are said to symbolise the bones of those killed.

The video was uploaded on to social media in China last Friday and, as of Wednesday, had been viewed over three million times.

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Many internet users strongly criticised the parents of the children. 

“This is a country’s grief and despair,” one person commented. “Please don’t be joyful when you come here. You bring offence and shame.” 

The man who uploaded the video told the news website Thepaper.cn he had a heavy heart after seeing the children’s behaviour.

“Even if the children don’t understand, don’t their parents? The Nanjing massacre is something that everyone should know about and this is inappropriate,” said the man, whose full name was not given.

Some people commenting, however, were more sympathetic, saying the youngsters were just children.

But a member of staff at the memorial told the news website they were very concerned about the incident.

“We’ve arranged for security and volunteers to carry out inspections and if they discover anything uncivilised happening they will discourage it,” the official was quoted as saying.

The memorial hall for the Nanjing massacre was built in 1985 near the site of a mass burial ground in the southwest of the city.

The killings in Nanjing took place between December 1937 and January 1938 after Japanese forces took the city.

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Japanese military records about the killings were kept secret or destroyed, but Chinese official estimates state that more than 300,000 civilians were murdered, based on the findings of the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. 

Some Japanese estimate put the numbers killed at more than 200,000.

The Rape of Nanking, and accusations by China that Japan has yet to fully atone for wartime atrocities committed by Japanese imperial troops, are still a source of friction between the two countries.