Transcript ‘Sun Village, an orphanage for Dead Men’s Children’
An orphanage in a town, on the outskirts of Beijing
These children need love and care, most of all they need a family, but instead they must remain here.
Each has an extraordinary story
0019 Interview with an orphan
‘My mum killed my dad.’
0023 Interview with an orphan
“Shortly after I was born, my dad went to prison.”
The stories of children are shocking. These children were abandoned after their parents were executed. This place is China’s only orphanage for Dead Men’s Children.
0038 INTERVIEW. Jangsuichien / Sun Village Orphanage Director
‘We are teaching the children not to hate their parents.’
China is infamous for the number of executions it performs. Despite international pressure, there are still several thousand executions every year.
So their parents have been killed by the state,
the children are abandoned, whose should care for them?
0105 Title: Sun Village, an orphanage for Dead Men’s Children
Beijing, the capital city of China, is the one of the busiest cities in the world.
In a small town an hours drive from the capital, we visit a small orphanage.
This orphanage is called Sun Village, it is China’s only orphanage for the children of people excecuted by the state.
From four months old baby to 18 years old, there are 130 children living in the Sun Village.
0144 Interview with a orphan
Crew: How did you come here?
Girl: ‘My dad is in prison and mum just ran away. They treated me coldly.’
The stigma of being Dead Men’s Children means that these children are shunned by neighbours and relatives and abandoned.
Jangsuichien is the head of Sun Village. The initiative started when she was working as a jailer. Witnessing the desolate stories of families broken up by the state she began to take in one or two orphans. Now she cares for 130.
At present, there are five Sun Villages around Jiangxi and Henan area. Jangsuichien emphasizes that Dead Men’s Children need to be cared for with love.
Jangsuichien / Sun Village Orphanage Director
Normally children can meet their parents even if their parents are in prison, but these children have no chances to see their parents again. We need to give them extra care and soothe them.
Very few children in Sun Village know that their parents are dead or sentenced to death. They are too young to know what execution means, and they just believe their one day their parents will come and take them home.
0321 Interview. Jangsuichien / Sun Village Orphanage Director
‘We do not want to tell them the truth about their parents. We let them know what happened to their parents when they grow enough to understand the situation, or just tell them their parents died in prison for illness.’
Many of the children have already lost their parents.
This 8 years old boy is one of them. After his both parents were executed, he lived with relatives but was ill treated.
Crews: Did they hit you?
Members of staff from Sun Village visit a small town in Jiangxi.
Recent media exposure has meant that more prisoners are sending letters to the Sun Village to ask for help.
In a small and shabby house, two kids (Gui-yang, 11, girl & Donhugui, 12, boy) and their grand mother were waiting.
The children's father, grandfather, and even granduncle; the men of the house, were all in prison.
0433 INTERVIEW. Grandmother of Gui-yang & Donhugui
‘A person once borrowed money from us. The three men went to ask her for the money, but when she refused they killed her.’
Their father was given the death sentence. Their mother walked out. The grandmother works for the neighbors, barely earning the family's living expenses. But now her health is failing.
0457 INTERVIEW. Grandmother
‘My heart is breaking, but there is no other way for me to take care of the children.’
She's already seen her husband and son go to jail. It can't be easy seeing her grandchildren go away too. But she says there is a reason she decided to send them.
0518 INTERVIEW. Grandmother
‘They weren't like this before but (now) the children don't like going to others' homes. When the children go to watch TV, they send them away saying the children can't watch TV there.’
Villagers gather in the yard. They are not friendly.
0535 INTERVIEW. Donhugui
Crew: Don't you miss your parents?
Donhugui / 12: ‘What is the point? I can't see them even if I miss them...’
He is scarred to the point of saying he doesn't want to see his parents.
Rather than keeping them in the village and have them bullied by the other children, the grandmother judged it better to send the children away.
The children have a new home at the Sun Village in Jiangxi Province. But children who manage to come to this village are only a small proportion of those stigmatised as Dead Mans Children.
0615 INTERVIEW. Jangsuichien / Sun Village Orphanage Director
‘There are only a few hundred children here. It is a very small number. Around 600 thousand children of prisoners in this country are in need of help.’
Many Dead Men’s Children who have been abandoned by their relatives or neighbors, beg on the streets or steal to stay alive.
The biggest reason that there is such an issue is because of China's rate of capital punishment. China has the highest capital punishment rate in the world. Interviewer national human rights organizations report that approximately 10 thousand people are put to death every year.
0707 INTERVIEW. Ryushowon / Lawyer
‘There are two reasons. First, the traditional custom is that if you kill, you must pay with your life. The other reason is the high rate of violent crimes (that fall under the death penalty) that forces the government to maintain strict penalites.’
The Chinese criminal law has 68 clauses that fall under capital punishment.
A prosecutor in court : Capital punishment is the sentence for corruption, or for Drug smuggling. A thief who steals goods worth 30 US dollar can also be sentenced capital punishment.
These children are going to visit their parents in prison. They make an early start in the morning. The funds these children receive aren't much, so it's not easy to save up for these visits.
But it's made sure the children see their parents once a year.
Yangwonje is 15 this year. Soon after he was born, his father went to prison. This is his sixth visit to him.
Before arriving at the prison, the children stop the van and go to a store.
It's to buy gifts for their fathers. The children saved up pocket money they earned by working in the orphanage orchards.
Yangwonje's father was recently transferred to this prison. Because of the transfer, for a while they couldn't even exchange letters.
SOV> Did you take the test?
How did it go?
I don't know. The results aren't out yet.
The father is curious about his son's results for the high school entrance exam. He seems proud of his son who has grown so much so quickly.
The father of the Yangaping sisters also arrives a little later.
SOV> Sit down.
You've become thinner
The children don't know what to say. Their father has lost much weight since the last time they met a year ago. They keep rubbing their eyes to stop from crying. Their father is also sorry.
0929 Yangaping's father / sentenced to death
‘I’m happy to hear the children are doing well with their studies. I've missed them a lot. They're all the family I've got.’
Their father suffered from mental illness and killed their mother. He was sentenced to death. At first the sisters felt resentment towards him. But they say they have now come to understand him. This was the first meeting in a year, but it's already time to say goodbye. Eventually even these meetings will come to an end. The children's hearts are heavy.
Crew: What did you talk about with your father?
Yangaping / 18 : I told him my brother and I are attending school well, and not to worry because the orphanage director is taking care of us. I wish our dad (wouldn't get executed and) come and live with us.
The held back tears are shed. Is there no way these children's wishes can be granted?
These children are suffering because of the crimes their parents committed. They are the hidden victims of China's capital punishment system.