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Environmental Activist Sun Xiaodi and Daughter Face Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL)

July 10, 2009

On July 10, Hu Jianhong (胡建红), wife of anti-nuclear activist Sun Xiaodi (孙小弟), confirmed with Human Rights in China (HRIC) that the Public Security Bureau of Diebu County, Gansu Province, has recommended at least half-a-year of Reeducation–Through-Labor (RTL) for Sun and their daughter, Sun Haiyan (孙海燕) (also known as Sun Dunbai (孙敦白)). On June 16, 2009, Sun Xiaodi and Sun Haiyan were both detained on “suspicion of providing state secrets overseas.”

Hu believes that Sun Xiaodi was detained because he revealed exaggerations made by officials of Diebu County, Gansu Province, about the earthquake disaster and issues such as nuclear contamination by the No. 792 Uranium Mine, and because his work compromised the local officials’ vested interests. Sun Haiyan was accused by the police of posting related information on the Internet.

Sun Xiaodi’s lawyer informed HRIC that charges having to do with state secrets involve conflicts between enemy states, but RTL is an administrative punishment meant to handle conflicts among people. He believes this demonstrates that the police lack sufficient evidence to criminally prosecute Sun Xiaodi and his daughter. Hu Jianhong is extremely worried about the prospect of RTL for Sun Haiyan, and fears that this “will ruin her life for sure.”

Sun Xiaodi was a worker at No. 792 Uranium Mine, a base of production of nuclear material in Gansu Province. Despite continuous harassment by local authorities, Sun has, over the past 20 years, continued to report on the nuclear contamination and grave consequences brought about by the No. 792 Uranium Mine, in order to protect the environment and defend the rights and interests of the mine workers. For his work, Sun was honored in 2006 as a fighter against nuclear contamination and awarded the world’s most prestigious anti-nuclear prize, the Nuclear-Free Future Award. After Sun was awarded the prize, his situation became increasingly difficult as the authorities intensified their monitoring and harassment of him.