China sends sympathy to Filipino doc’s kin

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The Chinese government has extended its sympathies to victims of Monday’s terror attack at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where a Filipino doctor was among those killed and her family among the injured.


Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has said China would provide assistance to victims of the SUV (sport utility vehicle) crash at the popular tourist site, an incident that authorities labeled a “terrorist attack” on Wednesday.

Beijing regularly calls such incidents “terrorism” and blames them on Muslim Uighurs from China’s far western region of Xinjiang, but Uighur organizations dismiss that as an excuse to justify religious and security restrictions.

“We are distressed by this unfortunate incident and express condolences to the victims and sympathies to the bereaved families and the injured,” Hua said in a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

Hua said Chinese authorities responded to the incident immediately to “ensure that the injured get timely and effective treatment.”

“We also informed relevant countries’ embassies in China of the incident and facilitated consular officials’ visits to the injured and their performance of consular duties. We will continue to offer necessary assistance and properly deal with relevant matters,” Hua said.


Filipino family

A Filipino doctor, Rizalina Camia-Bunyi, 55, was killed while her husband, Nelson, and two daughters—Francisca Ysabel, 23, and Mikaella, 21—were among 38 tourists injured when the speeding SUV driven by Uighur Usmen Hasan crashed into a crowded sidewalk and burst into flames in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state.

Four others were killed, including a tourist from southern China’s Guangdong province, Hasan and his wife and mother, who were with him in the vehicle.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said Bunyi’s family was in a stable condition at Tongren Hospital in Beijing. Their relatives left for Beijing on Wednesday to check on their condition and help arrange the repatriation of Bunyi’s remains.

Also on Wednesday, Chinese authorities announced they had arrested five suspects in the alleged terrorist attack some 10 hours after the incident.

Those detained were Uighurs but the overseas World Uyghur Congress said the official narrative of the Tiananmen incident was full of holes and discriminatory.

The DFA declined to comment on the investigation of the incident, saying it was giving priority to looking after the Filipino victims.

“We are not in a position to comment on the ongoing investigation of the incident by the Chinese authorities. At this time, we are focused on attending to the welfare and immediate needs of the victims,” Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the DFA, said on Thursday.


Deeper pain

Bunyi’s father said Thursday that learning that his daughter died not in an accident but in an act of terrorism deepened his family’s pain.

“My daughter and her family had nothing to do with the Chinese government. It’s their government’s problem that they should fix,” said Rodrigo Camia, 84.

Bunyi and her family left for China on Sunday for a vacation. They were supposed to return to the Philippines on Thursday, in time for All Saints’ Day.

“I’ve heard about the arrests, too, but that’s no good news. Nothing good comes out of this because I lost my daughter,” Camia said in a phone interview from his home in Imus City, Cavite province.

The Camias and the Bunyis are seeking help from the DFA for the immediate repatriation of Bunyi’s remains and for the return of her family.

Bunyi’s daughters were injured and her husband had a fracture that needed an operation.

“We want them (Nelson and his two daughters) treated here before [Rizalina’s] body arrives,” Camia said.


Ma still doesn’t know

Camia has yet to tell his 83-year-old wife, Pacencia, that their daughter had died. Pacencia has weak lungs and is frail.

“I just told her to wait because [Rizalina] might call us soon. I didn’t know what else to tell her,” Camia said.—With a report from AFP.