Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Sun Xiaodi, detained for eight months last year after he attempted to petition the central government over uranium contamination in Gansu Province, has been detained again after petitioning Beijing on the issue.
Sun Xiaodi, formerly an employee of the Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine, was originally abducted in Beijing on April 28, 2005, after being interviewed by an AFP journalist regarding his claims of serious environmental contamination from the mine. Sun had been petitioning authorities for more than 10 years about the mine, which was officially closed in 2002, but where local officials have reportedly continued mining the radioactive ore for private profit. Sun’s whereabouts were unknown for eight months, until he was suddenly released from Lanzhou Prison on December 27. He remained under house arrest until notified on March 12 that he would be fully released on March 20. The notice specified that Sun should not leave his village in Diebu County after his release.
Sources in China told HRIC that while still under house arrest, Sun and his former mine colleagues heard that ore was still being extracted from the No. 792 uranium mine and sold overseas on the black market at huge profit, while environmental contamination continued unabated. Following his release from house arrest, Sun set off for Beijing on March 29 with the intention of petitioning the central government once again.
Sources say that following his arrival in Beijing on March 30, Sun delivered his petition, then went on to Shenyang, Liaoning Province on April 1 to visit Liu Hua, former village head of Zhangliangbao Village, who had just been released from more than a month in detention after petitioning the central government over corruption in her village. Liu’s husband, former village chairman Yue Yongjin, remained in custody, and on April 4, Sun Xiaodi went to visit him at the Sujiatun District Detention Center. Sun reportedly found Yue Yongjin in an emaciated condition, being forced to work more than 10 hours a day producing artificial flowers for export to South Korea on a daily food allowance of only three steamed flour buns and allowed only two toilet breaks daily.
On that same day, Sun Xiaodi participated in a protest at Zhangliangbao Village calling for Yue Yongjin’s release. On April 6, public security police from the local dispatch center detained Sun, and no word has been heard of him since. Sources say that public security police had visited Sun’s Diebu County home several times after he went to Beijing, and it is possible that his most recent detention relates to his violation of the conditions applied to the termination of his house arrest.
HRIC condemns the renewed detention of Sun Xiaodi after he was abducted and disappeared for eight months in violation of Chinese and international law. This is the second instance in which authorities have retaliated against Sun’s tireless efforts to secure justice for his community through petitioning, which is his lawful right as a Chinese citizen. Although Sun allegedly violated the conditions for termination of his house arrest, he has yet to be even charged with a crime, and therefore the deprivation of his freedom of movement was unlawful. HRIC calls for Sun’s immediate and unconditional release.
HRIC is also alarmed at reports that Yue Yongjin is being forced to engage in prison labor while being deprived of adequate nutrition and other minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners as mandated by international law. Yue has not been convicted of any offense, and his forced labor is patently illegal under Chinese and international law. HRIC calls for the authorities to investigate allegations of illegal forced labor at the Sujiatun Detention Center and ensure that the mistreatment of Yue be stopped immediately.