Dozens of parents of abducted Chinese children held a demonstration in the southern city of Shenzhen on Monday, in the latest protest against the failure of authorities to resolve cases of kidnapping in the country.
Cai Xingquan, one of the protest organisers who has held similar marches throughout China, said scores of Shenzhen police broke up their demonstration just as it started.
"We want to find our children again," he told Reuters by phone from Shenzhen's Longgang district where the demonstration was held. "But there were too many police, they even deployed riot police. We couldn't do anything," said Cai whose four year old son was abducted in Shenzhen in 2008.
In recent years, an expanding network of parents and volunteers has surfaced across China to try and locate the thousands of children that go missing each year.
Many have been dismayed by the indifferent attitude of law enforcers, and low breakthrough rates, even in cases like Cai's where the kidnappers were recorded clearly on CCTV cameras.
Some of the children were snatched from elite schools in Shenzhen by criminals, prompting nervous parents to step up security measures. The South China Morning Post cited a Shenzhen government official as saying there were 23 child kidnappings last year, of which three children were killed.
In grittier factory towns in southern China like Dongguan, children of poorer blue collar families are frequently kidnapped and sold on blackmarkets to meet demand for predominantly male heirs in a country still largely bound by the one child policy.
China's Ministry of Public Security reported 2,566 potential child trafficking cases in 2008, but other groups say the actual numbers run in the tens of thousands.