Anti-nuclear activists demonstrate discreetly in front of WHO

Friday, November 16, 2007

Le Monde, 26 September 2007

You could easily miss them. But for five months now, every day, two or three people, with posters around their necks, stand at an intersection in Geneva, from 10.00 until 18.00, Monday to Friday, facing the World Health Organization, and distributing to passers-by a dossier entitled Health Catastrophe of Chernobyl: WHO guilty of non assistance to populations in danger”.

Mainly Swiss and French, 65 volunteers have already held week long vigils, and a waiting list is prepared for those wishing to participate in this discreet, non violent action of indeterminate duration, launched on 26th April 2007, anniversary of the Chernobyl accident by six associations including Les Enfants de Chernobyl – Belarus and the network Sortir du nucléaire (“Get out of nuclear power”), and supported today by around forty NGOs. WHO has yet to respond.

The objective, summarized in a letter to Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO, and displayed on the website of the group, is ambitious: amend the agreement between WHO and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was signed in 1959 and which, among other things, stipulates (Art. 1,3) that “Whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult with the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement”.

According to the protesters, the agreement, in practice, operates in favour of the IAEA, promoter of commercial nuclear power, and this, they assert, is the reason why WHO neglects the health of populations affected by radioactivity. It is taboo to discuss low dose, ionising radiation, explains Michel Fernex, President of the Association Les Enfants de Chernobyl Belarus and Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Medicine of Basel.

In regular contact with colleagues in Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and Belarus – including the Rector of the Gomel Institute, Iouri Bandachevsky, who was imprisoned for a time for having undertaken studies on children, he has struggled for years against “negationism”. In April, he was one of the first, with Wladimir Tchertkoff, writer and film maker, to be one of the sandwich men in front of WHO.

Both point out that in 2005,the IAEA claimed that the Chernobyl catastrophe had resulted in 32 victims and 4000 thyroid cancers, in a document co-signed by WHO. According to Fernex and Tchertkoff, many studies and independent research undertaken in the zone around Chernobyl, among the population, victims of chronic low dose contamination with Cesium 137, have been censored or ignored -studies for example on the increase in diabetes in children or congenital malformations.

They also observe that to this day, WHO has not published the proceedings of two international conferences, Geneva (1995) and Kiev (2001) at which hundreds of specialists, whose views on the health consequences of Chernobyl differ, participated.

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daniel (not verified) Says:
Fri, 2007-11-16 21:41

Doctors can support the demonstrators by signing a letter of concern to the WHO.