Thursday, 8 March 2012

India revokes visa to Fukushima survivor: Move aimed at keeping people in dark about dangers of nuclear radiation

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 7: Faced with strong protests from local people over the Kudankulam 
nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, the Central government has thrown a blanket ban on 
Fukushima survivors from participating in nuclear awareness campaigns in the country.

The Indian government has revoked the visa granted to Mrs Maya Kobayashi, a Fukushima 
survivor, who was scheduled to visit India to participate in campaigns being organized by 
Green Peace. Fukushima nuclear survivors have been visiting different countries sharing 
their experience of the nuclear disaster in Japan last year.

Of the 11 countries, India was the only country to deny visa to a Fukushima survivor.
“In what could be interpreted as a brazen attempt to stifle criticism, the Indian 
government has cancelled a visa granted to Mrs. Maya Kobayashi from Japan. She was   
scheduled to visit India to share her experiences with communities, who will be affected 
by the proposed nuclear power plants,” said a Green Peace statement here on Wednesday.

The Indian embassy had granted Mrs. Kobayashi a business visa on February 15 with the 
information that she had been invited by Greenpeace India to attend events and meet 
people. “The fact that the government is going to the extent of cancelling legitimately 
granted visas clearly shows that they don’t want people from Japan to come to India and 
share their experience with the people of India. Five survivors from Fukushima visited 
around a dozen countries and India is the only country to revoke the visa.” said Karuna 
Raina, nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace India.

Mrs. Kobayashi was living in Fukushima city on March 11, 2011, when the disaster at the 
Fukushima Daichi plant took place. As the disaster unfolded, she helped save children 
from radiation as part of a network of local mothers. As it became clear that Fukushima 
city was badly exposed to radiation, Ms. Kobayashi and her husband decided to leave the 
city for Yonezawa, where they now live in temporary housing.

"I got a call from the Indian Embassy earlier, informing me that my visa is cancelled. 
Today they sent me an official letter, informing me about the same. I was looking forward 
to coming to India and sharing my experiences with people who are fighting against the 
dangers of nuclear energy,” said Mrs. Kobayashi.

Ms. Kobayashi was due to interact with community members at proposed nuclear power plant 
sites.

“The government is stifling free speech and democracy. The people living near those 
proposed project sites were keen to hear from Ms. Kobayashi as to what transpired and is 
still transpiring in Fukushima, where a disaster at what was considered one of the 
world’s safest nuclear plants has impacted hundreds of thousands of people and led to 
billions of dollars in clean up and liability costs,” said Samit Aich, Executive 
Director, Greenpeace India.

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