A cartoon titled Little Lighter Boy drawn by a Weibo user named Mengchenshang in remembrance of the tragic death of the five boys in Bijie. Photo: Weibo.com
Torrents of angry voices and condemnations from the media and online social networks forced the Bijie local government to suspend and remove 8 of its officials in response to the death of the five boys in a garbage bin in Guizhou province.
It turned out that these five boys are brothers and cousins from the same village, their names and ages are: Tao Zhonglin 13, Tao Zhongjing 12, Tao Zhonghong 11, Tao Chong 12, and Tao Bo 9. Reports say that their parents have reported their missing to the police 11 days before their tragic death.
Two of the fathers had to travel back from Shenzhen where they work to confirm the identity of their sons. Tao Yuanwu, father of Tao Chong and Tao Bo told the reporters that 4 of the 5 children dropped out of school. Despite their teachers’ repeated efforts to bring them back, they refused to go. The five children always played together. Sometimes they wandered off for days before returning home; for several times it was the local or neighboring police who took them home.
Tao Jinyou, father of Tao Zhonglin said the five boys went out three weeks ago and never came back. He and the children’s teachers have looked for them many times in vain. They did not know the boys died until contacted by the police. He admitted that he and his brothers were too busy with their work either at home or in another city, and seldom communicated with their children.
More reports about the five children surfaced a day after the news first broke out. A Weibo user called Citizen Li Yuanlong posed a photo of the five children, which he claimed was taken with a mobile phone on the steps leading to an underpass about 200 meters from where the boys died not long before the tragedy.
This photo is said to be the last photo taken of the five children before they died miserably in a garbage bin last week. Photo: Weibo.com
Some media reported that the children used to beg for food during the day and spend the night in the underpass or abandoned and enclosed spaces along the street in their roaming days. Witnesses claimed to have seen them living in a tent made with plastic tarpaulin, three-ply board and cement blocks; they said they set up fire with discarded wood and looked for food in a market near a construction site not far from the garbage bin where they died. But no one thought of helping them out.
Mayor of Bijie said Tuesday that he felt deeply sorry for the death of the five boys and that the city will take care of all the “left-behind” children by setting up a fund and providing one-to-one support.
The follow-up news triggered another round of indignation on Weibo, mostly directed at the govenment:
@ Love Little Evil Only (只爱小邪恶): Only after tragedy struck did they think of “setting up the fund”. What have they been doing all along? Have the government paid any attention to the safety issue of so many “left-behind” children in China? Most of the responsibility is put on the schools, but who’s responsible for their safety out of school?
@ xiuxiu9: Every time they wait until incidents like this happen before they do anything. What are those so-called person “in charge” doing taking all the money from the tax-payers?
@ Third Producing Squad （第三生产大队）: The SOBs only takes action after tragedy strikes. You think your position is not safe now, don’t you? Will the help and support continue when things settle?
@ Xingyu Media（兴宇传媒）: The blame falls entirely on the central government. All it’s been doing is to take the resources from west and southwestern China and give them to the east for free. The livelihood of the people in the west is totally ignored.
@ Yu Linggang（于凌罡）: How much money is needed to help the wanderers? Let’s just say we build a 20-square-meter housing for each person at the cost of 60,000 yuan for, say, 300 million people, it cost only 1,800 billion yuan. And the actual number of wanderers is far less than this number. The government collects 1,200 billion in tax alone each year. What has it been doing with this money?
@ Writer Tianyou（作家天佑--）：If the police really did look for these children, with the ever-present surveillance cameras, how difficult could it be? 11 days, did they really try?
@ tez65: Without democratic supervision, the government is not “for” the people.
@ Focus on Financial News（聚焦金融资讯）: Such a big country can’t even make sure the survival of these five children！Tearful… And it had the audacity to ask “are you happy”?!
@ A Xiang A Xing（啊祥啊兴）: If it’s not in China, even the president will come out and apologize. Yet we have heard nothing from the new “emperor of the Heaven Dynasty”. The officials all held their noble head high, not even bother to give a little bow…
@ Qihei dog（齐黑犬）: Behind the pretty face of the society, there are so many tears…
@ Sister Ning 2010 （宁姐2010）: (The government) has the money to cancel debts for foreign countries but doesn’t have the money to provide a decent living for its own people. The reality slaps the the power that be in the face!