01/04/2007, 00.00
CHINA

Environmental activist who exposed radiation pollution in Gansu denied medical treatment

Sun Xiaodi was diagnosed with abdominal cancer due to uranium radiation. His campaign against uranium mining has been squelched by the authorities.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Environmentalist Sun Xiaodi, who exposed radiation poisoning in Gansu province, could die from a potentially life-threatening tumour because the authorities have denied him medical treatment in Beijing, Human Rights in China (HRC) reported yesterday. The activist has been subjected to constant harassment, his home has been raided several times and his family's electricity and water supplies have been regularly cut.

Sun Xiaodi received the Nuclear-Free Future Award in November for publicly exposing the dangers of radiation pollution at a uranium mine in Gansu.

The activist said people living near the site had a high incidence of cancerous tumours, leukaemia, birth defects, miscarriages and other afflictions because of the pollution.

But he was unable to fly to the United States to receive the award because he was not allowed to leave the country, the HRC said.

The human rights group explained that the activist has campaigned against illegal mining practices in Gansu for more than a decade.

This kind of mining has led to serious pollution problems in the area. For local Tibetan medical workers, nearly half of the deaths in the region are in fact due to some forms of cancer, according to the human rights group.

Mr Sun himself has also been diagnosed with an abdominal tumour.

He was thrown into jail in April 2005 for eight months after speaking to foreign journalists about the pollution and was again detained and released in 2006.

According to HRC, the activist has been the victim of constant harassment and attacks by unidentified persons since winning the award. And police have entered his home several times and cut off power and water supplies.

His family asked local authorities last November to allow the activist to go to Beijing for cancer treatment, but the application was turned down.

Mr Sun was a former employee of the Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. He repeatedly petitioned provincial and central authorities to look into local mismanagement and illegal mining, but was instead fired in 1994.

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