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Beijing Petitioned on Behalf of Missing Activist Sun Xiaodi

September 7, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that more than a hundred people have signed a petition calling on the Chinese authorities to release Sun Xiaodi, an activist petitioning authorities over nuclear contamination from the Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine, who disappeared more than 130 days ago.

A former mine employee, Sun disappeared on April 28 while in Beijing to petition central government authorities. He was abducted after an interview with an AFP journalist by a group of men in civilian dress. A friend of Sun’s was subsequently told by state security bureau officials that Sun had been detained for “very serious crimes related to state secrets,” but Sun’s family members have been unable to ascertain his whereabouts.

The petition, signed by more than 150 people, including Sun’s wife, daughter and colleagues, is addressed to Chinese President Hu Jintao as he prepares to visit North America and attend the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. The petition calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately release Sun Xiaodi, and states that Sun was engaged in reporting corruption by mine officials involving the extortion of an estimated 100 million yuan, and alleging the continued illicit production at the mine following its formal closure, as well as severe environmental pollution and radiation sickness caused in the surrounding area.

HRIC fully supports the efforts of Sun Xiaodi’s family and friends to ascertain his whereabouts and secure his release. Sun is one of many activists who have been persecuted for exercising their constitutional right to petition authorities over official wrongdoing and demand accountability. Radiation-related illness and environmental contamination from the No. 792 mine have been well documented, despite the alteration of records such as patients’ medical case histories because of “state secrets” concerns. However, no measures have been taken to protect the health of the local community or the local environment, despite the fact that China has signed 25 international environmental treaties and entered into a large number of bilateral and multilateral protocols and commitments on environmental cooperation. In light of the fact that China has also committed to a “Green Olympics,” HRIC urges the international community to press the Chinese authorities to conduct an in-depth investigation of Sun’s allegations of the corruption and severe human health impacts and environmental degradation at the Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine.