INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE IN BHOPAL
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) is a coalition of people’s organizations, non-profit groups, and individuals who have joined forces to campaign for justice for the survivors of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal. ICJB is led by three survivor organizations and includes thousands of supporters worldwide.
On the night of the disaster, December 3rd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India leaked 27 tons of a deadly gas throughout the city. None of the six safety systems designed to control such a leak were operational, exposing half a million people to the toxic gas. 25,000 people have died since then as a result of their exposure and more than 100,000 people are left chronically ill because of their exposure to the toxic gas. 30,000 people have also been affected by contaminated groundwater that continues to spread due to the toxics Carbide left behind, and which they continue to use to drink, cook, and clean.
This crime still hasn’t been accounted for to this day, 25 years later. Dow Chemical Company, who took ownership of Union Carbide, refuses to accept their liabilities or to even admit that they exist.
SOME IMPORTANT CAMPAIGN VICTORIES
- In 2008 Bhopalis marched 500 miles from Bhopal to New Delhi, then held a four month sit in on the streets of Delhi and a hunger strike. As a result of this effort, Bhopal has received major international media attention and daily Indian coverage nearly every day for over four months. The campaign won the promise of a federal Empowered Commission on Bhopal to include survivor groups in decision-making bodies with the power to address the welfare needs of the survivors.
- After this major mobilization, the government finally began construction of a clean water pipeline into the affected communities; construction began in early 2009.
- Four of the most prestigious universities in India, the Indian Institutes of Technology, rejected money from Dow and barred Dow from recruiting at over half of the IITs until it faces its Bhopal liabilities. IIT Delhi and Kanpur publicly dropped Dow sponsorship for events.
- 280 Indian legal experts declared that under Indian law, Dow should be held liable for the ongoing contamination in Bhopal. Both the Chemical and Law Ministries of the Indian government are now siding with the Bhopal survivors.
- A campaign was able to push the Indian government to distribute the remaining settlement funds from 1989, which it was refusing to disburse to the 500,000 eligible people. Although a pathetic sum – about $500 per person – the government had tried to divert these remaining funds.
- City proclamations and resolutions in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Berkeley and Cambridge have condemned Dow and called on them to address its Bhopal legacy and student organizations stopped Dow contributions on multiple campuses.