Bhopal re-enacted on US city streets

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006
PHOTOS at: http://bhopal.shutterfly.com
CONTACT: Aquene Freechild, 617-378-2579, aquene@gmail.com
Nirveek Bhattacharjee, 410-627-7679, Nirveek@bme.jhu.edu
Saturday, May 6th – International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal members in 4 cities hosted events and re-enactments of the 1984 Union Carbide Chemical Disaster in Bhopal, India at noon this past Saturday. In Seattle, Boston and Cincinnati, professionals and students lay under shrouds to raise awareness about Dow Chemical Company’s role in the 22,000+ deaths in Bhopal, parallel education events were held in Portland, OR. The members of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) want Dow to take responsibility for the toxic clean up in Bhopal and face criminal charges.
The names of those killed in the 1984 Disaster, and those who died as recently as 2004, were perched atop the veiled bodies, much the way unidentified bodies were numbered after the gas leak. In Boston, the Dow Grim Reaper passed among the victims symbolizing Dow Chemical’s role in the ongoing poisoning of 20,000 Bhopal residents forced to drink contaminated water. Dry ice haze mimicked the methyl isocyanate gas that leaked from the Union Carbide plant 21 years ago after midnight, causing over 8,000 people to drown in their own fluids within days of the gas leak.
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“I have family in Bhopal and feel that while I am in the US, it is my responsibility to use my privilege in the interests of justice for the victims,” said Suvrat Raju, a Physics Ph.D candidate at Harvard at the Boston event.
Dow, which bought Union Carbide (UCC) in 2001, refuses to clean up the abandoned factory site and resulting heavy metal and pesticide contaminated ground water. After Dow purchased Union Carbide, it put aside $2.2 billion dollars to deal with Union Carbide’s asbestos liabilities, but refused to accept any responsibility for Carbide’s Bhopal liabilities.
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Dow’s Annual General Shareholder Meeting will be held in Midland, Michigan at 10am Thursday, May 11th. A shareholder resolution on Bhopal asks Dow to report on any new initiatives to address concerns of Bhopal survivors. See www.proxyinformation.com.
“Members of the public present are outraged that Dow Chemical refuses to acknowledge its liabilities. They have pledged that they will not work for Dow or any of its subsidiaries until the company addresses its responsibilities in Bhopal,” commented Association for India’s Development organizer Priya Raghav at the Seattle event.
“Dow Chemical’s behavior in Bhopal is symbolic of the behavior of much of the Chemical Industry. The industry has changed little since this tragedy – learned little from 22,000 deaths in Bhopal. We have poor chemical security laws here in the US, despite 110 facilities that could endanger more than a million people. We all live in Bhopal.” said Aquene Freechild, posing as the Dow Chemical Grim Reaper in Boston.
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On April 17th, American supporters of the Bhopal hunger strike claimed victory along with Bhopali fasters as the Indian Government conceded to survivor demands for clean drinking water, establishing national commission for medical and economic rehabilitation, and declaring December 3rd a National Day of mourning for the victims of the 1984 Disaster. The hunger strike followed a month-long 500-mile march from Bhopal to New Delhi. Over 400 international supporters pledged to fast for at least a day in solidarity with the Bhopal hunger strikers and bombarded the Prime Ministers office with over 2700 faxes.
While the Prime Minister agreed to demands to address the contamination and to provide water to the community, he did not agree to exclude Dow Chemical to force it to appear in Indian Criminal Court and pay for site clean up. Instead he agreed to explore what options exist within the law to hold Dow/Carbide accountable. What remains is an array of serious issues that continue to be raised by survivors and human rights groups around Dow/Carbide’s liabilities associated with the disaster. A US District Court case asking for injunctive relief for the land and water contamination in Bhopal and damages, is on appeal. In India, criminal charges of culpable homicide against Union Carbide have yet to be faced by the US Corporation.
PHOTOS at: http://bhopal.shutterfly.com, higher resolution photos available upon request
CONTACT PEOPLE FOR EACH CITY ACTION:
Seattle: Priya Raghav, 425- 533-1178, priya.raghav@gmail.com, Location: Univ. of Washington,
Cincinnati: Sandesh Samandria, (513) 297-4822, Sandesh_sam@yahoo.com, Location: Univ. of Ohio- Cincinnati Campus Green
Portland: Sathish Sundaram, (513) 886-1996, sathish.sundaram@gmail.com, Location: Portland Farmer’s Market
Boston: Aquene Freechild, 617-378-2579, afreechild@environmentalhealthfund.org, Location: Copley Sq.
The US branch of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal works as a coalition with groups such as Amnesty International, Association for India’s Development, and Sierra Student Coalition with 40 chapters among professionals and students. It uses education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action to pressure Dow Chemical and the Indian Government to uphold the Bhopalis’ demand for justice, and their fundamental human right to live free of chemical poison.

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