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China Voice: Releasing victims' names a gov't responsibility


14:12, July 28, 2012

BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Five days after a deadly downpour hit the city of Beijing, the municipal government released the names of 66 people who were killed during the heaviest storm to hit the city in more than 60 years.

Authorities have pledged to spare no efforts in verifying the identities of the remaining 11 unidentified victims and continuing to search for more missing people.

The victims' names were read, one after another, by an anchorwoman during a Thursday evening nationwide broadcast by China Central Television. Their identities and manner of death were printed on the second page of the Friday edition of the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

However, it did not happen until the public and media criticized the government over its failure to release the figures in a more timely manner, as the death toll for the city's livestock had already been calculated and released by that time.

The local government silently endeavored to restore transportation, build shelters and distribute food. But the number of victims remained at 37 for four days before the local government released updated figures.

Rumors, speculation and even conspiracy theories sprang up on social networking sites, as the local government had to race to piece together fragmented information.

The municipal government should realize that the timely release of the names and number of victims following a disaster is not only part of their responsibility to tell the truth, but also a matter of respect.

The names of the victims will always stay with the relatives of the deceased. The least the government can do for the living and deceased alike is to pay attention to and respect their names.

The government has the responsibility to honestly face and respond to the scrutiny and pressure placed upon it by the media and public regarding issues that are of great public concern.

Success in boosting GDP growth, urbanization, the development of rural areas and other massive tasks currently being undertaken by the government will mean nothing if the country's citizens cannot enjoy safety while they remain alive, and dignity following death.


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