Chinese arrest doctor's brother

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Chinese security police have arrested the brother of Zhang Shuyun, the former Shanghai orphanage employee whose information this month revealed the shocking death-toll among the city's orphans and abandoned children in recent years. The police also ransacked the brother's apartment, took money and confiscated jewellery left to Dr Zhang by her recently deceased mother.

Zhang Jian, 44, was detained at his Shanghai home on 9 January, the day after foreign journalists had been given an official tour of the city's orphanage to show how well children there are treated. On 15 January the family was formally told of his arrest and that he was accused of "participating in the counter-revolutionary crime of subverting the government".

Such a charge carries a minimum sentence of 10 years, and was recently used against the prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng, who was jailed for 14 years in December.

In the past few days, friends, relatives and former colleagues of Dr Zhang have been interrogated, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. On 7 January, HRW published a report on death-rates in China's orphanages, based on information provided by Dr Zhang and the Chinese government's Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics.

Dr Zhang left China in March last year and smuggled out hundreds of medical records and documents on the death-toll in the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute between 1988 and 1992. Official investigations between 1989 and 1992, prompted by complaints by Dr Zhang and others, led to a high- level cover-up, according to the HRW report.

"[My brother] had nothing to do with my work or what I was trying to do. I didn't let my family or friends know because I thought it might place them in danger," Dr Zhang said yesterday.