[The Dying Rooms Controversy]

A Policy of Fatal Neglect in China's State Orphanages

The television documentary 'Return to the Dying Rooms', and the Human Rights Watch/Asia report which accompanied it, 'Death by Default: A Policy of Fatal Neglect in China's State Orphanages', have aroused a storm of controversy all over the world.

Here the OneWorld News Service presents a Special Report on the debate surrounding China's treatment of its children and of its family planning policy in general. This includes the perspectives of the Chinese Government, the documentary makers and charities - all of whom claim to be working in the interests of China's children.

  • Death by Default - A Policy of Fatal Neglect in China's State Orphanages:
    Summary and recommendations of the Human Rights Watch/Asia report, giving concrete evidence backing up the allegations that unwanted children were deliberately left to die in Chinese orphanages.

  • Return to The Dying Rooms:
    For those not living in the UK, or who missed the screening, here is the transcript in full, with stills from the programme. Warning: you may find some of these pictures disturbing.

  • The Chinese Government's perspective on the 'Dying Rooms'

  • Opinion from the Director of Human Rights Watch:
    Originally printed by the New York Times, this article was written by Holly Burkhalter, who herself has adopted a Chinese child.

  • China: Arrests in Attack on Orphans report
    Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the international community to condemn the arrest of the brother of Zhang Shuyun, their main source in the 'Death by Default' report.

  • Death by Default - the press summary:
    A short summary of the Human Rights Watch/Asia report. This document gives evidence of alleged cruelty and deliberate mistreatment of Chinese children by orphanage authorities.

  • OneWorld Editor's Letter:
    OneWorld Online's Editor, Anuradha Vittachi, guides you through the media maelstrom with her report on the programme and the possible Chinese attempts to suppress it.

  • Save the Children (UK)'s response to the Dying Rooms coverage:
    While acknowledging the "often gruesome conditions" in some Chinese orphanages, SCF feels that practical solutions may be more useful that straight criticism.

  • Gemini News Service report from March 1995:
    Early last year, the first reports were emerging from China on what was reported to be a systematic abuse of children's rights. This report was available then.

  • Do you have an opinion on the Dying Rooms controversy? Post a message in the OneWorld Speakeasy and join the global debate.

  • See also The Dying Rooms Trust, set up by Brian Woods, producer of the Dying Rooms documentary, to channel funds to orphanages in China.

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