Gansu-based activist Sun Xiaodi, who 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, was presented yesterday with the Nuclear-Free Future Award,
described as the globe's most prestigious anti-nuclear prize.
award, recognizing his "moral courage to petition for an end to the toxic
mismanagement corrupting Chinese uranium production," was presented at the
Indigenous World Uranium Summit hosted by the Navajo Nation in Window Rock,
Arizona on the evening of December 1. Because Sun remains under strict
surveillance and cannot leave China, Human Rights in China (HRIC) Domestic
Advocacy Program Officer Feng Congde attended the Summit to accept the award on
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.
observed how a region of green fields, clear waters and woodlands filled with
wildlife has been 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.
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 is now forbidden even to talk on the telephone, much
less leave China to attend an award ceremony.
The Nuclear-Free Future
Award was endowed following the World Uranium Hearing in Salzburg, Austria in
1992, and since 1998 has been presented to individuals and organizations who
have worked tirelessly to end the nuclear fuel cycle. The jury deciding this
year's award included environmentalists, activists, scholars and journalists
from the United States, Germany and France. Although unable to attend the award
ceremony, Sun sent a recorded message to the gathering, accompanied by a video
prepared by HRIC:
Dear Chairman and Friends,
I regret very much that I cannot
be here to accept the award personally. Since my release from detention, I
have been in an extremely insecure situation in which I am threatened,
intimidated and harassed. I felt tremendously honored and touched when I
learned that I had been selected as this year's Nuclear-Free Future Award
recipient, because I have seen the great power of world peace and development.
At the same time, I feel a deep sorrow, because I have also helplessly
witnessed the environmental problems caused by the failure to effectively
contain and reduce nuclear contamination. Breaking through fear to fight for a
nuclear-free environment requires a person to take a path full of hardship,
bloodshed and tears, which could end up in either life or death. However, I
firmly believe that if all people who are peace-loving and concerned with
human destiny and upholding justice can come together and take action as soon
as possible, a nuclear-free tomorrow can become a reality.
I wish the
conference great success!
November 9, 2006
HRIC Executive Director Sharon Hom said, "This activism award to
Sun Xiaodi sends an important message of international support and recognition
not only for Sun and his family, but to all the courageous grassroots activists
in China struggling under a difficult climate of repression and
For further information on the Nuclear-Free Future Award, see