SHANGHAI, Jan 18, Reuter – Chinese police have arrested the brother of a former Shanghai orphanage employee who has accused officials of killing children in their care, accusing him of trying to topple the government his sister said yesterday.
Zhang Jian was taken in for questioning by state security officials on January 9, his sister Zhang Shuyun said from New York.
The detention of Zhang, an official of the Baoshan district people’s government in Shanghai and a Communist Party member, came two days after the New York-based Human Rights Watch/Asia is sued a report on Chinese orphanages based partly on testimony by Zhang Shuyun.
Zhangjian, 44, was officially arrested on January 15 and charged with “participating in the counter-revolutionary crime of subverting the government”, Zhang Shuyun said. The charge carries a minimum 10-year sentence and the maximum death penalty.
Zhang Shuyun, a former employee of the Shanghai Children’s Welfare Institute claimed that many Chinese orphanages have a policy of al lowing children in their care to die to keep numbers within budget limits. She now lives in the United States.
“I’m terribly upset,” she said “Of course my brother was arrested as a result of my report. He had nothing to do with my work or what I was trying to do I didn’t let my family or friends know because I thought it might place them in danger.”
A spokesman for the Shanghai foreign affairs office said he could not confirm the arrest Public security officials could not be contacted for comment.
A woman who answered the telephone at Zhang Jian’s home said he was not at home but refused to say whether he had been arrested.
Human Rights Watch/Asia issued a report on January 7, saying China’s state-run orphanages had allowed thou sands of babies, many of them unwanted girls, to die from neglect.
The report was based on official statistics compiled by the Ministry of Civil Affairs as well as on extensive testimony from Zhang Shuyun. Chinese officials have denied the charges and accused Zhang Shuyun of fabrication.
Zhang Shuyun said she had spoken to friends, relatives and former associates in Shanghai who said police had also called them in for interrogation in the past few days.
“They asked about my whereabouts and wanted to know who my contacts were,” Zhang zhuyun said. “But my friends don’t know anything.”
State security officials had searched Zhang Jian’s home and confiscated money and jewellery that his sister had given him to pay for medical care for their parents before she left China.
Human Rights Watch/Asia issued an appeal to the inter-national community to condemn the arrest of Zhang’s brother and to urge Beijing to release him immediately.
“What about others in Shanghai who were involved in this campaign?” Robin Munro, of Human Rights Watch/Asia, said. ‘We must assume they are extremely ex-posed and in danger now.
“If they go ahead with sentencing Zhang Jian then no one is safe in Shanghai who is involved in this [orphanage] campaign,” Munro said. REUTER