Bruno Barrillot, dedicated opponent of French nuclear testing, passes away in Polynesia

Brunot Barrillot has passed away

Saturday March 25, 2017

translation of Bruno Barillot est décédé

Tahiti Nui Télévision, French Polynesia

Bruno Barrillot, researcher and ardent opponent of nuclear testing, died on Saturday in hospital in Taaone, after a long illness.

Bruno Barrillot was an ardent opponent of nuclear testing, but he was above all a recognized authority in research in this field. Few people know it, but before devoting himself to this cause, Bruno, a native of Lyon, was a catholic priest.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, France conducted 210 nuclear tests. As a member of the clergy, Bruno Barrillot called on the church to respond to this issue, but he was not listened to. He found his convictions could not be followed in the church, so he resigned and began research on the French nuclear tests. After working for many years for anti-nuclear organizations, he came to Polynesia in the 1990s as a journalist for Libération.

Bruno Barrillot helped unify young people working for independence while at the same time conducting research on the island of Mangareva. He wrote several books on the nuclear tests and was involved in the founding of the group Moruroa e Tatou.

As a specialist in armaments, and especially nuclear weapons, Bruno Barrillot was the co-founder in 1984 of the Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Paix et les Conflits, which later became l’Observatoire des armements.

In 2001, it was with Roland Oldham and John Doom that he founded Moruroa e Tatou, the association of former workers and victims who had been sent to the test sites on the atolls Moruroa and Fangataufa.

From 2009 to 2013, for the government of presidents Tong Sang and Oscar Temaru, Bruno Barrillot was the Polynesian delegate reporting on the consequences of nuclear testing in French Polynesia. La Délégation polynésienne pour le suivi des conséquences des essais nucléaires (DSCEN) had been created in December 2007.

Under the direction of Bruno Barrillot, the DSCEN was charged with ensuring the general, technical and scientific work of the Advisory Council on the Study of the Consequences of Nuclear Testing (COSCEN : Conseil d’orientation pour le suivi des conséquences des essais nucléaires). He was also charged with coordinating administrative services and public institutions so that they could intervene in the study of the consequences of nuclear testing. He was to make proposals and recommendations on issues related to the environment, public health, social and cultural impacts, and land management. He was also spokesperson for the state delegate for the follow-up of this project as well as for the liaison committee for the coordination of health studies on French nuclear testing (CSSEN: Comité de liaison pour la coordination du suivi sanitaire des essais nucléaires français)

Bruno Barrillot was dismissed from his post when Gaston Flosse returned to the presidency in 2013. In August 2016, president Édouard Fritch had him reinstated. The month before, Barrillot told Tahiti Nui Télévision about his wish to see changes in the conditions for eligibility for compensation for damages from nuclear testing. He wanted a system similar to what the American government has established for victims of nuclear testing. He said, “The American law is based on the principle of presumption. If a person has a listed health problem and that person was on the sites or near them—which here would mean anywhere in Polynesia—that person receives compensation and there is a committee that decides the amount.”

Bruno Barrillot leaves behind an adopted son from Benin, West Africa, whom he took under his wing at the age of twenty.

Learn more about the history of opposition to French nuclear testing and the struggles for recognition and compensation for health damages from nuclear fallout. These two short interviews with Bruno Barrillot are subtitled in both French and English.

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