MAYILADUTHURAI, 24 November, 2004
More than 250 people in Mayiladuthurai, Tamilnadu, the constituency of Minister of Petroleum Mani Shankar Aiyar, today held a demonstration in solidarity with the survivors of the Bhopal disaster demanding that Union Carbide’s new owner Dow Chemical be barred from bidding for a technology contract in Indian Oil Corporation’s proposed refinery complex in Paradeep, Orissa. In Bhopal too, survivors began collecting signatures on a petition echoing the same demand and urging the Government of India to blacklist Dow Chemical and Union Carbide to prevent them from doing business in India. The Mayiladuthurai demonstration was organised by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal along with the Tamizhar Rights Organisation, Dr. Ambedkar Podhu Nala Amaippu (Dr. Ambedkar Public Welfare Organisation) and the Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam.
Since it took over Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical has actively shielded its subsidiary from its pending legal liabilities, including outstanding criminal charges, in Bhopal. In 1992, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal declared Union Carbide Corporation an absconder after the company repeatedly failed to honour court summons to appear in the criminal case where the Corporation stands accused of “culpable homicide” for its role in causing the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal. The gas leak from Union Carbide’s pesticide factory has killed more than 20,000 people, and at least 500,000 people continue to suffer the long-term medical and social effects of the disaster.
On December 6, 2004, the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal will decide on summoning Dow Chemical to show cause why they should not be asked to produce Union Carbide to face trial.
“As a voter from Mani Shankar Aiyar’s constituency, I appeal to the Petroleum Minister that he should honour the faith we place in him, and ensure that justice is done to the people of Bhopal by blacklisting Dow Chemical. Opening up business partnerships with Dow Chemical will unnecessarily expose IOC to Dow’s potential liabilities in Bhopal,” said V. Senthil, a volunteer with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and one of the organisers of the Mayiladuthurai protest.
“The Government should focus on its responsibilities to the people of Bhopal and bring the perpetrators of the disaster to justice rather than consider doing business with the criminal corporations. We will not allow Dow Chemical or its subsidiaries to do business in India, and will actively solicit support to prevent its business expansion in other parts of the world,” said Rashida Bee, a leader of the survivors’ struggle for justice and 2004 winner of the prestigious Goldman Environment Prize.
More than 200 organisations worldwide will be taking action against Dow Chemical and criminal corporations in the weeks leading up to December 3 – the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster.
The Mayiladuthurai demonstration involved the participation of Kosu Mani, TN Meenavar Munnetra Sangam; R. Muralidharan, Tamizhar Urimai Iyakkam; V. Senthil, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal; P. Parventhan, Kancheepuram Ambedkar Makkal Viduthalai Munnani; Sasikumar and M.P. Anbuselvan, Beema Rao Podhu Nala Sangam; Ramesh, Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam; T.S.S. Mani, Human Rights Initiative; Bharathi, South India Fishermen Association; and Anton Gomez, National Environment Protection Organisation.
For more information, contact:
T.S.S. Mani. (Mayiladuthurai) Cell: 9444271908
Nityanand Jayaraman (Chennai): 9444082401.
Rachna Dhingra (Bhopal): +9826167369
In Chennai: International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
H19/4, Gangai Street, Kalakshetra Colony, Chennai 600 090