March 9, 2005
Bhopal protests have been cropping up all over the planet, where Dow least expects them. On February 17, Diane Wilson and others attended a Dow banquet at Lake Jackson, Texas where they were received with all the joy and hospitality Macbeth showed to Banquo’s ghost.
Bhopal campaigners turned up to picket Dow’s New Orleans office with some good looking posters and handed out information to passers by.
International Women’s Day saw an open-air protest in Berlin, and Bhopal supporters staged an action at a trade fair in Chicago where Dow was peddling its poisonous wares.
BHOPAL LANDS DOW CHEMICAL
HUMAN RIGHTS BOOBY PRIZE
The Public Eye on Davos – the coalition of NGOs set up as a counterweight to the WEF, has voted Dow Chemical Worst Corporation in the human rights category of its excrescence awards. Dow easily beat a field of deeply unpleasant competitors that included Bayer, Bechtel, Nestlé, Syngenta, Total and Unocal.
Dow was nominated by Greenpeace Switzerland and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), the nomination claiming that:
Dow, the world’s largest chemicals corporation, has one of the worst environmental and social legacies of any major corporation, encompassing Agent Orange, Asbestos, Dioxin, Dursban, DDT, Napalm and Bhopal.
The vote was by public online ballot, open to all comers.
We were about 350 people in all. About 10 men, the rest all women. We reached the Director’s office [Director, Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation, Madhya Pradesh Government] around noon. The office is right opposite the Governor’s residence and hence within a high security zone, but it took a while for the police force to respond.
By the time the first posse of cops arrived the women were all inside the Director’s office. The Director himself was not there, just his office staff. All the rooms were occupied by the women, some even adjusting the coolers to suit their comfort. The big rooms and the corridor reverberated with slogans:
Stop poisoning our children
Arrange for a clean water supply
Implement the Supreme Court’s order
Madhya Pradesh Government stop lying.
The banners we hung outside said “We want water from Kolar Reservoir through pipe lines”. More than a dozen TV and newspaper reporters were on the scene recording the occasional clashes with the cops. There were two trucks with policepersons in full riot gear and two riot control vans in the office compound.
We told the police officials that we would be peaceful and would end the occupation only after a written assurance from the Director about laying down pipelines to bring water to these communities. An hour into the occupation the Director came and a meeting was organised with the demonstrators in the presence of media persons and the police officials.
Bhupal singh agreed to provide us with a written assurance regarding supply of piped water. While it wasn’t what we had aimed for [we wanted an assurance that a pipeline would be laid within one month] it was possibly the first clear response we have got on this so far. There was much cheering and more slogan chanting by the women as they left the Director’s office.
We can help them by writing, faxing or emailing in protest to:
Mr Iqbal Ahmed
Secretary, Department of Gas Relief
Government of Madhya Pradesh
phone: +91 755 441424
fax: +91 755 257 1399