Bhopal protestors stage die-in at PMO: Announce global hunger strike

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Thirty six Bhopalis, including 13 children and 20 women, were arrested today at 345 p.m. after they staged a die-in in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in South Block. Arriving by walk, the Bhopalis took the security guards by surprise, and staged a silent but visual protest, where the women and children lay along the entrance to Gate 5 that leads to the Prime Minister’s Office, with shrouds covering their bodies. They are currently being detained at the Parliament Street Police station.
Nityanand Jayaraman
For more information, call Satinath Sarangi. 9717516003. Nityanand: 09444082401
June 9th, 2008
For immediate release
40 survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal and victims of water contamination staged a die-in outside the Prime Minister’s Office in South Block today. The protestors demanded that the Indian government commit to empowering the Commission on Bhopal for long term rehabilitation of the Bhopal victims and take appropriate legal actions against Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.
The three organizations of Bhopal survivors leading the 111 days long campaign including today’s die-in announced the launching of a global hunger strike from tomorrow with participation from more than 18 countries. 9 survivors and their supporters will begin their indefinite fast tomorrow from 12 noon at Jantar Mantar and will be joined by Booker shortlisted author Indra Sinha who will begin “at least a weeklong fast” from France. The organizations had informed the Prime Minister of their decision to go on an indefinite fast on June 2.
The decision to undertake a hunger strike was taken after tiring of waiting for a response from the PMO regarding their demands, the organizations said. A statement partially conceding to the demands issued by the Minister of State for PMO Mr. Chavan last month made no mention of the powers, funds and the number of years the Commission on Bhopal will function and was silent on the issue of legal action against Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.
“We came here to get all of our demands met. So far, we have got nothing – not even a drop of clean water. On supply of water, the Prime Minister has told us that we can continue drinking poisoned water at least until November after which clean water would be given to only those who can pay user fees,” said Meera More, a young woman survivor who will be part of the indefinite fast.
The organizations have pointed out to the Prime Minister that for the Commission to carry out its tasks of rehabilitation in Bhopal, it needs to have powers to summon and enforce attendance of persons, inspect documents and requisition official records. Given that these powers can only be accorded by the Parliament, the organizations have sent a draft bill for the Commission on Bhopal for endorsement by the Indian government. Several Members of Parliament from different parties have already lent their support to the bill.
Survivors say that the demands for legal action against Dow Chemical and Union Carbide merely ask the Government to do what it is required under law to do. Survivors have asked for deregistering three Dow pesticides whose licenses were obtained through bribe. They are pressing for extradition of Warren Anderson and Union Carbide’s legal representative in line with the orders of the Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate. They have also called for revocation of an approval given by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to Reliance Petroleum to purchase Union Carbide’s Unipol technology. The Bhopal CJM had ordered attachment of Union Carbide’s property in 1992. Unipol by virtue of its ownership is a confiscable property.
Although a high-level bureaucrats’ meeting was held on 3 June to discuss appropriate legal actions against the American corporations, no decision seems to have been taken on the matter. A section of the Government, notably Minister of Commerce and Industry; Kamalnath and Minister of Finance P. Chidambaram, are reported to have thrown their weight behind Dow Chemical and the cause of American investors who have issued a veiled threat to reconsider investments in India if Dow is pinned with Union Carbide’s liabilities.
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

For More Information Contact:
Rachna Dhingra: 9717516003

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