Friday, July 18, 2008
Here's a report from Radio Free Asia on police detentions of parents protesting shoddy school construction. Although some predicted a new era of openness and citizen activism following the tremendous social response to the Sichuan earthquake, the government seems to have reverted quickly to form, with local authorities suppressing inquiries into the cause of widespread school collapses and the central government standing by, complicit certainly in effect and probably in intent.
The parents of children killed in school collapses are going to be very difficult to deal with. Many feel that having lost their only children, they have nothing else left to lose. I think it's very likely that some number of them - how many, it's impossible to know, but certainly more than a negligible number - will become diehard petitioners: the type who simply won't give up no matter what the government tries by way of threats and cajolery, even though there is no possibility that the government will yield. The authorities have already brought out the "emotionally unstable" label; is this a sign that obstreperous parents may ultimately disappear into what purports to be a psychiatric facility?