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Between 1964 and 1996, China performed the biggest series of nuclear tests in the world. The consequences of 46 explosions for the local population in the Xinjiang region are still unknown. On Wednesday, members of the European Parliament invited human rights organizations to a conference to raise the issue. Our bureau in Brussels, Belgium files this report.
Human rights organizations and members of the European Parliament raised the issue of atomic tests at a conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
Forty-six nuclear explosions were conducted in Xinjiang - an autonomous region of China - from 1964 to 1996 and their effects on the local population are unknown to this day.
[Dr. Enver Tohti, Uighur Surgeon and Independent Researcher]:
"Chinese government has carried out 46 nuclear explosions in the Lop Nor area. Actually it wasn't, it was much in the northwest and very close to residential areas. Only 120 kilometers away from Turpan, for example. Because of this secrecy, probably we will never find out exactly how many people died."
These 46 tests - 23 conducted in the atmosphere and 23 conducted underground - are the largest series of nuclear tests conducted in a populated area. The three biggest of these 46 tests generated much more radioactivity than the Chernobyl disaster.
Between 1997 and 1998, the number of cancer patients in the regional hospital of Xinjiang dramatically increased from 500 to about 2,000.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the people in the region are too poor to access any medical help.
[Antoinette de Jong, Journalist]:
"In the case of China, it seems that there is a lack of even acknowledging that these tests have been taking place, that there is a problem, that there is medical data available, suggesting that there is an effect."