US House backs China quake activistshttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/us-house-backs-china-quake-activists/

US House backs China quake activists

The US House of Representatives threw its support behind two Chinese activists put on trial after investigating whether shoddy construction led to children's deaths in last year's Sichuan earthquake.

The US House of Representatives threw its support behind two Chinese activists put on trial after investigating whether shoddy construction led to children’s deaths in last year’s Sichuan earthquake.

In a nearly unanimous vote,the House on Saturday approved a resolution saying it “expresses its support” for activists Huang Qi and Tan Zuoren and calling on China to guarantee their rights to free speech and fair trials.

Huang and Tan went on separate trials in August on respective charges of possessing state secrets and subversion,although human rights groups believe they were targeted due to their activism after the Sichuan earthquake.

Huang,the founder of a human rights website,posted parents’ demands for an investigation and spent nearly 14 months in detention before going on trial. Tan,a writer,led calls for an independent probe into school construction.

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The earthquake in southwestern China left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing. Schools bore the brunt of the tragedy,with thousands collapsing on top of students,fueling angry charges from parents that corruption had led to shoddy construction.

“Huang Qi and Tan Zuoren are two courageous individuals who sought to hold the Chinese regime accountable for its gross negligence,” said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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