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Parents' march calls attention to lost children

CARRYING banners and posters, a group of parents marched through a Guangdong Province city on Wednesday in a public demonstration asking for help to find their missing children.

The parents said that about 1,000 children, mostly boys, have gone missing in Dongguan City in the past two years, most of them kidnapped by human traffickers, yesterday's New Express newspaper reported.

The Dongguan police said they've launched an investigation, while pointing out that the number of missing children may be overstated.

Government officials said they are willing to talk to the parents, the report said.

The march started at 11am from the city government building. Police appeared to be sympathetic to the demonstrators, sending officers and cars to escort the procession, the New Express report said.

The parents, many in tears, carried posters with pictures of their missing children and large banners, including one that read "10 million yuan (US$1.46 million) reward for finding the children." They distributed leaflets along the way.

"According to our estimates, more than 500 children went missing in 2008 and more than 1,000 have gone missing since 2007," one of the demonstrators, surnamed Tang, told the New Express.

She said the parents have set up an organization to find their children and establish the reward fund.

On October 18 last year, 20 boys went missing in the city's Qingxi Town, a parent who was not identified told the newspaper.

Another girl was taken that day from outside her home in Gaobu Town. Her father, Xu Jiancheng, joined yesterday's march.

"I came to support the march to promote public awareness of the missing children," he said.

He said he spent the family's entire savings and borrowed another 70,000 yuan searching for his daughter through 3,700 orphanages across the country.

The man and his wife have promised a reward of 100,000 yuan for anyone who helps find their daughter.

A marcher surnamed Wang said parents feel helpless because about 80 percent failed to obtain police help because of lack of evidence.

The demonstration was a last resort for desperate parents, he said. Wang's son went missing five years ago in the city's Dongkeng Town.

Another demonstrator, who did not give his name, told the newspaper that his son was lost on July 15 last year. The boy was later found by a kind-hearted passerby and taken to a nearby police office.

But 10 minutes later when the father arrived at the police station he found a stranger had already claimed the boy and taken him away.

He said he is suing the police.

Another woman, surnamed Ye, said her nine-month-old son was snatched from her arms on her doorstep in broad daylight in late 2007.

"He must be alive; he must be," she said.


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