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Environmental Activist Sun Xiaodi Faces Stepped-up Harassment after International Award

January 2, 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.


Background information on Sun Xiaodi:

Sun
began reporting the illegal resale of contaminated equipment, illegal mining and
careless disposal of untreated water in 1988, while he was working as a
warehouse manager at Mine No. 792. However, his repeated petitions to provincial
and central government officials resulted in nothing more than his dismissal in
1994, and discriminatory treatment of his wife and daughter. In the face of
constant persecution and harassment, Sun continued his campaign against the
illegal mining practices, which continued even after the mine was officially
closed in 2002 and became a private company under the administration of the
Gansu Province government and Ministry of Nuclear Industry, with many local
officials as shareholders.

Sun observed how a region of green fields,
clear waters and woodlands filled with wildlife was transformed into a wasteland
in which plants wither, livestock die and people suffer from birth defects and
abnormal cancerous growths. Tibetan medical workers have attributed nearly half
of the human deaths in the region to a variety of radioactivity-related cancers
and immune system diseases.

In April 2005, Sun disappeared while
petitioning in Beijing, shortly after meeting with foreign journalists to
describe the environmental degradation in Gansu. After being secretly moved from
place to place for eight months, he was finally released from Lanzhou Prison on
December 27, 2005. Despite official warnings and restrictions on his movement,
Sun resumed his petitioning, and was detained again in April 2006. He was
released soon afterward, but remains under constant police surveillance, and his
communication with the outside world has been severely curtailed.