Koodankulam: Open Letter from International Scholars to the Indian PM

The Honorable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh

The Honorable Chief Minister, Government of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Selvi J. Jayalalithaa

The Honorable Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Chidambaram Palanniappan,

Honorable Madam and Gentlemen,

We the undersigned are very concerned over the heavy-handed manner in which the governments of India and Tamil Nadu have treated the non-violent struggle against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. We understand that just between September and December 2011, complaints were registered against more than 55,000 people in just one police station – the Koodankulam police station.

Residents of the Idinthakarai fishing village, who have been at the forefront of the non-violent struggle, and who continue to demonstrate against the project are afraid to leave their village for fear of being arrested and jailed. Two activists have been languishing in jail, and bail is being delayed or denied. In the entire district of Tirunelveli, we understand that no event critical of nuclear energy is permitted. Printing presses have been warned by the police against printing wall posters or other material critical of nuclear energy.

India has strived hard to maintain its democratic credentials and spirit. But the manner in which voices critical of nuclear power are being silenced in Tamil Nadu poses a serious threat to democracy.

We understand that the grass roots people’s movement against the plant started in the late 1980s when the plan was disclosed. Since then it has grown into a non-violent mass movement of 10,000 people strong, centered in Idihthakarai and adjacent villages. This is a “genuine people’s movement” with principled non-violent and democratic means of protest such as hunger strikes, relay-fasts, and road blockades.

The proposed Koondankulam plant is located in a tsunami and earthquake prone area, as evidenced by the 2004 tsunami that claimed 8,000 people’s lives in Tamil Nadu. The most recent Indonesian earthquake on April 11th produced significant tremors across Tamil Nadu. The parallel with Fukushima is too striking to be ignored. Under the circumstances, the way in which the project is being pushed through, even without conducting mandatory emergency drills is extremely worrisome.

The government needs to engage with people and address their concerns scientifically and honestly. People’s fears about the dangers of nuclear power cannot be silenced by police power.

We call upon the Tamil Nadu and the Indian governments to meet the following demands of the people:

· Remove uranium fuel rods from the KKNPP facility in the wake of Nature’s threats;

· Institute an independent committee of experts to study the geology, hydrology and oceanography involved in the Koodankulam project without further delay;

· Consult the local people affected by the project for their approval or rejection of the KKNPP;

· Conduct disaster management and evacuation exercises for all the people in 30 km radius from the Plant;

· Share a copy of the Intergovernmental Agreement between India and Russia in 2008 on liability;

· Divulge all the relevant information about the Plant’s nuclear wastes and their management;

· Withdraw all the charges, cases and complaints against all the protestors and release all imprisoned protestors as agreed upon on in our talks with the Tamil Nadu government’s authorities on March 27, 2012; and

· Respect the democratic rights of our people to oppose the Plant peacefully and nonviolently.

In addition, we also request that all restrictions on free speech, including the free movement of people in and out of Idinthakarai village be lifted; and that both the regional and national governments ensure the villagers’ access to essential resources and services such as food, water, medicine, and hospitals.

Despite the physical distance, we stand with the people gathered in Idithakarai, and their right to speak out freely and non-violently. We are hopeful that India will live up to its reputation as the world’s largest democracy


Johan Galtung, dr hc mult, Professor of Peace Studies, Founder TRANSCEND: A Peace Development Environment Network

Glenn Paige, Chair of Governing Council, Global Institute of Non-Killing, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Co-founder of Peace People, N. Ireland

Fritjof Capra, founding director, Center for Ecoliteracy, professor of physics, author of ‘The Tao of Physics”

Michael J. Shapiro, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i

George Kent, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Peter Manicas, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Prof. Dr. Dietrich Fischer, Academic Director, World Peace Academy – Basel, Switzerland

Louis Herman, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii at West Oahu – Honolulu, Hawai’i

Bishnu Pathak, PhD – Executive Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Center, Kathmandu – Nepal

Michael True, Emeritus Professor, Assumption College, Massachusetts, USA

Kathy E. Ferguson, Professor of Political Science and Women Studies, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor of Richmond, California ,USA

Jacques Depelchin, Visiting Professor of African History at Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil

Manfred Henningsen, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Lester R. Kurtz, Professor of Public Sociology, George Mason University, VA-USA

John Scales Avery – Professor Emeritus of physics and chemistry University of Copenhagen-Denmark and Chairman, Danish National Group, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

Farai Maguwu – Director, Center for Research and Development, Mutare, Zimbabwe

Michaela Birk, Executive Director, Transform: Centre for Conflict Analysis, Political Development and World Society Research, Berlin-Germany

Ahmed Badawi, Research Associate, Zentrum Moderner Orient – Berlin, Germany

Ajay Skaria, Professor in Global Studies and History, University of Minnesota, USA

Kyoko Okumoto, Professor at Osaka Jogakuin University, TRANSCEND Japan, TRANSCEND North East Asia, TRANSCEND Global

Akifumi Fujita, M.A., Lecturer in Peace Studies, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan

Jovanka Beckles, City Council member, Richmond California, USA

Raj Patel, Visiting Scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California Berkeley, and Research Associate at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Paul Ropp, Research Professor, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

Federico Mayor, Professor of the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain). Former Director General of Unesco


Dr. Ivan Šimonović Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights. OHCHR in New York
UN Headquarters 
New York

Ms. Helen Clark , United Nations Development Programme Administrator

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi

Mr. Arun Jaitley, BJP



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