International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (Chennai)
CHENNAI, 13 December, 2008 – Five Bhopali children affected by Union Carbide’s poisons, including three with visible deformities, are visiting Chennai from 16 to 19 December to urge the organisations that are promoting the famous “Jaipur Foot” to dissociate themselves with Dow Chemical (India) and Union Carbide. Representing a newly formed organisation – Children Against Dow-Carbide – the children said the NGOs should not accept money from a company that is responsible for crippling tens of thousands of children in Bhopal, and lakhs of people in Vietnam. Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayog Samiti is working through Chennai-based Adinath Jain Trust to organise a 5-day camp targeting people with disabilities. The camp is sponsored by a donation from Dow India. Dow will also supply polyurethane plastic as a substitute to the vulcanised rubber that is currently being used to make the artificial limbs. Ironically, the manufacture of polyurethane plastic involves the use of iso-cyanates – a highly toxic class of chemicals that includes methyl isocyanate (MIC) that was responsible for the mass fatalities in Bhopal. The plastic also presents a very serious fire hazard, as it burns readily and releases super-toxic gases, including childhood-leukemia causing benzene, hydrogen cyanide (another Bhopal gas) and carbon monoxide.
“We are happy that the Sahyog Samiti is helping children, like ourselves, with health problems. But they must understand that Dow’s money is tainted with our blood, our lost childhoods,” said Children Against Dow-Carbide in a statement.
Dow and its wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide are at the centre of protests by survivors of the 1984 gas disaster for failing to take responsibility for the fall-out caused by the gas leak and the toxic wastes left behind when Union Carbide fled India. More than 10,000 tons of hazardous wastes lie strewn around the dilapidated factory site. Over the years, these wastes have leached their poisons into the groundwater consumed by more than 25,000 people. Children in water-affected areas of Bhopal are suffering from grotesquely deforming disabilities, and serious health disorders. Cerebral palsy, mental retardation, growth deformities, missing palates, cleft lips – the list of birth defects among gas- and water-affected people is long. CADC also pointed out that more than 650,000 children in Vietnam are suffering from disabilities caused by Agent Orange, a deadly chemical that was manufactured by Dow and used by the American military in its war against Vietnam.
“Dow and Union Carbide’s first responsibility is to the people whose lives it has destroyed and the children whose childhoods it has robbed,” said Rafat Khan, a 15-year old founder member of CADC. “Charity cannot replace responsibility. If Dow were truly responsible, it would rehabilitate the Bhopali children it has hurt,” she said.
While in Chennai, the children will visit schools and colleges to urge youngsters to lend support to their struggle by forming Students for Bhopal clubs and undertaking awareness activities and direct actions in the 25th anniversary.
For more information, contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman. Tel: 9444082401
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
42A, 1st Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090