Copley Sq., Boston – Boston Coalition for Bhopal members joined 3 other cities hosting events and re-enactments of the 1984 Union Carbide Chemical Disaster in Bhopal, India – Saturday, May 6th at noon. In Copley Square, professionals and students lay under shrouds downtown to raise awareness about Dow Chemical Company's role in the 22,000+ deaths in Bhopal. 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 water contaminated by the aging factory site.
Bhopal advocates in Cincinnati and Seattle hosted parallel die-ins at the same time, and in Portland, OR held outreach events. The members of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal want Dow to take responsibility for the toxic clean up in Bhopal and face criminal charges.
In Copley Sq., the names of those killed in the 1984 Disaster, and those who died as recently as 2004, were perched on top of the veiled bodies, much the way unidentified bodies were numbered the day after the Disaster. 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 a day or two of the Disaster.
"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.
Dow, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, refuses to clean up the abandoned factory site and resulting heavy metal and pesticide-contaminated drinking 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.
Dow's Annual General Shareholder Meeting will be held in Midland, Michigan at 10am Thursday, May 11 th . A shareholder resolution on Bhopal asks Dow to report on any new initiatives to address concerns of Bhopal survivors. See www.proxyinformation.com .
Posing as a living mourner among the dead, Sunita Dubey commented, "This tragedy is more about the people who survived that day. Being left alive where your loved ones disappeared in the deadly smoke must have been traumatic, and to live with a guilt all your life as to why you didn't die on that day.
No amount of money can compensate for the physical and emotional toll on survivors. Companies like Dow are pushing us closer to "Bhopal" every day, by making products which are deadly and dangerous to the mankind and environment. Not only are they morally responsible for the deaths in Bhopal, but are also accountable for making the lives of survivors an everyday challenge.”
"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. We have no strong chemical security laws here in the US, and frequent proposals to cut back safety regulations to protect communities. We all live in Bhopal." said Aquene Freechild, posing as the Dow Chemical Grim Reaper.
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 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