Category Archives: ICJB Victories

Posts that highlight the victories of ICJB

Survivors Stop Trains on the 27th Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster for getting adequate compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical

Press Statement

25 November 2011

At a press conference today five organizations of the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal congratulated the Chief Minister for his strong assertions against sponsorship of Olympic Games by The Dow Chemical Company. The organizations condemned the continued silence of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Sports on this issue of national and international significance despite petitions from Indian Olympians and Bhopal survivors’ organizations.

 

The organizations expressed hope that the Chief Minister, in line with his convictions, will take steps to ensure that correct figures of deaths and injuries caused by the gas disaster in Bhopal are presented in the Supreme Court in the ongoing Curative Petition. They said that only this will ensure that Dow Chemical along with Union Carbide are made to pay adequate compensation for the disaster.

 

Currently the Government’s curative petition for compensation mentions 5295 deaths and categorizes 93 % of the victims as ‘temporarily injured’. The organizations stated that data from central government-run Indian Council of Medical Research and the state government-run gas relief hospitals show that the actual number of exposure-related deaths is close to 25, 000 and that the gas victims have been permanently, not temporarily, injured.

 

The organizations presented a copy of Union Carbide’s “Safety Considerations Report” that stated that the effects of MIC exposure may cause “major residual injury in spite of prompt treatment”. They pointed out that recent research by internationally reputed scientist Professor Srinivasamurthy, has established that 80 % of those with mental illness caused by the disaster have not recovered in the last 27 years.

According to the organizations the Government should be asking for Rs. 37 thousand crores (8.1 billion dollars) as compensation for the disaster on the basis of the corrected figures and not Rs. 3 to 6 thousand crores (630 million to 1.2 billion dollars) as it has currently done. They said that the Government is asking for so little that it looks like another sell-out to Union Carbide and Dow Chemical like the 1989 settlement.

 

The organizations said that they have had no response from the Government on their demand for correction of damage figures in the curative petition. They said that they are going ahead with their plan to stop all trains passing through Bhopal starting from December 3, 2011, the 27th anniversary of the disaster.

 

Rashida Bi,Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh94256 88215 Nawab Khan,Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha9302792493 Balkrishna Namdeo,Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha9826345423 Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,Bhopal Group for Information and Action9826167369 Safreen KhanChildren Against Dow Carbide9303831487

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2006, Cambridge City Council Campaign

GOOD NEWS! All three resolutions have been passed by the city council on September 25th, 2006. Thanks to the groups that endorsed the resolution (below).

As residents of Cambridge, we are deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights abuses in Bhopal, India due to the conduct of Union Carbide Corporation and its current owner, Dow Chemical Corporation.

On December 3, 1984, the world's worst chemical disaster took place in Bhopal, India, when a Union Carbide Corporation chemical plant unleashed a cloud of deadly chemicals that killed more than 3,000 people in a single night, and has been responsible for over 20,000 deaths since. In Bhopal, 22,000 people are drinking water contaminated with mercury, benzene, and chromium because of Dow Chemical's refusal to clean up the factory site. Over 100,000 people are permanently disabled and many more are unable to earn a living because of injuries suffered from the 1984 disaster. Despite this, Dow refuses to face the criminal charges brought against it in India for the disaster or to aid in clean up, medical care, and economic rehabilitation of the survivors.

Amnesty International has highlighted the Bhopal case as one of the most horrifying instances of human rights abuse that has gone unresolved.

We respectfully request that the Cambridge City Council resolve to:

  • Recommend the Board of the Cambridge Retirement System use their Dow stocks to co-file all future Bhopal shareholder resolutions in support of the disaster survivors and divest of any Dow bonds
  • Recommend that the City Manager report on safe substitutes for Dow products being purchased by the city (list of Dow products and alternatives is available)
  • Declare the Anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster – December 3rd – to be a Day of Remembrance for Victims of Industrial Disasters and Pollution
  • Send copies of any such City Resolution to Dow Chemical's CEO and Board

 

Sign the petition here

Current endorsers of the resolution:

  • Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
  • Alternatives for Community and Environment
  • Amnesty International Group 133
  • Area 4 Coalition
  • Association for India's Development – Boston Chapter
  • Cambridge United for Justice and Peace
  • Clean Water Action, Massachusetts
  • Dollars and Sense Magazine
  • Environmental Health Fund
  • Groundwork USA (Environmental Justice organization)
  • Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice
  • Healthy Building Network
  • Mass Global Action
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
  • Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
  • Student Labor Action Movement
  • South Asia Center

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Bhopali Wins Best Documentary at Slamdance

Max Carlson's documentary 'Bhopali' won both the Grand Jury and the Audience awards for best documentary at Utah's Slamdance Film Festival. View the full list of awards here.  Below is an article written prior to the premiere that interviews the filmmaker.

'Bhopali" Documentary Probes 1984 Disaster

From the Wall Street Journal Blog

What became known as the world’s worst industrial disaster in modern history occurred in December of 1984 when a Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) pesticide factory in Bhopal, India leaked enough methyl isocyanate and other gases to contaminate the groundwater and air around the factory. (Dow Chemical never owned the factory, which is now defunct. It was sold before Dow Chemical purchased Union Carbide Corp.)  The government puts the death toll in the days immediately following the disaster at 3,787, while victims’ representatives put the immediate figure as high as 10,000 and they say it has reached around 25,000 now. The disaster affected 500,000 people, some of whom acquired incurable birth defects. 26 years later, the water supply still remains contaminated and Carbide has yet to take responsibility for its actions (The company did pay the 1989 $471 million  in a 1989 settlement).
 
Spending four months in 2009 in Bhopal, 26-year-old Los Angeles-based filmmaker Van Maximilian Carlson chronicled the harrowing lives of disabled children and locals like Sanjay Verma who lost his parents and all but one of his siblings to the tragedy. Carlson’s first feature documentary entitled “Bhopali” screened this week at this year’s Slamdance Festival and last night was anointed with the Audience Award and Best Documentary Film accolades. Speakeasy sat down with Carlson in Park City, UT before his big night.
 
Tell me how you got involved with the project.
 
One of my best friends volunteered at one of the clinics in the film, the Sambhavna Trust. They treat survivors for free. She volunteered there three years ago and when she came back, she told me all about it and that’s when I became super interested in it. I was born a month before the disaster occurred. I was surprised I hadn’t heard about it before. I’ve always loved movies like “Erin Brockovich” and “Michael Clayton” or any sort movie where someone goes after a corporation. So when I heard about, it was six months after that I decided to make documentary. It deserved a documentary being made because I haven’t seen powerful documentaries about the subject. Most people don’t know about it. That was the passion to do it mainly because of this idea of a corporation thinking they can get away with crimes. I’m really against that. And certainly trying to expose the fact it’s an ongoing tragedy, children being born with birth defects.
 
Why people don’t know about the disaster?
 
I think for one, it occurred 26 years ago. There’s sort of a memory hole people fall into. They forget about things quickly. I also think Union Carbide and Dow do a really good job of not talking about it and pushing it under rug. They don’t respond to news reporters. They didn’t respond to me. The most they’ve done is every other year or so they’ve had a spokesman say something about it and last year they had a spokesman mention they were saddened that it’s continuing and it’s not their responsibility, that it’s the government’s responsibility. So I think it’s a PR campaign to forget about it and it’ll maybe go away on behalf of Union Carbide.
 
At one point Sanjay says living in the village is like “hell on Earth.” Did you feel that way when you were there filming?
 
I say, for the people that have survived it or lost family members, it has been hell on earth. Visually, if you go to the factory it’s like a wasteland. There’s like this ominous structure that’s still there. The fact that all the area around that, you can see it visibly on the surface mercury lying by the factory still. And children play right within the factory compound. They play cricket mainly. I’d say, yeah, for sure, definitely for Sanjay, it has been for him because he lost his whole family. Even after that, he grew up and his brother was much older than him when the disaster occurred. Sanjay was six months old when the disaster occurred and his brother was 13. Growing up he [the brother] was able to understand the impact and feel the impact of it, so he committed suicide in 2004. For many other people, they feel like that. Certainly for a lot of mothers at Chingari Trust, which is the rehabilitation clinic that treats the children, there is hope there but they recognize that it’s totally unfair and it feels like some sort of hell to them from what they’ve gone through and what some of them are still going through.
 
Has anything changed in Bhopal in the past year?
 
Yes, even since the film, at the end of film, the Chingari Trust received a grant from the Bhopal Medical Appeal for $100,000 to move to a bigger place. Since then, the government’s actually stepped in and helped and now Chingari Trust has moved to an even a better place on the main road and they’ve worked it out so Chingari Trust pays them one rupee a year for a much bigger place. The government has also set up a fund paying out survivors. I think it’s somewhere around a billion dollars. Sanjay , I spoke to him [earlier], he said him and his sister, who are the only survivors of their family, are going to be front of judge soon, in the next week, and if the government upholds their promise of paying out a certain amount to families, if they’ve lost family members, I think he might receive $50,000. He was saying one of the major problems is that this pay out only will affect 7 percent of the affected population. I haven’t got all the details on it, but I think it has to do with the fact you have to prove yourself as a gas victim. A lot of these people who got affected never got that chance to do it or they’re affected after the disaster. It becomes difficult to prove you are a gas victim. I think it’s ridiculous. But, the government is stepping up incrementally.
 
At the end of the movie, there’s a ray of hope. Do you think the Bhopalis are indeed hopeful?
 
They are hopeful. Sanjay is really hopeful. The people in the film are hopeful. I think that’s why they protest every year and that’s why they’re not giving up because they have hope. One of the major concerns is Union Carbide take responsibility so they can get justice. It’s very high on their list of priorities. That means cleaning the decontaminated water and compensating the victims. I agree. It would set a precedent and would say a corporation can’t come into a developing country and environmentally destroy that whole area, kill people and get away with it. That’s definitely what they’re all about. They have a slogan: “No more Bhopals.” There’s definitely hope. It seems there’s momentum picking up for Bhopal. The government is helping now and Chingari Trust is getting into a bigger space and I don’t know exactly why now there’s momentum, but there is I think — I believe there’s hope.
 
What’s next for you?
 
I definitely want to do a narrative feature next. I’m writing a script now and I’m going to look for financing and if I can’t find the right amount of financing, I’m just going to proceed in the way that I proceeded with this documentary, which is rely on the skill set that I have and the group of people around me who know how to do it. There’s two different ideas that I’m pursing. One of them is with Kurt (Palayan, co-producer of “Bhopali”). It’ll be about whaling off the coast of Japan. The other is a film about a magician based out of Los Angeles. Two separate, vastly different projects from “Bhopali”, I think. I’d be great to do that and going further, I definitely want to do another documentary. It’s really a fascinating experience to make a documentary: to meet people, to get behind whatever story you’re trying to tell or cause you’re trying to represent.

 

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Pune villagers win a final victory over 'notorious' Dow Chemical

We have just received news from Shashi Sonawane, the National Convenor of the Yuva Bharat organisation.

Friends,

Yesterday on 7th September, 2010, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) filed affidavit in the Bombay High Court in which it has produced a letter submitted by the notorious Dow Chemicals seeking permission to surrender the 100 acres land in Shinde-Vasuli.

In 2007, the government had handed over the 100 acres of gairan land (common grazing land) of the Shinde- Vasuli near Dehu, Pune to the notorious Dow Chemicals for establishing the so-called world class R&D centre. Since then the villagers under the leadership of Justice B.G.Kolse-Patil and Com. Vilas Sonawane have been fighting against the notorious Dow Chemicals. The villagers through Bhamchandragad Warkari Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti supported by Lokshasan Andolan, Yuva Bharat, had stopped the construction work at the site since 16th January 2008. Both the central govt. and the state govt. tried its level best to start the Dow’s project. As you all know Dow Chemicals has a great history of genocide. It has produced most lethal chemical weapons for the American establishment which were used against Vietnamese people and others who stood agaisnt American imperialism. Our rulers instead of listening to the concerns and complaints of the citizens of India were more worried about the goodwill of Dow Chemicals and US govt.

The situation took ugly turn when under the garb of High Court to provide police protection to the site, the govt. tried to suppress the peaceful non-violent agitation of the villagers on 24th July, 2008. To this the Warkaris, which is the most respected sect of Bhakti movement reacted strongly and in order to protect Dehu and the common people, Warkaris under the leadership of Banda Tatya Karadkar Maharaj and Vyasan Mukta Yuvak Sangh (a youth organisation of warkaris) destroyed the incomplete construction at the site on 25th July, 2008. Since then for all practical purposes, the warkaris, peasants had thrown out the notorious Dow Chemicals. It was probably for the first time in its history that Dow Chemicals was hooted out in such a humiliating way.

Finally, Dow Chemicals had to bow before the will of the Warkaris & farmers. It had to formally withdraw from Pune which it has done now through its letter to MIDC. However the struggle shall continue till the ownership of the land is restored to the village panchayat of Shinde-Vasuli and the Bhopal victims are given justice.

We as Yuva Bharat organisation reiterate our stand to fight against the notorious corporate sharks like Dow Chemicals to protect the environment and livelihood of the toling masses.

Shinde-Vasuli women protest against Dow Chemical's presence
Warkari leader Banda Tatya Karadkar addresses a meeting
Former Supreme Court Justice Kolse-Patil
Yuva Bharat leader Shashi Sonawane speaks
Villagers and Warkaris before their landmark victory

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Members of Congress tell Dow to clean up Bhopal

Members of Congress tell Dow to clean up Bhopal

For immediate release: June 17, 2009

CONTACT: Shana Ortman, ICJB Coordinator, (415)-746-0306, shana@panna.org
Tony Millard, ICJB Spokesperson, (708)-606-8142, aj.millard@gmail.com

Nearly 30 House members support Bhopal survivors’ demands of U.S. chemical maker

Download the entire signed letter here (large pdf file).

Survivors of the ongoing chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, secured a major victory Tuesday, as 27 members of Congress wrote to Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris and Dow’s Board of Directors, urging the company to face their criminal and civil liabilities for the tragedy that occurred at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in December 1984. The letter endorsed the survivors’ demands for remediation—as put forth by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)—chiefly that Dow provide medical and economic rehabilitation and clean up the factory and groundwater contamination.

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) led the effort to support the ICJB demands. A coalition of Bhopal survivors and their supporters worldwide, ICJB is working to force Dow to face trial in India and to pay for the disaster cleanup. Nearly a quarter-century after the initial disaster, the factory sits in ruins, with toxic chemicals strewn about the grounds, just yards from the homes of thousands of Bhopali families.

“After 25 years, the human and environmental tragedy of the Bhopal chemical disaster remains with us,” Pallone said. “While thousands continue to suffer, Union Carbide and its successor, Dow Chemical, have yet to be brought to justice. I appreciate the efforts of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal to raise awareness of the plight of the people of Bhopal. Members of Congress will continue to fight against companies that evade civil and criminal liability by exploiting international borders and legal jurisdictions.”

ICJB advocates say broad support from across the United States is a reflection of the enthusiasm generated by the recent national tour led by two Bhopal second-generation survivors, Safreen Khan and Sarita Malviya, both 16, who live with their families in one of the water-contaminated communities. The survivors met with Pallone and other members of Congress in Washington D.C. on their tour.

“The water contamination left by Union Carbide has poisoned two generations in Bhopal, and Union Carbide’s owner, the Dow Chemical Company, is responsible for cleaning up the contamination, “ ICJB’s U.S. Coordinator Shana Ortman said. “25 years is too long to wait for justice or for clean water. We are pleased to stand alongside 27 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in calling on Dow to follow the rule of law in India, and face their liabilities for this tragedy—the world’s worst industrial disaster.”

The following members of Congress signed onto the letter: Ackerman (NY), Baldwin (WI), Blumenauer (OR), Brady (PA), Capuano (MA), Clarke (NY), Faleomavaega (AS), Fattah (PA), Grijalva (AZ), Higgins (NY), Hinchey (NY), Honda (CA), Jackson Lee (TX), Kucinich (OH), Langevin (RI), Lee (CA), Markey (MA), McDermott (WA), McGovern (MA), Nadler (NY), Oberstar (MN), Pallone (NJ), Payne (NJ), Schakowsky (IL), Schiff (CA), Stark (CA), Tonko (NY).

Nearly half a million people were exposed to poisonous methyl isocyanate during a runaway chemical reaction at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal on December 3, 1984. Since then, more than 22,000 people have died and 150,000 survivors continue to be chronically ill, as the Indian government and Dow have repeatedly failed to address their role in the atrocities of this ongoing disaster in Bhopal.

∙ www.studentsforbhopal.org ∙ www.thetruthaboutdow.org

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