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Milk Activist Sentenced to Jail in China

10/11/2010 12:50

Zhao Lianhai, 38, father of one of the 300,000 children who became ill as a result of contaminated baby milk in 2008, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. Lianhai was charged by a court in Beijing's Daxing district, China, for "stirring up public disturbances". 


Lianhai's son, Pengrui, was diagnosed with kidney stone, after taking melamine-poisoned milk in 2008. At least six children were killed after taking the contaminated milk. In 2009, Lianhai, in a bid to alert and inform other parents about the adverse effects of melamine-contaminated milk, (while also canvassing for compensation for people like himself, whose children did not recieve compensation from the Chinese government), set up a site, which became a rallying point for thousands of parents who were enraged by the aftermath of the melamine-contminated milk scandal.


His actions, have however, irked the Chinese government, which in recent times has had a rather appalling human rights record. Lianhai was picked up by the police in November last year, and afterwards charged in March this year for "creating a disturbance". The charge was based on an interview he granted the media, on the issue. 


Although the court, has convicted him, Lianhai has not seized to express his innocence. "I am not guilty!" he said in court. There are indications that he might begin a hunger strike in protest of the judgment. 


The human rights group, Amnesty International, has already condemned the ruling. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has insisted that citizens were free to pursue compensation for any alleged wrongs in court, as the country is ruled by law.


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