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State washes its hands of children’s tragic deaths


HONG KONG (UCAN): The posting of a notice on rubbish collection units in Bijie, Guizhou province, reading, Humans and animals are forbidden to enter. The consequences of violating this order are your own responsibility, in the wake of the deaths of five homeless children from carbon monoxide poising seems a bit heartless.

The children were taking shelter from the bitter cold in the rubbish collection unit and lit a fire out of paper to try and keep warm in November last year.

However, the unwritten message from the authorities seems to be; your suffering is not our concern.

Rather than the usual outpouring of sympathy from local officials over the plight of the poor and indigent, no coordinated effort by government agencies to ensure that those in need of a safe refuge against the elements could be accommodated was forthcoming.

A priest in China writing under the pen name, Father Shanren,  siad he initally dismissed the news of these warning signs as some cruel prank he saw photos of them. He writes, “I began to think about the nature of suffering and the ways in which human beings respond to the suffering of others.”

Father Shanren, says that he has come to understand that evil and sin prosper when human beings forget, neglect or simply reject God.

“Given the heartless response by the government to the deaths of five children, it seems clear that Communist China’s rejection of God has blinded the nation to such suffering,” he writes.

However, he adds that the preventable deaths of these children are not simply the product of sin or evil, nor can they be blamed simply on a cruel winter.

“It wasn’t just the cold that drove these children to their deaths,” he says. “It was the failure of the state to keep its people warm.”

The priest adds that the warnings posted on the garbage boxes on one level might be called evil, on another level are more simply explained as the state telling us that it refuses to accept any responsibility for the needs or suffering of its people. 

China’s economic development in the past decade has amazed the world, but the benefits have yet to reach the bulk of its people.

When news of the deaths began to circulate throughout China, some people responded by distributing an online comic called, The Little Lighter Boys.

It was a reworking of the old Hans Christian Anderson tale of The Little Match Girl, who walks the freezing streets selling matchsticks, but is forced to light them to stay warm.

One reader commenting on the comic said, “I thought that The Little Match Girl would only exist in storybooks. I would not have expected it to really happen today or that the reality would be far crueler than the story.”


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