Reuters[Wednesday, April 15, 2009 13:22]
BEIJING, April 15 – A Chinese state newspaper has urged the government to swiftly release a full list of those killed in last year’s devastating earthquake, including schoolchildren, saying official vows to improve rights demand such disclosure.
The call was made on Wednesday by the Southern Metropolitan Daily, a popular and outspoken tabloid published in the southern city of Guangzhou.
“If we let the names of the dead lie buried, human rights can have no place of trust,” the paper said in an editorial.
The call comes at a sensitive time, a month before the first anniversary of the May 12 quake across southwest China that killed 80,000 or more people, mostly in Sichuan province.
Volunteers led by Beijing artist Ai Weiwei have sought to compile a list of thousands of children killed in schools that parents said were shoddily built, and Ai has spoken of official harassment.
Police in Sichuan province recently detained writer Tan Zuoren, who was trying to make a list of children killed.
Officials have said they are still compiling a list of child victims and have refused to say how many died, prompting parents and critics to accuse them of a cover-up.
On Monday, China issued the first “human rights action plan” for the Communist Party-run nation, and it promised to gather the names of the quake victims and make them “known to the public”.
With the first anniversary fast approaching, the newspaper said local officials should act swiftly.
“Local governments in the quake area should make public the lists they have at hand and thoroughly check for any names left out. These human rights name lists belong to the public.”