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China Environmental Activist Faces Stepped-up Harassment after International Award

Posted by Author on January 6, 2007

Human Rights in China, January 02, 2007-

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Gansu-based activist Sun Xiaodi is facing serious harassment by local officials and unknown persons, and has been unable to obtain official permission to seek medical treatment in Beijing for a potentially life-threatening health condition.

Sun Xiaodi has spent more than a decade petitioning the central authorities over radioactive contamination from the No. 792 Uranium Mine in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.

On December 1, 2006, HRIC presented Sun’s acceptance message for the prestigious Nuclear-Free Future Award in Window Rock, Arizona. The award selection was made by a jury of international environmentalists, activists, scholars and journalists.

Sources in China told HRIC that Sun has faced an intensification of harassment since he was presented with the Nuclear-Free Future Award. He is under constant surveillance by State Security officials, and since December 5 has experienced several midnight raids on his home by unknown persons throwing stones at his door and windows. Sources say that when Sun reported the attacks to local state security officers, they told him, “You’re free to leave if you want to!”

Sun has long been a thorn in the side of local officials because of his petitioning over the radioactive contamination, and since being detained briefly in early 2006, he has had his water and electricity shut off numerous times for no apparent reason. Although he is no longer officially under residential surveillance, in practice his every movement is monitored, and if he leaves the area for any reason, he is followed and interviewed by security personnel upon his return. He has also been the subject of official slander.

In November, a medical examination revealed a 4-5-centimeter tumor in Sun’s abdominal cavity. (Residents of the area where Sun Xiaodi lives suffer an unusually high rate of cancer and other health conditions associated with radioactive contamination.) Given the limitations of local medical facilities, Sun put in a request with local public security officials for permission to go to Beijing for further diagnosis and treatment, but after nearly two months he has received no reply. Sun is currently experiencing such physical discomfort that he has difficulty sleeping, and in addition to the tumor he suffers from gall stones and coronary heart disease.

HRIC condemns the oppressive treatment of Sun Xiaodi by local officials in apparent retaliation against his receiving an international environmental award.

The Chinese government is a party to numerous international agreements that require its cooperation in implementing international environmental standards, and has promised a “Green Olympics” in 2008. The international community should take the opportunity to put pressure on the Chinese authorities to fulfill its promises on the environment, and to protect the rights and physical safety of environmental activists such as Sun Xiaodi. The central government should also take immediate steps to ensure that local officials do not prevent Sun from traveling to Beijing and receiving the medical treatment he requires.  ( … read more from Human Rights in China (HRIC)’s report )

One Response to “China Environmental Activist Faces Stepped-up Harassment after International Award”

  1. […] Local environmental activists–yes, they have them here as dangerous as that job might be–blame the government and industry for being joined at the hip to further the economy at the expense of the environment and the average Chinese citizen. I cannot imagine why. […]

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