January 27, 2018
Tahiti’s president accuses child psychiatrist of causing panic

The President of French Polynesia Edouard Fritch

The President of French Polynesia Edouard Fritch

The French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch has accused a child psychiatrist of causing panic with his report on troubled children whose conditions he has linked to the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.

He was reacting to a report by the former head of child psychiatry in Tahiti Christian Sueur in a French newspaper detailing his experiences, especially in the areas close to the Moruroa test site.

Dr Sueur noted that of the 271 children he treated for pervasive developmental disorders, 69 had intellectual disabilities or deformities which he attributed to genetic mutations.

He also reported that on Tureia atoll, a quarter of the children present during the 1971 blast now had thyroid cancer.

Mr Fritch told Tahiti Nui TV that it hurts to hear that a quarter of all children risk having malformations because their parents had been exposed to radiation.

He said two years ago he hired an eminent French expert Bruno Barrillot to launch a genetic study.

Mr Barrillot died last year after having returned to his job at the French Polynesian commission looking at the aftermath of the weapons tests.

This week, Dr Sueur called for an independent study to be carried out and the French overseas minister Annick Girardin said she wasn’t against having such a study.

In 2013, Mr Barrillot had been sacked only days after the government of Gaston Flosse was elected, in which Mr Fritch was the vice-president.

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Christian Sueur