Environmentalist and Daughter Sent to Re-education through Labor Camps

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Environmentalist and Daughter Sent to Re-education through Labor Camps

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, July 16, 2009) – Sun Xiaodi (孙小弟), a Gansu environmental activist and recipient of the 2006 Nuclear-Free Future Award, has been sent to two years of Re-education through Labor (RTL). Sun’s daughter, Sun Haiyan (孙海燕, also known as Sun Dunbai [孙敦白]), has also been sent to 18 months of RTL. It is believed that Sun and his daughter are being retaliated against for exposing official corruption and nuclear waste pollution in Gansu Province.

According to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), Sun Xiaodi’s wife, Hu Jianhong (胡建红), was summoned this morning by National Security police from the Diebu County Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Gansu Province. Hu was given an official notification dated July 9, which stated that the RTL Management Committee of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, had decided to send her husband and daughter to two years and 18 months of RTL, respectively.

According to the RTL notice, Sun Xiaodi, 53, and Sun Haiyan, 25, are being punished for “illegally providing state secrets overseas” and “rumor mongering”. In 2004, Sun Xiaodi was interviewed by a journalist from Epoch Times (大纪元), a US-based media company. The RTL authorities alleged that Sun Xiaodi, who told the journalist about pollution from the Number 792 uranium mine, an operation in Diebu County, Gansu Province, in which he used to work, “illegally provided state secrets overseas”. Authorities also alleged that, since March 2006, with the help of his daughter, Sun Xiaodi “made up and twisted facts” and “spread rumors” abroad. Sun Xiaodi had recently contacted members of human rights organizations and the central government, reporting that local officials in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Diebu County exaggerated the local impact of the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake in order to receive increased disaster relief funding. Sun Xiaodi has also continued to relate concerns about radioactive contamination and pollution from the Number 792 uranium mine.
“When the authorities decide to punish activists like Sun and his daughter, but lack evidence to file charges against them, they have the convenience of simply throwing them into RTL camps because officials do not need to go through any judicial procedures,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director.

RTL is an administrative detention measure under which, without any proper legal procedures or court proceedings, the Public Security Bureau can send individuals to detention facilities for a maximum of four years. Detainees sent to RTL are deprived of their rights to a fair trial.

CHRD calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Sun Xiaodi and Sun Haiyan.

CHRD believes that Sun Xiaodi and Sun Haiyan have been sent to RTL solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions and peaceful activities to protect the environment and the right to health. The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed, as well as Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution, and the right to health is guaranteed in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights, which China has ratified.


Sun Xiaodi, 53, is a former employee at the Number 792 uranium mine, Diebu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. Sun has been working to expose illegal activities at the mine and serious environmental degradation since 1988. He has documented cases of hazardous working conditions, increased rates of cancer among people living near the mines, and improper disposal of radioactive waste and equipment, actions that have earned him years of harassment and persecution from local officials. From April to December 2005, Sun was secretly detained after being intercepted petitioning in Beijing. He was awarded the prestigious “Nuclear-Free Future Award” for his work on December 1, 2006, which brought increased attention from the authorities.

On June 16, police seized Sun Xiaodi at his home in Diebu County, Gansu Province. On the same day, Gansu police forcibly returned Sun Haiyan, 25, who was in Beijing at the time, to Gansu Province.

Media Contacts for this Release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +852 8191 6937

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +85…

For more information about Sun Xiaodi, please see:

CRLW, 民生观察强烈抗议甘肃警方对反核污染斗士孙小弟父女的劳教决定》, July 16, 2009, http://www.msguancha.com/Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=2201

CRLW, 反核污染斗士孙小弟父女被刑事拘留》, June 24, 2009, /Article/Class2/200906/20090624224317_15994.html

CRLW, 反核污染斗士孙小弟被控“非法提供秘密情报”遭拘捕》, June 16, 2009, /Article/Class53/200906/20090616235849_15883.html

CHRD, “The Perils of Defending Rights”, May 4, 2007, /Article/Class2/200906/20090624224317_15994.html

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