26 Aug 2002

French Polynesian delegation of weapons test workers not able to met French Minister

11:42 am on 26 August 2002

French Polynesian workers, who were formerly employed on the French nuclear weapons test programme, have expressed their disappointment at not being able to meet the new French Minister in charge of overseas territories.

The French News Agency, AFP, say a delegation of the Mururoa E Tatou Association had sought a meeting with Brigitte Girardin during her five day visit to French Polyneisa, but it was only allowed to talk to a top official.

The Association, which represents nearly 12 hundred former test site employees, wants France to release their medical records.

It accuses France of indifference to their plight and wants it to acknowledge a link between the weapons tests and the high rate of thyroid cancers.

The Association's president, Roland Oldham, says he doesn't understand why a democracy like France shows such disdain for the Polynesians who were exposed to 193 nuclear tests without being asked for consent.

Speaking in Bora Bora, Mrs Girardin said she was surprised at the comment, adding that the issue was a defence matter