China / Society

No agreement after 'forced cremation'

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai ( Updated: 2014-01-01 21:08

Talks over how to handle the remains of a farmer's body that authorities burned in his coffin are stalled.

The family of Cheng Chaomu, who died on Dec 13 but was not cremated as is the rule in Jingxian county, Anhui province, said they are only willing to place the remains in the ground after authorities release five people the family claims were detained in a clash caused by the forced cremation.

"Township officials have visited us twice since Sunday, and told us they would release one or two of those detained before the end of January if we agreed to bury the remains again," Cheng Yinzhu, the youngest daughter of Cheng Chaomu, said on Wednesday.

"But we are only willing to do that after they release the five people. We have consulted a lawyer, who told us the authorities have been involved in the crime of insulting the corpse."

Bao Chenglong, deputy Party chief of Jingxian's Jingchuan township, said on Wednesday that the officials were still in talks with the family. He declined to say why police have detained the five villagers, including Cheng Yinzhu's sister-in-law.

"There will be a satisfying solution," Bao added.

The incident exposed administrative defects and legal loopholes that tested China's efforts to move from a burial culture to cremation in order to save land.

The controversy started on Dec 19, three days after Cheng Chaomu's body was buried, when regional authorities organized police, firefighters and other government employees to Qinfeng village to exhume and burn the coffin.

The forced cremation, which law experts said violates regulations by central government on funeral management, led to a bloody clash between the law enforcement team and rural residents in Qinfeng village.

The family claimed authorities took away five people after the conflict and relatives are banned from paying them visits at the detention house.

The family said they knew they violated a local rule by not cremating the body but the county government acted in "retribution" for a dispute last year over relocation compensation

"Two other households had buried loved ones without cremation but were not punished," Cheng Yinzhu said.

The authorities declined to comment.

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