French Polynesians protest atomic test compensation plan

20th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Around 3,000 people protested in Tahiti on Saturday against a French government proposal to compensate victims of atomic tests which they said does not go far enough.

Papeete - Around 3,000 people protested in Tahiti on Saturday against a French government proposal to compensate victims of atomic tests which they said does not go far enough.

The demonstration was called by French Polynesia's main religious and political groupings and coincided with a visit by a French ministry of defence delegation.

Some 150,000 civilian and military personnel took part in 210 nuclear tests carried out in the Sahara desert and the Pacific between 1960 and 1996. Many of them later developed serious health problems.

But Polynesian authorities say that the zones and illnesses designated for compensation are too narrow.

The Polynesian health ministry's council for studying the impact of nuclear tests wants those affected in "all Polynesian archipelagos to be part of the geographical zone" covered by the compensation programme.

The council also wants the list of radiation-linked illnesses covered by the plan to be expanded.

The French National Assembly in June passed the bill to compensate the victims of nuclear tests carried out in French Polynesia and Algeria over more than three decades.

France for decades denied its responsibility for fear the admission would have weakened its nuclear programme during the Cold War.

The law on "recognising and compensating victims of nuclear tests" is expected to be passed by the Senate on Tuesday.

The South Pacific archipelago of 115 islands is a French overseas collectivity and was annexed by France in the late 19th century.

AFP/Expatica

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