Wilson launches the Worldwide Hunger Strike
17 July 2002
August protests at Seadrift and worldwide
Pictures of Diane outside Dow
worldwide hunger strike outside Dow's gates
the Delhi dharna ended, a lone woman wearing a cowboy hat settled herself
in the back of an old pick-up truck outside the Dow (formerly Carbide)
chemical plant in Sea Drift, Texas. She announced that she was taking
up the hunger strike to support the demands of the Bhopal survivors.
Wilson is an extraordinary woman. Mother and housewife, she is also
a fourth-generation fisherman, and captain of her own shrimp boat. She
used to make a quiet living from shrimping until she started seeing
dead dolphins and pelicans. When the shrimp started coming up dead,
she realised it was time to act.
"I have been battling the huge chemical corporations (Union Carbide/Dow,
Alcoa, BP Chemical, Dupont, Formosa Plastics, Carbon Graphite) that
made our county, Calhoun, the top number one county in the nation for
toxic disposal since l989. I am founder of Calhoun County Resource Watch,
a non-profit environmental group. Most of my members are Anglo, Vietnamese,
and Hispanic commercial fishermen.
fight for the bays of our hometown, I have been
four hunger strikes, two that were over 30 days, and attempted to sink
my own 42 feet shrimp boat on top of an illegal discharge that was killing
the bay while surrounded by 3 boatloads of US CoastGuard."
have won zero discharge agreements from two of the companies, Formosa
Plastics and Alcoa and had zero discharge resolutions passed by both
the Calhoun County Commissioners Court and Seadrift city council. The
Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) Union also passed a national
resolution for zero discharge."
For this work,
Diane has won numerous environmental awards, and been featured on 48Hours
and Lifetime TV. A children's book, Nobody Particular by Molly Bangs
tells the story of her battle. She recently wrote her own account of her struggle
against the polluters. The Seadrifter: A Tale of an Unreasonable Woman.
My life as a fisherwoman has taught me one thing, that there are no
seas with lines and divisions. So similarly if there is a border that separates
me as an American from the anguish and sorrow of my
sisters and brothers in Bhopal and their fight for justice, then that line
is a false and lying one. All the great religions teach that we are one. One
woman's pain is a pain to all. An injustice to one is an injustice to all.
Bhopal is a symbol of the unfinished business of justice that lies before
all mankind and the struggle should never be abandoned.
in Tamilnadu go on hunger strike for Bhopal
Diane, Jayakumar, Kalaisekar and Arul earn their living, from the sea.
Their catch includes shrimp, which can earn them nearly four times as
much as fish. But with marine resources being depleted, their catch
grows smaller each year. They too are worried about pollution of the
ocean, and like so many others around the world, they are touched by
the injustice suffered by the gas victims of Bhopal.
thing to link us: The Tamil word katamarram for a boat made of
two tied-together log hulls, has given the world the concept of the
is growing around the world
fifty members of the Tamilnadu Women's Collective have joined the hunger
strike, with women taking different days to fast.
gardeners from Maine, USA, are fasting each Wednesday between now and
In New York,
environmental campaigner Bianca Jagger said:
"It is unconscionable that after nearly 18 years, Union Carbide and its
CEO Warren Anderson have not had to face charges. How has Union Carbide
Corporation managed to escape with total impunity? How has Mr Anderson managed
to avoid extradition for the 11 years in which he and his Corporation have
been thumbing their noses at the Bhopal Court, thus breaking the legally-binding
undertaking they gave to a US court? Why does the Indian government now seek
to reward him by diluting the charges against him?
questions that will be asked in Bhopal on Wednesday. People who lost loved
ones and have been
living with terrible illnesses for nearly 18 years will want to know, how
did the Corporation get away with paying
us such obscenely miniscule compensation? Would this have happened
if 8,000 people had been gassed to death in the US or the UK on one single
night? Why is human life in developing countries so devalued?
What answers shall we give them? Should we hold up our hands and talk
about the importance of multinational investment in India? Or legal technicalities?
Should we say that when President Bush talks about corporate accountability,
he specifically excludes Union Carbide and its new owners Dow Chemicals?
"What happened in 1984 was an unspeakable tragedy, what has happened
since is a travesty of justice, an abuse of fundamental human rights on a
contemptuous scale. It cannot be allowed to continue. Whether or not the Indian
government has its way on Wednesday, the fight for justice must go on. I call
upon decent people all
round the world who believe in fairness and justice to join us in supporting
the poor, the helpless, and the abused
gas survivors of Bhopal."
Mayor Gianfranco Bettin and members of his team went on hunger strike
between 13 to 17 July in sympathy and solidarity with the hunger strikers
in New Delhi.
activist Jodie Evans is rousing members of her group, Bad
Babes and their Buddies which she described as "a group of
women educated in non-violent direct action available to the greater
community." Jodie is planning to fly out soon to join Diane Wilson
outside Dow's gates in Sea Drift.
Rothballer from San Francisco has just completed two days of fasting
for Sea Drift, noted environmental lawyer Carolyn
Raffensperger from North Dakota.
do the hunger strikers want?
a word, justice.
The hunger strikes
around the world, involving increasing numbers of people, aim to bring pressure
on the Indian government to withdraw its application, and to put pressure
on Dow Chemicals (of which Union Carbide is now a wholly-owned subsidiary)
to accept Carbide's liabilities in India as it has in the USA.
The hunger strikers
allege that the Indian governments decisions are a direct result of
behind-the-scenes pressure by Dow Chemical, who made Union Carbide a wholly
owned subsidiary in February 2001. Until now, criminal proceedings against
Union Carbide were difficult to enforce legally because, though the accused
refuse to appear in Court, Union Carbide no longer has any assets in India.
However, Dow's $10 billion acquisition of Union Carbide opened the possibility
of enforcing criminal liability against the corporation as Dow has four subsidiaries
and substantial assets in India. It is believed that an intensified campaign
by the Bhopal survivors and their international supporters to hold Dow liable
for the crimes of Carbide has caused Dow's insecurity and hence their pressure
on the Government of India to effectively close the files.
The hunger strikers around the world strongly demand that:
The Government of India withdraw its application for dilution of charges
before the 17 July hearings at the Bhopal Magistrates court and take immediate
steps to extradite Warren Anderson.
The Government of India act rapidly to hold Dow Chemicals, Carbides new
owner, responsible for the pending medical and environmental rehabilitation
liabilities in Bhopal.
Dow Chemicals take full responsibility for Union Carbides liabilities
what else you can do to help.