April 06, 2010

Anhui Elder Dies from Starvation. Village Cadre Says: "Well, nobody told him not to have a son"

On the importance of having a son in China. The need is not as critical when one situates higher on the social ladder . Of course if it turns out the son (daughter) is unfilial, then one is still doomed.

儿子死后,安徽一85岁老人饿死 via Sohu

In Chengzhai Village, Lixing Town of Taihe County (太和县李兴镇程寨村), a 85 year old elder starved to death inside his burned down home.

Villagers donated money to pay for the elder's burial.

No money to bury son

The name of this elder who just passed away is Cheng Baoping (程保平). Fellow villager Mr. Cheng told the reporter that on the afternoon of April 1, he and others found the old man dead in his fire-ravaged home because Cheng Baoping hadn't eaten for days. Cheng Baoping had a son, Cheng Haoshan, who would be 60 this year. In the past, father and son made a living with their their 4 mu farm (1 mu = 667 m2). Because of extreme poverty, Cheng Haoshan never married. Two years ago, a large fire destroyed their home, but the house was never rebuilt due to lack of money. Since then, Cheng Haoshan stayed in another villager's home, while Chang Baoping continued to live in the burned ruins. To keep away the rain, a plastic sheet was draped over the roofless building. Cheng Haoshan used to prepare the meals and deliver it to his father.

In January this year, Cheng Haoshan was discovered dead in his room. Mr Cheng said: "Cheng Baoping did not have any money to arrange for a burial, so the body was left unattended. Finally, the village cadres found 900 yuan on the corpse and used most of it on cremation. With nothing left to pay for burial, they put the cinerary casket in a grass shed out of the village. It sat there for more than 20 days."


Mr Cheng said: "Children played with the cinerary casket like it was a toy. It was thrown into the river several times, until finally one kid took the casket home. The youngster's mom had no other choice but to ask people to bury it. Cheng Baoping could not take care of himself. Once his son died, the old man had to begin begging for meals. Village cadres completely ignored his plight." Another villager, surname Cheng, told the reporter that Cheng Baoping relied on aid from neighbors to survive. Without a steady income, he was constantly hungry. After his death, some villagers accused the village leadership of negligence in their duties to help. To this, village cadre Cheng Xiangan replied: "Who told him not to have a son (as in, Cheng Baoping deserved to be in the helpless circumstance)."

The reporter further interviewed Director Xu, head of the village board. When asked why village cadres did not provide assistance to income-less Cheng Baoping, Director Xu answered: "I only know he belonged to the 'five guarantees' (五保户, in China, village minors, childless elders and the sick are guaranteed food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses). I am not acquainted with the details." The reporter asked Dr. Xu if the village ever provided relief to Cheng. Dr. Xu said, "Probably no." Two other villagers said that the village party secretary and the head of village board don't really do much of anything. When they have problems and need resolutions, the villagers can never find the the officials.

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