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Teacher sent to labour camp for China quake photos

A man walks past wreaths of flowers layed in memory of children killed when their school collapsed during an earthquake in the Jiulong township in Sichuan in June. China has earmarked nearly 200 million dollars to repair and rebuild schools damaged in a devastating magnitude-8.0 quake that struck the country's southwest in May, state media said Wednesday. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 30, 2008
A teacher in southwest China has been sent to a labour camp for publicising photos of school buildings that collapsed in the devastating May 12 earthquake, a rights group said Wednesday.

Liu Shaokun was jailed without trial after posting photos on the Internet showing schools flattened in the magnitude-8.0 quake in Sichuan province, the New York-based Human Rights in China said.

Liu's wife was informed by police last week that the school teacher had been sentenced to one year "reeducation through labour" for "disturbing public order," it said.

Since he was detained on June 25 on suspicion of "inciting subversion," Liu's family has been denied access to him and were not formally notified of his detention as required by the law, it said.

Officials at the police station in the city of Guanghan, where Liu was first held, refused to comment on the case when contacted by AFP.

"Instead of investigating and pursuing accountability for shoddy and dangerous school buildings, the authorities are resorting to (labour camps) to silence and lock up concerned citizens like teacher Liu Shaokun," said Sharon Hom, head of the rights group.

"These actions further undermine human rights and the 'peaceful Olympics' called for by the authorities, and reflect an irresponsible callousness towards the Sichuan earthquake victims and parents of the thousands of children killed by collapsed school buildings."

The May 12 disaster left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing, including 9,000 school children, according to official reports.

Some parents of children killed in collapsed schools allege that local officials colluded with builders to allow them to get away with cheap and shoddy work.

Rights organisations have accused the Chinese government of arresting large numbers of opponents in the last few months to prevent them disturbing the Olympic Games. Beijing has denied the charges.

On July 19, veteran Chinese rights campaigner Huang Qi, who was organising parents of children killed in the earthquake, was formally arrested for "illegal possession of state secrets," his wife said on Saturday.

Huang was detained in the Sichuan capital Chengdu on June 10 and has not been seen since.

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China insurers expect 1.5 bln dlrs in snow, quake claims: officials
Beijing (AFP) July 29, 2008
China's insurers expect to pay out more than 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion dollars) in claims due to the earthquake in the southwest and blizzards at the start of the year, officials said Tuesday.







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