March 7, 2012: In what could be interpreted as a brazen attempt to stifle criticism, the Indian government has cancelled a visa granted to Mrs. Maya Kobayashi, a Fukushima survivor from Japan due to visit the country on the invitation of Greenpeace India. Mrs. Kobayashi was scheduled to visit India to share her experiences with communities who will be affected by the proposed nuclear power plants.
The Indian embassy had granted Mrs. Kobayashi a business visa on February 15th 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, 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.
"The cancellation of her visa is a clear sign that the government is paranoid about allowing people to even share experiences on an issue that affects the safety of millions of Indians," Aich concluded.
For supporting documents and more information:
Karuna Raina, Nuclear Campaigner, +91 96501 11955 <>
Hozefa Merchant, Media Officer, +91 9819592410 <>
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